A Structured Approach to Enhancing Student Writing in history – 6 more strategies – Part 2

Welcome to Part two if my series on providing support for students in your history class. This article will look at medium levels of support for students.

As educators, we understand the paramount importance of equipping students with the tools they need to navigate the complex terrain of historical analysis and writing. Building on the foundation laid in the first instalment of this series, we continue our journey to enhance student engagement and writing proficiency in the history classroom. Our commitment to fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment remains steadfast, as we introduce additional strategies designed to guide each student through their historical writing journey.

Writing Strategies you can use today!

Enhancing Analytical Skills Through Structured Support

Choice of Sentence Starters for Each Paragraph

To further assist students in beginning their paragraphs with clarity and purpose, offering a choice of sentence starters tailored to the specific needs of historical writing can be transformative. For instance, “Analysing the causes of…” or “Considering the impact of…” can help students immediately focus on the analytical aspect of their argument.

Practical Application: Create a handout or a bulletin board display featuring a variety of sentence starters categorised by analytical tasks, such as comparing, contrasting, evaluating, and explaining. Encourage students to select different starters for each paragraph to diversify their writing and deepen their analysis.

Building Critical Arguments

Providing Page Numbers for Supporting Quotes/Evidence

Encouraging students to reference specific evidence in their writing not only strengthens their arguments but also enhances their engagement with primary and secondary sources. Assignments that include specific page numbers or document sections where students can find supportive evidence foster a closer reading of texts.

Practical Application: When assigning writing tasks, include a worksheet that lists potential sources along with page numbers or sections where relevant information can be found. This approach not only aids students in their research but also teaches them the importance of citing evidence to support their claims.

Vocabulary Development

List of Key Words to Use

Historical writing requires a specific vocabulary that enables students to articulate their understanding of time periods, events, and figures effectively. Providing a list of key terms related to the unit of study, along with definitions and examples of how to use them in context, can significantly aid students in incorporating sophisticated language into their writing.

Practical Application: Develop a “word bank” related to each unit, including both general historical terms and those specific to the topic of study. Encourage students to incorporate these terms into their writing and offer bonus points for using them creatively and accurately.

Fostering Independence

Share Shortened Success Criteria

Simplifying the criteria for success in writing assignments can make objectives clearer to students and more achievable. Sharing a concise version of the rubric or success criteria before students begin their writing task helps them understand exactly what is expected and how they can meet these expectations.

Practical Application: Before a major writing assignment, go over a simplified rubric with students that highlights the key components of a successful essay. This can be done through a class discussion, a handout, or even a visual diagram that outlines the steps to success.

Collaborative Planning

Shared Planning: A Table with Evidence to Use

Engaging students in shared planning sessions where they can outline their essays together encourages collaboration and critical thinking. Using a table format to organise evidence, arguments, and counterarguments can help students see the structure of their essay more clearly and plan their writing more effectively.

Practical Application: Organise a class session dedicated to shared planning. Provide students with a template table where they can list their main arguments, supporting evidence, and counterarguments. This collaborative process can spark ideas and offer students new insights into their topics.

Modelling and Feedback

Live Marking to Demonstrate Good Parts

Demonstrating the marking process in real-time can provide students with immediate, actionable feedback. Highlighting the strengths in a student’s work in front of the class not only celebrates their success but also provides concrete examples of excellence for their peers.

Practical Application: Select a piece of student writing (with permission) to mark in front of the class, focusing on the positive aspects and offering suggestions for improvement. This transparent approach demystifies the grading process and motivates students to strive for similar success.

By integrating these strategies into our teaching practices, we aim not only to improve our students’ writing abilities but also to instil in them a deeper appreciation for history. Through structured support, targeted resources, and collaborative learning, we can empower our students to become confident, capable historians, ready to explore the complexities of the past with curiosity and critical insight.

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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