Write Start Development

This site was developed by Terri Holland, who is an occupational therapist in Dublin City Schools, and Jane Case-Smith, who was a professor of occupational therapy at The Ohio State University. In 2005-2007, we completed a survey of school-based occupational therapists to identify what service delivery models and inclusive practices they used. The occupational therapists surveyed reported that they frequently used one-on-one models of service delivery, often outside the classroom. Through further research on  collaborative and inclusive models for occupational therapy services, we learned about the co-teaching model, in which teachers and therapists collaborate to provide instruction. In 2008, Terri Holland completed a pilot project using a co-teaching model for handwriting instruction in one of the first grade classrooms in her school district.  The following year, Jane and Terri were awarded an Institute for Educational Sciences grant to fully develop the Write Start Model and complete pilot testing.  Their initial findings have been published:

  • Case-Smith, J., Holland, T., & Bishop, B. (2011).  Effectiveness of an integration handwriting program for first grade students: A pilot study. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65, 670-678. 
  • Case-Smith, J., Holland, T., Lane, A., & White, S. (2012).  Effect of a co-teaching handwriting program for first graders: One group pretest-posttest design.  American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66. 
  • Case-Smith, J., Weaver, L., & Holland, T. (2014). Effects of a classroom-embedded occupational therapist-teacher handwriting program for first-grade students. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 68(6), 690–8.

The pilot studies show that first grade students at all ability levels benefitted from the Write Start program and that the gains they demonstrated when tested immediately after the program were maintained at the end of the school year.  The model for co-teaching and embedded services can be applied to other academic areas and other grade levels. We encourage occupational therapists and teachers in the schools to embrace the co-teaching process and model applying these strategies to handwriting/writing and other curricular areas.


We thank Nate Kelly, Annie Murphy, Sandy Odenweller, Lindy Tomawis, Lisa Cavanaugh, Beth Bishop, Rachel Bradshaw, Olivia Hazen, Amanda Lewis, and Audrey Petit for their contributions to the project.  We also thank the Dublin City School District for their support of the project, with special thanks to Janet Gillig, Mike DeCenzo, and Tyler Wolfe.