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Implementing Digital Media Writing to Engage Students With Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Implementing Digital Media Writing to Engage Students With Emotional and Behavioral

Implementing D igital M edia W riting to Engage Students with EBD Implementing Digital Media Writing to Engage Students With Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Anne Butler and Lisa M onda-A maya, U niversity of Illinois at U rbana- C hampaign Preparing students in 21st century literacies requires that writing be taught through a variety of formats. Digital formats are commonplace in today's culture, from the range of social media outlets to Internet navigation and online activities. In today's world, teachers should be familiar not only with technology and its use, but with applications to the classroom that give greater access to instruction for all learners (Sanders & Albers, 2010). Students with disabilities often struggle with writing at all stages. They have been found to demonstrate low levels of motivation or persistence, have poor use of selfregulatory skills, and lack general knowledge of genres, conventions, and devices for writing (Graham & Harris, 2011). Students typically use a "knowledge-telling" (Graham & Harris, 2005, p. 14) approach in which they simply write ideas related to a topic, thus finding it hard to develop written products that are well organized, coherent, and connected to a purpose and audience. For students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD), academic performance across subjects, including writing, tends to fall significantly below that of their peers (Trout, Nordness, Pierce, & Epstein, 2003). Although writing may provide an important expressive outlet for students with EBD (Yell, 2009), writing instruction is given insufficient attention in classrooms (Baker, Gersten, & Graham, 2003). Many of these students lack the ability to self-regulate and have difficulty successfully participating in the writing process. With increased emphasis on the use of technology in classroom, there is a growing need for understanding the role technology can play in writing instruction. Various forms of digital media can enhance the writing experience and motivate learners to become more thoughtful and engaged in the process, from consideration of the writing environment to providing students with specific writing supports. In structuring effective environments for struggling writers, Graham and Harris (2013) recommend that teachers set the stage by: (a) creating a positive environment, (b) displaying student work in visible spaces, (c) setting high and realistic expectations while at the same time adapting instruction to reach all students, (d) fostering classroom routines that allow for positive interactions among students, and (e) providing meaningful and engaging activities. They advocate the use of self-regulated strategy development (SRSD; Harris & Graham, 1996), which combines composition and self-regulatory strategies (e.g., goal setting, selfmonitoring, self-assessment, and self-reinforcement). For students with and at risk for EBD in particular, SRSD has been found to be an effective practice for increasing writing performance (see Sreckovic, Common, Knowles, & Lane, 2014). Additionally, increasing attention has been given to the social nature or context of writing (Tindal & Crawford, 2002), particularly within the Common Core State Standards (CCSS; National Governors Association for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010). The CCSS require writing instruction across the curriculum as well as the use of instructional methods that encourage collaborative interactions among students. This has important implications for students with EBD who may struggle with social interactions. The integration of technology into the writing process provides a universal intervention for all students (Wissick & Gardner, 2011). Various forms of digital media technology can enhance the writing experience and motivate learners to become more thoughtful and engaged in the process. This article provides the fundamentals for using digital media to teach writing, and narrative digital writing in particular, to students with EBD (Butler, Monda-Amaya, & Yoon, 2013). The emphasis is on incorporating reading, writing, listening, and collaboration to address the changing literacy demands for students (DeVoss, Eidman-Aadahl, & Hicks, 2010). A question and answer format is used to assist teachers in walking through the process for incorporating digital media into daily writing lessons. W hat is D igital M edia Writing? Digital media writing is defined as the use of a multimodal approaches (e.g., books, illustrations, recorded music, Internet, computers) to engage in effective writing practice throughout the stages of planning, composing, editing, and publishing. The goal of digital media writing is to utilize technology in writing and its many forms. The outcome of a digital media project might be a student's persuasive digital piece about how there should be a change in cafeteria food. In this example, students could upload images taken with a digital camera onto the 14 Beyond Behavior

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