MEville to WEville with Start-to-Finish ® Literacy Starters: New Reading Curriculum for Students with Significant Disabilities
February 25, 2008 - Don Johnston Incorporated, AbleNet and Dr. Karen Erickson, Center for Literacy and Disabilities Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, announced a 'first of its kind' reading curriculum to support students with moderate to severe/profound intellectual disabilities at the 2008 Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference in Orlando, Florida.
The MEville to WEville with Literacy Starters Program is a collaborative research-proven, multi-year literacy program to provide support and guidance to special education teachers. The program combines AbleNet's early learning MEville to WEville literacy curriculum with Don Johnston's emerging literacy content to support older beginning readers.
AbleNet's CEO, Jen Thalhuber said, "This collaborative effort has helped us create a research-proven literacy curriculum that matures right along with the special education students for whom it was developed. We are confident this program will help each student reach their individual level of achievement."
MEville to WEville with Literacy Starters systematically integrates reading, writing, speaking, augmentative communicating and listening skills into lessons and activities designed to foster a classroom community. The program promotes a sense of belonging among students by offering new and different perspectives on themselves, their families and their school. It is the brainchild of Dr. Karen Erickson, who aptly nicknamed the research initiative "Project Converge" to denote the partnership between the three organizations.
Dr. Erickson states, "The program originated based on the belief that students with significant disabilities can and deserve the opportunity to develop generalizable literacy skills that can be applied in novel contexts on assessments and in every day life. The curriculum provides the type of scaffolding necessary for students to achieve this goal."
Available for purchase from Don Johnston in Spring 2008, the complete program costs $875 with volume discounts available for 11 sets or more.
A standard package includes the MEville to WEville and Extending MEville to WEville curricula paired with Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters paperback and switch accessible computer books.
The package has three units for K-2 students covering ME, My Family and My School. Each of the three lesson sets includes:
A 300 page spiral bound manual in full color
75 lessons and 60 extension activities covering word identification, comprehension, vocabulary and word walls, writing, creating books, art projects, games, brainstorming and relationship building
Action dictionary: A differentiated instruction guide
Assistive Technology Guide
Reproducible activities created with BoardMaker® Symbols
Data collection tools for student progress monitoring
The Extending MEville to WEville component extends the curriculum, making it appropriate for beginning readers in grades 3-5. This set includes:
135 lessons to address word study, comprehension, and writing
9 paperback books
9 computer books on 3 CDs
3 vocabulary cards
3 teacher materials CDs
The concept of blending AbleNet's MEville to WEville with Don Johnston's Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters paperback, computer and audio books began as a cooperative research initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Special Education 'Steppingstones of Technology Innovation' grant. Dr. Erickson's objective was to extend the MEville to WEville curriculum for the benefit of older students with significant disabilities who are reading at a beginning level.
The study included 46 students between the ages 8 to 14, all with moderate to severe/profound intellectual impairments. Dr. Erickson's research showed that the MEville to WEville with Literacy Starters Program had a significant positive impact of the literacy outcomes of the students. And most importantly, the test results showed that students were able to generalize their skills! Students improved generalized development in reading and writing skills by an average of 40 percent (Cohen's d=.44) after completing 40 instructor-delivered lessons. Read more about Dr. Karen Erickson's study.