Monthly Archives: April 2010

When Students Struggle

Picture 1When Students Struggle with Writing (and Reading): Strategies that Encourage Success

Linda Reif, Oyster River Middle School

  • Scribe the writing for the stuent
    • Encourage/teach storyboarding: drawing/talking – (ideas in stick figures and key words-Big, Bold, Black
    • Drafting of writing ideas
    • Retelling of stories/poems/essays/vocabulary (understandings from reading)
    • Notetaking (especially in content areas) with stick figures and key words
    • Conferencing – respond by drawing (stick figures, key words)
    • Encourage/teach final drafts in cartoon/comic format
    • Use quickwrites: 2-3 minutes in response to entire piece/borrowed line
    • Write-arounds: using key passages from literature, short poems
    • Found poetry – from single passage or collection of passages
    • Collaborative writing: plays, letters, picture books, short stories
    • Ask students: what is easiest for you as a writer/reader? (Build on their strengths)
    • Give students: TIME, CHOICE, RESPONSE as to what they read and what they write
    • Help students find real reasons to write for real audiences
    • Have students choose/notice/look for in their reading those things they want to learn to do better in their writing
    • As often as possible ask students to read their own writing to peers and teacher
    • Write for ourselves, sharing that writing with students


    alcove aura

    We have gathered

    with manacled hands;

    we have gathered

    with shackled feet;

    we have gathered

    in the dust of forget

    seeking the vein

    which will not collapse.

    We have bolted

    the gunner’s fence,

    given sacrament

    on blood-stained walls.

    We have linked souls

    end to end

    against the razor’s slice.

    We have kissed brothers

    in frigid cells,

    pressing our mouths

    against their ice-hard pain.

    We have feasted well

    on the stones of the land**

    we have gathered

    in dark places

    and put down roots.

    We have covered the Earth,

    bold flowers for her crown.

    We have climbed

    the high wire of treason–

    we will not fall.

    –Mahealani Perez-Wendt

    Ho’okupu: An Offering of Literature by Native Hawaiian Women

    * Uluhaimalama: The name of Queen Lili’uokalani’s garden. The kaona of that word is that as plants grow up out of the dark into the light, so shall light come to the Hawaiian nation.

    ** Feasting on stones is a reference to Kaulana Nā Pua, the song of protest written after the overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation. In it, the songwriter says that Hawaiians would rather eat stones than accept any annexationist proffer.

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