First Author Curriculum

Product Description
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A comprehensive curriculum that gives educators the right tools to teach students with complex instructional needs how to write and then measure their writing progress. The ONLY writing curriculum of its kind. First Author will help you meet curriculum writing requirements and prepare students for assessment.

First Author Writing Curriculum is a comprehensive curriculum that supports daily writing instruction in self-contained and designated special needs classrooms, resource rooms, autism support programs and MID, DD classrooms and co-op programs. It was designed to provide explicit daily instruction in both writing, and speaking and listening that is grounded in early writing development.

First Author will help you move from teaching letter shapes year after year into teaching writing with the proper accommodations and turn your students with complex needs into first-time authors! 


First Author Writing Curriculum: Perspectives from the Classroom from DonJohnstonInc on Vimeo.


Program Components:


  • Curriculum Guide (spiral binder) with an appendix, containing support tools--125 pages
  • Instruction Guide
  • 80 Mini-lessons
  • 63 Tip Sheets
  • Assessment Guide (includes standards-based IEP goals)
  • Classroom Posters
  • Teacher Resource CD reproducible tools to include; data collection tool, sample parent letters, Meet the Author materials, Author’s Toolkit labels and tabs, Communication boards, Letter boards, Topic boards, Writing Measure form, PD tips for supporting adults


If you are using a district-created writing curriculum in your self-contained and resource classrooms, First Author will help systematize instruction and speed up progress monitoring. If you don’t have a dedicated writing curriculum, First Author is a great place to start! 


How it Works


Students’ daily writing is self-directed and follows short mini-lessons. Mini-lessons model the instructional approach associated with process writing (planning, composing, publishing and sharing). Students use Tip Sheets as cognitive strategy supports while they write. These Tip Sheets are used as prompts to reinforce the skills taught during the mini-lessons.
The first 30 days of the curriculum are mapped out for both student and teacher success! After that, teachers choose lessons that support their unique classroom needs and teaching goals.
Communication and self-expression is emphasized through a weekly activity called Author’s Chair. Students have an opportunity to share out their writing from the week. Dr. Sturm teaches how this social interaction helps students become good speakers and good listeners and how to ask questions and give feedback.


Measures and Assessments


First Author Writing Curriculum includes several writing measures that monitor progress and are used to set goals and measure outcomes. These multiple formative and summative measures guide instruction. The anchor measurement tool is called the Development Writing Scale, this 14-point scale is sensitive to the slightest progressions from scribbling to paragraph writing.
Formative writing measures guide teachers to assess early student writing from scribbling to paragraph writing on both qualitative and quantitative characteristics. The measures help teachers clearly see where students are at in their writing development and where instruction should be directed to achieve the next level.
The measures assess writing on both quantitative and qualitative dimensions. The 14-point Developmental Writing Scale assesses tracks writing from scribbling (emergent) to paragraph writing (2nd grade). They also track Text Type Diversity, Topic Diversity, Total Intelligible Words, Total Unique Words, Total Number of Letters, and Total Unique Letters.
The measures were developed to accomplish five key purposes:

  • Identify small differences in beginning writing skills
  • Be easy for educators to learn and use reliably
  • Offer instructionally relevant information about what to target next
  • Serve as a functional outcome measure for periodic assessment probes and classroom-produced writing artifacts
  • Quantify evidence of small but significant changes so that educators can celebrate growth with students and their parents

Together, these measures help show where each student stands in writing development which shows where instruction should be directed to achieve the next level.





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