Nearly all the children at The Craig School have difficulty with written language and therefore, the process of preparing a written document is an important part of the curriculum. The children are methodically taught the following steps in the writing process: "brainstorming" or pre-writing, preparation of an outline, development of a draft, proof reading, and production of the final paper.
The pre-writing phase begins with the use of graphic organizers -- the visual illustrations that help group, prioritize and reveal relationships and patterns among different ideas. One of the most familiar graphic organizers in education is the concept map developed by Joseph Novak (Novak, J. & Gowin, D. Learning How to Learn. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984.) The concept map looks like a flowchart with a central oval shape containing a main idea and spokes radiating out to surrounding ovals depicting supporting details and their relationships. Other types of concept maps are webbing, idea maps, sequential organizers, cause and effect maps, etc.
The resulting traditional outline format may be translated from the graphical representation by pressing "outline" on the tool bar into the following:
Developing the Paper
Project Read-Written Expression, as described above, teaches the components of sentence structure. As the student begins writing a draft of the paper, the software program, Draft:Builder, displays a split screen with the student¹s outline shown on the left. The student can develop the text on the right of the screen in direct reference to the outline.
Proof reading is accomplished with the use of such assistive devices as the Franklin Language Master for spell and grammar checking. A simple device constructed of a plastic plumbing elbow pipe held against the ear much like a conch shell, allows younger children to clearly hear their mistakes as they read aloud a draft of a written composition. Older children who have mastered the writing steps may carry out the entire project on the computer using such software as Co:Writer and Write:OutLoud for word prediction and auditory feedback features. Additionally, peer editing provides important feedback for students along with a homework requirement that parents read the draft twice to their child. Preparation of the final draft for all children is completed on the computer.
In summary, writing skills are explicitly taught at The Craig School. Each step of the process is broken into component parts and then reinforced across the curriculum so that a child has consistent exposure to the skills he or she needs to succeed in an academic environment.