When I work with students who struggle, I wonder if all this "rigor" just takes to joy out of learning for them. The vocabulary in our rigorous textbooks is very high level and sometimes above my students' heads probably because it is not often used outside the classroom in their homes and communities. How can they possibly enjoy something they are struggling to comprehend let alone perform? And if they are not enjoying it, how much learning is really taking place? I mean, I know students have to write essays and use evidence in that writing, but does it have to always be such high-level textbook writing that seems so esoteric and unattainable?
I say No! Why not make a topic like writing really accessible? I think the holiday season is a perfect time to create authentic writing experiences that students will like. The heart of writing is to express oneself because words have power. I say let's harness this power by embedding it into a fun experience.
So, when my class returns from the Thanksgiving break, I am going off the beaten path from my textbook and creating an engaging experience that will hook my struggling students!
We are going to be working on a Christmas Around the World project where we incorporate reading, writing, thinking and talking every day. The idea is that my students will learn all about the writing process and enjoy practicing the evidence in writing standards without a textbook!
I have made them a flipbook where they will read and record answers to questions using Santas Net.
The answers they collect will be discussed as prewriting and used to create rough copy paragraphs of which I will model.
Then students will be placed into groups based on their choice of their favorite country to edit and proofread using checklists I will model using and then provide for them to use.
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Finally, they will create a poster of their favorite country (as a team) as part of a poster contest and ultimately give a presentation with (hopefully) music and food.
We will have learned the entire writing process along with textual evidence with this fun topic with minimal "sit and get". I think this is so important for students who struggle because this project allows them to experience writing in a more engaging and genuine way. It's like Mary Poppins said "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down." :)
What do you do to help your struggling learners? Join in the conversation in the comments below!