National Writing Project

Resource Topics

Teaching Writing - Special Needs

Additional Resources

A Writing Activity to Help Students with Attention Disorders

November 2006
Judy Willis
Neurologist, author, and middle school teacher-consultant Judy Willis devised a strategy to reproduce what learning feels like for those with attention disorders. She writes about her classroom's results and describes how teachers might replicate the lesson themselves. This article received the Association of Educational Publishers Distinguished Achievement Award. More ›

Inclusion and the Multiple Intelligences: Creating a Student-Centered Curriculum

The Quarterly, 2003
Jennifer Borek
Echoing Howard Gardner's work on multiple intelligences, Borek identifies learning similarities in her students and describes ways she uses knowledge of those similarities in her classroom. More ›

Teaching in Two Worlds: Critical Reflection and Teacher Change in the Writing Center

The Quarterly, Spring 2000
Dale Jacobs
Jacobs reflects on ways his experience working in a college writing center led him to revise his approach to classroom teaching, leading him to a pedagogy that was more student centered and focused on individuals. More ›

The Other Side of the Stone: Student Conversations with a Graveyard

The Quarterly, Summer 2000
Patrick C. Pritchard
Pritchard, a teacher at an alternative school for adolescent boys, uses a cemetery as source material for writing and learning. More ›

What's Fair: The Story of Gifted Gail and Special Eddie

The Quarterly, Summer 2000
Donna Vincent
Vincent argues that fairness in education means individualized instruction to meet students' special needs "What if doctors felt that fair meant giving the same treatment to every patient?" More ›

Just Give Me a Chance

The Quarterly, Spring 1999
Richard Mann
Mann draws a parallel between his experience as a young, overlooked baseball player who finally gets a chance to perform and his understanding that all students have the potential to achieve in their own way. More ›

They Will Choose to Learn: An Alternative to the Lock-Step Classroom

The Quarterly, Spring 1999
Jon Appleby
Appleby provides a series of short case studies documenting his work with troubled learners to make the case that individualized learning provides a route to success for these students and, by implication, for all students. More ›

Book Review: Strategies for Struggling Writers, by James L. Collins

The Quarterly, Summer 1999
Mary Landis Hutchinson
Hutchinson concludes that Collins' text will help teachers understand what struggling writers go through and tap into how these writers understand language. But the book is not, as the title suggests, a book of strategies. More ›

Creating Civility: Dialogue Journals in Special Ed Classes

The Quarterly, Spring 1998
Elizabeth Anderson
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. More ›

In the Midst of Silence

The Quarterly, Spring 1998
Kimberly Sloan
Working as a volunteer in a youth correctional facility, Sloan details her struggle to develop a curriculum that would allow her students "to find an overlap between school and their world." More ›

Book Review: If Not Now: Developmental Readers in the College Classroom, by Jeanne Henry

The Quarterly, Spring 1996
Barbara Bass
Bass is admiring and enthusiastic about the reading workshop strategies Henry uses with her developmentally challenged college students, though she is skeptical of the claim that these techniques will work with all students. More ›

Sam and Ansley's Story

The Quarterly, Spring 1996
Ansley Dauenhauer
Dauenhauer documents the progress that Sam, a non-writer and special education student, makes as he is encouraged by a peer tutor to use art as a way into writing. More ›

Jerry: A Special Education Student Discovers Writing and Reading

The Quarterly, Fall 1992
Paul Epstein
Epstein tells a story of his work with Jerry, a designated "moderately mentally impaired" student, as the two travel the road that one step at a time leads Jerry to become a writer of stories. More ›

Seeing the Promise of the Underprepared

The Quarterly, Winter 1991
Cynthia Greenleaf, Glynda Hull, Brian Reilly, Mike Rose
By looking closely at an interaction between a teacher and student, the writers illustrate their thesis that underprepared students may not be "wrong" in their literary interpretations, but rather contributing a fresh, culturally relevant perspective. More ›

Changing the Model: Working with Underprepared Students

The Quarterly, January 1989
Margot Dashiell, Marlene Griffith, Bruce Jacobs, Smokey Wilson
The writers describe a model for increasing the literacy of underprepared adults using strategies that improve understanding of school language, approach new information analytically, and provide for involvement in an academic community. More ›

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