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Evidence of Two Theoretical Models Observed in Young Children with Disabilities Who Are Beginning to Learn to Write

Staples, Amy; Edmister, Evette

doi: 10.1097/TLD.0b013e3182724d29
TLD Special Issue: Access to Writing for Students with Diverse Disabilities

This study examined the composing process and communication of students aged 5–8 identified with intellectual disabilities. An open-ended writing activity called Big Paper was implemented at least once every 2 weeks for a 6-month period. Qualitative methods were utilized to analyze writing samples, videotapes of writing sessions, and transcripts of interactions during writing sessions. Students exhibited a range of communicative interactions during the writing sessions and varied improvement in writing quality along a scale of writing conventions. In addition, students demonstrated engagement in the cognitive process of writing (Flower & Hayes, 1981), and the community as a whole demonstrated engagement consistent with a social-interactive (Nystrand, 1989) composition model. Implications for defining composition, planning instruction, and assessing student growth are shared.

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Departments of Special Education (Dr Staples) and Communication Sciences and Disorders (Dr Edmister), University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls.

Corresponding Author: Amy Staples, PhD, Department of Special Education, 150A Schindler Education Center, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614 ( or Evette Edmister, PhD, CCC-SLP, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, 230 Communication Arts Center, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614 (

This research was initiated and carried out under contract with the Iowa Department of Education, using funds made available by the United States Department of Education under IDEA. The contents herein do not necessarily represent the policy of the United States Department of Education (or the Iowa Department of Education), and endorsement by the Federal (or Iowa) government should not be assumed.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins