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Learning in the Context of COVID-19: ELA, Literacy and Mathematics

There are many considerations when planning for meaningful learning in ELA, literacy and mathematics during periods of extended disruptions. This page is designed to support school leaders and classroom teachers in making intentional choices about what engaging learning in ELA, literacy and mathematics can look like in for alternate instruction, including home, community, distance learning, and modified school environments.

Ideally, instruction is a continuation of the high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials that your classroom, school, or district already has in place. However, many factors (such as access to materials or internet connectivity) could interfere with the equitable continuation of that curriculum. Further, design factors for a curriculum intended to be delivered face-to-face may not translate directly and effectively to an online environment. As educators, we are committed to doing all we can to move learning forward for each of our students while supporting their social and emotional well-being, and promoting equity. DPI recognizes the challenges inherent in doing this during a time of emergency and offers the following ideas for reflection and tangible resources to support Wisconsin’s educators, schools, and districts during these unprecedented times.  Professional learning resources are available here

DPI COVID-19 Pages

Instruction Partners has developed a COVID-19 Resource Hub which includes a hierarchy of school needs that need to be addressed before planning online instruction, instructional contingency plans, distance instructional models, and methods for supporting student health, safety and nutrition for educators and district leaders.

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has compiled a list of free high-quality, full course curricula and resources, including proprietary content that has been made free during the current school closures. They have also provided a guide, Restart & Recovery: Considerations for Teaching & Learning Overview.

Considerations for designing alternate formats of instruction for ELA, literacy and mathematics

The following questions are meant to guide your planning and implementation of learning modified for the pandemic. Answers will be unique to each school and district, and therefore, will vary.

  • What are your system’s visions for learning in ELA, literacy and mathematics? How do your modified learning plans reflect these visions?
  • How are you supporting your students’ physical and emotional well-being?
  • What are the goals and fears about learning that students and families have during this time? How are those being acknowledged, honored, and addressed?
  • How are you connecting with individual students and families that you might be particularly concerned about? Consider coordinating these efforts with colleagues (such as school counselor or social worker).
  • What barriers to learning may exist in the student’s environment? How can you design learning to minimize the impact of these barriers?
  • How will you promote equitable access for all students, given that students do not all have equal access to broadband and other technologies?
  • How do the learning opportunities you are providing lead to a coherent understanding of a larger concept or idea? What is the purpose behind each thing you ask students to do and how do you communicate that to each student?
  • How are you collaborating with colleagues about what they’re asking students to do? How much time does the combined learning ask of a student?
  • How are you connecting with the other educators who support the individual students you serve (such as students with IEPs or language learners)?
  • How will you communicate about modified learning expectations and details? Which communication includes students? Which communication may be for families only?
  • Family is a student’s first teacher and the people who know the student best. Where and how does learning honor the important role of family, especially during uncertain times? What voice and choice are given to families in selecting learning that best meets the needs of their student?
  • What are your policies regarding grading and attendance during this time? How have those clearly been communicated to students and/or families?
  • What are your policies regarding behavior and related expectations during this time? How have those clearly been communicated to students and/or families?
  • What are the professional learning needs of educators? What data suggests this? Beyond just focusing educator time on planning for and facilitating remote learning, a district could choose to focus this time on professional learning for educators. How can you use this time to develop the knowledge and expertise of educators to eliminate barriers to student learning and scaffold all students to meet grade-level standards?
  • How will you transition students and staff back to in-person learning? What policies and expectations need to be re-examined and revised? What alterations will you make to the curriculum? How will you communicate that to students, families, and educators?
  • As systems and schools reflect on providing support for students and learning during the pandemic, what does learning need to be and look like? What planning and preparation needs to happen for potentially much longer learning impact this school year, and potential school closures locally or state-wide?

Additional considerations:

