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Keywords: Special Education, Monthly Newsletter, Writing
Subject(s): Social Skills, Technology, Writing, Photography, Spelling, Grammar
Grades 5 through 6
School: Miami East Jr High School, Troy, OH
Planned By: Doedee Trostel-Patton
Original Author: Doedee Trostel-Patton, Casstown

I realize the guidelines for the contest are for the past school year, but I am going to focus on a way to "relive" those local events that happened in this past year throughout the next 2009-10 school year.

Subject / Grade ---
6th Writing

Students from my special education classroom will put together a monthly newsletter for their peers and the community to see.

Students will complete a calendar of "events" that are happening in their 6th grade classrooms or school system. They will use DIGITAL CAMERAS to go and capture those events that are happening. The students may also complete interviews of the people who are associated with that event. They can write their interviews or use DIGITAL VOICE RECORDERS.

Upon completion of their data collection: The students will take the data that they have gathered and they will start to write the story for their newspaper. They will use the KIDSPIRATION software to help them organize their thoughts and make detailed outlines about what to say. The students can use the picture icons whenever it is appropriate, or even use the tape recorder method to say what they are thinking. Each student can use the format tools to decide the look of their organizer. If there are no pictures available for them to add to their writing, custom symbols can be added.

Once their graphic organizers are complete, the students take the information and put it into paragraph form. Each paragraph will contain topic, detailed supporting sentences with transition words, and conclusion sentences. The students will put their newspaper articles on a word document that is templated from the teacher. We will review the rough drafts together, and when all is correct, will copy.

Students do this each month to gather the "special events" in their school.

Students will produce a newsletter each month for their peers and community members. The newsletters will be copied for the students and put on the 6th grade webpage for all to see.

Comments from Teacher:
Not only does this lesson get the special education students involved with their peers, but it raises their self esteem and confidence. Many times they are the ones who are left out of these kinds of ideas, this lesson is made directly for them to be the spotlight. The students usually have many written expression issues. This is a great way for them to work on those skills with direct life related topics that they are motivated by. Using the Kidspiration software and the digital cameras allows my students to gain popularity and self esteem in many areas of their lives.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
This idea can be transformed into any class or subject area. With the monthly letters, the students will have items from all classes covered.
Materials: Digital Cameras, Point and Shoot, Digital Voice Recorders, Camera Bags, Flash/USB Drives, Memory Cards, CDs and DVDs, Word Processor, Art Tools, Keyboarding, Inspiration, Clip Art
Other Items: 6 Olympus FE-3010, $149.99 each, total of $899.94
6 Neoprene Soft Case for Stylus and FE Series, $14.95 each, total of $89.70
6 2 GB xD Card, $34.99 each, total of $209.94
1 Flash Drive - 2 GB Drive, $39.99 each, total of $39.99
2 Olympus Classroom Digital Voice Recorder WS-321M, $99.99 each, total of $199.98