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BACK TOCurriculum Resource Guides

Curriculum Resource to Prepare Students for AA-AAS English Language Arts Content: Writing*

*The term "writing" is used throughout this document with the assumption that student writing or permanent products are created through various modes (e.g., traditional writing, voice output devices, speech to text) of expression. NCSC defines writing as: Generating a permanent product to represent and/or organize ideas or thoughts so messages can be interpreted by someone else when the writer is not present. Symbols (e.g., picturesymbols, objects) that represent and assistive technology that produce text may be used.


The purposes of the Curriculum Resource Guides Are:

  • To provide guidance for teaching the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities (SWSCD) that both aligns with these standards and provides differentiation for individual student needs
  • To serve as a companion document to the Progress Indicators for the CCSS found in the NCSC Learning Progressions
  • To help educators build knowledge of the essential content reflected in these Progress Indicators of the CCSS
  • To delineate the necessary skills and knowledge students need to acquire to master these indicators
  • To provide examples for differentiating instruction for a wide range of SWSCD. These examples can be used in planning specific lessons, alternate assessment items, and professional development.

1a. What is "the writing process" and how is it taught in general education settings?

Essential knowledge

Writing consists of more than just putting letters together to make words, and words together to make sentences. Writing is a way in which students can communicate and express themselves with respect to a specific task (e.g., topic), purpose (e.g., to inform), and audience (e.g., reader). Good writers go through several steps to produce a piece of writing. The writing process includes pre-writing, drafting, revising editing, and publishing.


Prewriting

Step 1: Selecting a topic. Beginning writers often struggle to determine a topic and may require greater scaffolding. To support struggling students, teachers may assign a topic, guide students to self-select a topic, or present a list of topics from which the student may choose.
Step 2: Determining form and function. This step involves determining the purpose and audience (i.e., decide what, why, and to whom you are writing). Since many struggling writers may not understand the purpose of writing beyond task completion, teachers may explicitly describe how a student's work might impact the reader.
Step 3: Gathering ideas. Once the topic has been determined, students should begin gathering ideas through brainstorming, discussions, or research. During this step, teacher often support students idea development or "get the ball rolling" by providing visual supports (objects, pictures, video clips, role play) or by explicitly modeling the brainstorming process.


Drafting

Step 4: Organizing. Writers should begin to organize the information gathered during prewriting. Choose which idea to address first, next, and last. The use of graphic organizer can be very helpful in this process.
Step 5: Writing. Students should draft paragraphs or work from start to finish, using notes or a graphic organizer. Drafting focuses on the development of ideas. Students often find this step to be challenging and will require scaffolding to introduce, conclude and/or elaborating on ideas.


Revising

Step 6: Reviewing and Revising the content and structure of writing. Students should check what they have written by reviewing their work. They may review their work silently, read aloud using a whisper phone or read their work to a partner. They should identify areas in need of additional information and where unnecessary information should be removed. At this point in the writing process, students may be able to revise the work of their peers.


Editing

Step 7: Editing. Students should review work to ensure that grammar, spelling, and punctuation usage is correct.


Publishing

Step 8: Publishing. Students should have the opportunity to share their work with others. Some examples of classroom publishing include:
  • Read-alouds
  • Bulletin boards of student work
  • Class websites
  • Class anthologies


Areas that may require additional scaffolding

  • Students often struggle to generate ideas and topics during brainstorming and often require additional support, especially when new to the writing process.
  • Students often struggle to meet writing goals without models of good writing in multiple formats.
  • Students require training to effectively peer edit during the writing process.


Prior knowledge/skills needed or supported during the writing process (can be taught concurrently)

  • Naming (i.e., tacting, labeling)
  • Sentence structure
  • Sequencing of events (dependent on type)
  • Basic spelling and grammar

1b. What are the "types of writing" and how are they taught in the general education setting?

Essential knowledge

There are three types of writing: informational, narrative, and persuasive/argumentative.


Informational Writing

The purpose of informative/descriptive writing is to inform the reader about a topic. This type of writing can be done for any subject and can take a wide variety of formats (e.g., newsletter, research paper). This type of writing should include information that can be the result of prior knowledge and/or research but should not include the opinions of the author.


Narrative Writing

The purpose of narrative writing is to entertain or inform the reader. Narratives can describe real or fictional events and should include the essential elements of story grammar (e.g., characters, setting, and plot). Narrative writing can be driven by a theme or message.


Persuasive Writing

The purpose of persuasive writing is to convince the reader to agree with the perspective of the author. The author's reasons for persuasion must be supported by facts and evidence and also should acknowledge the counterargument.

Additional information about types of writing can be found in the resources for the Common Core http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_A.pdf.

