Distance Teaching and Learning
Supporting multilingual learners during COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, WIDA remains committed to supporting educators, multilingual learners and their families. This webpage features learning opportunities from WIDA Professional Learning and a list of resources that can aid educators in providing remote and hybrid instruction for multilingual learners.
Visit the COVID-19 Response and Updates page for resources and information on using WIDA assessments during the pandemic.
“We cannot predict how the spread of the coronavirus will affect schools tomorrow, next week or months from now. However, we do know that educators across the world are leaders in understanding the power of unity, patience, and kindness. It is because of your steadfast commitment to multilingual learners and youth that our communities will persevere.”
-Tim Boals, WIDA founder and director
“As we prepare our classrooms to welcome students, whether in a school building or virtually, or a hybrid model, we worry about reconnecting with students we have known from last year and finding, identifying and welcoming new students who might need language assistance in the coming school year.”
– Diep Nguyen, WIDA director of Educator Learning, Research, and Practice
Micro-Offerings from WIDA Professional Learning
To help navigate the unique challenges of teaching during the pandemic, WIDA offers a series of micro-offerings. The 30-45 minute courses are open to anyone and are designed for educators who work with multilingual children and youth across a variety of settings.
- What's New
- In this article, WIDA Español team member Analleli Muñoz reflects upon the unique challenges and opportunities bi/multilingual students have experienced due to the pandemic. Read the article in English y en español.
- This infographic from the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) addresses the impact of COVID-19 on multilingual learners and their social and emotional well-being.
- A report by New America titled Educating English Learners During the Pandemic offers insights from experts, advocates, and practitioners about the impact the pandemic had on English learners.
- WIDA Resources
- Examining English Learner Testing, Proficiency and Growth: Before and Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, a WIDA report that examines and sheds light on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on English Learners’ educational outcomes.
- Pandemic professional learning: adapting to change profiles three early childhood professionals and how they have learned to adapt professional learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Voices from the Field, a WIDA International Newsletter series co-authored with global educators, features an asset-based collection of high leverage practices for teaching multilingual learners online:
- Teaching Online: Making the Most of Multilingualism, co-authored by Jon Nordmeyer and Esther Bettney of the WIDA International program discusses the unique perspective that multilingual middle schoolers bring to remote learning and why all teachers should be aware of the role language plays in online and hybrid schools.
- Five Things We Can Do to Support Multilingual Students Online,” co-authored by Esther Bettney of the WIDA International School Consortium, offers an asset-based collection of high leverage practices for teaching multilingual learners online.
- The WIDA Focus Bulletin Educación en el mundo actual: Equity in bilingual settings offers strategies for advancing equity in bilingual settings during the mundo actual of COVID-19. The importance of valuing multilingual learners’ linguistic and cultural diversity, using translanguaging, and leveraging technological resources are emphasized. This Focus Bulletin is available in Spanish.
WIDA Español provides tips and resources for administrators and teachers to help coordinate communication and instruction with students and families this school year. Read "This school year, communication with students and families is crucial" in English or Spanish.
Samuel Aguirre, director of WIDA Español, answers questions about English learners and distance learning.
- The WIDA Focus Bulletin Collaboration: Working Together to Serve Multilingual Learners, co-authored by WIDA International Programs Director Jon Nordmeyer and Andrea Honigsfeld of Molloy College, emphasizes the many benefits of collaboration as well as how WIDA resources can be used to support teachers working together. This publication also addresses teaching and learning from home and the virtual collaboration cycle.
- WIDA accommodations and accessibility experts share tips and information that aim to help multilingual students with disabilities find success in the virtual classroom.
- To help educators promote the importance of home language with the students and families they serve, WIDA has developed a visual resource in English, Spanish, Arabic and Simplified Chinese.
- To support families with young children at home, WIDA Early Years is happy to share free, downloadable activity booklets, in English, Spanish, Arabic and Simplified Chinese that are appropriate for young children ages 2-7 years.
- Tips for Parents and Families
The Office of Educational Technology offers the Parent and Family Digital Learning Guide that supports parents and caregivers as they monitor their children's learning and technology use. This guide is available in English and Spanish.
- Resources for State and School Leaders
- The U.S. Department of Education has released a Return to School Roadmap on “how to prioritize the health and safety of students, school personnel, and families.”
- The Oakland Unified School District presented Essential Practices for ELL Achievement - OUSD at the November 2020 English Learners (EL) State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS). This presentation by a local education agency provides an example of how a school district promotes English language learner principles and policies through remote and hybrid instructional practices.
