CMU Professor Creates Special Writing Curriculum Used Nationwide

“I believe that students with significant disabilities are capable and they have things to tell us,” says Janet Sturm, CMU Professor and creator.

A special curriculum created by a Central Michigan University professor is taking the nation by storm, helping kids with disabilities learn to write.

The curriculum launched in March of 2015.

CMU professor Janet Strum has been working on it for years.

Currently it’s being used in 200 classrooms in Michigan and nationwide.

9&10’s Taylor Jones joined a classroom using the curriculum in Clare County and has more details.

CMU Professor Janet Sturm created first authors writing curriculum and it’s changing how students with disabilities learn, nationwide.

“When I first started in the field in the late 1980’s, I started working with students with significant disabilities like cerebral palsy and they didn’t have a way to communicate and it was at that time I knew we could be doing more. The first part of the curriculum is that we have mini lessons five to ten minutes, we teach them concepts about writing and then because it’s so important that these students learn how to communicate, we also work on speaking and listening skills,” says Sturm.

Each student then has a time for writing.

“Some of these students don’t even know how to touch a pencil to a page and because these are students who can’t draw a drawing, we have them pic a picture to serve as their drawing,” says Sturm. 

Students then have a time called authors chair where they get to share what they wrote.

That’s what students at Clare Gladwin RESD did Tuesday.

“Some students write words and sentences and other students, they are writing letters, they might be just scribbling or pointing at pictures. This curriculum has really helped bridge that gap between my students who are emerging and having some of those emerging writing skills, and some of my students who are already writing sentences and words and bridging that gap,” says Melissa Kleiman, Special Education Teacher.

One parent says this curriculum has helped her daughter tremendously.

“Since the beginning, I’ve noticed her vocabulary has increased, her choice of letters, they have different things they can choose out and the amount she has chosen has improved,” says Rosanna Purvis, parent.

The curriculum is making a difference in classrooms like this all over the country.