2. What are some of the types of activities general educators use to teach this skill?

2.1 Activities from General Education Resources

Writers' Workshop

Each Writer's Workshop lesson follows the same basic format:

  • Mini-Lessons are quick and direct lessons that address the particular and immediate needs of students. These mini-lessons usually last between 5 and 15 minutes.
  • Status of the Class is an informal evaluation or identification of what each student is writing. This update usually lasts less than 5 minutes.
  • Writing Time allows students to apply the topics addressed in a mini-lesson, work independently and in groups and provides time for students to conference with peers or the teacher about their writing. Time allotted for writing is based on students' abilities and engagement with the task, but students should receive daily extended time to write.
  • Sharing occurs at the end of the lesson when students to read or post their work and get feedback from the teacher and their peers. Students usually receive between 5 and 15 minutes to share.


Mini-lessons

Lesson examplesSkills:
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Spelling
Author's Craft:
  • Effective word choice
  • Sentence structure/fluency
  • Organization of ideas
Strategy use:
  • Picking/narrowing a topic
  • Elaborating ideas/providing details
Connect: (1-2 minutes)

Activate prior knowledge

Explain the impact of skills on writing Explain the impact of author's craft on writing Explain how strategy use can enhance writing
Teach: (5-6 minutes)

Explain and model topic

Explicitly teach skill Explicitly model examples of good writing Explicitly teach and model writing strategies
Engage: (2-3 minutes)

Allow for practice and offer feedback

Allow students to practice during freewrites or in editing sentences Allow students to write to a mentor text or allow them to evaluate examples of good writing Allow students to practice strategies
Link: (1-2 minutes)

Review and clarify understanding

Review skill taught and explain how it can improve or enhance writing Review ideas taught and explain how it can improve or enhance writing Review the strategy and explain how it can improve or enhance writing

For more information on Writer's Workshop: [1]

3. What Connectors to the Common Core State Standards Are Addressed in Teaching "Writing"?

These CCCs can be accessed via the NCSC Wiki at:

https://wiki.ncscpartners.org/index.php/Main_Page

From the main page of the NCSC Wiki, use the search function or click on "Curriculum Resources"


Strategies for preparing students for the writing assessment

  • Instruction during the school year must include the use of effective writing strategies from which the writing assessment has been developed. This includes the use of graphic organizers. Sample graphic organizers are provided at the end of this guide. These graphic organizers are similar to those that students will use during assessment.
  • Teach beginning writers to use rules/formulas during new types of writing (e.g., persuasive). This will help students provide the most important components in their writing and teach them critical organizational skills related to written expression.
    • Each Performance Example provided below will demonstrate an expected formula for the specific type of writing.
  • Teach students to create permanent products that follow the basic formula for a type of writing; they can then begin to develop their text and elaborate on ideas through the use of sensory details, transition words, dialogue, and additional content.
  • Provide instructional supports and scaffolds that include but are not limited to word banks, conventions reminder/ checklists.
    • The complexity of word banks may vary across writing assignments but should contain transition or signal words (e.g., first, next, last, because, in conclusion), applicable sight words (e.g., the, with, there) and new vocabulary words relevant to the content.
    • A conventions reminder may include convention skills currently being taught such as end punctuation, word spacing, capitalization, grammar etc. These reminders may serve to cue students to include English standard conventions.
  • Create a self-monitoring checklist that students can use during all phases of the writing process but especially during the edit and revise phase. Students can review their writing (whether traditionally written or scribed) and use their checklist to make corrections.
  • When planning writing instruction, consider your students' present level of writing ability and prior instruction in writing. In some cases, the skills addressed in the CCCs may be too advanced. If so, consider instruction aligned with the Essential Understandings. The 3rd grade performance example below demonstrates performance that is aligned with the Essential Understandings.
Performance Examples for Prioritized CCCs

Grade 3

CCCsEssential Understandings
3.WL.o1 With guidance and support from adults, produce a clear, coherent, permanent product that is appropriate to the specific task, purpose (e.g., to entertain), or audience. Given a specific purpose, produce a permanent product (e.g., selects text appropriate to the purpose, identify descriptive sentences, and select a concluding statement).
3.WL.j1 Set up the context for the story and introduce a narrator and/or characters.

Describe a character and setting for a given text.

THEN

Identify text that introduces a character.

3.WL.j2 Sequence events in writing that unfold naturally.

Sequence a set of illustrations that match a text.

THEN

Sequence events of beginning, middle and end of a text.

THEN

With support (e.g., a graphic organizer), create a simple story about a real or imagined experience with a beginning, middle, and end.

