Dysgraphia - Horizon Academy


What is Dysgraphia?

Dysgraphia is a learning difference where individuals have difficulty with the process of written output specifically in the areas of spelling, fine motor, spacing and legibility. Skills that can be impacted are fine motor, gross motor, visual memory, visual motor, body awareness, and spatial relations.  

How does Horizon Academy help?

At Horizon Academy, we provide students diagnosed with dysgraphia a variety of ways to complete written work, modifications of the amount of work, assistive technology support, and access to an Occupational Therapist (OT) who can deliver instruction specific to a student’s unique challenges. However, Horizon Academy students still do written work on a daily basis even if it is challenging; it is critical to maintain the handwriting skills and stamina they’ve acquired. Our Occupational Therapist teaches a daily handwriting lesson to elementary and middle school students. Naturally, the OT uses a multisensory approach and consistent repetition of learned skills. Students work to automatize letter formation; fluency and legibility will follow.

How does Horizon Academy teach Writing?

Our faculty uses The Writing Revolution (TWR), a teaching approach created by Dr. Judith Hochman, the former head of The Windward School, a renowned elementary and middle school in New York for students with language-based learning disabilities. This approach revolutionized how writing was taught at The Windward School. TWR is a research-based, carefully scaffolded sequence of strategies and activities that can be adapted to any content area, grade level, or ability level.

Based on Dr. Hochman’s work and research, TWR’s method rests on the following principles:

  1. Students need explicit instruction in writing, beginning in the early elementary grades.
  2. Sentences are the building blocks of all writing.
  3. When embedded in the content of the curriculum, writing instruction is a powerful teaching tool.
  4. The content of the curriculum drives the rigor of the writing activities.
  5. Grammar is best taught in the context of student writing.
  6. The two most important phases of the writing process are planning and revising.

The Writing Revolution not only improves writing skills, but this method also teaches students to:

  • Write with structure, clarity and coherence
  • Uncover and address mistakes in interpretation
  • Boost reading comprehension
  • Improve organizational and study skills
  • Enhance speaking abilities
  • Develop analytical capabilities

“One by one, sentences communicate ideas that add up to make meaning. In order to write good sentences, students must have “syntactic awareness” – the awareness of the system and arrangement of words, phrases, and clauses that make up a sentence. The way students build syntactic awareness is through exposure to complex oral language when they are young and through exposure to complex academic language through reading and being read to across all grades. Students who have difficulty learning to read will inevitably have difficulty learning to write. Sentence combining is a highly researched activity that has been shown to improve the writing ability of students across all grade levels, including in college”.

Joan Sedita, Founder of Keys to Literacy, providing her thoughts on The Writing Revolution.