Empowering Every Student: Tailored Strategies for Success in History for low literacy and struggling students – Part 3

students struggling with writing get help from teacher

Welcome to Part three if my series on providing support for students in your history class. This article will look at strategies for students that are either low literacy or really struggling to succeed in their history writing.

In the journey of education, especially within the nuanced realm of history, we encounter students who face significant challenges in engaging with the curriculum. These students, who might struggle with literacy or find the complexity of historical analysis daunting, require a more scaffolded approach to learning. This instalment of our series is dedicated to unveiling strategies that are especially effective for supporting students facing these obstacles, ensuring they too can find success and fulfilment in the study of history.

Writing strategies for struggling students

Comprehensive Support for Essay and Exam Questions

Sentence Starters for Every Sentence

For students grappling with where to begin or how to proceed in crafting their essays, providing sentence starters for every sentence can be a game-changer. This approach lowers the barrier to writing by giving students a structure upon which they can build their thoughts.

Practical Application: Create a comprehensive list of sentence starters that address various aspects of essay writing, from introducing topics and presenting arguments to analysing evidence and concluding thoughts. By having a starter for every possible sentence, students can focus more on the content of their writing rather than the form.

Structuring Content

Paragraph Summaries and Supporting Evidence

A clear roadmap of what each paragraph should contain helps students organise their thoughts and ensures that their essays are well-structured and coherent. Providing summaries of each paragraph’s purpose along with examples of supporting quotes and evidence further aids in this process.

Practical Application: For each essay question, offer a paragraph-by-paragraph guide that outlines the main point, the argument to be made, and examples of supporting evidence. This guide can include a mix of historical facts, quotes from primary sources, and interpretations from historians, giving students a concrete foundation to build upon.

Vocabulary Development

Key Words with Definitions

Historical writing demands a specific lexicon to effectively convey complex ideas. Struggling students can benefit immensely from having a predefined list of key words for each paragraph, complete with definitions and usage examples.

Practical Application: Alongside the paragraph summaries, include a list of key words relevant to each section of the essay. Provide clear definitions and, if possible, examples of how these terms can be integrated into their writing. This not only aids in comprehension but also enriches the students’ vocabulary, making it a powerful tool for expression.

Clear Success Criteria

Detailed Success Criteria as a Checklist

Understanding exactly what is required to succeed can significantly boost a student’s confidence and clarity when approaching an assignment. A detailed checklist that students can refer to as they write can demystify the grading process and encourage self-assessment.

Practical Application: Develop a success criteria checklist that covers all aspects of the essay, from the accuracy and relevance of information to the coherence of arguments and the proper use of historical terminology. Make this checklist as detailed as possible, allowing students to tick off criteria as they achieve them.

Focused Writing with Structure Strips

Structure Strips for Essay Sections

Structure strips are a visual tool that breaks down the essay into manageable sections, each with its own focus. This can help students stay on track and ensure that they cover all necessary points in their writing.

Practical Application: Create structure strips that students can attach to the side of their essay drafts. Each strip should outline the key components that need to be included in each section of the essay, serving as a constant visual reminder of their writing goals.

Collaborative Planning

Detailed Shared Planning

For students who find it challenging to plan and organize their essays on their own, a detailed, collaborative planning session can be invaluable. This approach allows students to brainstorm and structure their essays with the guidance of their teacher and peers.

Practical Application: Conduct a “we plan” session where you collectively brainstorm ideas for an essay, organize these ideas into a coherent structure, and map out the key points and evidence for each paragraph. This can be done as a whole class or in small groups, with each group focusing on different aspects of the essay.

By adopting these strategies, we can create a learning environment in which every student feels supported and empowered to tackle the challenges of historical writing. These approaches not only aid in the immediate goal of improving writing skills but also foster a deeper engagement with history, encouraging students to explore the past with curiosity and confidence.

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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