The 2 Best Ways to Help Struggling Students

Teach Magically 2 best ways to help students learn

If you have students that have difficulty learning any new things, there are 2 best things you can do to help struggling students.

Facebook Live Video that explains these strategies.

In the past, I had to progress monitor students every two weeks, and really help them learn the information that I was teaching. I came across a few great ideas that really worked. I incorporate these strategies to help all of my students learn.


This is especially helpful for students that have a very difficult time learning. For example, let’s just say the student is having a hard time with letters and the sounds which we know how difficult that can be….because letters makes no sense. 


2 Best Ways To Help Students Learn by Teach Magically

Daily Tracing Strategy for Learning New Things

So, the first of the two best ways to learn is to practice daily tracing. I start by using these little letter books that I made.

Alphabet Tracing Booklet Teach Magically

On each page, there is a capital and lowercase letter and also a picture clue to help students. The arrows help the students understand how to trace.


Before we start anything on paper, we practice making things in the air and talking about the sounds of the letters we are practicing.


Then they trace the letters with their finger in the little letter book. It’s really important they use their pointer finger with the hand that they write with. That will send it to their brain more quickly. For example, they trace A, say A, trace a and say /a/ like ant. They will then go through all the letters in the alphabet.


Tracing is one activity that works when the student knows a lot of the letters.


Now for students that are having a very difficult time learning letters and/or numbers, I use a slightly different technique called drill sandwich.


Struggling Student Case

I like to use the example of my most recent class that I just retested and I found one little boy who only still knows two letters which are  Y and X. (Y happens to be in his name.) In this case, what you have to do is pick out the letters known.


I pick out the letters of his name. This student will then have to trace the letters of his name, and then I pick out two more letters (three if they have a really good memory), but if they are having difficulty, it’s usually the letters that they know and two other brand new letters that they do not know. 


For this little boy, I am going to choose A, he kind of says apple so I think he has a connection there with it, and then B because that is in his name which will help him learn it easier.

 What to Do Next?

Now that I know what letters I am going to use, I will take a letter that he knows, put it in between the letters that he does not know, and I will basically sandwich the letters together in between.


So we have a letter that he knows and the letter that he is trying to learn, then a letter he knows and then the letter that he is trying to learn.


Each day he would trace these letters and then say them. For example, he would trace Y, say Y, and say Yo-Yo,  /y/, turn the page and trace B, say B and then say bus, /b/. He would do that every day until randomly I knew that he knew those new letters. I would then take those out and ask them out of order for him.


Usually practicing 3-4 times per day with you will help them learn. Once he knows those letters, I then sandwich new letters in between them. I always keep the letters he knows to help build his confidence and then sandwich in only two or three new letters. So it’s tracing and then sandwiching them in between to learn new letters. Check out other Drill Sandwich Ideas.

Matching Strategy for Learning New Things

When students have a really difficult time pulling the letter name and sound from their memory or having trouble just tracing the letter, I will lay those letters down to make it easier.


Again, two letters that they know, and two or three that they don’t know yet.


For example, I would lay down the letters and say find the Y, he would point to it, find the B, find the A, find the X. Now remember, he already knows two of the letters, so that is going to help him and build his confidence.


When doing this activity, they can point with their finger, they can smash it with a fly swatter, they can put cubes on them, whatever kind of activity you want to do. Once they match it, I then pull it up and we practice tracing it again and saying the letter name. Those two things really will help.

Trouble with Learning Numbers

I do the same thing with numbers, if they are having difficulty tracing numbers, I take my number book which is very simple to use.

Number Book 0-20 by Teach Magically


My book has arrows and starting points, which really help, and they would just trace over them and say the numbers. Now some students right now know 0-10, but the teen numbers are a little more difficult. To make this easier on them, I would lay that chart out with only the teen numbers on the table. I would say find the 11 and they would have to smack it or hit it with a fly swatter. If 11-15 is too hard, shorten it up and only do 2-3 things. Remember practicing every day will help. 

Review Strategies for Learning New Things

1. Matching

So let’s review, for students that are having a very difficult time learning in any grade, you would lay out what you are teaching, have the students match what you want them to find. In kindergarten this would be the letter names, sounds, and numbers.(If you’re in Upper grades might be math facts or different states.) Matching the letters or numbers is one technique.


Here we are learning sight words.

2. Tracing

The second is tracing and saying it out loud. Trace and say the new learning.


Research on Learning New Things

I did hear a research study that said if it’s brand new and they don’t have any connections to anything else, you should expect them to learn one new thing a week. One letter a week, one site word a week, one number a week. 


If you have any questions please put them in the comments below. Remember to join me every Wednesday at 6:30 pm EST to talk about some things to help teachers teach.


Feel free to comment with any questions that you have. You can find the link to my products on Tpt Debora Marines TeachMagically.



Debora Marines at Teach Magically

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