WriteOnline Success Story

Berrien Springs High School

Linda Peirano

As a high school special education teacher specializing in learning disabilities, I was very interested in using WriteOnline to support my struggling writers. We had the program installed on the computers in our media lab and myself, my co-worker, and the school’s assistive technology specialist received some WriteOnline training from the Crick Software team.

Having used WriteOnline with a number of students on a one-to-one basis, I would like to highlight the progress made by one particular student, whom I shall refer to as Bart.

Bart has been diagnosed with ASD (autistic spectrum disorder), and has always struggled with writing. His records indicate that his writing is at an elementary level and consistently labored and slow. In my own reading class, he typically only completes 40% of his written answers due to the frustration he experiences as he attempts to compose his answers and the relatively slow speed at which he writes. However, he is a very fast learner with a wealth of knowledge in subjects such as history and current events.

I introduced him to WriteOnline and he was comfortable with it from the start. Actually, he navigates the program better than me!

I introduced him to WriteOnline and he was comfortable with it from the start. Actually, he navigates the program better than me! He used WriteOnline to complete his English 9 short story assignment. As History is his favorite subject, he decided to write his story about World War I.

Firstly, he created a Wordbar of the key words he wanted to use in his story to support him as he wrote. He used his history text to select relevant locations, events, and items such as ‘Serbris’, ‘the third battle of Ypres’, ‘gas masks’ etc. He then wrote for approximately 30 minutes a day for a week, using the word predictor so that he did not have to ask how to spell certain words as he was writing. The completed story was an impressive 820 words long, with an average sentence length of 16 words.

Bart became a confident writer and truly enjoyed composing.
I believe that WriteOnline opened an exciting learning door for Bart and his love of history.

As he used the program to work on his assignment, I observed that Bart became a confident writer and truly enjoyed composing. He was completely involved in his writing and enjoyed his time at the computer, which was particularly pleasing given the paranoia he usually experiences with computer programs he is not familiar with. I did not hear the usual apologies for writing slowly, nor did I witness any frustration. With WriteOnline’s support, the ideas seem to flow easily!

I believe that WriteOnline opened an exciting learning door for Bart and his love of history. He is extremely proud of his short story, probably for the first time in his life. Next, we are going to try composing poetry!