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November Math Centers for 1st grade and 2nd grade
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How to Help Your Struggling Writers This Year

Back to School, Literacy, Writing & Language, Writing Instruction

Written by: Jess Dalrymple

The buzz in education right now is loud and clear. Teachers are very concerned about their incoming class of students – particularly with their struggling writers. We are hearing a lot of the following…

“I can’t believe how low these kids are coming in!”

“Some of my (1st and 2nd grade) students can hardly read or write!”

“I feel like I’m going to need to supplement our curriculum so much this year!”

Can you relate? If so, you’re not alone.

Writing seems to be the area kids are struggling with most. And this makes sense – after all, learning virtually makes practicing writing difficult. The online learning environment is naturally more focused on typing as the mode for written communication – a very different skill than taking an idea and getting it organized on paper. Not to mention, writing is hard to model, monitor, and assess through a computer screen. But there is good news! In spite of these writing gaps, you can guide your students towards becoming confident writers this year!

Read on for some practical ideas to help your struggling writers. In no time, you’ll take kids from struggling to write a complete sentence to writing fully developed essays for each of the three types of writing.

Strategy #1 – Scaffold, Scaffold, Scaffold!

Start your scaffolding efforts with the planning stage of writing. Use planning organizers that break apart the different parts of the piece of writing to help kids isolate each element: (for example, beg/middle/end). This is less overwhelming for kids than being asked to plan with nothing but lined paper.

Narrative Planning Pages

narrative writing prompts and planning pages differentiated for first and second grades

Informational Planning Pages

informational writing prompts and planning pages differentiated for first and second grades

Opinion Planning Pages

Opinion writing prompts and planning pages differentiated for first and second grades

Scaffold by Using Differentiated Prompts and Handwriting Lines

Simplified prompts, vocabulary boxes and wider handwriting lines for emerging writers:

narrative writing prompt with first grade handwriting lines and vocabulary in a box

Prompts, vocab boxes and skinnier handwriting lines for writers who still benefit from handwriting lines, but do not need them to be quite so wide:

narrative writing prompt with second grade handwriting lines and vocabulary in a box

Prompts, vocabulary boxes, and solid lines for writers who no longer need handwriting lines to guide letter formation:

narrative writing prompt with solid handwriting lines and vocabulary in a box

Don’t forget to offer extra paper without the picture boxes too!

three options for handwriting lines with the lucky little learners no prep writing prompts

Strategy #2 – Break Skills Down

Writing is a BIG task. Especially when you think about how many mini tasks are wrapped up in getting from an idea to a final piece.. One way to help kids manage and remember so many different things is with writing checklists.

Help Struggling Writers with Checklists

first and second grade writing checklists

Some teachers give kids writing checklists like the examples above to use as an editing tool after the draft has been completed. We recommend setting kids up for success by copying the checklist directly on the writing paper. This way kids can see what their completed piece should include before they even start writing!

2nd grade writing checklist

Strategy #3 – Make the Goal Clear

Help Struggling Writers with Visual Rubrics

visual rubric with student narrative writing samples from the lucky little learners writing bulletin board pack

Help Struggling Writers with Goal Cards

writing goals classroom display from the lucky little learners writing bulletin board set

Student goal cards are so helpful for reinforcing good writing habits. For example, if a student always forgets to capitalize the first letter of sentences, staple the “I can use capital letters” goal card to their writing page – a constant reminder the whole time they are writing! In no time, the habit will be changed!

student writing goal card stapled to a narrative writing prompt from the Lucky Little Learners No prep writing pages pack

Strategy #3 – Use Resources That Support a Progression of Levels

As tough as this might feel to go backwards instructionally, we need to meet our students where they are at. When it comes to teaching kids how to write, our instruction needs to be strategic, intentional, purposeful, research-based, and consistent.

The good news is that we have some writing resources that will help you fill those gaps this year and get your students caught up!

From differentiated planning pages to the 1st and 2nd grade versions of each prompt – we’ve got one resource that will give teachers all the levels they need this year! All three types of writing are covered in this huge bundle!


toothy task kits

Writing Prompts - Full Year Bundle

And that’s not all! If you’d love to make writing goals crystal clear for your students this year, you’ll want to grab our ready-to-go Writing Bulletin Board set.


toothy task kits

Writing Bulletin Board Set

Just remember, you’ve got this! With the right tools and a little extra practice, your lucky little learners will become confident writers in no time!


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Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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