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Five Steps to Energize Writing for Your Students with Complex Needs using First Author™

Presented By :

Janet Sturm, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Kelly Fonner, M.S.

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This is a special opportunity to hear directly from Dr. Janet Sturm, author of the First Author Writing Curriculum™ and Kelly Fonner, MS, consultant in assistive and educational technology.

Now more than ever, it’s important to integrate writing time (as a means of communication) for students with complex needs. But writing is challenging when:

  • Many students are at a functional level (copying, tracing, and writing their names)
  • Some can’t even hold a pencil or type a single word on a computer
  • Many have difficulty maintaining attention at writing time (especially on zoom)

In this webinar, Janet and Kelly unpack these challenges and share a proven model of writing instruction and measurement (using First Author Writing Curriculum) that both students and teachers enjoy! They also include technology-based strategies that will carry over from virtual learning to in-person.

Join Janet and Kelly as they demonstrate writing instruction with First Author. You’ll come away with practical ways to:

  • Get Started with simple, “anywhere” topic selection tips
  • Choose Your Tools—Make writing accessible through technology-based strategies and tools including “alternative pencils”
  • Map the lessons to meet student needs—Engage students with culturally responsive topics, age-respectful content, and spin off activities
  • Facilitate shared communication through Author’s Chair activities—the ultimate communication and engagement platform
  • Measure Writing to understand where each student is at and show progress over time

About the Presenter

Janet Sturm, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

is a Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders at Central Michigan University. Dr. Sturm has been working in general and special education classrooms for over 30 years. Her research and development work focuses on writing instruction for students with disabilities, computer-supported literacy, formative and summative assessments of beginning writers, and classroom communication.

Kelly Fonner, M.S.

is a consultant in assistive and educational technology. She is a Special Educator and has a Masters in Educational Technology with emphasis in Rehabilitation/Special Education. Since 1986 she has presented to schools, universities & families in 46 states & internationally on augmentative communication, computer access & electronic literacy.

Karen A. Erickson, Ph.D.​

Karen A. Erickson, Ph.D. is Director of the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill. Her focus is on understanding the best ways to assess and teach reading and writing to children with the most severe disabilities. As a special education teacher, Dr. Erickson has worked to support students with a range of disabilities in a variety of classroom settings, particularly students who do not use speech as their primary means of communication.


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