Struggling and Reluctant Students: Literacy Interventions

Background to workshop

In every school, there are students who are reluctant and disengaged or underperforming. In this workshop, participants will explore who these students are likely to be and what research reveals are the best ways to re-engage this group of students.


Teachers of students in Years 6 to 12, especially those with disengaged and underperforming students.


The workshop as outlined below is designed as a full day (5 hour) workshop. However, aspects of the workshop can be done in shorter sessions, although a minimum of two hours is recommended. The full day workshop can also be completed across multiple sessions, e.g. five one-hour workshops.

This workshop can also be combined very effectively with other workshops. For example, in 2011 the Independent Schools Association of South Australia employed Wordsmart Consulting to run a three day workshop on this topic. The first day was this workshop. Day Two focussed on strategies for teaching reading to underperforming adolescents and Day Three focussed on improving writing.


  • Anticipatory set: What does a literacy-rich school look like?
  • Setting the scene: Some things we know about teaching literacy (the givens), including the components of whole school approaches to literacy, the spoken-written continuum,identifying the underperformers
  • Challenging current practices: Identifying what works and doesn’t at the moment, exploring case studies and drawing out principles
  • Understanding students and moving away from a deficit model: Funds of Knowledge and Virtual Schoolbags
  • Practical tips for a supportive school environment: Ideas for establishing a community of readers and writers, including connectedness to the real world and project-based learning, wide and silent reading across the curriculum, planning for and celebrating success, using technology, feedback and grading practices, the role of scaffolding and teacher expectations.
  • Conclusion: Putting this into practice.

When the workshop is completed across multiple sessions, teachers can be provided with Between Module Activities that encourage them to implement and trial ideas from the workshop.


Access to a data projector and whiteboard will be needed. Preferably a school-provided laptop to connect to the data projector should also be provided. A participant booklet will be provided to the school for printing. All other resources will be provided by the English Teacher Guru and Wordsmart Consulting.

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