Supporting Well-Rounded Education In A Distance Learning . - T4PA

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JULY 2021Supporting Well-RoundedEducation in a DistanceLearning EnvironmentBRIEFTitle IV, Part A StatuteTitle IV, Part A of the EveryStudent Succeeds Act(ESSA) defines a wellrounded education as“courses, activities, andprogramming in subjectssuch as English, readingor language arts, writing,science, technology,engineering, mathematics,foreign languages,civics and government,economics, arts, history,This resource provides state education agencies (SEAs)with information about delivering a well-rounded educationthrough distance learning for all students by creating andexpanding access to educational opportunities. Specifically,this resource discusses considerations for ensuring that adiverse curriculum is made available to students and how itmay be adapted for a distance learning environment. Waysto address challenges accessing instructional content in adistance learning context are also discussed. This resource canhelp SEAs support local education agencies (LEAs) in offeringdistance learning courses, programs, and activities that allowfor a well-rounded education. Checklists are provided tosupport SEA reviews of LEA applications for funds to supportdistance learning. Appendices provide selected distancelearning strategies and resource suggestions.geography, computerscience, music, careerand technical education,health, physical education,and any other subject,as determined by theState or local educationalagency, with the purposeof providing all studentsaccess to an enrichedcurriculum and educationalexperience ”1 In addition,a well-rounded educationshould be coordinated withother schools or communityprograms and may bedone in partnership withexternal institutions andorganizations. 2Distance learning — also known as virtual or remote learning — refersto instruction that occurs when the student is not physically presentfor that instruction. Although distance learning often happensdigitally (e.g., Web-based, device-based), it also includes nondigital,print-based formats. Distance learning approaches can includesynchronous instruction (where all students learn together in realtime) or asynchronous instruction (where students have the flexibilityto access and engage in learning at their own pace or discretion). Thedistance learning approach is increasingly relevant as schools navigateusing it as the primary mode for some instruction, as a supplementto traditional instruction for a blended learning approach, or as acombination of in-person and remote learning.Distance learning may pose challenges related to equitable access forsome students (e.g., many recommendations and strategies rely onstudents having reliable Internet access and a home computer and/or printer, and it is not safe to assume they have these resources). Onthe other hand, distance learning can also promote more equitableaccess to learning opportunities and support the development ofexternal partnerships (e.g., with technological service providers or

Creating Opportunities forWell-Rounded Education inDistance Learningother learning institutions). Both equitable accessand partner engagement are central componentsof a well-rounded education.1 In particular, distancelearning can be used to offer access to Courses that may not otherwise be offered widelyor at all, such as in schools or LEAs that do nototherwise offer Advance Placement classes; Educators who can work with students acrossmultiple schools (a.k.a. “distributed learning”),which may be beneficial when few educators havea particular area of expertise, few students withina school need a particular course, or it is difficultto fill all staff positions within a school; or Other remote resources, such as partneringschools, community organizations, museums,or universities, that can be leveraged to provideadditional content, exhibits, and learningexperiences.This resource also discusses how (1) LEAs cancreate opportunities for a well-rounded educationthrough the content they offer and (2) minimizationof potential barriers to distance learning expandsaccess to a well-rounded education. Through thisresource, State coordinators will gain backgroundknowledge on distance learning options andconsiderations they can use to support LEAs. Eachsection is followed by a checklist of considerationsfor examining LEA applications for Title IV-A funds.These checklists may also serve as guides to informLEA-focused technical assistance.The Title IV-A statute encourages providing adiverse selection of content to students as part ofsupporting well-rounded education. Such contentgoes beyond core subject areas (e.g., English, math,science, and history) to include a broad offeringof subjects (e.g., the arts, health and physicaleducation, foreign languages, vocational classes,etc.) as well as opportunities to integrate learningacross subjects and prepare for college, careers,and community involvement.1 Distance learningefforts generally offer an array of content adaptedto fit remote instruction and learning needs, butmore work needs to be done to fulfill the goalof providing all students with a well-roundededucation. The following sections discuss how tocreatively provide and adapt instructional contentfor a distance learning context.Offering Diverse EducationalContent for All StudentsAccording to Title IV, Part A, SEAs and LEAs areresponsible for determining what variety of contentprovides an enriching curriculum and educationalexperience. When the desired content is not viableto offer within a school via available instructors orresources, LEAs can identify creative ways to makeopportunities available to students.Partnerships can help to meet these needs ofschools and LEAs by Utilizing instructors from other area K-12 schoolsto offer specialized courses; Connecting with colleges or universities foradvanced course offerings; Leveraging the specialties of community-basedorganizations to offer field- or work-basedlearning opportunities; and Coordinating with local television stations tobroadcast educational content.SUPPORTING WELL-ROUNDED EDUCATION IN A DISTANCE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT2