Wisconsin's Vision for English Language Arts and Mathematics

Wisconsin's Vision for English Language Arts

Wisconsin's Vision for Mathematics

 
Specific considerations for ELA and literacy (reading, communication arts, or English language arts)
  • How can you translate existing literacy routines and procedures from the classroom into a digital environment? Maybe your instruction includes expectations about independent reading. Continue these expectations but communicate clearly with students and families about how the routines and procedures may be altered to work in a digital environment.
  • What reading, writing, speaking, and listening are you asking students to engage in regularly? Consider authentic tasks, such as reading print or digital text, writing to family or friends, or keeping a daily journal or blog, rather than digital worksheets or drills.
  • How can you support students and families in making meaningful connections between grade-level standards and reading, writing, speaking, and listening? For example, ask students to read daily and provide adults with standards-based ideas about how to talk with the student about what they read.
  • How can you use reading, writing, speaking, and listening to support students in self-reflection but also in making safe connections with family, friends, and community? Young people have important ideas about what is going well and what could be improved within their communities. Letter writing, composing digital messages, and/or recording messages are great ways for young writers to share ideas with others in the community or with groups they belong to.
  • What is already happening in a student’s daily life that could be re-envisioned as an opportunity to develop literacy? Many people are spending time outside. A student could use a camera to capture images and use the images as inspiration for writing.
  • How can literacy be used to support student’s social-emotional learning needs during this time of crisis? Journaling can be a safe way for students to express their feelings, but it’s important to remember that students shouldn’t be assessed when writing about their feelings or emotions.
Resources for ELA and literacy

Below is a list of high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials that are meant to be used by educators as a student’s year-long curriculum. These instructional materials can be accessed free of charge and some of these providers are developing and deploying daily resources that can support educators and parents as they support their kids’ learning during this time. If a school or district chooses to use these resources, they need to consider how the curriculum builds on the teaching and learning that has already happened in order to engage students with a cohesive learning experience.

  • Core Knowledge has comprehensive materials available online for free download, including Teacher Guides with detailed lesson plans, student books, and activity pages related to each lesson:
  • Expeditionary Learning (EL) offers K-8 literacy curriculum, professional learning videos, daily virtual literacy circle time for students, and resources for their interdisciplinary #ProjectsAtHome challenge at https://eleducation.org/what-we-offer/coronavirus-resource-center
  • Great Minds is sharing—free to anyone through their Knowledge on the Go resource center—recorded daily lessons in grades K–8 of Wit & Wisdom (ELA). These lessons are being delivered by Great Minds’ own teachers and are viewable on any device. Schools that have them should make every effort to send students home with their Wit & Wisdom workbooks and core texts, if available.
  • LearnZillion is providing free access to online versions of several top-rated curricula here:
    • EL Education’s ELA program for grades K-5
    • ELA Guidebooks curriculum for grades 3-12
  • Open Up Resources offers free, downloadable curriculum here. OUR is also providing free access to curriculum via the Kiddom learning platform. Districts and teachers can sign up for more information, webinars and virtual PLCs. Specific resources include:
    • EL Education K-5 Language Arts
    • Bookworms K-5 Reading and Writing

For professional learning to support the use of high-quality, standards-aligned OER materials, check out the IMPL professional learning resources.

Specific considerations for mathematics
  • How can you translate existing mathematics practices from the classroom into a digital environment? Maybe your instruction includes expectations about justifying mathematical thinking and communicating it to others. Continue these expectations but communicate clearly with students and families about how the practice may be altered to work in the current environment.
  • How can you continue to promote deep thinking within mathematics? Consider posing one task that has multiple solutions or solution paths rather than digital worksheets with many routine problems to solve.
  • How can you support students and families in having meaningful mathematical conversations? Provide families with a set of purposeful questions that can be posed after students have engaged in some problem solving or game playing.
  • What is already happening in a student’s daily life that could be re-envisioned as an opportunity to develop mathematics? One opportunity might be as families are preparing and eating meals at home. Use this opportunity to talk about the mathematics involved in cooking, nutrition labels, or setting the table.
  • How can a student’s local neighborhood inspire mathematical thinking? Students can find interesting shapes, angles and patterns in the architecture, art, and nature of their neighborhood.
  • How can you leverage the assets of home-based learning and provide meaningful math learning experiences that connect to students’ home lives, interests, and identities? Consider how to give students agency to pursue math learning that is relevant to them.

Additional considerations:

Resources for mathematics

Below is a list of high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials that are meant to be used by educators as a student’s year-long curriculum. These instructional materials can be accessed free of charge and some of these providers are developing and deploying daily resources that can support educators and parents as they support their kids’ learning during this time. If a school or district chooses to use these resources, they need to consider how the curriculum builds on the teaching and learning that has already happened and how they will create a smooth transition in order to engage students with a cohesive learning experience.

For professional learning to support the use of high-quality, standards-aligned OER materials, check out the IMPL professional learning resources.

Family Resources

Families are a student’s first teachers and the people who know the student best. There are important partners. As you select resources to share with families, be mindful of how many resources are being shared.

The following resources could be shared:

For questions contact us at literacy-mathematics@dpi.wi.gov.

For questions contact us at literacy-mathematics@dpi.wi.gov.