6 Innovative and simple ways to scaffold writing for history students: Part One

writing for history

As I faced my class of middle school history students, I was met with a mixture of excitement and contemplation. The classroom, lined with timelines and historical figures, set the stage for our educational endeavor. My students, an array of young learners each at different levels of understanding and writing, required a strategic approach to facilitate their diverse learning needs.

We have all been here, the challenge was clear: to devise and implement teaching methods that would effectively engage and support students across a spectrum of abilities. This was not just an instructional task, but an opportunity to guide each student through the complexities of history in a way that would resonate with them individually.

In response to this, I set out to employ a variety of pedagogical tools designed to offer structure and clarity to all students. Recognising that some students required more direction to initiate their assignments, while others needed encouragement to delve deeper into analysis, my objective was to create a classroom environment that was both inclusive and conducive to learning at all levels.

writing for history

This involved a commitment to providing differentiated support, ensuring that each student could access the curriculum and express their understanding in a manner that reflected their individual learning journey. Through this approach, I aimed to not only impart historical knowledge but to enhance critical thinking and writing skills, essential for their academic progression.

As a history teacher, I embarked on an educational quest with a class full of capable students who just needed a little extra guidance to unleash their potential. This cohort were capable and only needed minimal support to get them progressing.

Here’s how I structured our writing journey together:

  1. Sentence Starters: I provided a list of sentence starters to kick off each paragraph. This was like giving my students a set of keys, each ready to unlock the next stage of their argument.
  2. Paragraph Structure: I broke down the expected structure into a numbered list, detailing the number of paragraphs needed and the purpose of each. It was like mapping out the stops along a trail, making the journey less daunting.
  3. Resources: I compiled a numbered list of books and websites for research, akin to equipping my students with a navigator’s tools. Each resource was a destination where they could gather the evidence needed to support their historical arguments.
  4. Glossary: I created a glossary of historical terms, providing definitions in a clear, numbered format. This list was their deciphering stone, translating the complex language of history into accessible knowledge.
  5. Grading Strategy: We reviewed the rubric together, with me explaining the points associated with each part of their essays. This was their treasure map, showing where they could find the gold within their work.
  6. Live Marking: In real-time, I marked their essays, offering immediate feedback. This step-by-step guidance was like a live commentary on their progress, reinforcing their successes and correcting their course when necessary.

Outcome: Consistent improvement

The result of applying this structured approach was remarkable. My students’ essays transformed from hesitant starts to confident explorations of historical events. They learned to navigate the terrain of history with a newfound assurance, and their grades reflected this growth. The lists and numbers were more than just organisational tools; they were the stepping stones to success.

I started by giving them sentence starters, like compasses to orient their thoughts. Each new paragraph would now begin with a guiding phrase, setting the tone and direction for their arguments.

Next, I demarcated the length of their explorations. I specified the number of paragraphs required for each essay, turning an open-ended odyssey into a series of achievable milestones.

I then provided them with a treasure map of resources鈥攍ists of books and reputable websites where they could unearth quotes and evidence to bolster their arguments. This map guided them to the primary sources, the very lifeblood of historical inquiry.

The language of history can often be as cryptic as ancient runes, so I offered them a key鈥攁 dictionary and glossary of terms. This reference became their tool to decode and understand the complex terminology that history often presents.

Grading, a mystery that often seemed as arbitrary as the fates, became a transparent and collaborative exercise. I revealed the marks available for each section of their work, inviting them to predict where they could earn these points. This foresight allowed them to approach their assignments with a strategist’s mind.

In the midst of their work, I provided live feedback, marking their progress in real time. This immediate reinforcement was a beacon of encouragement, guiding them toward improvement with each sentence they wrote.

As the semester unfolded, I witnessed a transformation. The same students who once hesitated now approached their assignments with confidence. Their essays evolved from simple narratives into compelling analyses of historical events. The change was evident not just in their writing but in their demeanor; they engaged with history not as a distant subject, but as a story in which they played a part.

Through this journey, I realized that my role was not just to impart knowledge but to cultivate the skills and confidence necessary for my students to navigate any academic challenge. The sentence starters, resources, and live feedback were not just scaffolding; they were instruments of empowerment.

Looking back, I see that it was not only as a series of lessons in history but as a personal odyssey. In teaching my students how to start, structure, and refine their work, I too learned the art of guidance. And in their success, I found my own.

Simple tool to hope guide your students

Not sure where to start, try these history focused guided strips

These simple tool yields BIG results and is perfect for struggling learners or advanced who just need a little support focusing on structure. You’ll love this simple classroom tool and so will your students! Hadn’t them out as laminated bookmarks or paper to be glued into workbooks for the exercise. See the improvement as I have seen in the quality of student work.

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