Toward Getting it ‘Write’: Effective & Authentic Writing Instruction for Students with Complex Communication Needs

Written language is a powerful and versatile tool for learning, communication, and thought (Sturm & Koppenhaver, 2000). The ability to use written language opens unlimited possibilities for self-expression across multiple contexts and partners (Sturm, 2012). To become literate, all students, including those who use AAC, need access to writing instruction that supports engagement in authentic, meaningful, and interactive writing experiences. Effective writing instruction in the classroom supports the development of students who view themselves as writers and who experience and understand the power and purpose of writing. In implementation, teachers must create an environment that supports their students as they generate narrative, opinion, and informative pieces as defined in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). But where does the educator start? Which writing practices are effective for students who use AAC systems? One evidence-based approach to writing instruction, an Enriched Writers’ Workshop, offers educators a framework for providing high-quality, differentiated writing instruction for students who use AAC, while addressing individualized student goals for communication. How do common AAC intervention practices fit with best practices in writing instruction? How do we measure change and growth in students who require an extended early writing stage? How do we select appropriate writing tools and accommodations for the writer with complex communication needs (CCN)? This session will address these questions as we use videos, photos, and case examples to walk through the process of creating a community of writers in the elementary classroom with students with CCN.