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Top 10 instructional strategies for struggling students Continued from page 26

with an expressive language processing disability or weakness in social language skills (Asperger’s Syndrome/autism) is un- sure how to start a question or declarative sentence appropriately in a small group discussion. Discussion Sentence Starters (Kinsella, 2007; Carr & Bertrando, 2012) as placards on the wall or in older students’ notebooks can help those students express their ideas. Some examples are: “My idea is that…” and “What I hear you saying is…” The Common Core State Standards in Eng- lish-language arts for speaking and listen- ing target student conversations through multiple exchanges within formal and in- formal settings.

How school leaders can create habits Following are three major leadership

strategies for making these Top 10 strategies and tools become school-wide habits and an integral part of the school culture. When this happens, the need for individualized instruction may be dramatically decreased as more students “get it” during good first teaching that addresses the diversity of stu- dents.

• Utilize continuous, job-embedded

professional development to improve in- structional practices. Provide professional development to train teachers how to teach a diversified classroom targeting the new, more rigorous content standards. It takes a long time for teachers to incrementally reach proficiency and a variety of supports along the way. Job-embedded supports such as coaching and professional learning com- munities must follow any “outside” work- shops and institutes. • Use data to assist with targeted profes-

sional learning. Plan formal accountability to start as teachers learn and experiment with the top 10. Make one goal focus on implementation, such as increasing use of more strategies more frequently, with greater fidelity and integration of strategies, and seeking help from a support system when problems arise. Make a second goal focus on impact, such as improving all stu-

38 Leadership

dents’ academic achievement as measured by local assessments at key times during the school year. District and school lead- ers conduct classroom observations (walk throughs) regularly. Leaders use this data to plan how to better support teachers as learners. Leaders and teachers use student achievement data to plan how to better sup- port students to become proficient on stan- dards. • Practice and reflect. Remember that new

practices take time and many repetitions to perfect, progress to routines or habits, and

Carr, J.; Carroll, C.; Cremer, S.; Gale, M.; Lagunoff, R. & Sexton, U. (2007). Mak- ing mathematics accessible to English learners: A guidebook for teachers. San Francisco: WestEd.

Carr, J.; Sexton, U. & Lagunoff, R. (2007, updated edition). Making science acces- sible to English learners: A guidebook for teachers. San Francisco: WestEd. www.

Dean, C.B.; Hubbell, E.R.; Pitler, H. & Stone, B.J. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexan- dria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Frayer, D.; Frederick, W.C. & Klausmeier, H.J. (1969). A schema for testing the level of cognitive mastery. Madison: Wiscon- sin Center for Education Research.

Frey, N.; Fisher, D. & Everlove, S. (2009). Productive group work: How to engage students, build teamwork, and promote understanding. Alexandria, VA: Asso- ciation for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

become deeply ingrained in the school cul- ture. Remember that there are reasons why teachers once learned and tried some of the top 10 strategies but reverted back to old hab- its over time; identify why and avoid those landmines. n


Barrera, M.; Liu, K.; Thurlow, M.; Shyyan, V.; Yan, M. & Chamberlain, S. (2006). Math strategy instruction for students with disabilities who are learning English (ELLs with Disabilities Report 15). Min- neapolis: University of Minnesota, Na- tional Center on Education Outcomes.

Bybee, R.W. (1997). Achieving scientific lit- eracy: From purposes to practices. Ports- mouth, NH: Heinemann.

Carr, J. & Bertrando, S. (2012). Teaching English learners and students with learn- ing difficulties in an inclusive classroom: A guidebook for teachers. San Francisco: WestEd.

Hall, T. & Strangeman, N. (2002). Graphic organizers. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Cur- riculum. Retrieved from http://aim.cast. org/learn/historyarchive/background- papers/graphic_organizers.

Kinsella, K. (2007). Language strategies for active classroom participation. Last ac- cessed 1/11/11 from http://www.sccoe. org/depts/ell/kinsella.asp.

Thurlow, M.; Syyan, V.; Barrera, M. & Liu, K. (2008). Delphi study of instructional strategies for English language learners with disabilities: Recommendations from educators nationwide. (ELLs with Dis- abilities Report 21). Minneapolis: Uni- versity of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

John Carr is senior research associate at WestEd. Sharen Bertrando is a special education resource specialist, Center for Prevention and Early Intervention, WestEd.

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