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Writing Tools and Strategies (Tier 1)

The following lists of writing tools and strategies are important initial steps to consider when determining what types of assistive technology have been or need to be trialed or implemented to support your struggling student. These may be readily available in the classroom or on the web. Remember to consider the Universal Design for Learning Guidelines as you implement changes to support students. Principle II. Multiple Means of Action and Expression particularly deals with the area of writing. Read more about multiple means of representation on the CAST website

Fine Motor
  • Adapted pencils/pens
  • Pencil grips
  • Gel pens, erasable pens
  • Adapted paper, color-coded lined paper, raised-line paper
  • Writing/signature guides
  • Word/number/alphabet/name stamps
  • Magnetic letters
  • Enlarged hard copy printouts
  • Dry erase boards and pens
  • Peer note-taker/copies of teacher notes
  • Slant boards
  • Non-slip surface
  • Near-point printouts
  • Alternative note-taking formats (e.g. Cornell)
  • Graph paper
  • Personal print dictionary 
  • Standard dictionary 
  • Thesaurus 
  • Word walls
  • Available electronic spell check (Microsoft Word)
  • Highlighters, highlighting tape
  • Erasable pens 
  • Writing checklists 
  • Free Text-to-Speech add-ons (Word Talk)
  • Dictionary and thesaurus 
  • Microsoft Word Forms – checklists, multiple choice, fill-in-the blank


  • Structured practice via software or websites (e.g. Typing Web)
  • High-contrast/colored key labels
  • Alternative keyboard

Fine Motor
  • Use different sized pencils/pens
  • Use pencil grips and adapted grips to encourage a Dynamic Tripod Grasp
  • Use different paper (wide lined, raised lines or darker lines) to increase awareness of lines. 
  • Use the dry erase board and pens, which requires less force than a pencil (photocopy the results if they need to be turned in)
  • Use a copy machine to enlarge worksheets to be completed to provide a larger area to write.
  • For students who are unable to write at all use magnetic letters to spell out words (photocopy the results if they need to be turned in or preserved)
  • Use a name stamp or colorful sticker to identify papers instead of writing out the name.
  • Students use available classroom resources (dictionary, word walls, thesaurus)
  • Create personal dictionaries or word walls to keep in student notebooks
  • Use computer spell check if available

  • Use highlighters to find errors
  • Use an erasable pen to reduce frustration when editing
  • Use writing checklists  as reminders (story elements, writing process, etc.) These can be posted around the classroom or provided in a student notebook.
  • If computers and internet are available:
  • Use free text-to-speech: Mac OSX, iPad, or download Word Talk  for Windows to have students listen to the work they have typed. 
  • Use spell/grammar check to edit and revise.
  • Use online dictionary to find definitions, synonyms and rhyming words.

  • Use pre-filled graphic organizers 
  • Use index cards to organize ideas 
  • Teacher provides text with keywords highlighted
  • Use online fillable graphic organizers (Holt or Link to more)