Ensuring that all students have the opportunity toparticipate is as important as offering an enrichingeducational experience. Students in schools orLEAs with fewer resources tend to have disparatelearning opportunities, which disproportionatelyaffect black and Hispanic students as well asstudents living in rural areas. 3,4 Even within schools,different students may have different educationalexperiences — such as black and Hispanic students,who tend to be underrepresented in advancedcourses. 3 Removal of barriers to courses and othereducational opportunities is central to providingall students the opportunity for a well-roundededucation. In addition to partnerships, raising familyand student awareness about coursework and otherremote offerings and encouraging participationcan promote student engagement in availableopportunities. The Title IV-A statute supportsassistance with financial barriers that may precludecourse participation, such as reimbursing the costof Advanced Placement exams, which can helpstudents receive the full benefits of such courses. 2Adapting Educational Content andActivities to Distance LearningEnvironmentTo ensure all students reap the benefits of a wellrounded education, educational content can beadapted for the learning environment as well asstudent needs. This is especially important in adistance learning environment because studentsand teachers are not interacting in-person andteachers are not always able to readily adapt inreal-time. Understanding the challenges posedby adapting distance learning content will helpSEAs and LEAs devise thoughtful solutions,ensuring students have access to the content.Some challenges educators may encounterwhen attempting to adapt to a distance learningenvironment are Conducting hands-on learning or laboratoryclasses, such as in science, technology,engineering, and math (STEM) subjects; Integrating use of materials for the arts; Considering availability of indoor and outdoorspace (and opportunities) for physical activity; Enhancing visibility of staff who may not be incontact with students every day, such as collegeand career counselors; Promoting positive connections and relationshipsamong staff and students; and Ensuring that students with limited technologicalaccess receive their assignments and supportinglearning materials.LEAs working to find solutions to these types ofchallenges can engage in thoughtful planningaround accessing learning materials, types ofactivities, integration across subject areas, andopportunities for interpersonal connection.Educators can make sure that students have accessto necessary and appropriate materials to promoteparticipation. For example, LEAs can consideroffering “education kits” containing supplies forSUPPORTING WELL-ROUNDED EDUCATION IN A DISTANCE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT3

students to use at home. 5 Additionally, students canbe encouraged to identify household items that arereadily available to them that can be used in lessonsand activities, such as cardboard tubes from a usedroll of paper towels, salt, or baking soda.6 Havingstudents identify materials in their environmentpromotes problem solving and creativity.6 Inaddition, being able to access these materials athome allows students the opportunity to participatein related lessons and activities.Educators can also offer a variety of activities toengage students in a distance learning context. Hands-on activities might include assignmentsto conduct experiments, engineering designchallenges, or practical applications of learning(e.g., field- or work-based learning, use ofhousehold items).6 Physical activities could include outdoor or naturebased scavenger hunts or exercise activities such ascreating or following an exercise video.7,8 Virtual interactive or enrichment activities mightinclude sharing information electronically throughWeb-based activities or lectures or leveragingvirtual resources (e.g., museum, college, or digitizedart tours).9,10,11 Critical thinking activities can enable students tofocus on the process rather than a finished product,such as by developing theories, generating ideas,planning to solve a real-world problem, or creatingtheir own activities.7Having a range of activities that can be completedindependent of a virtual platform enables studentsto participate even when they do not have sufficientaccess to technology. In cases where assignmentsneed to be turned in, students or their parents canmail in assignments as some LEAs offer resources tosupport this.In addition, integrating content across coursesubject areas can enhance and make connectionsacross learning. Title IV-A promotes integration ofacademic subjects, such as arts within STEM, as partof a well-rounded education and as a way to fosterengagement.1 For example, during a mathematicsclass, students can explore the golden ratio bylooking at famous paintings or the Fibonaccisequence by examining its prevalence in the naturalworld. College and career guidance objectivescan be integrated into a writing course by havingstudents satisfy the different requirementsfor writing a college essay (e.g., mapping outexpectations for the content of the essay, choosinga topic, doing the research, completing the writingprocess, and soliciting peer feedback).9 Educatorscan also use art to promote student engagementand learning across multiple subject areas, suchas using art to introduce or build on the conceptof geometric angles.12, 13,14 Social emotionallearning can be built into lessons such as throughreflection, stress management, and pausing toprocess feelings or solve interpersonal problems.12Integrating content across multiple disciplineswithin a distance learning environment helps toprovide an enriching and well-rounded curriculum.Educators can create opportunities forconnection to build positive relationships andfoster collaboration with and between studentsin a distance learning environment. Establishinga routine for staff to connect with families andstudents can help to increase visibility of andaccess to staff. For example, college and careerguidance counselors may offer established timesto connect with advisory cohorts and families.Similarly, educators can offer virtual “office hours”to consult on homework, student performance,or grades. It is also important to have a processfor two-way communication; this helps empowerstudents and elevates their voices.Another way for students to connect is throughpeer-to-peer collaboration. Creating ways forstudents to collaborate can help them to stayconnected, foster skills around teamwork, andpromote peer-to-peer sharing and learning (e.g.,sharing study tips or ways to stay physicallyactive). Collaboration can be done throughdifferent modalities such as telephone orconference calls, letters, chat platforms, orshared online documents. Intentionally creatingSUPPORTING WELL-ROUNDED EDUCATION IN A DISTANCE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT4

