are a vast majority of students in urban school settings who
are considered to be in the “high-risk” category.
Students are at-risk because they do not meet adequate yearly
progress on state standards; or they do not progress to the
next grade level; or they fail to graduate with their cohort
group. The research supports the need for explicit, systematic
instruction that is engaging and geared to the need of these
students. “The teacher must be aware of the students’
understanding of the content. They need things broken down.
Teachers need to be willing to make adjustments, take longer
and try new things. Sometimes they have to restructure their
activities based on the students’ needs.” (1)
creating classroom and curricula for all students, at all
grade and age levels, teachers need to develop classrooms
centered, experiential, social activities; authentic, collaborative,
,cognitive, developmental projects;
responsibility, community and diversity;
instruction that mirrors the 21st century;
strategies included in Literacy classrooms need to be expanded
to the other content areas, so that we bring reading in the
Content Areas into the classroom. In a recent Time article,
Lisa McLaughlin states, “Experiential learning (is)
the idea that people learn through their senses first, and
then reflect on what they’ve experienced.” (3) This is especially true for our English Language Learners,
Special Education students and students who are low-level
readers. Implementing these strategies is shown to improve
Students who are lower performing need extra time and benefit
from extended block programming; continuity and consistency
A class session can include whole group instruction; small
group work that is teacher directed to revisit, review, teach
and reteach; one-on-one reinforcement; and peer dyads.
Provide variety, use special programs, trade books, technology,
content area materials and layered texts that meet a variety
instruction, indirect instruction, small group work, multi-level
assignments and tasks.
Continuously use systematic, on-going goals & benchmarks,
rubrics, checklists, individual conferences and close observation.
First assess based on an individuals’ growth, then compare
to the groups achievements.
The Home/ School/Community triangle needs to be maintained
and continuous. Systematic communication is essential.
direct instruction that has opportunities for individual applications
student confidence is improved and students move out of the
high-risk category. Building in success for our students compensates
for past failures. The rewards come in small steps both for
the student and for the teacher who is willing to make small
I hope you’ve found this article
helpful. If you have a question or suggestion, don’t
hesitate to e-mail me.
(1) Brownell, Adams, Sindelar, Waldron, VanHover, “Learning
From Collaboration: The Role of Teacher Qualities,” Exceptional Children, Winter 2006, p.177.
(2) Daniels, Bizar, Teaching the
Best Practice Way: Methods That Matter K- 12,
(3) McLaughlin, Time,June 12, 2006,
(4) Strickland, Ganske, Monroe, Supporting
Struggling Readers and Writers, Stenhouse, 2002.
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