3.WL.k1 When appropriate use dialogue and descriptions of actions, thoughts, and feelings to develop a story.

Identify descriptive words that help develop the story (i.e., relevant description vs. non relevant).

THEN

Given two lists, match narrative techniques, such as dialogue and description, to the correct example.

THEN

With prompting and support, add dialogue and/or description in an original story.

3.WL.l1 Use temporal words and phrases to signal event order. Insert the appropriate signal word in provided text (e.g., in the morning, after we left the park).
3.WL.m1 Provide a concluding statement or paragraph that follows from the narrated experiences or events.

From a given list, identify the appropriate conclusion to a provided story.

THEN

With guidance and support from adults, provide the ending of a story.

Text Type: Narrative

This Performance Example targets skills from the third grade Essential Understandings. The skills demonstrated in this Performance Example include: describing a character, sequencing events from beginning to end, identifying descriptive words that develop the story, and the appropriate use of temporal words (e.g., first, last).

When targeting the Essential Understandings, maximum supports and scaffolds may be needed. Students may select from presented response options rather than generate original content. Students learning these target skills should already understand what a character is and have some understanding of sequencing from first to last.

Step 1. You will write a story about a boy named Dewey McGee. Which sentence describes the character, Dewey McGee?

Note: During instruction, if the student makes an error or does not respond, use a system of least prompts to ensure that the correct answer is placed on the card. This applies to steps 1-6.

Step 2. Remember that stories have a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning is an event that happens first. Which sentence tells the event that happens first?

Step 3. Now write the middle of the story. Which sentence comes after "He loves baseball. First he swings hard to hit the ball."?

Step 4. Now add details that describe how Dewey runs around the bases. Which sentences describe how Dewey runs?

Step 5. All stories need an ending. Which of these sentences provide an ending for your story?

Step 6. You need to add some words to let the reader know this is the end of your story. Which words can you add to show it's the end?

Step 7. Your story is complete. I will read your story to you.

Dewey McGee loves baseball. His favorite part is getting up to bat. First, he swings the bat hard to hit the ball. Next, he runs fast around the bases. He runs like the wind around the bases. He runs so fast his hat flies off. In the end, he slid into home base and scored the winning run. They won the game!

Performance Examples

Grade 6

CCCsEssential Understandings
6.WI.b2 Organize ideas, concepts, and information (e.g., using definition, classification, comparison/contrast, cause/effect).

Identify relationship of set of items in various categories (definition, classification, compare/contrast, cause/effect).

THEN

Identify the text structure of a provided text.

THEN

With guidance and support, outline a list of key ideas, concepts and information from a provided text.

6.WL.c1 Organize ideas and event so that they unfold naturally.

Sequence a set of illustrations that match a text.

THEN

Sequence events of beginning, middle and end of a text.

THEN

With support (e.g., a graphic organizer), create a simple story about a real or imagined experience with a beginning, middle, and end.

6.WL.c3 Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence and signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another.

Match transition words, phrases, and clauses within a text.

THEN

From a given list, identify the transition words or phrases that convey sequence or signal shifts from one time frame to another (e.g., "In the past," "The next day," etc.).

THEN

Add a variety of transition words or phrases to convey sequence and signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another within a story.

6.WI.h2 Produce a clear coherent permanent product that is appropriate to the specific task (e.g., topic), purpose (e.g., to inform), and audience (e.g., reader). Given a specific purpose, produce a permanent product (e.g., identifies text appropriate to the purpose, identify descriptive sentences, and identify a concluding statement).
Text Type: Informational / Compare and Contrast

Students may create writing pieces that compare and contrast two topics, events, or characters. Provide scaffolded supports for students as they write. For example, if students are not able to generate ideas during brainstorming activities, teachers might provide ideas from which students could select. Below is a sample of a graphic organizer that can be used by students to organize ideas to create a compare and contrast text. In the example below, students have been asked to compare and contrast activities people might do in the summer to those in the winter. The graphic organizer shown below has been completed with words and phrases but also could be completed with symbols, photographs, objects or tactile representations.


Text Type: Informational / Compare and Contrast cont.

Grade 7

CCCs Essential Understandings
7.WI.j2 Organize ideas, concepts, and information (e.g., using definition, classification, comparison/contrast, cause/effect).

Identify relationship of set of items in various categories (definition, classification, compare/contrast, cause/effect).

THEN

Identify the text structure of a provided text.

THEN

With guidance and support, outline a list of key ideas, concepts and information from a provided text.

7.WL.l1 Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events

Identify a visual image to match provided text.

THEN

Identify precise words and phrases, relevant details, and/or sensory language that convey action, experiences and/or events in a provided text.

