School-wide strategies is a term that is found in schools and districts all across the United States. They are designed to prevent learning loss and close the achievement gaps of students from grade level to grade level.

 

During my time in the classroom, I was able to experience and be a part of such strategies. While in my role as a district administrator, I planned and helped the implementation of school-wide strategies as well.

 

School-wide strategies involve the entire school campus and are consistent across grade levels, teachers, teacher assistants, licensed staff, classified staff, parent volunteers, student volunteers, guest speakers…

 

Learning loss, whether it stems from summer break, covid-19, self-esteem, or environmental factors is something that we as educators have faced for a very long time. It is not new to us.

 

Stop me if you have heard this one. “High-school could use a little middle school, middle school could use a little elementary school, 3–5 could learn from K–2, K–2 could use a dash of 3–5.”

 

As an educator, you have heard at least one if not all of these sayings uttered in a school improvement team meeting or a grade-level meeting. You may have been the individual to speak these words. If you have ever spoken any of these phrases or agreed with one of them, then you and I have a lot in common already.

 

In my opinion, all these phrases are telling us is that we should take what each grade-span or grade-level does wonderfully and make that the normal for the entire campus.

 

I invite you to take-away the following practical and easily applicable strategies that your entire school can use to help close the learning gaps that our students have sustained. 

 

School-Wide Strategies to Identify Learning Loss 

Let us begin with identifying learning loss. Now, every school or school system that I have visited in the U.S. has a form of beginning, middle, and end of year benchmark or assessment.

 

The beginning of the year benchmark is a starting point for identifying learning loss but it should not be the final way to assess student ability when beginning a new year. The good news is, as a school campus, you probably do not need to worry about designing this type of assessment as it is usually given to you to administer.

 

This allows you to focus on other areas/opportunities to further dig into what it is that your students are missing, when it comes to content area instruction, especially literacy and mathematics.

 

You know what K–2 teachers do extremely well? They incorporate small-group instruction into nearly every content area.

 

You know what else they do extremely well? They progress monitor their students throughout a lesson. They do something else very well, they conference with their students one-on-one.

 

You may already know this. What I do want you to consider is making these practices a part of instruction and planning in across every grade level.

 

 

Small-group Instruction

A teacher can gain much more information about instructional gaps in a student during small-group instruction. The instruction that takes place in this setting is not only powerful but very telling. In my years, I have never once taught, observed, or heard of a student that would not tell a teacher what they didn’t understand or did not know in a group of their peers, a group where they felt comfortable and heard.

 

Progress Monitoring

Another strategy that has proven to reveal instructional gaps and learning loss is providing progress monitoring opportunities in a timely, not rushed, manner. This is important as it allows the natural progression of the gradual release of responsibility model to flourish in the classroom.

 

One-on-One Student Conferences

The last identification of learning loss strategy that I would like for you to consider is taking a few minutes out of the instructional day to have a one-on-one conference with a student(s) that you may suspect did not give you all of the formative assessment data you needed. It is important to note that during this time you are not asking leading or “yes/no” questions but questions that get to the root of possible instructional gaps or learning loss.   

 

In the second school I was an educator, the art, music, physical education, media coordinator, remediation, and teacher assistants assisted classroom teachers in all of the areas I spoke about above. This was truly a wonderful experience to be a part of as it showed me the power and success of a cohesive school unit and truly represented the term “school-wide”.

 

School-Wide Strategies to Reverse Learning Loss 

Most people that are involved in education understand how precious time can be each and every year. So, it then becomes a priority of every teacher and administrator to get the most “bang for our buck” so to speak or as we in education know it as “high-yield instruction.”

 

9 High-Yield Strategies

Once school-wide strategies are in place to identify learning loss, how do we gain more time in our academic year to reverse that loss? This is where the nine high-yield strategies for improving instruction and student achievement come into play. They are...

  • Identifying Similarities & Differences
  • Summarizing & Note Taking
  • Reinforcing Effort & Providing Recognition
  • Practice
  • Nonlinguistic Representations of Learning
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Setting Objectives & Providing Feedback
  • Generating & Testing Hypothesis & Questions
  • Advanced Organizers


As a district administrator in curriculum and instruction, if I could not find evidence of all nine high-yield instructional strategies in each lesson plan of a loss prevention program, I moved on from that resource.

