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.
It can be especially difficult for young children from impoverished homes to understand academic language and the demands of school. Andie Cunningham observes the sophisticated ways a preschool teacher helps her students adapt with invitational language.
It takes a kid at heart to share what young boy readers would take to heart, and Tony Keefer is just the guy for the job. Tony loves whonunits, blood ‘n’ guts, and cliffhangers, and he shares that passion with his tween students in this fiction booklist for boys.
Pat Johnson and Katie Keier share their thoughts on how a comprehensive literacy approach best meets the needs of all learners, especially those students who struggle.
When educators have literacy-rich environments at home, it is important to consider students' daily access to reading materials. Ellie Gilbert uses motive, means and opportunity to think about our literacy landscapes.
Sammy is an avid reader in the classroom, but his teacher Cathy Mere notices he “accidentally” is always leaving the backpack with his intervention books behind. The challenge for classroom teachers is stocking books with titles that will interest Sammy, but still provide enough challenge and support to move him forward as a reader.
With summaries as an example, Heather Rader uses trends from learners to help make smart instructional decisions about what is presented during whole group, small group and individual time.
Melanie Quinn relays a powerful practice for staff members to reframe language and perceptions while putting common labels for students in a whole new light.
In this installment of Book Matchmaker, Franki Sibberson shares books and genres a struggling 5th grader might enjoy.
In this installment of Book Matchmaker, Franki Sibberson tackles the tough question of how to find texts for students who need help with short vowels, but are too old to enjoy many primary texts.
Katie DiCesare helps her mom, a reading support teacher, reorganize her materials to better serve students.
What role should literacy coaches have in helping teachers manage unruly students? Melanie Quinn settles into a morning of poring over assessment data, only to have it interrupted by a child who has been disrupting his class. Her interactions with Darren and his teacher lead to strategies for helping colleagues take an inquiry stance with challenging children.
Kathy Collins looks around the holiday table, and discovers differentiating instruction is similar to hosting a Thanksgiving feast.
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan offer lesson suggestions for helping students self-monitor and deal with distractions during literacy workshops.
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan offer three strategies to use during writing conferences with struggling students.
These lists created by S. Rebecca Leigh are a fun way to size up the messages we send students about reading, writing, and drawing, and how these may influence lifelong literacy habits.
Using data to make wise decisions about students who are struggling is one of the most important tasks in schools. In this series, Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan take you through the process of linking data to instruction plans in intervention programs.
Carol Wilcox prepares her struggling intermediate readers for state exams, and finally experiences a breakthrough in linking vocabulary learning to authentic reading.
Misunderstandings abound when working with struggling readers and writers. Jennifer Jones connects an experience in her personal life to one student she is supporting and gains new insight.
Clare Landrigan finds she is struggling as a writer and runner. Getting out of both ruts helps her develop three simple principles for working with students in slumps.
How much is too much support while conferring? Terry Thompson explores the language of scaffolding and rescuing.
Ruth Shagoury and Melanie Quinn asked their colleagues to share the “most beautiful thing” about the puzzling student each of them is looking at closely in their study group. This is a great activity you’re looking for a quick and easy icebreaker to spark some positive energy in your next study group or staff meeting, and remind everyone of the joys of our profession.
This is a terrific article for a team considering struggling learners to read together and discuss. Franki Sibberson asks some critical questions, including how many transitions and different adults some children work with each day in the name of getting all the support they need.
Franki Sibberson tries to imagine what school and classroom libraries look like to struggling readers who are gazing at scores of books beyond their reading levels.
When a student is struggling, language barriers can make it even harder for teachers to connect. Andrea Smith finds webbing during conferring is an excellent strategy for assisting a young English language learner in her writer's workshop.
No matter how many education methods courses and professional development workshops you take, if you’re a parent, your children will always teach you the most about how students learn. Tammy Mulligan shares three practical strategies for reaching struggling readers that she learned from experiences with her son.
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan present some teacher question and reflection prompts for helping struggling readers understand why and how reading is a meaning-making process.
Franki Sibberson finishes 29th out of 30 participants in her fitness bootcamp mile run. In the process, she learns many lessons about herself and the needs of struggling learners in her classroom.
Andrea Smith shares observation strategies used within a teaching team. The article includes templates developed by the group.
Franki Sibberson writes about the challenges of holding true to our beliefs in working with struggling readers, and shares the questions she asks herself as a way of self-monitoring her teaching with strugglers.
How can we help students who are stuck when it comes time to write? Franki Sibberson shares a couple new strategies, including a book basket of texts selected by students themselves as useful for sparking writing topics in this photo essay.
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