THEN

Add precise words and phrases and relevant details to a familiar story that does not include these elements.

7.WL.o1 Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.

From a given list, identify the appropriate conclusion to a provided story.

THEN

Add an appropriate conclusion to a narrated experience or sequence of events.

7.WI.o1 Produce a clear coherent permanent product that is appropriate to the specific task (e.g., topic), purpose (e.g., to inform), and audience (e.g., reader). Given a specific purpose, produce a permanent product (e.g., select text appropriate to the purpose, identify descriptive sentences, and select a concluding statement).
Text Types: Informational/Cause and Effect

Students may create writing pieces about a cause and its effect. The graphic organizer shown below has been completed with words and phrases but also could be completed with symbols, photographs, objects or tactile representations.

Some students may be able to generate the ideas to put in the graphic organizers. Others may need response options. For example, here are four plausible effects of not doing your chores:

  1. Lose TV time
  2. Cannot go on outings such as shopping
  3. Have to do extra chores
  4. Have to go to bed early

Ask the student to choose two or three of the effects and then provide their own details.


Students should be reminded to use transition words, end punctuation and correct capitalization. After students have completed a draft, students may review their draft to make any final edits (e.g., add details, transition words, end punctuation).

Grades 9-12

CCCsEssential Understandings
1112.WP.b3 Introduce claim(s) for an argument that reflects knowledge of the topic.

Identify the claim within a persuasive text.

THEN

Match claims to an argument.

THEN

Identify context that establishes the importance of a provided claim.

1112.WI.b2 Create an organizational structure for writing that groups information logically (e.g., cause/effect, compare/contrast, descriptions and examples) to support paragraph focus.

Identify relationship of set of items in various categories (definition, classification, compare/contrast, cause/effect).

THEN

Identify the text structure of a provided text.

THEN

With guidance and support, outline a list of key ideas, concepts and information from a provided text.

1112.WI.b4 Provide the facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples that are most relevant to the focus and appropriate for the audience.

With guidance and support, sort relevant and irrelevant information related to a given topic into the correct categories.

THEN

Identify facts and details related to a specified topic.

THEN

Develop the topic by identifying at least one relevant fact, definition, quote, example or detail.

THEN

With guidance and support, list characteristics of a given audience that might change the focus of the writing.

1112.WP.f1 Produce a clear coherent permanent product that is appropriate to the specific task, purpose (to persuade), and audience. Given a specific purpose, produce a permanent product (e.g., select text appropriate to the purpose, identify descriptive sentences, and select a concluding statement).
Text Type: Persuasive

In high school students have an increased focus on persuasive text. Students need to be able to make a claim and support that claim with reasons and evidence or specific examples. Below is an example of a completed graphic organizer that was used to organize information on a claim related to school field trips. The graphic organizer shown below has been completed with words and phrases but also could be completed with symbols, photographs, objects or tactile representations.

Some students may be able to generate the ideas to put in the graphic organizers. Others may need an array of choices provided. For example, here are four plausible reasons to support the claim that schools should allow field trips:

  1. Field trips are educational
  2. Field trips allow students to do new things
  3. Students can practice social skills on field trips
  4. You can demonstrate things you have learned in school on field trips

Students may choose two or three of the reasons and then provide their own facts or examples to support each reason.

After organizing thoughts on the graphic organizer, students will create a draft of their persuasive writing.

Students should be reminded to use signal words, end punctuation and correct capitalization. For example, the draft above uses signal words to connect the reasons to the evidence that supports the reasons such as because. These words may have been provided in a word bank of signal words.

After students have completed a draft, students may review their draft to make any final edits (e.g., add end punctuation).

4. What Are Some Additional Activities That Can Promote Writing in Real World Contexts?

*Remember writing can be completed using multi-media


Community Involvement

  • Create signs and flyers for events
  • Post a review about a restaurant or a product online
  • Compose a newsletter
  • Post comments online in reaction to news articles
  • Use the ReadWriteThink Printing Press tool to create newspapers, brochures, flyers and booklets.
  • Write "how-to" pieces (e.g., how to brush your teeth, how to care for the family pet, how to make a Facebook page, or how to get a driver's license). Post these on social media or YouTube.
    • Great place to practice writing about problem/solution. For example, a problem (e.g., You want to create your own YouTube channel but do not know how) can lead to several possible solutions (e.g., ask a friend, google your problem) and then to a "how-to" piece (e.g., How to create your own YouTube Channel).
  • Create a PowerPoint based on an informational topic that is locally relevant. For example, the topic might be the impact of carbon footprints and the PowerPoint might be on what the author plans to do to reduce their own carbon footprint.
    • Great place to practice making a claim and supporting the claim with reason and evidence.


