How To Help Struggling Readers and Writers

Our classrooms are diverse environments composed of students with a range of needs and abilities. As teachers, we work diligently to meet the needs of all of our learners. Discussed in this blog post are specific strategies teachers use to meet the needs of their struggling learners as well as book and resource suggestions from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

Helping struggling readers and writers is a key part of an English teachers’ job. Our classrooms are diverse environments composed of students with a range of needs and abilities. As teachers, we work diligently to meet the needs of all of our learners.

In this curated Twitter chat, we discussed specific strategies teachers use to meet the needs of their struggling learners as well as book and resource suggestions.

Q1: What strategies do you use to support struggling readers? 

  • Adapted texts, audio, chunking, choice of texts at a variety of levels, using tech to individualize at student level 
  • To expose them to different books: Book talks, relating books to movies they’ve watched, using Goodreads. Drawing in notebooks
  • Grade K-9 learning progressions. Kids use LP to self-monitor & to make goals, and I focus heavily on growth grades 
  • I try to help students access books at their level, audio books, Google Read and Write tools 
  • I also love independent reading books from Saddleback Publishing – low lexile but middle level interest
  • Of course, major scaffolding! 
  • Orca books are great too
  • Fluency practice, MODELING, think alouds, etc.
  • Playaways, book talks and read alouds to hook them on a book; modeling; read along with them 

Q2: What strategies do you use to support struggling writers? 

  • Modelled writing and graphic organizers are my go to for struggling writers. Sentence starters work as well
  • I like to use patterns and interactive notebook foldables. This year. I have tried my own videos that I posted on our Edmodo/Google Class 
  • Google has a tool called Read and Write. Your school has to pay for it. It is a great assistive tech tool
  • Lots of modeling and group writing, sentence starters frames for paragraphs, graphic organizers, repeated practice 
  • Expose them to good writing, scaffolding, write for different reasons, grade for different reasons
  • Exemplar texts, graphic organizers, sentence starters, small group work for feedback heavy focus on helping students with the structure of their essay writing really helps my struggling students
  • Graphic organizers, mentor texts, sentence starters, audio of writer interviews on writing process
  • Give the opportunities for personal narratives to encourage students to write about themselves and their families

Q3: What books you have found most engaging for struggling readers? 

  • My struggling readers loved the Bluford Series and Junkyard Dan series
  • My English Language Learners like The Heights series from Saddleback
  • My students like dystopian fiction. ORCA books are also fantastic. Realistic fiction helps students relate to reading
  • I’ve never heard of a Junkyard Dan! Will look that up 
  • Not always an easy book. I had several who devoured The 5th Wave even though it was difficult.
  • Second time I’ve seen something about Orca books. Will have to look that up!
  • @SpanglerMiddle yes Blufords are great! 
  •  Anything that is becoming a movie motivates students 
  • It depends on the students but I noticed many of them love James Patterson books, or anything manga or graphic organizers 
  • Trying the entire Crispin series this year! Students of all levels are majorly invested! 

Q4: What writing lessons have you found most engaging for struggling writers?

  • Students love writing RANTS. They get to vent and get a mark for their opinions.
  • Choice on any topic that they’re interested in, or the time I taught them about being concise with zombies
  • Write around, sentence starters, shared stories on a Google Doc, random RAFTS
  • Anything personal is usually a hit, students are more invested and more likely to revise
  • Lessons that help w structuring paragraphs. We use SER @ my school (or CER). Ideas come. Alleviates “I don’t know what’s next”

Q5: Share any tips, ideas or resources you have for assisting struggling readers and writers.

Engaging ELA Lessons

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