Writing the key to student success (video link)

Special attention and structure can give struggling students the edge they need to be successful in the classroom, educators were told at a conference hosted by FPU. Nearly 250 teachers and administrators attended “Putting RtI2 into Practice: Response to Instruction and Intervention with a Focus on Writing” May 12 -13 in Steinert Campus Center on the main campus.

The conference featured educational consultant and nationally renowned speaker Anita Archer, Ph.D., who lectured on effective strategies for identifying and supporting students struggling in the classroom. Archer has taught elementary and middle school, co-written curriculum materials and served on the faculties of San Diego State University, the University of Washington and the University of Oregon.

Students who have difficulty writing benefit from teachers who can be models for them, according to Archer. “The whole goal would be to set the kids up for success by modeling, by scaffolding, by supporting them,” she said. 

Interacting with conference participants much as she would a class of elementary school students, Archer walked among the tables, touched participants on the shoulders, called people by name and demanded responses from her audience. “They were truly engaged that whole time,” Diana Taylor-Gillham, Ed.D., FPU special education faculty, said.

Writing was the focus of the conference because it is a key to success for struggling students. “If a child can write in the classroom, then that means that they can show what they’ve learned,” Taylor-Gillham said.

Gary Sconce, a science teacher at Yosemite High School, found the event very valuable. “I’m going to use a lot of what I’ve learned,” he said. He hopes especially to increase literacy in his classrooms. “This conference is allowing me to get the tools to do it.” 

RtI2 is a process mandated by federal law by which educators identify and aid struggling students. According to Taylor-Gillham, the ultimate goal of the conference was to see students succeed through the implementation of teaching strategies related to RtI2. “It’s extremely important that our teachers learn to meet the needs of students with better teaching methods,” she said.