Daily Living

  • Create lists (for grocery shopping, packing, etc.)
  • Script a voicemail message
  • Compose thank you cards
    • Teach capitalization of proper nouns
  • Create a daily schedule
    • Teach sequencing in a meaningful context. Be sure to use signal words such as first, second…when creating the schedule
  • Create a workout routine
  • Make a sign for a lemonade stand, bake sale, yard sale…


Leisure

  • Publish a blog or social media site
  • Create a script for a YouTube or Vine video
    • Great place to practice using transition phases such as "First, I will…", or "In conclusion…"
  • Write a poem for online or print publication
  • Write a song
  • Use social media to reach out to a friend
  • Write an itinerary
  • Publish short stories online (www.fanfiction.net, www.booksie.com, www.littlebirdtales.com)
  • Plan a vacation
  • Journal about experiences
  • Write to a favorite author or celebrity
  • Write letters to friends of family


Self-Advocacy

  • Write letters to editorial newspaper columns, government officials, or website
  • Communicate wants and needs via text message
    • Use a speech to text app if needed
  • Post an online classified ad to buy or sell an item
  • Send invitations via email or handwritten notes inviting family and friends to and important event (e.g., graduation, chorus concert, sports event)


Vocational

  • Create a resume for potential jobs
  • Script possible answers to interview questions
  • Create business cards
  • Post an online classified ad seeking employment
  • Complete an online interest inventory (e.g., O\*Net http://www.onetcenter.org/online.html).
  • Create practice forms and use a Smartboard, dry erase board, or overhead to walk students through filling out a bank form, (e.g., checking/savings account application, loan application, deposit slip, etc.), a voter registration, or an application for an Identification Card at their local DMV.

5. How Can I Further Promote College and Career Readiness when Teaching "Writing"?

Ideas for Promoting Career/ College Ready Outcomes:

Communicative competence: Since written expression is considered a form of expressive communication, it is easy to observe how improvements in writing skills may enhance a students' overall communicative competence. This communicative competence is critical to success in post-secondary settings. Consistent opportunities to interact with text and written expression may lead to an increase in symbolic communication. Basic writing skills such as the ability to have a legal signature has lifelong benefits. Writing skills that may improve college and career readiness include the ability to sequence events, express opinion, support opinions with evidence, and relay factual information- all in the context of a permanent product. Additionally, specific vocabulary is essential to increasing communicative competence. For example, a student must be able to use the terms "first", "next", and "last" in order to successfully sequence events.

Fluency in reading, writing, and math: Fluency in writing is supported by providing daily opportunities to comprehend, synthesize, and express information and opinions. A student who is able to become a fluent writer may benefit through increased educational and/or vocational opportunities, richer personal relationships and leisure skills.

Age appropriate social skills: When used appropriately, the ability to communicate through written expression can provide students with the skills to greet others, interact with new and unfamiliar people, and extend family relationships. Appropriate social skills can be easily addressed during writing instruction when students write to complete greeting cards, letters, e-mail messages, memos, text messages, and when using social media. Students who understand the purpose of and can participate in creating a permanent product may be able to work in small groups (e.g., school clubs) to create posters that advocate for a cause. They may also be able to participate in groups that share common interest by using social media. Writing instruction provides an opportunity for students to learn boundaries and rules for what is and is not appropriate writing. For example-it is not appropriate to write on tables or to write a friends name and phone number on the bathroom stalls.

Independent work behaviors: Work tasks such as completing time sheets, leave request, or other work related forms can be included as a part of writing instruction and may increase independent work behaviors. Students can increase their independent work behaviors by writing the steps needed to complete work tasks. Graphic organizers may be helpful to compartmentalize tasks. Many job-related tasks involve writing (e.g. college and career interest inventories, job applications, resumes and cover sheets, tax forms, insurance forms, voter registrations, state identification cards, banking forms). Writing instruction should include accommodation and modifications needed to allow students to be independent as possible.

Skills in accessing support systems: In order to access a support system, a student must first be able to identify a problem, determine what type of assistance is needed and then appropriately request assistance. In many instances, a request for assistance must be made in writing (e.g., contacting the Help Desk on a website) or is more efficient when completed in writing (texting a friend to ask for a ride). Students can apply their writing skills when accessing search engines online to locate ideas to aid in solving problems (e.g. looking up the address of a business). Students who are not traditional writers and require a scribe will gain experience in requesting assistance for a specific purpose.

6. How Do I Make Instruction on "Writing" Accessible to ALL the Students I Teach?

Within NCSC, writing has been defined as:

Writing (different text types and production): Generating a permanent product to represent and/or organize ideas or thoughts so messages can be interpreted by someone else when the writer is not present. Symbols (e.g., picture symbols, objects) that represent and assistive technology that produce text may be used.

