In the first installment of this series, we highlighted our belief that educators nationwide are unsure if the school year will begin with in-person instruction, remote learning, or a hybrid of both. We also explained that we believe that no matter where instruction is taking place, students need a strong academic scaffold to build upon. Finally, we offered a series of suggestions on how to do so in a remote learning environment.

In this article, we share with you four ways to begin to build a strong academic scaffold for your in-person learning environments.

1. Rely on your peers in the surrounding grades. Many educators we know are saying they will spend time reviewing/re-teaching content that was covered during the period of remote learning this past spring. However, we believe there is another approach to filling-in missing concepts for students that will produce stronger results in the classroom.

Instead of spending weeks reviewing skills that some students mastered, some were exposed to, and some are unfamiliar with, allow this learning and scaffolding to occur naturally in the unit(s) the work builds toward.

For example, in our district during spring remote learning, the characteristics of quadrilaterals for 5th grade students were excused and moved to 6th grade for the fall of 2020. 6th grade teachers are now required to build this work into their instruction where it makes sense, not just a disjointed review at the beginning of the school year. 6th grade students will now learn the surface area of 3-D shapes and area of composite shapes. To be successful with this work it will be imperative that students know the attributes of quadrilaterals, which is a 5th grade concept.

As a 6th grade math teacher I would add components to lessons that address the characteristics of quadrilaterals. Are we finding the surface area of a rectangular pyramid? Then we need to cover characteristics of rectangles: side measurements, angles, parallel, perpendicular. Then immediately, students use that knowledge to calculate the surface area. This is where the bridge needs to occur, inside of authentic learning opportunities. This strategic link will provide genuine learning and meet student needs more than a detached series of lessons.

About the Author:

Jennifer Tatum and Emily Fagan teach and work together in North Carolina public schools. They continue their growth in the classroom and with resources like, Discovery Education. You can find them presenting at Discovery Education’s Summer Institutes, presenting at local and state conferences, and daily in their classroom teaching a love of learning to their students.


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