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Differentiated Instruction

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Differentiated Instruction

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"Writing organizes and clarifies our thoughts. Writing is how we think our way into a subject and make it our own. Writing enables us to find out what we know—and what we don’t know—about whatever we’re trying to learn." ― William Zinsser, author of Writing to Learn

Differentiated instruction takes into account individual learners’ skills, needs, and interests. On this page, you’ll find resources on teaching writing to learners with specific characteristics or goals: individuals with LD, English language learners, beginning or low literacy learners, and learners preparing for the GED® test. For more valuable resources, also see the Instructional Strategies and Lessons and Web Tools pages in the writing topic area as well as the ESOL, IEL/Civics, Learning Disabilities and Standards-based Instruction sections.


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Individuals with Learning Disabilities

What is Dysgraphia?
The National Center for Learning Disabilities provides a definition and information on warning signs, accommodations, modifications, and remediation.

Universal Design for Learning
This TEAL fact sheet provides an overview of UDL, a teaching approach that supports all learners, including those with disabilities. Additionally, find tips for applying UDL in the adult education writing classroom.

English Language Learners

Improving ESL Learners’ Writing Skills by Tom Bello
This CAELA digest focuses on writing instructional approaches and activities.

Focus on Teaching: Seven Easy Pieces by Shirley Brod
This article describes classroom-tested writing activities for beginning ESOL learners.

How I Wish I Was Taught to Write by Thanh Bui
In this article, a teacher who was herself an ESOL learner gives advice on teaching writing.

Talking Adult ESL Students into Writing: Building on Oral Fluency to Promote Literacy
This article explains how speaking and listening practice supports and scaffolds writing instruction.

Dialogue Journals: Interactive Writing to Develop Language and Literacy by Joy Kreeft Peyton
This CAELA digest focuses on the benefits, challenges, and logistics of using dialogue journals with ESOL writers.

Poetry in the Adult ESL Classroom by Joy Kreeft Peyton and Pat Rigg
This CAELA digest explains how poetry can provide rich learning opportunities for adult ESOL students, even those with the lowest levels of English proficiency.

Low Level and Beginning Writers

Online Tutor Training: Teaching Writing to Adults
This resource provides an overview of writing instruction with a particular focus on teaching adult beginning writers in a one-to-one setting.

The Language Experience Approach and Adult Learners by Marcia Taylor
This CAELA digest explains how the LEA approach fosters reading and writing abilities even with learners at the lowest skill levels.

Steps for Creating a Language Experience Story: Video Demonstration
This series of very short videos shows a tutor and adult student using the LEA approach from the planning to editing phases of the writing process.

Teacher to Teacher: Using Writing Journals in the Adult Literacy Classroom by Bryan A. Bardine
This article reviews types of journal writing, including dialogue journals, which are particularly useful in working with adults at low literacy levels.

Learners Preparing for the GED® Test

GED Testing Service Resources for Educators

  • Constructed Response Resource Guides and Scoring Tools
    Find two sets of Reasoning through Language Arts writing prompts with scored, annotated responses. There are also additional sample prompts, a detailed scoring tool, and similar support materials for the short answer prompt on the Science test.
  • 2014 Test Resources
    RLA resources include quick tips, more sample prompts, and a video aimed at test-takers.
  • "Tuesday for Teachers" Webinar Series
    GEDTS continues to offer and archive video webinars, several of which feature strategies for teaching argumentative writing and the constructed response.
  • Assessment Guide for Educators
    This guide gives details on skills assessed, question types, and performance indicators.

GED Academy Extended Response Test Items Tutorial
MLOTS hosts a series of videos developed by Essential Education that focus on writing and evaluating the RLA extended response.

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The VALRC, located at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU School of Education), is funded primarily through the VA Department of Education.