After more than a year of interrupted learning, educators are considering how to address the wide range of academic abilities they are likely to encounter when schools open their doors in the fall. The go-to approach has often been remediation, or teaching content and skills that students didn’t master in previous grades. But a recent report from TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project), using data from the nonprofit curriculum publisher Zearn, shows promise for accelerated learning, an approach that has gained traction over the past year. Researchers found that when teachers took an accelerated-learning approach in math, students completed 27 percent more grade-level lessons, and struggled less with content, than students in classrooms where teachers used remediation.
What Is Accelerated Learning?
Accelerated learning may sound like a method for speeding through lessons to cover everything students didn’t learn in previous grades. It's not. Accelerated learning does not look back. It moves kids forward to tackle grade-level content, providing them with help when they need it. It’s not “just-in-case” remediation. It's “just-in-time” scaffolding.
Support might consist of small group instruction or one-on-one tutoring, using data to pinpoint the skills each kid needs to master grade-level concepts. Read on for research-backed techniques for catching kids up or moving them forward.
1. Accelerate. Don’t Remediate
Give kids grade-level work and help them when they need it. If a student is struggling to read a grade-level book, read it aloud or provide an audio version. You can also pair kids up to take turns reading and engage in discussion.
Other supports include graphic organizers; writing frames (for persuasive and expository writing); interactive read-alouds that include time for a think-pair-share or a turn-and-talk; translanguaging; math talk; and mixing in hands-on activities. These are just a few ways of moving students toward greater independence as they tackle grade-level content.
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