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Social Supports are the perception and presence of a support network available to help a student if needed. People are social creatures, and our happiness is in part based on having supportive friends and family. The power of Social Supports extends to learning: a student's perception of the strength of the support they have, even if they do not end up calling upon their supports, is a key contributor to their academic success, including learning to read and write.
Key sources of Social Supports include parents, friends, classmates, teachers, and other school resources and staff. These sources offer different types of support to a student:
Social Supports can be beneficial even when students do not take advantage of the support. Rather, it is important that students perceive that these Social Supports are available to them. Adolescents can go through periods of greater conflicts with their parents, resulting in a decline in reported closeness, though parent relationships are still critical to emotional health. In contrast, the influence of peer and romantic relationships increases during this time.
Unfortunately, children can experience traumatic events that erode their actual and/or perceived Social Supports including:
Building positive relationships with other sources of Social Supports, such as with a teacher or family friend, can diminish the effects of this kind of trauma (e.g., by mitigating the negative effects of stress hormones).
When annotating, students engage deeply with a text and make their thinking visible while reading.
When adolescents can connect and communicate with authentic audiences about their interests and values, reading and writing become more personally meaningful and relevant.
Students practice making and finding meaning in texts through book discussions moderated by teachers to varying degrees.
Building positive and trusting relationships with learners allows them to feel safe; a sense of belonging; and that their academic, cognitive, and social and emotional needs are supported.
When peers are able to work together to plan, draft, edit, and revise during the Composition process, their writing quality improves.
For adolescent learners, the Composition process can become more robust, as learners begin to express ideas through multiple media, which includes visual, audio, and digital production.
Students whose families are involved and feel valued within the school community are less likely to miss school, which research has shown can cause students to fall behind academically.
As students move through multimodal stations pertaining to a particular unit, the social and physical nature of the activity supports deeper understanding.
During guided inquiry, teachers foster student autonomy by designing lessons centered on meaningful questions in which students locate, analyze, and present relevant information on their own or in small groups.
Learning about students' cultures and connecting them to instructional practices helps all students feel like valued members of the community, which improves Motivation and can mitigate Stereotype Threat.
As students work with and process information by discussing, organizing, and sharing it together, they deepen their understanding.
Journaling allows students to reflect on their thinking and feelings, process their learning, and connect new information to what they know.
When students provide constructive feedback on each other's work, they learn to give relevant suggestions, receive specific ways to improve their writing, and engage in Metacognition.
Having students teach their knowledge, skills, and understanding to their classmates strengthens learning and increases Motivation.
Maintaining consistent routines, structures, and supports ensures that students are able to trust and predict what will happen next.
When students write from a non-dominant or marginalized perspective, they consider and give voice to points of view that are often missing.
Teachers can provide individualized support through one-on-one conferences to assess reading comprehension, understanding of content, and spark further interest in reading.
When students explain to others, they deepen their understanding and gain confidence in their learning.
Think-pair-share encourages meaningful student discussion by allowing for extra processing time and multiple shares.
Writing conferences allow students to fully immerse, share, reflect, and receive feedback during the writing process, promoting Motivation for continuing the sometimes lengthy revision process that occurs in the upper grades.
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