2004 Conference Proceedings

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WRITING PROJECTS: FROM PAINFUL TO POLISHED

Presenter(s)
Kevin Johnston
Don Johnston Incorporated
26799 W Commerce Drive
Volo, IL 60073
Phone: 847-740-0749, ext 593
Fax: 847-740-7326
Email: kjohnston@donjohnston.com

Participants will:

All students are overwhelmed as they embark on writing about topics of which they have little knowledge. Students with learning disabilities find it particularly challenging to research, outline and produce quality first drafts. Using Draft:Builder-an organizational writing tool, the internet and a talking word processor, students are able to work through the progressive tasks of draft-writing systematically and with just the right amount of support. No more lost note cards, outlines and missing bibliographies!

Participants in this session will be given numerous application ideas for using these technologies with students of all abilities to research for the purpose of writing.

After students select their topic they begin researching. It's not the same old scene-students at the library with a pile of encyclopedias-it's students at the library, at the back of the class or in the lab lining up to go "on-line". Access to millions of resources requires only a few keystrokes! While this is amazing and wonderful it can also be very distracting, especially if students have trouble identifying which pieces of information are important to their writing project. Utilizing templates as a guided reading tool and importing the text into a talking word processor can help them stay on task as they're reading and collecting information about their topic. As students narrow their interest and identify important information they can use various strategies and utilize simple features of the word processor to identify the pieces of text they feel are important.

Draft:Builder makes it easy for student to collect notes, establish categories and organize their information. Students are limited to recording discrete pieces of information and placing that information under the appropriate subtopic. Having dual views on every screen is powerful as linear and abstract learning styles are consistently addressed. As a result, students begin to understand how their ideas are connected and the focus is shifted from the mechanics of outlining to organizing and synthesizing information. The bibliographer models MLA (Modern Language Association) formats for citing resources taken from most any medium, e.g. the internet, books, magazines, electronic encyclopedias, etc.

In the final step-Draft View, students see their outline and all of their notes. Concurrently they are presented with a blank screen in which they begin composing their draft. They can summarize and paraphrase as they look at their notes or they may pull their notes into the draft simply by dragging them. All of the supports that guarantee success for struggling students have been built into every view- speech feedback is available for students who need to hear the text as they write and the Franklin Spellchecker can be activated in each view or upon completion of their first draft.

Educators can choose from a vast selection of templates-all included. These templates provide prompts and questions that get students writing and guarantee "polished, not painful, writing projects!"


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