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Lesson Plan

Student Contracting

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Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time Two to three 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Laurie A. Henry, Ph.D.

Laurie A. Henry, Ph.D.

Lexington, Kentucky


International Literacy Association



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From Theory to Practice



Student contracts give teachers a way to differentiate instruction in the classroom. By giving students the opportunity to develop a contract, they have the opportunity to become more responsible for their schoolwork and more enthusiastic about their education. Students begin to realize that what they want does matter. Instead of teachers dictating how students will learn, students are able to decide in what way their education will be structured. This lesson provides teachers with a basic contract format, sustained silent reading (SSR) extension activities, and literature response activities. Students develop contracts that focus on language arts education. Teachers and students negotiate and decide upon appropriate contracts for the classroom.

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Interactive Student Contract: Complete with various sections, including the nonnegotiable items, the negotiable items, and a timeline, this will allow your students to become more responsible for their schoolwork and more enthusiastic about their education.

SSR Extension Activities: This is a detailed list of activities for your students to complete that fall under the nonnegotiable items of the student contract, along with the stipulated criteria.

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Greenwood, S.E. (2002). Contracting revisited: Lessons learned in literacy differentiation. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 46, 338-349.

  • A learning contract is simply a written agreement between the teacher and the learner, in which the learner agrees to complete tasks in a prescribed amount of time or by his or her own initiative.

  • Learning contracts provide a balance between teacher choice and student initiative that is necessary for differentiation of instruction.

  • Under contracts, teachers can group and regroup students for individual and small-group instruction seamlessly, giving undivided attention without needing to manage or direct the bulk of the class.

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