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instructional strategies for struggling students

These tools can help schools leverage familiar instructional strategies in new ways that support all students and become habits within the school culture.


iven new, more rigorous con- tent standards and expand- ing student diversity, how can school leaders leverage limited

resources to guide teachers to effectively teach standards-aligned lessons to all learn- ers? We propose that leaders leverage famil- iar instructional strategies but in a new way to support all students – English learners, students with learning disabilities, gifted students, and the mythical “average” stu- dent. We will start by describing a balance

of teacher-led and student-led instruction within an inquiry-based approach to learn- ing. Then we will present a specific set of “doable” instructional strategies that form an integrated approach to “good first teach- ing” and scaffold learning for a variety of students. We end by identifying major strat- egies that district and school leaders can use to ensure that these practices do not fall by the wayside, but become habits within the school culture. These suggestions highlight some key information in our guidebook, Teaching English Learners and Students with

24 Leadership

Learning Difficulties in an Inclusive Class- room: A Guidebook for Teachers (WestEd, 2012).

Tools for all teachers Imagine a set of research- or evidence-

based instructional strategies and tools that all teachers could use to help struggling stu- dents learn vocabulary and discourse, con- tent and skills in science classes, or compre- hend complex text in all academic content areas (Carr & Bertrando, 2012). Envision two students with learning

disabilities who are learning English in two secondary schools. The student at one school struggles to learn and adapt each hour to the different ways the different teachers teach, as well as the different con- tent. The student in the other school focuses only on the different content, because one set of strategies is known and habitually used by all teachers. The Top 10 set of strategies and tools pre-

sented here were selected through a rigorous analysis of research, are purposefully few in number and have demonstrated a record of

success for improving student outcomes, especially for English learners and students with learning disabilities. It was critically important that the strategies and tools could be integrated to make them easier for teach- ers to use and likely see a synergistic impact on students. These strategies could be called Tier I effective first instruction in the Re- sponse to Intervention (RTI) framework. While many of these strategies have

been introduced before, teachers have com- mented that they had not understood how and why a strategy works for different kinds of minds, and no connections among strat- egies were made when they were initially exposed to the strategies in pre-service courses or in-service workshops.

Framework for a lesson plan Before presenting the strategies and

tools, it is necessary to briefly describe the framework of a lesson plan that is effective for teaching a diversified classroom and can

By John Carr and Sharen Bertrando

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