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Differentiated learning plans lead to achievements in writing

Lana’s High-Impact Tutoring (HIT) coaches implement differentiated learning plans that guide students to success

Shut down your screen? That’s up to our students at Roosevelt High School. Lana’s High-Impact Tutoring (HIT) program participants at Roosevelt have been focusing on honing their argumentative writing skills. This is a new skillset for many of our English language arts (ELA) students, and we have noticed a vast improvement in their capability to effectively formulate and defend arguments. This is due to consistent attendance rates and differentiated learning plans over the past 10 weeks of HIT sessions.

Attendance is a common challenge among these types of tutoring programs, but we are seeing improvement. Currently, 83% of our ELA students are actively attending tutoring sessions. On the other hand, 100% of our math students have consistent attendance.

We started this semester by introducing basic writing skills like what arguments are and how to format an argumentative essay. Recently, students have written their first argumentative essay focusing on whether Roosevelt High School should participate in “Shut Down Your Screen Week.” After researching the effects of technology use (specifically phones) in the classroom, students developed their essays. 

Breaking down the writing process

I worked with students using a break-down approach to this writing task. Writing skills are imperative to any students’ success especially if they choose to further their education after high school. I devised a plan to break down the process for students to ensure task success.

  1. Identify Individual Needs: Begin by assessing each student’s writing skills to understand their strengths and weaknesses. This can be done through diagnostic assessments, writing samples, and one-on-one discussions.
  2. Set Clear Objectives: Establish clear and achievable objectives for each student based on their individual needs and the expectations of the curriculum. Make sure these objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
  3. Provide Models: Show students examples of well-written texts in various genres and formats. Analyze these examples together to identify effective writing techniques, such as organization, clarity, coherence, and style.
  4. Offer Constructive Feedback: Provide timely and constructive feedback on students’ writing assignments. Focus on both strengths and areas for improvement, and offer specific suggestions for revision. Encourage peer review and self-assessment to reinforce the learning process.
  5. Teach Writing Strategies: Teach students various writing strategies, such as brainstorming, outlining, drafting, revising, and editing. Model these strategies through guided practice and scaffolded assignments, gradually releasing responsibility to students as they become more proficient.
  6. Integrate Technology: Incorporate technology tools and resources to enhance students’ writing skills. This could include word processing software, online writing platforms, grammar checkers, and multimedia resources for research and presentation.
  7. Promote Critical Thinking: Encourage students to think critically about their writing by asking probing questions and engaging them in discussions about purpose, audience, context, and evidence. Help them develop their own voice and perspective while respecting diverse viewpoints.
  8. Foster a Growth Mindset: Cultivate a growth mindset in students by emphasizing the importance of effort, persistence, and resilience in improving writing skills. Encourage them to view challenges as opportunities for learning and growth rather than obstacles to success.
  9. Provide Differentiated Instruction: Recognize and accommodate the diverse learning needs and preferences of students by offering differentiated instruction. This may involve varying the instructional methods, materials, and assessments to meet individual students’ needs.
  10. Celebrate Successes: Celebrate students’ progress and achievements in writing regardless of size. Create opportunities for them to showcase their work and receive recognition from peers, teachers, and the broader community.

Student Success

Students at Roosevelt High School will continue to fine-tune their writing skills throughout the semester. One good news story from this past month is about a student who was struggling to complete class assignments. Throughout the entire school year, he had only submitted only two ELA assignments. However, after completing his argumentative essay in our HIT sessions, he realized that he was capable of finishing writing assignments. He was so overjoyed and proud of himself that he called his grandma immediately to celebrate. He then excitedly asked what the next writing assignment would be.

We were able to guide this student to complete his essay by creating a differentiated plan based on his specific needs. For example, one-on-one assistance and a quiet classroom environment were two of the factors that facilitated his success. We are looking forward to seeing all that these students will accomplish by the end of this school year!

Differentiated learning plans based on specific needs leads to thriving students.
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