Engaging ELs & Reluctant Writers

ccs sconf

Ruth Luevanos and I teamed up to give a presentation on Engaging English Learners and Reluctant Writers for the California Council for the Social Studies 55th annual conference in Orange County. Our seminar demonstrates high-interest writing techniques that increase the amount of historical content teachers can cover. Please find resources below for using first person research papers, MEAL paragraphs, rhyming tweet-a-thons, six-word stories, and timeline transitions. All of these techniques help students with writing deficits develop positive attitudes about writing.

Many of my high school students use Twitter in their social lives. Social Media is also called micro-blogging. It’s actually writing. Tweeting helps students learn to summarize and write succinctly. Tired of vocabulary foldables try six-word definitions instead. Want to make sure your students understand a concept create a tweet-a-thon and they will find experts who correct their misconceptions.

Getting students to ask questions and engage in Social Studies activities can sometimes be difficult. I use elements of the flipped classroom and assign video lectures to students. This year, I have used Zaption to check for understanding during the videos and have found using open-ended questions can get students to ask their own questions.

Using the timelines in your textbook can be a great way to teach students how to use transitions.

MEAL and RAFT paragraphs are techniques that focus students on their argument and content. This allows the teacher to address any misconceptions immediately before they have written a five paragraph essay or longer paper.

First Person Research Paper

Worried about assigning research papers because of plagiarism concerns? This approach from Cindy Heckenlaible requires students to write strong historical narratives that showcase their research abilities.

Long used in elementary and middle schools to help students with Learning Disabilities (LD), SRSD is now being used with English Language Learners (ELLs) in some high schools. More than 40 studies have validated SRSD as an instructional model for teaching writing to students with writing deficits. Studies of history classrooms reveal that writing instruction of any kind is uncommon, even among exemplary teachers. Thus, student essays tend to list facts rather than argue claims, leave arguments unexplained, and only draw on evidence sporadically. SRSD Instruction in History can improve student writing.


If you attend the conference make sure you attend our lunch and honor our awesome Social Studies teachers.


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