 

My teachers did not have the planning time to develop these activities on their own. I spent the majority of my tenure in my past school district doing this work for them.

 

I knew that these strategies are where I would get the most “bang for my buck” as far as instructional time in an academic year was concerned. I also knew, that these high-yield strategies were for any content area and that was powerful as well.

 

School-wide Vocabulary Initiative

One school-wide learning loss reversal strategy that I want to share with you revolves around a school-wide vocabulary initiative.

 

In addition to word walls or word of the day that are often found in many classrooms, a grade level specific pacing to teach roots and affixes is something that can be planned and carried out very easily.

 

If you think about using a grade-level breakdown of roots and affixes as a school-wide initiative, what is really powerful is the amount of word building skills that each student carries to the next grade level. Thus, helping to reverse the learning loss as a result of summer break, missed time at school, or covid-19.

 

Take a look below at a couple of examples of grade-level breakdowns that I implemented in elementary schools and this concept will begin to make a bit more sense.

 

School-Wide Vocabulary Initiative to Reverse Learning Loss

Prefix - A word part added to the beginning of a root or base word to create a new meaning,

Suffix - A letter or a group of letters added to the end of a root or base word to change its meaning,

Root - the form of a word after all affixes are removed
(Generally, prefixes and suffixes change the meanings of roots, but it is usually the suffix that denotes the part of speech.)

 

Kindergarten

Prefix Suffix Definition Examples Origin Additional Information
  -s, -es

plural, more than one

hats, pigs, books, plays, boxes, wishes, dishes
cliffs, roofs, beliefs
knives, leaves, halves, selves

Anglo-Saxon

y after a vowel (s)
words end in –s, -sh, -ch, -x, -z (-es)
nouns ending –f or –fe (s)
-f or –fe change –f to –v and add –es
consonant followed by –o (-es)
vowel followed by –o (-s)

  -less

without

careless, helpless

Anglo-Saxon

 

  -ed

past tense

jumped, helped

Anglo-Saxon

Past tense verb

  -ful

full of

beautiful, painful

Anglo-Saxon

Usually an adjective

re-  

again/back

reread, rewrite, return

Latin

 

un-  

not/opposite

unsafe, unlock, uncover

Anglo-Saxon

 

pre-  

before

preschool, premade, pretest

Latin

 

 

3rd Grade

Prefix Suffix Root Definition Examples Origin Additional Information

in-

 

 

not

inactive, income

Latin

 

im-

 

 

not

impossible, improper, import

Latin

im- used before roots beginning with b, m, p

dis-

 

 

not/opposite of

dislike, distrust, disagree

Latin

 

tele-

 

 

far, distant

telephone, telegraph, television

Greek

 

mis-

 

 

bad or badly, wrong or wrongly

misbehave, misread, misspell

Latin

 

over-

 

 

too much, above

overdone, overhead

Anglo Saxon

 

de-

 

 

reduce down or away from

defeat, deform, decrease

Latin

 

under-

 

 

too little/below

underfed, underground

Anglo-Saxon

 

bi-

 

 

two

bicycle, binocular

Latin

 

tri-

 

 

three

tricycle, triangle

Latin/Greek

 

quad-

 

 

four

quadrilateral, quadrant

Latin

 

oct-

 

 

eight

octagon, octopus

Latin/Greek

 

anti-

 

 

opposite, against

antibiotic, antifreeze

Greek

 

 

-ies

 

plural, more than one

parties, babies, cries

Anglo-Saxon

y after a consonant

 

-ied

 

past tense

cried, tried

Anglo-Saxon

y after a consonant

 

-ly

 

characteristic of

badly, friendly, quickly

Anglo-Saxon

Usually an adverb

 

-y

 

characterized by/like

cloudy, fishy

Anglo-Saxon

 

 

-er, -or

 

one who, that which

baker, boxer, conductor, survivor

Latin

Usually a noun
Use –or with Latin roots for nouns (inventor, elevator)
Use –er with Anglo-Saxon roots (heater, swimmer)