opportunities for students to connect can promotea sense of belonging even if staff and studentshave limited or no in-person interaction.Appendices at the end of this resource presentselected distance learning strategies and resources.Appendix A provides a crosswalk of distance learningstrategies and options for adaptation and application.Appendix B provides a few examples of distancelearning resources for different subject areas.Creating Opportunities ChecklistThe checklist below highlights questionsfor SEAs to consider as they support andfund LEAs working to make well-roundededucational opportunities available in andconducive to a distance learning environment.9Are courses offered via distance learning?If so, are core academic subjects included?Are other, more diverse, subjects included?9Are course offerings made available to allstudents within an LEA?9Are all students made aware of andencouraged to participate in learningopportunities?9Are LEAs leveraging community and schoolpartnerships to offer courses, programs,and opportunities to students?99Is there a process for reimbursing studentsfrom low-income backgrounds forrelevant course or exam fees? If so, arereimbursement opportunities shared withstudents and families?Are necessary course materials available toor provided for students?9Are students able to engage in learningthrough different types of activities?9Is content across multiple disciplinesintegrated?9Are there opportunities to fosterconnection and collaboration amongstudents and between students and staff?Expanding Access to Well-RoundedEducation in Distance LearningAs SEAs and LEAs work to offer an enrichingcurriculum to all students and adapt the contentto a distance learning environment, they mustalso ensure that students have access to availableinstructional content. Ensuring access beginswith understanding the potential constraints andneeds of students and making accommodations tominimize barriers to participation. Students may lack o Computer access;o Consistent or reliable Internet access;o Printer access; oro Individual or regular access to learning deviceswithin the household. Students may experience o Caregivers with limited time to providesupervision, facilitate projects or exercises, orcheck school work;o Special educational needs — including, butnot limited to, cognitive or physical needs andEnglish learner (EL) supports — which requiredifferent modes or types of learning andsupport; oro Challenging circumstances, including, but notlimited to, those experiencing homelessness orunstable housing, living in foster care, or stayingin youth detention centers. Students will have o Different learning styles;o Different home learning environments; oro Differing levels of digital literacy.The following solutions, aimed at minimizingbarriers, focus on technology access and use,modalities for instruction and activities, andaccommodations to provide flexibility and support,including specific accommodations for studentswith access and functional needs (AFN) (e.g.,students with disabilities, English learners).SUPPORTING WELL-ROUNDED EDUCATION IN A DISTANCE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT5

