How to Address Unfinished Learning

As students around the country prepare to head back to the classroom, there’s a lot of talk about how to address unfinished learning. With some students struggling to ‘catch up’ to peers after a year of virtual school (or interrupted classroom time), teachers and administrators search for the best ways to help every student make up for lost learning time.

While it has long been the norm to turn to remediation to address this unfinished learning, many schools are employing a different approach to helping students stay on target. Thanks to extra funding from pandemic relief, many schools are getting creative in addressing the learning gap.

Accelerate, Not Remediate

While it’s been the standard to go over the entire curriculum from the previous grade again, educators are now being advised to reconsider the remediation approach to recovering learning. Remediation has been shown to cause students to lose interest in learning due to its repetitive nature, and has drawn criticism for focusing too widely to be truly helpful.

Acceleration is an approach that uses grade-level materials and lessons while incorporating only the lessons from the previous grade when they apply directly to current grade level material. This approach keeps learning fresh and relevant and helps to keep all students on the same level academically. 

The goal of acceleration is to ensure that no one gets left behind, and that everyone has a chance to brush up on those necessary skills that may have been overlooked from the previous grade. This approach aims to keep students engaged, involved, and excited about learning instead of feeling they’ve somehow failed or fallen behind.

Choose High-quality Materials

Grade-level work is more efficient at addressing learning gaps than remedial work, but even more than that, the flexibility of the acceleration model encourages teachers to address how each student learns best. Some students thrive on all-digital content, but others still benefit from the hands-on experience of printed consumables.

High-quality, grade-level materials will also help keep students engaged and motivated to learn. Of course, teachers need to be supported, so keep this in mind when choosing materials. Examine the level of teacher support your curriculum provides to minimize educator frustration and maximize positive educational results.

Set Realistic, Optimistic Goals

Kids are smart and resilient, so it’s okay to set optimistic goals for them this year. However, temper your expectations with the reality that there will still be challenges outside the classroom for many students. 

Just because school is back in session doesn’t mean that everything is normal for your students. Sadly, the effects of the pandemic are still rippling in many places, and students are doing the best they can. Keep your learning goals high but realistic, and remain as flexible as possible this year. 

Educators who can adapt their lessons and curriculum to meet students where they are while gently introducing new but related concepts will find that the natural love of learning makes students shine. Be supportive and willing to adapt, and every student will benefit.

Keep Students Engaged

Too often, students who love to learn get frustrated with lessons that are too repetitive, too difficult, or too distanced from their own experiences to be relatable. Whenever possible, use culturally and linguistically responsive materials in your classroom to help students relate to the content.

Students who can see how the lesson impacts their lives directly will be more keen to keep learning. Conversely, lessons that don’t relate to their lives or the things that they want to learn could lead them to disengage. Ultimately, kids who want to learn, will. Find ways to keep your students excited about their lessons, and you’ll fill those learning gaps in no time.

Be Patient, But Persistent

It bears repeating that the past year has been hard on everyone, from teachers and administration to the students. And there are no guarantees that the next year will be easier. In fact, stress can make it harder for kids to engage and learn at every grade level. 

This year, it may take longer to find your footing, even if you’ve been teaching a while. And students may struggle with coming back to the classroom after a year of remote learning. It’s important that educators are patient with students and themselves so that stress is limited as much as possible.

It’s better to move slowly, but consistently, forward than to try and jump ahead too quickly. You may want to try different techniques such as small group activities, targeted tutoring, or utilizing more hands-on activities to help make progress without overstressing students.

Support Your Students with De Alba Math Materials 

More than ever, educators and students will benefit from the flexibility and quality of De Alba Math materials. Our STAAR-aligned workbooks are available in both digital and printable consumables for maximum flexibility. Access prior and future grade workbooks to help students who may have learning gaps and those who are ready to surge ahead.

There is an easier way to plan your lessons and create equitable instructional opportunities — printed workbooks (consumables), seamless-to-integrate digital solutions, ideas, and services organized by TEKS, and categories to help Texas teachers in their targeted instruction planning. 

Get access to content-resources that can be used in hybrid blended models to close students’ academic learning gaps and teach at grade level. Get your De Alba Math Demo Free now!


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