 

-tion

 

act of, state of, result of

attention, invitation, restriction

Anglo-Saxon

Usually a noun

 

-al, -ial

 

related to
characterized by

colonial, biennial, dental, betrayal

Latin

Usually an adjective

 

-ness

 

condition, state of

darkness, fairness

Anglo-Saxon

Usually a noun

 

-ment

 

act, process

enjoyment, replacement

Latin

 

 

-en

 

made of, to make

wooden, dampen, tighten

Anglo-Saxon

 

 

 

bio

life

biology, biography, biopsy

Greek

 

 

 

graph

write

telegraph, photograph, phonograph, autograph

Greek

 

 

 

phon

sound

phonograph, symphony, telephone, microphone, phonics

Greek

 

 

 

scope

see

microscope, telescope, periscope, stethoscope

Greek

 

 

5th Grade

Prefix Suffix Root Definition Examples Origin Additional Information

in-
(il-, im-, ir- )

 

 

not

inability, impatient, irregular, illegal

Latin

il-used before roots beginning with “l” (illegible)
im- used before roots beginning with b, m, p (immature, imbalance, impatient)

inter-

 

 

between

intercept, interview, interstate

Latin

 

trans-

 

 

across/ change/ through

transformation, transportation, transfer

Latin

 

super-

 

 

above/ on top of/ beyond

superfine, superhuman, supersonic

Latin

 

micro-

 

 

small/ minute

microbiology, microscope

Greek

 

uni-

 

 

one/ single

unicorn, unicycle, uniform

Latin

 

 

-able
-ible

 

can be done

enjoyable, sensible, likable

Latin

-able ending words have roots that can stand alone.(enjoyable)
-ible ending words have roots that can not stand alone. (sensible)

 

-ive
-ative
-tive

 

inclined/ tending toward an action

festive, talkative, active, sensitive

Latin

Words that end with –de (intrude) change the –de to s then add –ive (intrusive).
Words that end with silent e (create) drop the e then add –ive (creative).

 

-logy,
-ology

 

science of/ study of

biology, chronology

Greek

 

 

-ence
-ance

 

act/ condition of

persistence, excellence, assistance, importance

Latin

Usually a noun –ence and –ance sound alike because of the schwa. –ence is used somewhat more often than –ance.

 

-an, -an

 

one having a certain skill/ relating to/ belonging to

electrician, magician, American, suburban

Latin

Usually a noun

 

-ent
-ant

 

an action/ condition

student, contestant, immigrant

Latin

Often a noun
The suffix –ant often indicates a person noun.

 

-ent
-ant

 

causing a specific action

obedient, absorbent, abundant, elegant

Latin

Often an adjective
-ent and –ant sound alike because of the schwa. –ent is used somewhat more often than –ant.

 

-ity
-ty

 

state of/ quality of

prosperity, equality

Latin

Usually a noun

 

-ic

 

relating to/ characterized by

energetic, historic

Latin/Greek

Usually an adjective

 

-ize

 

to make/ to cause to become

fertilize, criticize, apologize

Latin/ Greek

Usually a verb

 

-age

 

result of an action/ collection

manage, drainage, acreage

Latin

 

 

-ous
-eous
-ious

 

full of/ characterized by

adventurous, nervous, mysterious, courteous

Latin

Words that end with –de (intrude) change the –de to s then add –ive (intrusive).
Words that end with silent e (create) drop the e then add –ive (creative).

 

 

ject

to throw

inject, objection, project

Latin

 

 

 

struct

to build

construct, instructor

Latin

 

 

 

vis

to see

vision, evidence

Latin

 

 

 

vid

see

video, evidence, provide, providence

Latin

 

 

 

jur
juris

judge, oath
law

jury, jurisdiction

Latin

 

 

 

log
logue

word

prologue, apology, dialogue, eulogy, monologue

Greek

 

 

 

path

feeling/ suffering/ disease

apathetic, pathology

Greek

 

 

 

ast
astr

star

astronaut, astronomy, disaster, asterisk

Greek

 

 

 

mit

to send

emit, transmit, admit, remit

Latin

 

   

audi (aud)

hear

audience, auditorium, audiovisual

Latin

 

   

dict

to say, tell

diction, dictator

Latin

 

   

port

to carry

portable, transport

Latin

 

   

scrib
script

to write

describe, manuscript

Latin

Verbs usually use scribe, as in prescribe; nouns usually use script, as in prescription.

