National Writing Project

Creating Civility: Dialogue Journals in Special Ed Classes

By: Elizabeth Anderson
Publication: The Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 2
Date: Spring 1998

Summary: Anderson challenges the view that students in a special education setting need language experiences broken down into subcomponents that deny authentic learning. The dialogue journals she introduces counter this restrictive view.



Such questions [of civility] are of fundamental importance when one considers the battleground between teacher and child that many special day classes become--and how so many children who have difficulties with language are subsequently described as behaviorally disordered.

It was in this search for 'civility' that I entered a process of reconsidering my instructional strategies. I recognized the journals some of my students had begun as a useful part of my program... For all students, journals allow safe exploration of the written language and represent a natural way to connect oral and written language to experience.

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