Educators can be thoughtful about technologyaccess and use. Students may not have computers,tablets, or Internet access at home; may rely on cellphones to complete work; or may have additionalaccess issues due to unstable housing.15,16, 17Furthermore, families that do not have access to acomputer at home may rely on public resources suchas libraries, friends, or family members — none ofwhich are guaranteed to be accessible at all times.Additionally, Title IV-A allows LEAs to use a portionof funds to purchase technology infrastructure (i.e.,devices, equipment, and software applications).1 Insuch cases, LEAs and schools may considerproviding devices and mobile hotspots or settingup devices for use without home-based Internetaccess.18, 19, 20 In addition to individual studentshaving limited access, some whole communitiesstruggle with Internet access or the quality ofInternet access. 20 LEAs can foster partnerships toenhance broadband access within suchcommunities. Educators can avoid requiring use ofmobile applications that students may not haveaccess to (e.g., due to cost) or are unfamiliar with.Instead, they can consider leveraging mobileapplications that students may already usefrequently, such as offering office hours throughsocial media platforms (depending on the agegroup) or delivering lessons through a video orpodcast platform.15 In addition, streamlining the useof technology tools and using them consistently canbe helpful for families that may have multiplechildren who may be at different grade levels.15Another resource from the T4PA Center,entitled Supporting Effective Use ofTechnology, provides additional tips aroundtechnology access, use, support, and resourcesto support distance learning. 21With any device or mobile application use, LEAsmust protect student privacy in keeping with theFamily Education Rights and Privacy Act; LEAsmay consider best practices and considerations forTerms of Service Agreements. 22,23,24Educators can offer course content throughmultiple modalities. For example, printed packetsand materials can be provided for students to workon at home, particularly if LEAs are not able tooffer devices to every student or students who donot have access to technology devices at home.18,19Printed materials may be especially helpful foryounger, elementary-aged students who are lessadept at technology and more often rely on parentsand caregivers to assist. 25,26 For any hard-copymaterials that students are required to submit,schools can offer prepaid postage materials tocover costs of mailing in completed assignments.As another example, distance learning may relyon synchronous activities to deliver instruction,including interactive activities with small groups ofstudents. That said, asynchronous distance learningactivities may be more accessible for students withlimited ability to participate in synchronous learningduring the school day. Asynchronous learning canalso be a tool to help students learn to managetheir own time, monitor their own learning, andwork on different strategies to learn content.Distance learning, ideally, is also flexible andaccommodating of students’ individual needs. Forexample, educators can modify or extend deadlinesfor students with limited technology or Internetaccess or for those who require specialized learningsupport. Recognizing that some students mayhave particular difficulty excelling in or adjustingto a distance learning environment, educators canarrange for tutoring or other individualized supportfor students. Additionally, efforts to communicateand collaborate with families can increaseeducators’ awareness of students’ unique distancelearning experiences and challenges. Whenwarranted, schools and families can work togetherto identify strategies, supports, and resources tofacilitate student success when learning at home.For students with AFN, educators can employspecific accommodations such as assistivetechnology (e.g., closed-captioning, text-tospeech software or programs) and collaborationbetween EL or special education staff and generaleducation staff. 27,28 For SWDs in particular,SUPPORTING WELL-ROUNDED EDUCATION IN A DISTANCE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT6

educators must meet the unique learning needsof these students, as required by provisions of theIndividual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),regardless of where learning is taking place. 29,30Educators may create individual distance learningplans for each student and establish a process forthe students’ individualized education plan teamto meet virtually. 27,31 In addition, educators mayreassess student needs periodically and considerpedagogical needs for specific conditions, suchas limiting sensory input or using visual cues. 32The Office of Special Education Programs offersresources on how to support SWDs in a distancelearning environment. 33,34,35 For ELs, educators canalso work with curriculum vendors to develop orimplement existing adaptions for distance learning.Translation and interpreter services for students andcaregivers or visual supplements may also be useful,depending on students’ language proficiency level. 36Schooling in the home environment offer educatorsa unique opportunity to leverage students’ homelanguage and culture to make connections in theirlearning (an important aspect of differentiatinginstruction to meet students’ needs). 37 Distancelearning can also be set up to offer regularopportunities for EL students to practice speakingEnglish with others in pairs or small groups; studentscan exchange feedback on language developmentas well as content knowledge. 38,39There is no singular approach to guarantee accessfor all students; rather, SEAs and LEAs may provideguidance on a combination of schoolwide andindividualized supports such as the considerationsnoted above.ConclusionThis resource is designed to help SEAsunderstand the dimensions of distance learningthat can support or impede delivery of a wellrounded education. State Coordinators can usethis information to make decisions about LEAapplications proposing to use Title IV, Part Afunds for distance learning. SEAs may also usethis information to support technical assistanceprovided to LEAs on related topics.Expanding Access ChecklistThe checklist below highlights questions forSEAs to consider in their work with LEAsto support them in minimizing barriersto accessing course content and learningopportunities.9Do all students have access to a device toaccess course content? If not, do coursesand lessons have contingencies for studentswithout technology or Internet access?9If used, are mobile applications ones thatstudents are already familiar with using?9Does the LEA have plans in place to protectstudent privacy?9Are asynchronous lessons and activitiesavailable for students to complete at theirown pace?9Are educators flexible in modifyingdeadlines as needed?9Is tutoring or other individualized supportoffered to students having difficulty withdistance learning?9Are there processes that the LEAs have putin place to help educators engage parentsand caregivers?9Are there opportunities for students tomake connections to home language andculture?9Will students have access to assistivetechnology, if needed?9Will relevant staff and planning teams havethe opportunity to collaborate?9Will instructional accommodations be madefor different levels of abilities?9Will instruction, communication, andmaterials be adapted for students whospeak a language other than English?SUPPORTING WELL-ROUNDED EDUCATION IN A DISTANCE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT7

