Errorless Sentence Helpers to Teach Writing


I teach middle school students with significant disabilities. Every year, we spend a good part of the year learning the parts of a sentence and learning to write complete sentences. I feel like this is a skill that the majority of my students MUST know!

It seems like I always have a group of students that really struggling with sentence writing.  A few years ago, I was having a really hard time teaching sentence writing and getting it to stick. I finally said to myself, "For this group of students, does it matter if they can tell me what a noun or verb is?" And myself answered, "No. It doesn't matter if they can identify the parts. What matters is that they can write a complete sentence that makes sense." So I changed my teaching method and started working on fill in the blank sentences.

The __ jumps.  And this is what I still got.  The pencil jumps. {Umm, nope. Not what I had in mind.}

And then it hit me. These kiddos need errorless learning opportunities first {duh!}.  So I came up with Errorless Sentence Helpers. Students are generating their own sentences with no possible errors. Any word they choose is correct.

It started to click! Then, once they learned the skill making no mistakes, we went to Phase 2: Discrimination. At this phase, students have to start to distinguish from what makes sense and what doesn't.

Some students remained at this Phase 2, but some students were able to master that and move on. In Phase 3, I fade tout he pictures and the students will generate their own words to complete the sentence.


I love this because students are practicing over and over with no mistakes. That means that they are building confidence in their writing skills, they are developing positive experiences with writing, and they are not practicing errors. It has made a huge difference for my beginning writers! A few tips for errorless teaching-

1. When you are using errorless teaching, make sure that you don't fade your prompting until the student has had a significant amount of errorless practice and you think that they will be prepared to give the correct response with faded prompts.  

2. Begin by modeling. Talk through your thinking. Then, provide a few trials where the students do the task with you. Do this each time you fade your prompts. Modeling is SO important for any type of writing instruction.

3.  Be sure that the students are clear about what is expected. When you introduce Phase 2 and they have to distinguish between which pictures make sense, make sure they know that is the expectation.

4. Provide lots of successful repetitions! Our students need lots of practice to master a skill and that's okay. I have lots of different sets of Errorless Sentence Helpers available in my TpT store. Each set includes all 3 phases. If you want to try them out, check out these free samples. 

 

Questions about Errorless Sentence Helpers? Leave me a comment below!

Check out my Writing Pinterest board for more writing tips and tricks!




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