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The above link is to a 6 minute video on implementing instructional strategies in the classroom that I found very helpful.
It's all about universal design for learning (UDL) and scaffolding the process of text-based writing to rigorous text. These students have to be familiar with the types of text (predominantly non-fiction), understand how to perform a research task (pull from multiple texts for one prompt) and respond to this reading with text-based writing. It will require close reading and scaffolding, but with practice and support, all students can access rigorous material. I've seen great success in my own practice with the same populations. For more information about UDL, don't hesitate to explore the framework a thttp://www.cast.org/udl/
I also wrote a book about accessing the Common Core standards while using UDL. You can read a sample here: http://www.amazon.com/UDL-Now-Monday-Morning-Implementing-Standards/dp/0989867439
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