Glossary of TermsFor purposes of this resource, key termscommonly used in distance learning aredefined as follows: Assistive technology: tools, software, devices, orsystems to support performance of activities thatmay be otherwise difficult for SWDs. Asynchronous learning: students engage in remotelearning independently and at their own pacewithin the confines of the learning experience. Theeducator facilitates independent work through theprovision of instruction, materials, activities, andother necessary resources. Blended learning: students engage in learning thatcombines elements of in-person interaction witheducators and distance learning, where studentshave an element of control over the timing andpath of distance learning. Distance learning: students and educators engagebut do so remotely rather than in person. Distancelearning may involve the use of print, video, audio,Web-based, digital, or other technologies tofacilitate learning. Distributed learning: educators work with studentsacross multiple schools. Synchronous learning: students engage in remotelearning together in real time and with facilitationby an educator.EndnotesTitle IV, Part A Statute, Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015,20 U.S.C. § 7117 (2015). Retrieved from aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport 1#Sec%2041021Title IV, Part A Statute, Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, §§4001-8526 (2015). Retrieved from aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport 1#Sec%2041022U.S. Department Education, Office for Civil Rights. (2014).Data snapshot: College and career readiness (Issue Brief No. 3). ED5777843The Foundation for Blended and Online Learning & EvergreenEducation Group. (2018). Digital learning strategies for ruralAmerica: A scan of policy and practice in K–12 education.Retrieved from ED58891145National Art Education Association. (n.d.). Remote learningtoolkit. Retrieved from rning-toolkitCowen, A. (2020, April 23). 12 engineering design challengesperfect for remote learning [Web log post]. Retrieved g-designchallenge-lessons67Zuger, S. (2020, April 23). How it’s done: Remote STEM learning.Tech & Learning. Retrieved from emote-stem-learningGillin, H. (2020, April 8). Integrating physical activity intodistance education. Texas A&M Today. Retrieved physicalactivity-into-distance-education/8Digital Learning Now. (2015). Smart Series: Personalizingand guiding college & career readiness. Retrieved cations/smartseries/9National Association for College Admission Counseling. (n.d.).NACAC virus response resource directory. Retrieved e Museum of Art. (n.d.). Collection. Retrieved from 1&perPage 1011Schwartz, K. (2015). How integrating arts into other subjectsmakes learning come alive. KQED Mind Shift. Retrieved -alive12Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.(n.d.). CASEL Cares Initiative Connecting the SEL Community.Retrieved from e for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.(n.d.). Distance learning. Retrieved from Department of Education. (2020). STEM & distancelearning [Webinar]. Retrieved from b95834ddfc1f81219821d?utmcontent &utm medium email&utm name &utmsource govdelivery&u1516Cator, K. (2019, January 9). Closing the digital learninggap [Web log post]. Retrieved from digital-learning-gap/Konopelko, D. (2020, May 26). How K-12 IT leaders can supportdigital equity. EdTech. Retrieved from t-digital-equity17Castelo, M. (2020, April 9). Continuing remote learningfor students without internet. EdTech. Retrieved g-students-withoutinternet18Kurtz, J. (2020, March 13). Even without internet at home,students can keep learning [Web log post]. Retrieved ducation/offline-access-covid19/1920U.S. Department of Education, Office of EducationalTechnology. (2017). Reimagining the role of technology ineducation: 2017 National Education Technology Plan update.Retrieved from IV, Part A Technical Assistance Center. (n.d.). Supportingeffective use of technology (Contract #EDESE-15-A-0015).Retrieved from NG WELL-ROUNDED EDUCATION IN A DISTANCE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT8

22¡Colorín colorado! (n.d.). Distance learning for ELLs: Privacyconsiderations. Retrieved from ells-privacy3123U.S. Department of Education. (2014). Protecting studentprivacy while using online educational services: Requirementsand best practices. Retrieved from vices-requirements-and-best32Deschaine, M. (2018). Supporting students with disabilitiesin k-12 online and blended learning. Lansing, MI: MichiganVirtual University. Retrieved from ded-learning/U.S. Department of Education. (2016). Protecting studentprivacy while using online educational services: Model termsof service. Retrieved from vices-model-terms-service33U.S. Department Education, Office of Special EducationPrograms. (n.d.) Continuity of learning during COVID-1

Distance learning — also known as virtual or remote learning — refers to instruction that occurs when the student is not physically present for that instruction. Although distance learning often happens digitally (e.g., Web-based, device-based), it also includes nondigital, print-based formats. Distance learning approaches can include

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