Andy Lee thought he was helping some of his struggling students learn how to write an argumentative essay by breaking the task into smaller pieces, such as focusing first on the skill of paraphrasing.
After all, Strategic Inquiry — the method the English department chair and lesson design coach at Savanna High School in Anaheim, California, is implementing as part of an education leadership program at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) — urges teachers to “get small” in order to close gaps in students’ learning.
But then, Nell Scharff Panero, the education faculty member at Hunter College in New York City who helped to develop the model, asked Lee and his colleagues at Savanna an important question — could their students, many of whom are “long-term English learners,” even write sentences? While some students could, Lee acknowledged that many had not mastered proper sentence structure. So, since January, his students have been becoming stronger sentence writers, learning how to identify fragments and practicing skills that previous teachers probably assumed they knew.