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Summer School Short Course 2011
Advocating Through Letter Writing

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Welcome Summer! As families and kids take a break from school, it's time for the 2011 Summer School Short Course: Advocating Through Letter Writing.

Summer School is a refresher course in effective advocacy techniques that will include a series of activities (and maybe a quiz or two) to help you prepare for the next school year.

When you have issues or concerns with the school, you must document these problems in writing. You will not resolve these problems by waving caselaw at school personnel or by writing letters that demand, blame, or complain. This summer, we'll learn how to advocate effectively through letter writing.

Part 1

The Art of Writing Letters

writing letterBefore you send a strongly worded letter to the school, remember, after you send a letter, it is out of your hands forever. You can never change it!

Letter Writing and the Need to DO SOMETHING!

Sometimes, parents write angry letters after a series of bad experiences or when they are in the middle of a crisis. In The Art of Writing Letters by Pam Wright, you'll find out what important things to keep in mind before you fire off a letter to the school. You will also get advice from other advocates about how to be a better advocate by writing letters.

In Part 1: Advocating Through Letter Writing, you will learn to use tactics and strategies when you write effective letters to the school to clarify events and what you were told. Next issue - Rules for good letter writing and your first assignment.

Part 2

Twelve Rules for GREAT Letter Writing

Parent writes letterYou use letters to build relationships, identify and solve problems, clarify decisions that were made and not made, and motivate people to take action. You write letters to request information, request action, provide information or describe an event, decline a request, and express appreciation.

You want your letters to create a good first impression. Before you write that letter, you need to do some homework.  

In Part 2: Letter Writing Rules: The Basics, you will learn the basic rules for writing great letters and find good editing tips to help you accomplish your objectives when you write to the school.

Your 1st Assignment - *QUIZ*

How much do you know about writing effective letters? Take the quiz.

Part 3

The Nuts & Bolts of Writing Letters

reading lettersLetter writing is essential to advocacy. When you write a letter, you want someone to read it. When you follow the strategies for writing good letters, you increase the odds that someone will read and respond to your letter. Your letter will accomplish your purpose.

In Part 3: Nuts & Bolts you will learn the qualities of good letters and how to avoid the pitfalls of letter writing, like the negative impact certified letters may have. You'll find editing tips and presentation techniques that will enhance the effectiveness of your letters to the school.

Part 4

Writing Letters That Testify at Due Process

woman transcribing meeting notesDon’t let your recordings of IEP meetings sit in a file collecting dust. Put them to good use! Use the recordings to help you write an effective IEP meeting follow-up letter.

Your follow-up letter will re-state what the team discussed and agreed to provide.

You cannot testify at due process. How can you tell the administrative law judge or hearing officer what happened in your IEP meeting?

Your follow-up letter can “testify” for you

In Part 4: Writing Letters That Testify at Due Process, you will learn how to write three levels of follow-up letters that hit the highlights (or lowlights) of your IEP meetings and are accurate, cordial, and factual. You will find samples of four letters to help you hone your letter writing skills.

Part 5

Writing Story-Telling Letters to Persuade

parent writes letter to the schoolParents must write letters to document their dealings with the school. When you write letters, assume that your letter will be read by a Stranger. Assume that you dropped your letter in the street. A Stranger finds your letter and reads it.

After reading your letter, "The Stranger" understands the facts of your case, the issues, knows what you want, why you want what you want, and knows how to give you what you want.

We call this technique "Writing Letters to the Stranger."

In Part 5: Writing Story-Telling Letters to persuade the "Decision-Making Stranger," you will learn how to write a carefully crafted letter to tell the facts of the story and make your case. Find out how to write story-telling letters that focus on your interest not your position. Help the Stranger understand your perspective and want to fix your problems.

Part 6

Write a Letter to the School to Request Action.

woman writing letterIn the Summer School Short Course you have been learning how to advocate by writing effective letters to the school.

We have reviewed:

  • the five purposes of letters and how to use the letter's purpose to guide you.
  • strategies to ensure that your letters will assure someone will read them and accomplish their purpose.
  • rules of letter writing, how to write business letters, and pitfalls to avoid.
  • how to write (1) evidence letters that can testify for you and (2) story-telling letters that can make your case.

This week you will write a letter.

In Part 6: Assignment #2: WRITE A LETTER ,your assignment is to write a short, one page letter to the school to request an action. We will use a 20 point checklist to review your letter to ensure you have included all of the correct elements. Time to get started.

 

2011 Summer School Short Course CertificateCongratulations! You have completed the 2011 Summer School Short Course: Advocating Through Letter Writing, the six week series to becoming a more effective advocate.

Thank you for participating. You've worked hard reading, completing written assignments, improving your skills. You're motivated and empowered.

Well done!

 

We appreciate your positive comments about the Special Ed Advocate summer series.

"This summer school series for parents you've been running in the newsletter is perfect for the parents I'm training at the Parent Information Center workshops. You haven't just told parents what to learn, you are telling them how to learn it and how to approach the learning.."

Success high fiveHere's your Summer School Short Course 2011 Certificate

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