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Writing, Organization, and Extended Time

While thinking about writing while creating a workshop on the topic, I was thinking about the practice of giving students with visual impairments shorter assignments (5 pages instead of 10) and/or extended time (paper due in 5 weeks instead of 4).
Both practices may have merit but then I was struck by a possible third option.  That third option would be teaching better organization skills and keeping assignment length and due date the same.
I was particular struck by this as I was approaching some writing projects of my own.  Regardless of the length of what I am writing, my habit is and always has been to do my writing within days (hours!) of the due date.  Not a good strategy.  I wonder how many students with visual  impairments use the same strategy?  I can tell you from experience this was not a good habit to get into once I was employed.  No employer really was going to give me reduced assignment lengths or extended deadlines on a regular basis.
What I have needed instead is a good calendar for completing a writing project.  I started thinking about applying this to students with visual impairments.  What about giving them a tool to make best use of the time they have to complete the same assignment as their peers.  We would need to give students the tool, teaching them to use the tool then holding the students accountable for using the it.
The tool could be as simple as setting up a project calendar.  The student would complete brainstorming by week 1.  Brainstorm and create an outline by week 2, write a draft by week 3, complete editing and revision by week 4.  This results in the assignment being done on schedule.
With a schedule like this, it will be easier to see where in the writing process the student may be having trouble, allowing for some targeted instruction and practice.
The calendar can be as simple as a paper pencll/Braille document or it could be as high tech as an electronic calendar or project manager software/app, depending on the student’s age and ability.
Efficient use of time may trump extended time!

Jim Durkel
APH Materials Coordinator
Neuroscience and Writing
"mouthing pillow"

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