It's hard work, it matters . . . and nothing brings more joy than reaching a child who is struggling. The problem is each of these students presents a unique array of challenges and needs that don't allow for a uniform approach. Here are the stories from our contributors of their breakthrough moments, one child at a time.
Julianne Houser meets with a small group of fifth graders to help them build skills for tracking thinking.
Some emergent readers happily browse for books and explore them independently. For others, it’s a struggle. Cathy Mere shares her favorite strategies for helping all readers get comfortable with selecting books on their own.
Jeff is apathetic and unengaged. To help this middle school learner, Mark Levine needs to understand his history. Mark shows the power of interviews for connecting with struggling teen learners.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use prompts and aids to help their youngest learners tell stories and find a writing voice.
Jennifer Allen has been fascinated with helping boys write for years, ever since her own son insisted on writing on the same topic over and over again. She shares her five favorite strategies for boosting interest in writing among boys.
Do struggles with handwriting matter? They do when a student can’t even decipher his own words. Katherine Sokolowski confers with fifth grader Sauvi to help him find solutions to the problem.
Christy Rush-Levine decides to slow down in her classroom and engage more fully with a student who is a wiseacre and resistant reader. What happens next can only be described as magic.
David Pittman delights in a student’s enthusiasm for poetry, leading him to reflect on how teachers often need to overcome their own negative history with poems to spark student love of the genre.
Mark Levine explains why high standards can be helpful even for students who are struggling in his middle school classroom.
Ruth Ayres explains why we can’t assume children who have experienced trauma understand the foundations and routines of how school works
Ruth Ayres explains which workshop routines are essential for children who come to school bearing trauma.
Cathy Mere suggests strategies for working with struggling students who read very little at home.
Here are Matt Renwick's three favorite moves for helping struggling writers.
Sometimes a student just. won’t. write. Melanie Meehan shares her favorite tools in her bag of tricks to get the pencil or pen moving across the page.
Stephanie Affinito explains how to use student checklists in literacy intervention.
Christy Rush-Levine confers with eighth grader Julian about his strengths as an empathetic reader.
Christy Rush-Levine discovers it’s important to “push pause” to deal with failure in the midst of teaching.
Shari Frost assists a teacher who is instructing a child stuck at level E, and in the process reveals some of the issues in treating all levels equally.
We are wired for story, and sometimes children living hard lives need to learn how to rewrite their story. Ruth Ayres shares the teacher’s role in the process.
Kate Mills and Tara Barnett share strategies for building bridges between intervention and classroom instruction.
Jennifer Schwanke tells the story of Josh, a special-needs student who is almost impossible to reach, until one committed teacher unlocks the key to what makes him tick as a learner.
Christy Rush-Levine takes an oddly shaped unused nook in her classroom and turns it into a charming space where students can choose to take a quiet break with a “Self-Imposed Time-Out” (SITO).
Katrina Edwards confers with Camilla, a struggling reader. She is a child who has no confidence in herself. The Compliment Conference is a way to acknowledge and build upon Camilla’s strengths, and boost her self-esteem at the same time.
Franki Sibberson explores the varied needs of young readers and writers.
Andie Cunningham and one of her kindergarten students share something in common at the start of the school year — tears as they struggle to find their place in a new community.
Stella Villalba finds she needs new strategies for assisting a young autistic English language learner.
Ruth Ayres finds the brain research is grim when it comes to the needs of neglected children, but there is still much that teachers can do to support healthy growth in students from challenging home environments.
Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris are using read alouds as an intervention strategy with struggling learners.
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