Writing Instruction: Direct Instruction in Basic Skills

In order to produce written texts,

  • Anna had to have the language skills to develop her message
  • Then she needed to segment the message into words and the words into sounds (or phonemes)
  • Then she had to identify the letters for each sound to encode the word or she had to generate the letters for irregular words by memory/ sight
  • Finally she had to select each of the letters on the keyboard or put them together using letter cards or produce the letters using handwriting.

We provided direct instruction for Anna in the following basic skills that underlie written communication:

  • phoneme segmentation (i.e., segmenting words into their component sounds in sequence)
  • letter sound correspondences (i.e., knowing what letter represents each sound)
  • encoding skills to integrate phoneme segmentation skills and letter sound correspondences to spell regular words
  • encoding skills to spell irregular sight words
  • keyboarding or handwriting skills.

As with reading instruction, we provided lots of opportunities for Anna to practice these basic skills. We provided Anna with scaffolding support to help her learn these new skills.

  • First we modeled the task.
  • Then we provided her with guided practice.
  • Then we provided her with opportunities for independent practice.
  • We always provided her with feedback on her responses.

In this video, you will see Anna practicing encoding regular consonant-vowel-consonant words using assistive technology that speaks the written word that she types. First, the instructor offers Anna a choice of pictures. Anna chooses one of the pictures. Then she must segment the word into its sounds in sequence, recall the letter that represents that sound, and then select it from the keyboard. She can then speak the word out.

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