What We Know: Summer Learning Loss Each fall, students return to their schools fresh off summer experiences and ready to learn. Teachers welcome the opportunity to build on the previous year’s achievements. Analysis has shown, however, that students often show up in the fall behind where they left off in June. Over the summer, students lose as much as 25% of the previous school year’s learning, and the typical loss is equivalent to approximately one month of school. What’s more, this loss is even more extreme for lower-income students, who typically have access to fewer resources for learning during the summer. New research suggests this effect will likely be amplified by the early end of the school year this year (called the “COVID slide”), with students arriving in the fall with only 70% of their typical reading gains and less than 50% of their typical math learning gains. Even as new online learning options are rolled out, with students unexpectedly out of school—possibly through the remainder of the school year—many schools and families may be concerned about the increased loss of learning through this spring and summer. Current Concerns and the Challenge Ahead With little to no time to prepare, many schools are working to get effective, engaging content in front of students as quickly as possible. Without much preexisting infrastructure for online learning, the challenges inherent in this quick adjustment have been pronounced. Even as students begin to engage in tasks and work provided by schools, educators at the school, district, and state level have acknowledged that the experience isn’t the same as what students would have encountered in school. End of year assessments have been cancelled, and AP exams have been adjusted to only include content that had been taught through the end of February. With a typical summer leading to about a month of lost learning, the potential of three additional months out of school could lead to two months of lost learning—or more. It’s undeniable that students will leave this school year with a vastly different educational experience than they have in the past—and teachers are already concerned about how to address those learning gaps in the fall, when they will inherit a cohort of students who have not, in many ways, fully completed the grade before. What Students and Families Can Do Successful efforts to reduce summer learning loss provide a helpful roadmap for the academic challenges teachers and students are currently encountering. Research has shown that academic engagement over the summer effectively reduces summer learning loss. Analysis showed that summer reading and math programming raised test scores and reduced the learning loss students experienced over the summer. This research showed that programs were most effective when incorporating high-quality instructional strategies, and when students spent more time on task, and when students were engaged consistently throughout the summer. The same is likely true for the current time frame: with excellent instruction and engagement, students can stay academically on track even while out of school. What [...]
We know that you are experiencing transitions in your learning right now. We have created this guide to help you settle into a routine for academic work. Stay Organized You may notice that your organization needs to change at home. If you are finding that you are doing more of your schoolwork on an electronic device than you used to, it may be easier to keep things organized in a digital notebook. Your teachers may have recommended a digital note-taking app for you, but if they haven’t and you are looking for one, free apps that we like are Microsoft OneNote, Evernote, or Google Keep. Use a Calendar Tracking the due dates of your assignments will help too. You might have a calendar built into your school’s Learning Management System (LMS) like Canvas or Schoology. If you do, there are ways to import those calendars into your computer or phone calendar. If you don’t have access to an LMS, we recommend making a list of your assignments and due dates and putting those dates into a paper or digital calendar. Avoid Multitasking Multitasking can be really tempting when you are taking classes from behind a computer screen. We encourage you to try to avoid multitasking! Whether your school day classes are meeting as a large group or sending out individual assignments to complete, you will retain more knowledge if you give your full attention to the schoolwork in front of you. You will also find that you complete your assignments much more quickly if you aren’t trying to do two things at once. Taking breaks, when possible, can also help you avoid multitasking. If you have a set of tasks to complete, try to give yourself 5- to 10-minute breaks every hour. If your school's e-learning schedule allows for it, try to take a five-minute break between classes. Knowing you have a break coming up can help you push through when you feel fatigued. Make the Most of Online Class Sessions During the School Day Find out how your teacher wants you to ask questions. If you are learning in Zoom or Canvas Conferences, there is a chat feature that your teacher has likely set up for you. Use that to ask questions. If you are learning in Zoom, there is also a feature to raise your hand so that your teacher can see that you have a question you want to ask. If your teacher assigns you to breakout rooms in Zoom, there is also a feature that will let you call your teacher with a question, if your group has one during your breakout room time. No matter which platform your school is using, make sure you close distracting tabs, apps, and notifications on your computer, and set your phone to Do Not Disturb. Keep taking notes the same way you were taking notes in your classroom. If you weren’t taking notes before, this is a great time to get in the habit of doing that! If you [...]
To support teachers transitioning from in-person lessons to virtual instruction, we've compiled some of our best practices to develop and deliver lessons to keep your students engaged and learning. Lesson Planning Break learning into smaller chunks (10 minutes or less) and focus on essential information. Establish a clear structure for each class to maintain student engagement. Prepare visible step-by-step virtual learning procedures in your slides. Script out questions and display them visually in your presentation. Plan varied and specific student actions throughout class (e.g. annotation, breakout rooms, writing reflections, online polls, independent work, etc.) Setting Expectations Acknowledge that virtual instruction may be a new experience for both you and your students. Patience will be needed on all sides. Adapt your class expectations to the online classroom (e.g. respect, engagement, participation). Model and practice classroom procedures using your online platform (how to answer/ask questions, how to show agreement or give praise, how to submit assignments). Engagement Emphasize student actions: Consider how much time students will spend just looking at their screen. Create additional student actions to eliminate extended periods of inactivity. Highlight real-world connections: Students may be more prone to distraction during virtual instruction. Be sure to plan an effective hook for the lesson and utilize multimedia. Make it personal: The fact that you can’t meet in person means you need to make your lesson even more personal. Some ideas: use your webcam, add music and graphics, etc. Student-to-student interaction: Use “breakout rooms” feature if available in your online platform and have students respond to one another in the chat window. One-on-one interaction: Send private chat messages with specific feedback, questions, and praise. Questioning Continue to ask open-ended questions and follow-up questions, but include instructions for how to respond. It’s appropriate to cold call once students are comfortable using tools to respond. You may wish to start with gentle questions the first few times you cold call. Have all students send their responses to you in a private message. Then share select responses and ask follow-up questions. Differentiation Some platforms allow you to place individual students or small groups into breakout rooms. Provide differentiated assignments to each individual or group, and enter each breakout room to provide targeted feedback and support. Provide “Choose Your Own Adventure” assignments—multiple options with different degrees of rigor, preferably with some overlapping tasks. Send individual students direct messages with alternative problems or assignments. You can later share the answers and explanations publicly or privately.