The Language Zone

Differentiating writing instruction for students who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing

  • Hannah M. Dostal University of Connecticut
  • Kimberly A. Wolbers The University of Tennessee
  • Jennifer Renée Kilpatrick University of North Florida


Interactive Writing (IW) is a powerful support for language and literacy development; however, its emphasis on using oral language to construct written language can present challenges for deaf/Deaf and hard of hearing (d/Dhh) students due to their unique and diverse language experiences. Teachers (n = 14) using Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) with grade 3–5 d/Dhh students in a variety of settings were observed using a space referred to as ‘the language zone’ to address the unique language and literacy needs of d/Dhh students.  The language zone is the designated space in a classroom where the creation, translation and revision of ideas is made visible.  Researchers developed a flowchart with three tiers to document the three purposes for which the teachers use the space.  Accompanying scenarios provide concrete examples of three distinct ways in which the language zone can be used.  Teachers can use this language zone flow chart as a tool to recognize, analyze and select instructional moves that have the potential to positively impact the language and literacy proficiencies of d/Dhh students.

Author Biographies

Hannah M. Dostal, University of Connecticut

Hannah M. Dostal is Associate Professor of Reading Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Connecticut.

Kimberly A. Wolbers, The University of Tennessee
Kimberley A. Wolbers is Associate Professor of Deaf Education; Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education, The University of Tennessee.
Jennifer Renée Kilpatrick, University of North Florida
Jennifer Renée Kilpatrick is Assistant Professor of Deaf Education; Department of Exceptional, Deaf, and Interpreter Education, University of North Florida.


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How to Cite
Dostal, H., Wolbers, K., & Kilpatrick, J. (2019). The Language Zone. Writing & Pedagogy, 11(1), 1-22.
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