2004 Conference Proceedings

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Brenda Bender
Don Johnston Incorporated
26799 W Commerce Drive
Volo, IL 60073
Phone: 847-740-0749, ext 555
Fax: 847-740-7326
Email: bbender@donjohnston.com

Participants will:

All students need help learning how to gather, organize and synthesize information to produce a high-quality first draft. This process presents particular challenges for students with learning and/or physical disabilities. Many technology solutions only offer students support in the brainstorming and concept development stage. Draft:Builder(r), an organizational writing tool, co-developed by Educational Development Center and Don Johnston Incorporated, moves students beyond brainstorming and concept maps into outlining, note-taking, citing resources and draft-writing. Because the technology was designed specifically for struggling writers, students' focus is shifted from the mechanics of traditional outlining and Roman Numerals, to understanding how thoughts, ideas and information connect.

This hands-on lab demonstrates how educators can use Draft:Builder to focus explicitly on each task required to complete a first draft.

Draft:Builder breaks draft-writing into three skill-building steps so students stay focused and on task. In the Outline View students learn in both a linear and abstract fashion how their ideas are connected. As students generate ideas, each added idea or action is reflected in both the outline and concept map view simultaneously. Modeling and frequent opportunities for practice using familiar topics is key in facilitating student skill acquisition. As students become proficient in their ability to create a solid framework or outline, they will remain more focused as they move into reading and researching their topic further.

Students often need help and support learning how to take short and discrete notes. They will often take long notes that include multiple pieces of information, which becomes complicated as they begin to categorize and organize. As students begin to record and attach notes to their correlating subtopics in the Notes View, the fields are limited, ensuring students separate ideas and monitor the amount of information they record. Additionally, students can move and reassign notes by simply dragging or using keyboard commands. Having this freedom eliminates a great deal of frustration, frustration students typically experience as their writing piece begins to grow and evolve. Further, the bibliographer models MLA formats for citing resources from most any medium, e.g. books, the Internet, 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 has been built into every view- speech feedback is available for students who need to hear the text as they write and the Franklin(r) Spellchecker can be activated in each view or upon completion of their first draft.

Finally, educators can choose from a vast selection of templates, all are included. These templates vary by level of support and provide prompts and questions that get even the most reluctant writers beyond mapping and on to composing a phenomenal first draft!

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