Teaching Students to Transfer Decoding Skills to Writing

by Angie Barnett | Dec 19, 2019

Teaching Students to Transfer Decoding Skills to Writing

Writing is an excellent place for students to apply and transfer what they have learned in Reading Horizons Discovery® and Reading Horizons Elevate® reading curriculum. Here are some specific tips for explicitly transferring reading skills to writing.


Use Dictation Sentences

Adding sentences to daily dictation is an incredible bridge between decoding skills and writing. If you aren’t incorporating them into reading time, you can easily move them to writing time. Teachers often worry that students won’t be successful in this more advanced form of dictation. There are a number of things we can do to build their confidence. Here are a few scaffolding ideas:

(1) provide students with the number of lines equal to the number of words

(2) have them count the words in the sentence

(3) dictate each word in isolation previously so that they are successful with the sentence.

Teach and Practice Proofreading

Use Reference lessons as a springboard to teach and practice proofreading. Students can begin to practice proofreading by comparing their work to a correct example from the teacher for dictation sentences. When appropriate, you can then have them examine their original writing for the correct use of specific skills such as capitalization, punctuation, and correct spelling.

Utilize Peer Editing

A step beyond proofreading, peer editing asks students to examine the work of others for the correct use of specific skills. Again, you can introduce peer editing as part of writing dictation sentences, and then, move up to using peer editing as part of the writing process for student-created writing. This may require mini-lessons to teach students how to edit the work of others respectfully.

Practice the Current Reading Skill in Writing

This can be as simple as “Use 3 L-Blend words in your writing today.” Making that direct tie to the current lesson is an effective way to help students be cognizant that what they are learning in decoding instruction applies to their own writing.

Use Independent Center Activities that Support the Transfer into Writing

Examples can be as easy as choose 3 words from the Student Transfer Card and write a paragraph, or for beginning learners, use 1 word in a sentence. Students in grades 1-3 can use the Writing Prompts from the Spelling Supplement, which is designed to practice recent skills in writing. Other activities from the Spelling Supplement are intentional about students using decoding skills for encoding. Using these activities just prior to writing instruction can make students more cognizant of their skills during independent writing.

Hold Writers Accountable

When students are practicing writing, hold them accountable for the skills that they know. Make sure they are expected to use the skills that they have learned in their writing. Don’t supply the spelling for words they can decode/encode. Instead, encourage them to listen for the beginning sound, the slide, identify the vowel, etc. Empower them to realize they already know how to spell the word; they have all of the skills they need!

By transferring and applying reading skills to writing, students are given the tools they need to become successful readers and writers. Enhancing students’ writing skills will help them do more than achieve benchmarks. Developing their critical thinking skills and ability to communicate will benefit them continuously, throughout their lives.

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