Writing in Action!

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Willans Hill School in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia has been providing comprehensive literacy instruction to their students with significant cognitive disabilities for several years.  They built a web site to share their approach and successes with other educators.  Check out their what they have to say about writing instruction and watch videos of writing in action at:


Want to Know About Teaching Writing?

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You can learn about writing instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities through the DLM Professional Development Modules. The modules you want to look for include:

Module 12:  Writing: Text Types and Purposes

Module 16: Writing with Alternate Pencils
NOTE: This module is especially important if you have students with significant motor impairments.
Module 26: Writing Information and Explanation Texts
NOTE:  In the DLM Assessment System, all students are asked to write information or explanations texts.  If you are unsure how to get started, this module will help.
Module 29: Emergent Writing
NOTE:  In the DLM Assessment System, there are conventional writing testlets and emergent writing testlets at every grade level.  If your students are not yet using letters to spell words to generate texts, they are emergent writers.


A Word About Tar Heel Reader

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The familiar texts used in the DLM alternate assessment are being shared using  Tar Heel Reader (http://tarheelreader.org).  This is a very large library of open-source, accessible, texts for individuals with disabilities of all ages.  Tar Heel Reader was started as a way to address the extreme shortage of easy-to-read books on topics that appeal to older students. Books are contributed to the site by teachers, students, parents, and others from around the world.   There are books on the site that are inappropriate for some audiences.  Reviewers do their best to make sure these books are marked with the CAUTION.  As a result, students should NOT be sent independently to the Tar Heel Reader site.  They should be sent to collections or sets of favorites that teachers create using the tools built into the site.  Teachers can avoid books that they might find offensive by limiting their search to books that are “Reviewed Only” and “Rated E/Everybody.”

Links to the books that are the familiar texts used in the DLM Assessment are provided on this site.  They are available as individual books for teachers to download or read using Powerpoint, and they are available as collections by grade level.

We encourage you to use other books or write your own books on Tar Heel Reader, but remember that it is a library that teachers visit to select books for students – and that students visit when particular collections of books have been identified.



Three new modules on WRITING!!!

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Three new self-directed modules went live today.  The three focus on writing instruction aligned to the DLM Essential Elements for students with significant cognitive disabilities.  The modules are:

Writing: Text Types and Purposes

Publication and Distribution of Writing

Writing: Research and Range of Writing

Find these and other modules on the DLM web site at:


Self-Directed Module on Speaking & Listening Now Available

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We’ve just posted the 12th self-directed module.  This one is on speaking and listening.  Given the characteristics of the population of students with significant cognitive disabilities, it is really a module on Expressive and Receptive Communication.  We look forward to your feedback.  Enjoy!

You can find the link to this module and others are:



DLM Core Vocabulary

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The Center for Literacy and Disability Studies has been working on identifying a core vocabulary to support students who use augmentative and alternative communication as they learn and interact in classrooms teaching the DLM Essential Elements. You can access the core vocabulary and learn more about it at


There will be DLM Professional Development Modules focused on Core Vocabulary, symbols, and supporting beginning communicators coming soon.