Keys to Literacy in Specials Classes

At first glance, it may seem strange to think of the Specials departments when you think of Language Arts curriculum.

One critical feature of the Keys to Literacy approach is the overt teaching and application of the process approach to writing. Students learn the steps Think and Plan, Write, Revise, and Edit  (TPWR) in Language Arts, but it turns out to be just as useful in art class and PE. Why?  Well, these steps actually turn out to be pretty powerful tools in any task-oriented activity.  Want to improve your free-throw?  Think about what you want to change, make a plan for practice, do the practice, and then use feedback to revise your practice technique until you meet your goal. What about tech classes? Our tech classes all teach students how to use technology to not only consume digital media, but also to create it. Think about the type of product that will best fit your purpose and your audience, make a plan, draft the project, get feedback, and revise until it meets your goal. Then polish up your product (edit) until all the details meet your standards. Drama and music…Well, you get the idea.

While these steps may seem intuitive to most, students with executive function deficits often struggle to understand and implement the process. Creating high-quality work seems unattainable when they believe that their first effort is all that matters. Consciously practicing TPWR across many disciplines helps students internalize the routine and develop a growth mindset about their work. Our specials teachers overtly model this process and provide scaffolds for students to use it on a regular basis. When it comes to the arts, athletics, and technology, students can quickly see how much better their outcomes are when they Think and Plan, Create, and Revise.


Leslie Buford
Language Specialist and Head of Specials