New teaching strategies are designed to help English learners

Teaching strategies for high school english

Teaching Strategies / January 30, 2017

Not satisfied with students' progress on district- and state-mandated tests - and after careful deliberation by administration and staff - the Edwards Middle School implemented the Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time (ELT) Initiative in the 2006/07 school year. ELT has since become an integral part of the school day, where students receive an additional 60 minutes of support instruction in some core academic classes like English and math, and 90 minutes of electives in arts, sports and music, and other enrichment activities.

In order to maximize the benefits of ELT for students, I looked for ways to fine tune my approach to teaching individualized learning in my English language arts classroom. One of the instructional models that informs my approach to teaching individualized learning is the Readers and Writers Workshop. This approach proved very helpful in optimizing ELT.

Readers and Writers Workshop: An Instructional Model

The workshop model for English instruction combined with an extended 60 minutes of ELT support for my struggling students provides an excellent springboard to plan and implement individualized instruction in my class. Readers and Writers Workshop is an instructional model that focuses on students as learners, as well as readers and writers in practice. As readers and writers, students are mentored, working in a supportive and collaborative environment with their mentor on touchstone texts. There is an inherent reading-writing connection with this instructional delivery system that includes the following phases:

1. Mini-lesson (10-15 minutes)

This phase involves a teacher modeling a reading or writing strategy for the students to practice. It could also involve a "do now" to tap into students' prior knowledge. Students might build a schema around a specific strategy that the teacher had modeled previously - or do an activity to see what they retained of the day's lesson. (See a a sample lesson plan (PDF).)

2. Guided or independent student practice (40-45 minutes)

This is a student work time allocated for practicing the modeled strategy. During this phase the teacher circulates the room conferring with individuals and small groups. He takes notes, makes informal assessments, and provides one-on-one support to struggling learners.

3. Reflection (5-10 minutes)

This phase allows the whole class to regroup and review the lesson objectives, share learning, and reflect on what worked or did not work.