HOW TO HIGHLIGHT PROGRESS IN WRITING AMONG WEAK LEARNERS AND DEVELOP THEIR CONFIDENCE TO WRITE MORE
I always strongly encourage teachers to start with sentence construction practices with weak learners. Their progress to construct sentences can be seen based on the number of sentences constructed. For example, in Phase 1, the weak learners are required to construct two sentences in 10 minutes. However, when they go to Phase 2, they must be made aware that they cannot be writing two sentences in ten minutes but perhaps must write four sentences. An increased number of sentences must be written in ten minutes when they are in Phase 3. In short, the progress of writing at sentence level can be measured through the number of sentences constructed within the time limit given. Weak learners must be made aware of this gradual increment of sentences as their achievement to do so will motivate them significantly. Teachers, please highlight their progress and motivate them through your kind words; “Congrats Lisa! Before this, even to write a single sentence is a problem to you but now, you can easily write four sentences in 9 minutes! If you work harder, you can write more and more Lisa!”
Then, when you focus on paragraph writing tasks, please make sure the length of the paragraph shows progress according to each phase. For example, the weak learners are required to write a 20-word paragraph in Phase 1 and then a 40-word paragraph in Phase 2. The length of the paragraph, of course must increase in Phase 3. How many words? It depends. It depends on your learners’ ability, motivation to write as well as their readiness. I would like to propose that the length of paragraph in each phase is determined collaboratively between the teacher and learners. This gives a sense of self-importance and a sense of belonging because their views (on the length of paragraph) are seriously taken into consideration by the teacher. Moreover, the teacher can always remind and motivate them by saying, “Come on, you can do it! Remember, you are the one who proposed and decided to write a 50-word paragraph in Phase 2. Try your best. I know you can!”
Weak learners’ progress to write can also be highlighted through the time taken to accomplish the writing task. Be it at sentence, paragraph or essay level, teachers can determine the time that they are supposed to complete their writing task in each phase. For example, in Phase 1, a paragraph must be written in 40 minutes and in the next phase, it has to be completed in 30 minutes. Definitely, in Phase 3, the time must be shorter than 30 minutes; perhaps the paragraph must be written in not more than 20 minutes. Again, learners must be congratulated for their success to write the paragraph within the time limit. Encouraging words like these must be expressed to them in person: “You see Ahmad, last month you took 50 minutes to write a paragraph but look at what you achieve today! Your paragraph is ready in 30 minutes! Wow! Well done, Ahmad!” Our encouraging words and congratulatory remarks will give a bigger impact to the weak learners when they are expressed in front of all the learners in class.
To conclude, it is evident that in order to highlight progress clearly, I recommend the writing tasks should be developmental; they should be implemented in phases, normally in three phases. It is also clear that the progress in writing among weak learners can be measured and highlighted through numbers; number of sentences, number of words, number of minutes and number of paragraphs. It is crucial for me to mention here that learners’ achievement to accomplish each writing task must be highlighted to them face to face and should be congratulated in front of their classmates. This will really boost their motivation and confidence to write. Trust me! I wish you all the best in your endeavour to teach writing among your weak learners. In shaa Allah, success can be yours too! Happy exploring!
[Note: Perhaps you wonder how long each should phase be. Well, I am going to give you a cliché answer. It depends. Of course, it depends on so many factors. You decide. You are the best decision maker for your own classroom and writing lessons. Each phase can be 3 months, 1 month or 2 weeks. It depends…]
For weak learners, what is crucial is they make progress and they are fully aware of their own progress in writing. Of course, you know, we don't aim for perfection among them.