Errorless Sentence Helpers to Teach Writing

I teach middle school students with significant disabilities.  The majority of my class cannot write a simple sentence when they get to me, so we spend the first 2-3 months of the year learning the parts of a sentence and learning to write complete sentences.  I feel like this is a skill that 80% of my students MUST know!

This year, my low writing group is really struggling with sentence writing.  And I am really struggling teaching it! I finally said to myself, 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 thought, we will work on fill in the blank sentences.

The __ jumps.  And this is what I get.  The pencil jumps. {Umm, nope.}

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

Clip art by Smarty Symbols
Once they learn the skill making no mistakes, we went to this.

Since we are writing about winter, not all of the pictures can be options.  Students have to start to distinguish from what makes sense and what doesn't.  Lastly, we will fade the pictures and the students will generate their own words. 

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.  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.
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 the expectation.  
4. Provide lots of successful repetitions!  Our students need lots of practice.  

Grab my Winter Errorless Sentence Helpers here.  Stop by next week to read about how I am teaching my students to write a friendly letter!

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

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