An increasing number of studies document the disruptive impact of COVID-19 on K-12 and higher learning. The World Bank estimates that pandemic related school closures affected nearly 1.6 billion students globally. In the U.S., disruption of the teacher / student relationship was observed to have far reaching effects including increases in anxiety, student absence, and domestic disturbance for the most vulnerable students, according to this study from the Department of Education.

In 2022, educators must overcome two years of learning losses while navigating a constantly changing landscape of pandemic policies. How big are these losses? A recent study from Stanford University revealed second and third graders are 30% behind expected average reading scores. This loss was disproportionately felt in majority low-income schools.   

Advanced skills rest on the shoulders of fundamental skills, just as the frame of a house rests on its foundation. Many teachers find themselves racing to build the frame and the foundation at the same time, cobbling together supplemental materials from across the web. Heavily-burdened educators may become overly reliant on easily-found but sub-par supplemental coursework or technology, which may only exacerbate the problem.  

Characteristics of high-quality supplemental material and where to find them

It’s clear quality materials are needed to address learning gaps, but what are the characteristics of high-quality resources, and how can educators best use them to address learning gaps?

  • Consistency – Learning is a cumulative process. Consistent messaging, graphics, and “feel” of supplemental materials can help forge concept connections in students’ minds more easily than multiple supplement sources.           
  • Supplemental, Not a Replacement – Good learning does not take place in isolation, especially for K-12 students. The classroom is a stimulating and supportive place where students learn not only from their teacher, but also from their classmates. Supplemental learning materials should be designed to support interactive learning – not take its place entirely.
  •  Customization and flexibility – Resources that teachers can tweak to target the needs of their classroom are more effective than dime-a-dozen worksheets.  Flexible accessibility is paramount as students cycle through distance and in-person learning. Customizable and flexible resources ensure students receive the same quality of education – whether they are in the classroom or tuning in from a device.  
  • Interactivity – Interactive lessons centered around student actions are more engaging than activities the students watch or read. Supplemental learning is best when elements of interactivity are used to teach and assess the material. 

Identifying characteristics of quality materials doesn’t make them any easier to locate or piece together from different sources. Online libraries of superb supplemental materials such as Boardworks can save educators time and sanity while helping to bridge pandemic-induced learning gaps. A recent case study examined the impacts to learning when a district in Iowa teamed up with Boardworks to offer district-wide learning resources. The result? A fully integrated support system for teachers and students that improved learning outcomes.

How does it work?

Boardworks offers an entire catalog of learning resources with the consistency, flexibility, and interactivity that characterizes quality supplemental materials across Math, Science, History, Reading and more. 

  • Accessible and time-efficient – These interactive resources require no logins or passwords to forget. 
  • Customizable – All-access library of fully customizable presentations and worksheets to put your students in the center of learning. 
  • Interactivity and feedback – Students and teachers can track progress with real-time feedback from activities and assessments
  • Shrink learning gaps with reinforcement– Problems are entirely regenerative, which means students can practice them again and again to reinforce concepts and close learning gaps

One educator from the Iowa case study demonstrated the impact of Boardworks’ flexibility by explaining different ways its resources have been integrated into classrooms throughout the district:

“We use Boardworks in every teaching modality. We use it live with teacher-led groups, some have pushed to Google Classroom for extra help for individual students, and some plan to record flipped lessons as the need arises.”

Boardworks makes it easy for districts and teachers to get started. A hands-on virtual support person guides you through set-up and training and can answer any questions you may have.  Boardworks offers direct support for Instructional Coaches working with teachers to integrate the resources directly into their learning environments. Contact us to start closing the learning gaps in your district today!