   

spect

to see/ watch/ observe

prospect, respect, specimen

Latin

 

   

vac

empty

vacate, evacuate

Latin

 

   

hydr

water

hydrogen, hydrant, hydroplane

Greek

 

 

These roots and affixes can also be used across content areas within grade level planning to increase literacy skills. Example below…

 

School-Wide Planning Initiative to Reverse Learning Loss

Root/Affix Science Social Studies Mathematics

de-
(down, from)

decompose

depression

decrease

tract
(pull or drag)

extract

contract

subtract

equi
(equal)

equilibrium

equitable

equilateral

 

The power of this example is not only using this vocabulary initiative school-wide but also across content areas in a grade level to help reverse the learning loss of literacy skills within our students. Whether your grade levels are self-contained or departmentalized, I believe this is a really good example of working smarter and not harder.

 

School-Wide Strategies to Prevent Learning Loss

A question that I am asked often is “what can I do to prevent learning loss in reading and math?” This is a fair and often trivial question.

 

“The Every Initiative”

When working with districts and administrators I like to start with what I have named “The Every Initiative.” The Every Initiative, works like this…

  • My students will ___________________ with every text. (Reading)

  • My students will ___________________ with every problem. (Mathematics)
  • My students will ___________________ every summer.

First thing you should notice is that these are statements, not questions. These are facts, an initiative, almost a learning loss mission statement so to speak.

 

Classroom teachers write learning objectives in a similar way so I have always seen it beneficial to plan for learning loss in this way as well.

 

Since this article is about school-wide strategies to prevent learning loss, look at “The Every Initiative” as being carried out the same way in every grade level.  Let me share with you an example of what this looks like at a school level.

 

My Students Will _______________________ With Every Text.

 

To help prevent learning loss of literacy skills it is important to reinforce that reading comprehension takes place in every content area. Matter of fact, it seems like almost overnight, our end of grade tests in science, social studies, and mathematics are now reading comprehension tests as well.

 

Take a 30,000-foot view of your school and focus now on what is an overarching reading skill issue that the majority of students in your school have? Hint: poll the teachers!

 

Once you have identified that reading skill deficit, construct a strategy or activity that you want to teach every student to do with every text they encounter. Below is an example from one of the last elementary schools I worked with in 2019. Additionally, we specified what will be completed with every informational text and every piece of literature.

 

Informational Text

K–2

3–5

Title:

Title:

Topic/Subject:

Topic/Subject:

Places/Time:

Places/Dates:

Need to Know Information:

Need to Know Information:

 

Text Structure:

 

The above example, is essentially what every student would answer in grades K–5 after reading an informational text in reading, mathematics, science, or social studies. There is a small difference in grades 3–5 that makes a very large impact with informational text and this is being able to identify the structure of how an informational text is written. 

 

Literature

K–2

3–5

Title:

Title:

Characters:

Characters:

Setting:

Setting(s):

Problem:

Conflict

Solution:

Resolution:

 

Main Events:

 

The above example, is essentially what every student would answer in grades K–5 after reading fictional texts. The overarching literacy skill deficit in this particular school was that the majority of students did not understand story structure and had difficulty retelling with important information. The academic vocabulary also shifted a bit based on the state reading standards between K–2 to 3–5.

 

Another key point to make with this strategy is that when taught this strategy across multiple years and multiple grade levels, we are ultimately teaching students to think this way automatically when not in the classroom. This pertains to homework, reading for entertainment, bedtime reading, and even reading during the summer.

 

 

What’s Next?

For a deeper dive into How to Identify, Reverse and Prevent Learning Loss, I invite you to watch my on-demand webinar. I will give you a more in-depth look into how to successfully plan to address the learning loss that our students have sustained during the world-wide pandemic. 

 

For more strategies and tips on intervention, check out our other blog articles.