The term "writing" is used throughout this document with the assumption that students' writing or permanent products are created through various modes (e.g., traditional writing, voice output devices, speech to text) of expression. Consider the following suggestions:

  • Begin with the mode of communication that a student uses most effectively to express him or herself; this will likely be the most effective and efficient place to start.
  • Since early writing responses are general reinforced by responses made by the reader, teachers must emphasize the important of clarity and legibility, and when appropriate provide supporting anecdotal notes to indicate student intent.
  • Encourage students who can write to be as independent as possible. If needed, provide supports such as sentence starters or sentences with missing words that the student can complete.
  • Students who cannot physically write can still complete many of the same tasks as students who are writers.
    • Read sentence, phrase, or word choices aloud. Student can indicate the preferred sentence, phrase or word via
      • Point
      • Eye gaze
      • Voice out device
      • Auditory scanning
      • Eye blinks
      • Head nods/shakes
  • Support text (i.e., sentences, phrases, words) by symbols (e.g., Board maker), illustrations, photographs, objects or tactile representations as needed.
  • Some students may create permanent product s via speech to text programs or through the use of a scribe.
    • If a student is using either of these methods, consider how to teach conventions. For example, students may "say" the end punctuation and the scribe will add it or the scribe may write everything the student says and then give the student an opportunity to correct or add the end punctuation
  • Consider technology that may be useful during writing activities
    • Many students have been successful using a tablet during instruction to create a written product
    • Consult with assistive technology specialists to discuss possibilities of low to high tech devices for increasing independence and participation

6.2 Teach Prerequisites Concurrently While Teaching Skills Related to Writing and Written Expression:

Remember that students can continue to learn the basic skills of written expression in the context of this grade level content.

Basic written expression that can be taught in the context of grade level content:

  • Letter recognition
  • Word recognition
  • Letter or word copying with a model
  • Basic understanding of telling a story (e.g., beginning, middle, end)
  • Concept of cause/effect
  • Concept of problem/solution
  • Concept of compare/contrast
  • Vocabulary acquisition
  • Identifying a main idea
  • Using supports such as graphic organizers

6.3 Incorporate Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

ConceptWhat does it mean?How do I provide equal access?
RepresentationThe presentation of information that will provide equal access for all learners.

Modifications that can be made to classroom materials that would make them more accessible to students with disabilities (e.g., modified books, larger print, light box, highlight text).

When students are asked to read or gather information before completing a writing assignment provide multiple versions of the text:
  • highlighted copy
  • PowerPoint version
  • summarized version
ExpressionAlternatives of communication in order to provide equal access of expression for all learners.

Modifications can be made for alternate methods of communication for students with limited or no speech (e.g., use of augmentative devices, computers).

Offer multiple strategies for students to create permanent products:
  • traditional writing
  • selecting prewritten sentences, symbols or photos
  • speech to text
  • use of a scribe
EngagementTo increase the opportunity and motivation to provide equal access in engagement for all learners.

Modifications that can be made to provide strategies that involve students more in the learning process.

Select engaging topics or allow students to select their own topics. Make connections to real world contexts.

Provide breaks during writing tasks as well as adequate wait time.

Use a peer buddy system.

6.4 Provide for additional Differentiated Instruction when Teaching Written Expression

Some examples of options for teaching writing to students who may present instructional challenges due to:

How Do I Make Instruction on "Writing" Accessible to ALL the Students I Teach?


Differentiated Instruction when Teaching Written Expression

Some examples of options for teaching writing to students who may present instructional challenges due to: Sensory Differences such as Blindness, Visual Impairment, Deafness, or Deaf/Blindness
When presenting materials or providing instruction:
  • Provide instruction using an interactive whiteboard
  • Increase vocabulary by pre-teaching basic concepts using objects
  • Capitalize on sense of touch through the systematic use of objects and tangible symbols throughout the lesson
  • Present information is a simple and sequential manner

For students with visual impairments:

  • Present materials within student's visual range (distance and plane)
  • Ensure that glasses (if prescribed) are clean and correctly positioned
  • Reduce glare on materials caused by classroom lighting or light coming in from windows
  • Enlarge or magnify images and materials (magnify i.e.: portable or stationary video magnifier)
  • Prepare/Present text using larger print, magnification devices, or braille
  • Use objects and/or enlarged images or tactile graphics to represent main writing content and/or vocabulary
    • Provide a concise oral description of materials provided to the student
    • Create Object Books
      • Use to teach students about sequencing events when writing. For example, an Object Book with the student's daily schedule illustrates a sequence of events.
      • Create Object Books to teach parts of speech (e.g., a book of nouns) that the student can use when writing
  • Incorporate tactile graphics or Braille
  • Use high contrast materials on solid colored background
  • Increase contrast between materials by
    • Using a light box
    • Placing lighter materials against a dark background
    • Using a flashlight to highlight material and direct visual gaze

