swim logo

Too often, writing instruction for students with intellectual disabilities, particularly those eligible to take alternate assessments, focuses on simple communication and transcription at the expense of the increasingly complex cognitive tasks that underlie composing text with a purpose. Developing student’s skills in using letters and words to communicate about ideas and information is a fundamental part of an integrated approach to literacy instruction. Writing instruction also provides teachers with an opportunity to develop and apply literacy skills in additional academic domains such as science and social studies.

The comprehensive SWIM model is a new approach to writing instruction designed to help students with Intellectual Disabilities (ID) meet challenging writing objectives aligned to grade-level content standards and improve English language arts (ELA) outcomes.

The SWIM model will strive to achieve these goals and improve literacy outcomes for students by:

  1. Building on prior map development for the Dynamic Learning Maps® (DLM®) Consortium.  The existing maps will be expanded, using up-to-date research literature, to include nodes and connections that represent knowledge, skills, and understandings (KSUs) linked to the general education Iowa Core Standards.
  2. Developing aligned assessments linked to the extended map information to provide teachers a tool record data observations, facilitate assessment, and inform instructional targets.
  3. Incorporating evidence-based practices (EBPs) into writing instruction that can either be applied to multiple kinds of writing, or specifically suited to groups of nodes.
  4. Expanding upon existing map interface tools to create a single interface dashboard in which teachers can access core intervention components (maps, EBPs, assessments). Teachers can use the dashboard to update records of node mastery and generate reports for individuals or groups of students.
  5. Supporting the SWIM model and its implementation components to a high degree of fidelity through the development of a professional development (PD) course, coaching, and site-specific implementation plans. 

Throughout the project life, milestones will be tracked, and documentation will accompany everything developed, findings about implementation barriers to inform effective replication, and lessons learned.   We will distribute this information via existing networks, professional groups focused on academic outcomes for students with disabilities, at national conferences for educators and researchers, and in accessible online formats.