2004 Conference Proceedings

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SPANNING THE SPECTRUM: REPORT WRITING FOR ALL ABILITIES

Presenter(s)
Bob Keller
Don Johnston Incorporated
26799 W Commerce Drive
Volo, IL 60073
Phone: 847-740-0749, ext 550
Fax: 847-740-7326
Email: bkeller@donjohnston.com

Participants will:

Older struggling readers and writers in the intermediate, middle and high school grades aren't any different than their peers reading at grade level as far as their interests and curriculum demands; however they are different when it comes to finding materials that will engage them, grow their vocabulary, meet their reading abilities and support them in expressing their ideas or knowledge through writing. In this lab, participants will have hands-on experience with three literacy technology tools, Start-to-Finish(r) Books, Draft:Builder(r) and Write:OutLoud(r), that work together to provide a complete reading and writing solution that offers the supportive scaffolds struggling students need to make their authentic reading and writing experiences successful.

In order to motivate and create a love of reading it is essential that struggling readers have an environment that nurtures and sets them up for success-causing more and more reading. Cunningham and Stanovich (1998) state what research has told us over and over again, "We should provide all children, regardless of their achievement levels, with as many reading experiences as possible. Indeed, this becomes doubly imperative for precisely those children whose verbal abilities are most in need of bolstering, for it is the very act of reading that can build those capacities. An encouraging message for teachers of low-achieving students is implicit here. We often despair of changing our students' abilities, but there is at least one partially malleable habit that will itself develop abilities - reading!"

Using Start-to-Finish Books, we will demonstrate how to build a successful reading environment for struggling readers that combines text that is considerate of the interests and abilities of older struggling readers with printed paperback books, computer books and audio books.

Once students have found their love of reading it is natural to give them an opportunity to express themselves so they can demonstrate what they have learned and practice the vocabulary they acquired with real, authentic writing activities. Authentic writing activities for struggling writers should have a clear purpose, be engaging and supportive of all the steps in the writing process. For struggling students, the process must be very organized and the focused on the content. The focus on the mechanics of writing should be kept to a minimum so that students can narrow in on what and how they want to say something. By providing technology tools that give a solid scaffold from the beginning outline to the first draft and beyond to the editing phases, students can focus on exactly what they want to write about. Using Draft:Builder, we will show you how to build templates for a book report activity that reaches multiple ability levels and use it to create a good first draft. ! From the draft we will use Write:OutLoud to focus on the editing and revising phase of the writing process to prepare a final paper.

From reading to writing, students can have literacy success when the right interventions are purposefully introduced into the curriculum and constantly evaluated to provide the right support throughout the year.

Reference:

Cunningham, A. & Stanovich, K.E. (1998). What reading does for the mind. American Educator. Spring/Summer.


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