Online or Not: Four Actions for Quality Instruction of Elementary Students

Blog post By Shelly Flygare, SREB School Improvement Leadership Coach

“I learned how to support all of my students, no matter what format I’m asked to teach in — even those students I thought we could never serve outside school walls.”

That’s what an elementary teacher told me when I asked her what positives emerged from the shift to remote learning this spring.

As we prepare to enter the new school year, one thing is certain — education is not going to look the same. The uncertainty of these times offers us opportunities to create a better experience for each of our elementary students, especially those with special needs, such as students with special needs, English language learners and students who need Tier 2 or Tier 3 instructional supports.

Thanks in part to the work of SREB and its K-12 Education Recovery Task Force, we’ve identified four actions for districts and schools to ensure that all elementary students have equitable access to quality instruction wherever learning takes place.

  1. Identify one learning management system or platform — such as Google Classroom, Seesaw or Clever — that connects students and parents to teaching and learning resources. Teach that platform to students and parents on the first day of instruction and continue to use it whether learning occurs in person, online or as a hybrid of the two. Support parents with instructional videos that walk them through how to navigate and use the platform and support learning. Encourage parents to use online systems and platforms to collaborate and communicate with their child’s teachers, counselors, special service providers and school leaders.
  2. Focus on the essential content. Engage students in assignments that use integrated, project-based learning strategies that help them master literacy, math, science and technology standards. Use in-person class time to provide structured opportunities for student teams to collaborate, engage in peer questioning and feedback, and solve real-world problems.
  3. Be innovative in collecting evidence of learning. Technology tools such as Classkick, FlipGrid and Google Jamboard allow young students to show evidence of their learning that play to their learning styles and strengths. Students can make videos, explain answers through a microphone, draw pictures or insert graphics with text. Platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet allow teachers to engage with students in whole groups, small groups or one-on-one for extra support.
  4. Help teachers collaborate and plan instruction. Teacher teams need training and time to plan for both synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous (anytime) instruction. Teachers can use synchronous learning time to focus on helping students develop language skills and to promote positive student-to-student and student-teacher interactions. Asynchronous learning allows teachers to deliver content through recorded lessons and gives students and parents greater flexibility; students have additional time to repeat, translate, process and respond to content. By balancing synchronous and asynchronous learning, teachers are better able to provide the extra supports that students need. Use tools that support students in special education programs and English language learners, such as immersive readers or Google Translate, as well as online and in-person tutoring options.

SREB is committed to helping teachers plan for quality instruction, regardless of the delivery format. Our new workshop, Engaging Students in a Blended Instructional World, will dive deeper into the “how” for each of these four actions. Contact us to learn how we can help.