For students with hearing impairments:

  • Students with visual impairments are visual learners. Incorporate lots of objects, graphics and graphic organizers
  • One visual source of information should be presented at a time
  • Provide instruction using an amplification systems or assistive listening device
  • When oral speech is being used to provide instruction, pair with sign language, gestures, written text, symbols, and/or pictures
  • Use concrete objects to represent writing prompts when possible
    • Transitioning to abstract concepts (e.g., feelings) is difficult and requires repetition and scaffolding
  • Add sound effects when appropriate (e.g., sound of a whale, busy city streets, a tornado)
  • Teach symbols to represent key concepts in writing (e.g., beginning, middle, end)
  • Refer to symbols that the student understands when providing instruction or when modeling written expression
When planning for how the student will demonstrate understanding:
  • Provide increased wait/response time as extra time may be needed to process information through other senses
  • Pair students with peers to scribe for the student and then to read aloud their written product

For students with visual impairments:

  • Use voice output devices for student to select prerecorded sentence in order to create a written product
  • Use objects or tangible symbols to represent key ideas and concepts
    • The student can create simple sentences using objects from individualized Object Books (e.g., Horses run., Horses eat oats.)
  • Use highlighted, lined paper
  • Use solid colored, sturdy task boards or sentence strips
  • Text to speech technology
When planning for how to maximize engagement:
  • Prior to writing activity limit fatigue by ensuring that the student is positioned well
  • Use concepts or topics that are familiar and reinforcing to student
  • Obtain the student's attention using consistent and respectful cues (e.g., touch cue to the shoulder) prior to communicating with them
  • Provide directions and instructions using the student's preferred and strongest mode of communication as students will benefit from total communication approach including spoken language, tactile information, and sign language
  • Use hands-on learning experiences that incorporate a multisensory approach and rely on information available through touch, smell, and movement
  • Create writing activities that are multi-sensory in nature and engage more than one sense at a time (e.g., when reading The Three Little Pigs, have a sample piece of straw, wood and brick to touch)
    • Ask students to use the manipulatives to sequence the story as their written product
    • Have students chose sensory words to describe an object (e.g., the straw) or provide the word and ask the student with a visual impairment to select the object that the word describes
  • Pair students with peers
  • Use appropriate computer programs or an interactive whiteboard

For students with visual impairments:

  • Teach student to use their hands to explore objects, braille and raised images
  • For student's with functional vision, use Interactive whiteboard during instruction by positioning board within appropriate visual range
  • Reduce any auditory distractions (e.g., music playing in the background)

For students with hearing impairments:

  • Reduce any auditory distractions (e.g., music playing in the background)
  • Use concrete objects to represent writing prompts when possible

Additional resources:

http://mtdeafblind.ruralinstitute.umt.edu/FactSheets.asp

Some examples of options for teaching writing to students who may present instructional challenges due to: Physical Disability or Motor Differences (such as weakness or motor planning difficulty)
When presenting materials or providing instruction:

Students with physical disabilities may be required to use a wheelchair or may have limited range of motion throughout their body. Correct positioning for learning will be crucial for students with these characteristics. When presenting materials, be sure to consider how the student is positioned and present materials so that they are easily viewed and accessed by the student.

  • Consideration for the presentation of writing tasks
  • Ensure that students wheelchair users can access relevant instructional areas (e.g., raised desk a computer station)
  • Adjust the computer display or other materials within student line of sight,
    • Ensure that positioning supports student trunk and limb stability
    • Plan for direct (switch, trackballs, eye gaze) or indirect selection (scanning) techniques and ensure that students can request assistance during instruction.
  • Materials that require the student to interact may need to be printed in large text and spaced further apart to allow for gross motor movements rather than fine motor movements. For example, if a student has limited fine motor skills and will be asked to look at a prewritten sentence and point to the word(s) that should be capitalized, the words in the sentence will need to be spaced far enough apart to allow the student to make an accurate and purposeful choice.
When planning for how the student will demonstrate understanding:

A student with physical limitations may not have the fine motor skills needed for traditional writing and therefore, will likely need an alternative way of creating a permanent product. Some students may create a permanent product via a series of selected responses.

