Dr. Nilka Avilés, Jeanne Cantu, Gerald Sharp • Learning Goes On • November 19, 2020 Edition

Building literacy skills in English language arts and reading lessons is a challenge for online instruction. Teachers seek ways to offer students opportunities through whole group and small group activities in reading, analyzing texts, and writing and ways for students to share their own thoughts with peers. Following are some strategies for making ELAR come alive online.

When choosing both literary (narrative) and informational (expository) texts for students to read, identify books and stories from culturally-relevant sources. When students see themselves in a text, they engage with it more deeply and connect with characters and settings.

Ask questions from texts requiring higher levels of thinking and analysis, such as the author’s purpose, character motives, and other possibilities for a character. As students share differing points from the same text, they can see avenues to explore in their own written answers.

Following an introductory lesson to a unit or topic, create opportunities for students to interact in small groups. Using your online platform, such as Zoom, Collaborate, or Microsoft Teams, form groups of four to five students who will work together on assigned projects and cooperatively discuss their thoughts and ideas.

Other times, you can set up a discussion board or white board where students can respond to a teacher-posted question. Students then comment on each other’s responses. They also can keep a digital notebook where they record their responses to a reading.

Provide multiple ways for students to display their responses and written products. Students can use graphic organizers or posters, for example, to show understanding of a topic. Then you can set up a virtual gallery walk where students can view each other’s products and comment on them.

For a writing activity, you can set-up a Google Doc so students can collaboratively write a composition. Additionally, you can assign a project to a group of students where they, cooperatively, design slides for a PowerPoint or Google Sheets presentation and then present that to the whole class.

Seek opportunities for training on online tools for virtual courses so that you can have options for different learning objectives. Practice using different tools for collaborative writing, group sharing, project development and demonstrating mastery. See below for resource links.

Online Learning Resources and Tools

Question-Answer-Relationship (QAR)


Depth of Knowledge Questions

Hess’ Cognitive Rigor Matrix