Understanding What Students Can Do

view from back of classroom of student raising hand

WIDA's asset-based approach to each student

The WIDA  Can Do Philosophy reflects the foundational belief that everyone brings valuable contributions to everything they do. Linguistically and culturally diverse learners, in particular, bring a unique set of assets that have the potential to enrich the experiences of all learners and educators.

As young children and students learn additional languages, educators can draw on their assets for the benefit of both the learners themselves and for everyone in the community. By focusing on what language learners can do, we send a powerful message that students from diverse backgrounds enrich our early childhood programs and K-12 schools. 

WIDA believes that multilingual students bring linguistic, cultural and experiential assets not only to the classroom but to the larger community as well. Some of these assets may be immediately contributed, while others represent future potential. Whenever possible, WIDA promotes the Can Do Philosophy beyond our organization and into the educational systems and organizations with whom we interact.

WIDA's Can Do Philosophy

Watch the brief video below for an overview of our philosophy, then read  The WIDA Can Do Philosophy to learn more about multilingual learners' assets, contributions and potential.

Video Transcript

The can-do philosophy permeates everything that we do at WIDA. Assessment, professional learning, standards. And bringing content and language together is always, always to build upon the assets that children have.

With anything that we do at WIDA, we're constantly thinking about how we can honor and not just celebrate. But really use the assets that children are bringing to the classroom.

Culturally, linguistic, cognitive, and academic. Kids come into our classrooms with many ways of knowing, many ways of learning. And many different experiences that can enrich what we're already doing.

Teachers bring to the classroom a lot of experiences also. And a lot of ways of knowing and doing things that also benefit the classroom.

Our can-do philosophy has many tools built around it. To help you understand and create language-rich, literacy-rich, and culturally appropriate classrooms. And it turns out those classrooms are good for all kids. They're engaging classrooms that work for every learner in your school. But they're particularly important for English language learners. Who need to learn English, but they also have to keep up with rigorous academic content.

We want to make sure that indeed, this can-do philosophy is very much a part of the educational fabric and is infused in everything we do. And you do.

Our can-do philosophy really exemplifies who we are as educators. And how our multilingual learners are indeed a tremendous resource. How their contributions, not only to teaching and learning, but to our educational communities. And to the world.

barbara smith with students

Featured Educator

“I truly believe there is more than one way to assess my students’ progress... The WIDA Can Do Descriptors and rubrics are posted around my room and the students have a 'can do' checklist so they can take responsibility for their learning.”

Barbara Smith, ESL Teacher
Waynesville, MO

Read more about Barbara

two younger students at science lab table

Understand what multilingual learners can do at various stages of language development.

group of students gathered around teacher as she shows them a tablet

Teaching with Standards

Tips on using WIDA English and Spanish Language Development Standards for planning and lesson delivery.

teacher showing young students a chemistry set

Language for Learning

The language students need to participate and succeed in the classroom.

woman talking at front of classroom of adults

Looking for In-Person Training?

Our Professional Learning team offers a Purposeful Lesson Planning for Language Learners workshop.