Meet Two Goals With One Strategy

BirdsIn my work with Non District programs many themes and needs come through clearly especially in this era of change.  One theme that I think is universal for all teachers and schools is the question of, “How do I teach everything I need to teach in the time that I have?”  Certainly there is no easy answer to this question as we are forever in education putting something new on our plates without ever taking something off our plates.  A second theme that also transcends Non District programs in working with students with Emotional Behavioral Disabilities (EBD) is the historically abysmal long term outcomes for this group of students. So, by now you must be thinking, “Where is she going with this?”

My Behavioral Disorders Journal from Council on Exceptional Children showed up in my mail this week and the very first article brought these two themes crashing together.  For me it was a kind of a, “wow, why didn’t I think of that” moment followed by, “this is a great intervention that I need to explore more and share with the teachers with whom I work.” The article, entitled, Self-Regulated Strategy Development: Connecting Persuasive Writing to Self-Advocacy for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, was written by researchers from Illinois State University.  They designed an experiment to look at using the Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) model of writing instruction that teaches the writing process while emphasizing self-regulating skills and self-determination skills.

Hmmm…..these are two areas that students with EBD often struggle with, writing and self-advocacy.  One goal of the study was to determine the effects of SRSD instruction on how well students wrote persuasive essays (a Common Core skill) to self-advocate.  Teachers were trained in the SRSD intervention which included scripted lessons, researcher modeling of lessons and teacher modeling of lessons.  Students were assessed at the beginning of the intervention to establish a baseline and at the conclusion of the intervention on a wide variety of indicators.  The  lessons in the intervention explicitly taught skills and employed strategies like POW + TREE, RAP, graphic organizers, and mnemonics to remember the 7 Powerful Self-Determination behaviors.  From baseline to conclusion the gains were remarkable.  Students at baseline were averaging 52 words, 3-4 sentences, less than one paragraph and less than 3 essay parts in their writing.  By the end of the intervention, the mean increased to almost 174 words, 16 sentences, more than 3 paragraphs and 10 essay parts.  In addition, students increased their knowledge of self-determination concepts and generalized their skills to advocate for their needs and wants through writing. They significantly improved the perception of themselves as good writers.

This article challenged me to think about how to use the tools we already possess in unique or novel ways in order to meet the needs of our most challenged students.  This certainly is an intervention that addresses multiple goals and is fairly easy to implement.  Take a moment to think about how you might meet two goals with one strategy.

For more information on Self-Regulated Strategy Development go to

Pamela Treat-Ulrich
NonDistrict Specialist

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