First Author Writing Software helps teachers bring writing to students planning to take the alternate assessment—the 1 to 3 percent of students with complex instructional needs, including autism. First Author will help you make these students, who were never expected to write, into first-time authors. The software was developed with Dr. Janet Sturm through an NIH research and development grant.
What is First Author Writing Software?
First Author is a writing software platform that helps students with complex instructional needs write independently on self-selected and curriculum-tied topics. It does so by guiding students through a three-step writing process: choosing a topic, selecting a picture prompt, and writing with the support of built-in accommodations. It also guides teachers through the process of assessing student writings and tracking progress over time.
Why You Will Love First Author!
For Teachers, First Author handles the most time-intensive teacher tasks automatically, making it really easy to use. It allows students to write independently and informs teachers where their students stand in writing development, which helps target instruction.
- Word banks and picture prompts are generated automatically
- Writing progress is graphed automatically
- Accommodations are built in
In research trials, First Author improved writing quality and length even for students who were previously stuck at the “scribbling” stage for years.
Who Needs First Author?
- Writing challenges who are planning to take the alternate assessment
- Mild, moderate, and severe developmental disabilities—including autism
- Physical disabilities that make writing difficult
- Teach students with complex instructional needs, including autism
- Teach Handwriting Without Tears to middle and high school students
- Want to see their classrooms become a classroom of authors
With First Author Writing Software, the students behind First-Time Author Stories are able to truly express what they were unable to do before.
“Research demonstrates that in order for students with developmental disabilities to develop as writers, writing instruction needs to be embedded in their daily curriculum and must include accommodations using assistive technology (Joseph & Knorad, 2009).” – Sturm, 2012
Can Low Incidence Students Become First-Time Writers?
Dr. Janet Sturm, Ph.D, CCC-SLP, shares stories about students who were never expected to write, like Antonio and Sean. But now, as teenagers, they are expressing themselves through writing, despite their various disabilities.
Dr. Sturm discusses how she and the teachers at four Michigan schools helped these students learn to write. They introduced an innovative, student-friendly software tool, First Author Writing Software, that gets students excited about writing, and a new methodology, First Author Writing Measures, that helps teachers measure emergent writing progress!
These students now proudly say, “I’m an Author!”
Watch the presentation online now! Please be patient, the video may take additional time to load. (60 min)
Writing with First Author is Practically Automatic
Type the name of a topic. First Author populates a word bank related to the topic “on-the-fly”.
Choose a picture from the automatically-generated choices.
Write to the picture prompt using the word bank and keypad and publish the book!
Accommodations are built in (multiple on-screen keyboards, single- and two-switch scanning) for students needing additional accessibility. First Author also works seamlessly with Co:Writer for students who need help with grammar, spelling, and reducing keystrokes.
First Author Writing Software helps students write independently, freeing classroom teachers up to focus on instruction. A prerequisite for instruction is knowing where students stand in their writing development. First Author embeds progress monitoring in the tool—making it easy to accomplish this goal.
Writing progress is graphed automatically. Teachers can track individual student progress or compare groups of students.
- Developmental Writing Scale level
- Letter use per writing
- Cumulative letters used across all writings
- Total unique words by assignment
- Intelligible words by assignment
- Text type diversity (teacher logged)
- Cumulative topic diversity across all writings (teacher logged)
- Time on task
- Cumulative text type diversity (teacher logged)
- Measure of attitude and efficacy (teacher logged)
First Author guides teachers through the process of scoring student writing samples with the built-in Developmental Writing Scale and text-type diversity measures. Each writing is scored in just seconds. This helps educators identify changes in writing progressions from emergent writing to conventional paragraph writing. Together, the measures paint a picture of where each student stands as a writer and helps inform instruction.
Make First Author Writing Software part of your writing plans and help teachers support the diversity of students in their classrooms, while making students into better writers.
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