- The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Restart & Recovery: Access and Equity for English Learner Students and Families During COVID-19: Recommendations for State Leaders offers a set of recommendations to develop and refine statewide COVID-related guidance to prioritize access and equity for EL students and families. Recommendations include partnering with EL families, promoting continuity of language and content instruction across instructional models, and supporting EL-focused professional learning opportunities.
- The Migration Policy Institute offers policy ideas for states and school districts for “Educating English Learners during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” This policy brief includes a summary of COVID-19's impact on English Learners and immigrant students, identifies key challenges states and school districts must overcome, and outlines policy recommendations to help ensure students are adequately supported.
- The CCSSO has put together a series of supports for states and school systems called "Restart and Recovery: Considerations for Teaching and Learning." Resource topics include system conditions, wellbeing and connection, academics, and state policies and action.
- The Office of Educational Technology has a relevant toolkit for teachers and administrators called "Using Educational Technology — 21st Century Supports for English Learners."
- As students return to in-person learning, learn about how to use WIDA MODEL to gain an understanding of your multilingual students' immediate learning needs.
- What to know: WIDA assessments in the 2021-22 school year news article
- Understanding ACCESS for ELLs 2021 scores is a WIDA guide to learn about the impact of the pandemic on ACCESS for ELLs and the implications for student scores.
- WIDA answers key questions on administering ACCESS for ELLs in the 2020-21 school year.
- Assessment Best Practices During COVID-19 for ACCESS for ELLs and WIDA Screener. This resource can be accessed in the WIDA Secure Portal (valid account required).
- Assessment Best Practices During COVID-19 for WIDA MODEL
- Educator Connection and Collaboration
- WIDA Facebook groups are available for educators to connect and share resources: the WIDA Educator Exchange and Supporting Success for Multilingual Learners with Disabilities.
- Teaching Multilingual Learners Online frames insights and resources from the global education community around the 2019 WIDA Guiding Principles of Language Development.
- Teacher Collaboration During a Global Pandemic, co-authored by WIDA International Programs Director Jon Nordmeyer, outlines five key takeaways from educators around the world that are applicable to all learners.
- A Flipgrid for the WIDA global community of educators has been created as a space to stay connected and share ideas about teaching multilingual learners online.
- WIDA Staff Recommended Resources
- In a blog post for the Center for Applied Linguistics, Margo Gottlieb writes about "How can we offset 'COVID slide' for multilingual learners through classroom assessment?"
- The U.S. Department of Education has released a report titled Education in a Pandemic: The Disparate Impacts of COVID-19 on America’s Students that includes a section on COVID-19's Impact on English Learners.
- Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse, a website by the U.S. Department of Education, highlights the innovative work underway nationwide in continuing to reopen K-12 schools, early childhood centers and postsecondary institutions. The website's resource library has a filter option for "English learners" in the "Equity Focus" section.
- The TIE Online article “Elevate Student Voice & Choice in Diverse Learning Settings” discusses how teachers can elevate student choice and voice across both online and in-person learning models.
- The article “Supporting Multilingual Learners in Hybrid Classrooms” published by Edutopia describes hands-on learning strategies that help English language learners participate in discussions – whether in-person or online. See how an educator aligns their teaching to the vision of the WIDA English Language Development Standards Framework, 2020 Edition.
- A new Distance Learning Toolkit by Understood and the National Center for Learning Disabilities provides key practices to support students who learn differently.
- Communicating with ELL Families During COVID-19: 10 Strategies for Schools by Colorín Colorado offers multiple tools, resources and tips for collaboration with families.
- The English Learners Success Forum has put together two relevant resources for teaching English Language Arts and Math in a remote setting: Distance Learning and English Learners: Making Lemonade from Lemons and Not Less Than, but Equal or Greater Than: Remote Math Instruction for English Learners.
- iCivics is a digital education organization with games and resources that are free for teachers, students, and parents. Six iCivics games have built-in supports for multilingual learners with the option to play in Spanish.
- UW-Madison faculty collaborated with scholars from across the country to create DREME's At-Home Early Math Learning Kit for Families. These downloadable kits include English and Spanish versions.
- Mental Health and Staying Well
- The December 2020/January 2021 issue of Education Leadership focuses on educator mental health and is free and open to all users through the end of the school year.
- UW-Madison's Center for Health Minds offers Six Ways to Support Children’s Well-Being During the Pandemic.
- UW-Madison’s Department of Psychiatry provides a COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Guide and Support, including a Guide for Families and Children.
- UW-Madison’s Center for Healthy Minds provides a COVID-19 Well-Being Toolkit, discusses social distancing as “an act of generosity and compassion,” and provides Meditación en Vivo, en Español.
WIDA has compiled the resources on this page for your review. Schools, districts and states are responsible for making choices about appropriate and applicable technologies and products.