  • Provide pre-printed response options that are accessible to the student (e.g., symbols added to the text) and are large enough to accommodate the movements within a student's range of motion
  • Student may make selection by
    • Scanning an array of possible options and using a switch to make selection
    • Using an eye gaze board
    • Using a blink response
    • Pointing to make a selection
  • Students who are verbal may create permanent products through the use of a scribe
  • Assistive technology devices that can be positioned using a universal mount for easy access or can be activated with a switch that is mounted on a universal mount. Mounting the device or switch allows the student to activate the device with any part of their body (e.g., hand, knee, head…). Devices might include:
    • An iPad or other tablet
    • AAC devices for responding, voice activated switches
    • Expanded keyboards
    • Virtual keyboards
    • Alternatives to mice such as a trackball
    • Speech recognition software
  • Even with physical limitations, some students will be able to write by using
    • an adaptive pencil/pen grip
    • soft tip pens that require less pressure for writing
    • Slant board

Students with physical limitations will likely require increased time to complete writing tasks.

When planning for how to maximize engagement:

Writing tasks often require sustained attention. Students with physical disabilities may spend the school day in a wheelchair or other positioning equipment. Proper positioning increases the likelihood that the student can attend to instruction by decreasing fatigue or discomfort.

  • Prior to writing activity limit fatigue by ensuring that the student is positioned well.
  • Frequent breaks should be offered during writing tasks.
  • If the student is motivated by attention, allow the student to be in the spotlight by participating in class presentations. For example, informational writing often involves presenting what was learned. A student with physical limitations can participate by collaborating with a peer to create a PowerPoint of important facts related to the topic, then, the student can present the PowerPoint using an interactive whiteboard and assistive technology.
For more information on teaching students with physical limitations, see the following:
Some examples of options for teaching writing to students who may present instructional challenges due to: Extremely limited evidence of experience/skill
When presenting materials or providing instruction:
  • Scaffold instruction in a way that is comparable to the student's communication or literacy level. For example, if the student uses labeled objects to communicate and to answer comprehension questions about academic content, use labeled objects to create permanent products, beginning with familiar ones. Build on academic instruction by including a writing component to academic lessons.
  • Present the student with prewritten sentences with missing words that can be filled in with words that are familiar to the student. Words may be paired with symbols, photos, or objects.
  • In some cases, information can be presented using a combination of oral speech and age appropriate visuals. For example, a student learning about persuasive writing may be shown models of type of writing such as an advertisement in a magazine or on television. The teacher may provide a summary of the advertisement and point out important information.
When planning for how the student will demonstrate understanding:
  • Allow the student to generate permanent products through a series of dichotomous choices.
  • Selections should be made using a response mode that is consistent with how the student communicates (e.g., eye gazes using photographs).
When planning for how to maximize engagement:
  • Allow for breaks to avoid frustration.
  • Choose topics that the student has a personal interest in.
  • Ensure success by beginning with writing tasks that simply require the student to express an opinion. For example, "The character I liked best was ______." You may begin with sentences and response options that are both correct. For example the sentence : "I think it is best to exercise_______." could be completed with "after dinner" or "with a friend".

7. Where Can I Get More Information on the topics covered in this Curriculum Resource Guide?

7.1 Content Modules ELA, Writing

There are relevant content modules that provide explanations and examples of the concepts contained in the Common Core State Standards. These modules can be used by teachers K-12 and include:
  • Author's Purpose and Point of View Content Module
  • Informational Writing Content Module
  • Main Idea, Theme, and Details Content Module
  • Narrative Writing Content Module
  • Persuasive Writing Content Module
  • Summarizing and Inferencing Content Module
  • Text Structure Content Module
  • Vocabulary and Acquisition Content Module
These content modules can be accessed at:
https://wiki.ncscpartners.org/mediawiki/index.php/Content_Modules

7.2 ECU MAST Modules

This set of modules was developed specifically for special educators. There is a module on the topic of creating writing opportunities.
This module can be accessed at:
http://mast.ecu.edu/modules/bw/

7.3 Online Resources

7.4 Suggested Published Resources:

  • Genre Study: Study Driven by Katie Wood Ray
  • Lessons about Craft: Craft Lessons and Nonfiction Craft Lessons by Ralph Fletcher and Joann Portalupi
  • Lessons about Revising: Revision Toolbox by Georgia Heard
  • Lessons about Editing: Mechanically Inclined and Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson
  • Overview of how to Foster Writers Workshop in the Classroom: Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide by Ralph Fletcher and Joann Portalupi,
  • More Language Arts, Math, and Science for Students with Severe Disabilities by Diane Browder and Fred Spooner

Additional Resources

Basic Graphic Organizers to use When Teaching Written Expression

CR Guide Writing Final pdf

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