Joe Gilson, Global History teacher at Port Chester High School, who worked with RSE-TASC Special Education School Improvement Specialist David Luhman in the 2015-2016 school year taught students multiple learning strategies in his 9th grade Global History I Co-Taught classes to support student engagement in writing.  One strategy in particular stood out. The 5 W’s and H is a strategy used to help students think about and identify details about a topic before writing. The students identify Who, Where, What, When, Why & How  and then use these details to first develop sentences and then develop a paragraph. This strategy is designed to get students to write more and be more specific which is important in global history, especially for Thematic and DBQ essays.

What did students with disabilities achieve using this strategy? Students began to use this strategy with excitement when planning to write and started generalizing this strategy to activities outside essay writing. Students would raise their hands saying, “We should use the 5Ws”, “If you are stuck, try using the 5Ws,” and “If you think about the 5W’s you will know the Byzantine Empire.” Not only was it effective in getting students to write essays, but students were motivated to participate and use the strategy in class and during review sessions.

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

  • Strategy Instruction is an evidence-based strategy for increasing student ownership of their learning for all learners, including struggling learners and those with disabilities.