It may seem strange to think about cultivating focus. After all, isn’t focus one of these things that you either have or don’t have? Isn’t asking a student to focus like asking her to breathe or sleep? Actually, no. Although natural abilities can vary, focus can be improved, cultivated, and taught.
We want to provide students with strategies for noticing their attention and focus as well as tools for cultivating their ability to stay tuned in to their work. What matters most is that students, with the help of a teacher, create a routine for focus.
Overwhelmed by the sheer number of inspiring Heinemann authors who attended this year's National Council of Teachers of English conference? So are we– in the best way. Whether you were able to attend the conference or not, below we've compiled some of our favorite Heinemann podcasts with authors who presented at this year's NCTE so you can listen from anywhere to learn more. Enjoy!
Allowing students to show understanding in multiple forms plays off of one of three universal design for learning principles — incorporating multiple means of expression. For a variety of reasons, expressing understanding is hard for many struggling learners. Sometimes, a learner has trouble putting thoughts to words and is unclear of what he or she wants to say. Other times, the learner knows what he or she wants to say but has trouble expressing it clearly and succinctly. And in other cases, a learner is taking time to process input and just needs time to express understanding. Regardless, we serve all our learners well when we provide students with multiple ways to demonstrate understanding.
Believing in and teaching the transformative power of yet is perhaps my favorite of all moves and its power with struggling learners especially important. Life, learning, progress, and success is always about yet. What you can’t do now is not what you can’t do, but what you can’t do yet.
Wrapping your mind around yet is not always easy. “It’s about learning to fly. If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. Wherever you are is where you are. You will get there. Embrace where you are and believe that you will learn to fly.” These words are exactly the kinds of words we need to say to our students.
Begin by acknowledging that students are where they are. Embrace that, and believe that they will learn how to fly. Truly. Believing in the power of yet is not some touchy-feely ideology but is grounded in the belief that when we have a mindset that trusts that all students can grow, we can move our students to a place of great joy and success.
On today’s Heinemann Podcast, Supporting Struggling Learners. How do we meet the needs of all our students while also meeting the demands of the curriculum? Every learner has strengths, writes Patricia Vitale-Reilly. She goes on to say, upon those strengths is where growth can occur. In her new book, Supporting Struggling Learners, Patty outlines 50 instructional moves for the classroom teacher. These moves that can be applied across subjects and grades. Patty walks us through how to make a positive impact on student thinking and learning. We started our conversation on the instructional moves to help make a more inclusive culture in the classroom.
I have been thinking of writing about struggling learners for many years and for many reasons. I’m sure a tiny seed was planted even when I was a young child, and that seed began to grow as soon as I started working with children and young adults. We will (unfortunately) always have students in our classrooms who struggle. They struggle in many different ways—different in both the reasons why and the ways in which they struggle. Since each and every classroom will have struggling learners, it is helpful to define the kinds of struggling learners we might encounter in our classrooms and then plan moves to support them.