Our recommendations are to prioritize family engagement and student wellbeing are applicable in all contexts during this online time.
re m o t e
© 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org
CO N TE N TS
Introduction: How to Use This Guide ............................................................................................................. 3-7
Demonstrating Knowledge of Students (1b) ........................................................................................... 8-9
Engaging Families and Communities (4c) ............................................................................................... 10-11
Creating Environments of Respect and Rapport (2a) ..................................................................... 12-13
Managing Routines and Procedures (2c) .................................................................................................. 14-15
Using Assessment for Learning (3d) ............................................................................................................. 16-17
Planning Coherent Instruction (1e) ................................................................................................................. 18-19
Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques (3b) ...................................................................... 20-21
Engaging Students in Learning (3c) .............................................................................................................. 21-22
2 © 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org
I NT RO DUCTION : H OW TO U SE TH IS G U ID E
A G UI D E TO SU PP ORT R E MOTE TEACHI N G & LEARNI N G D URI N G THE
2020 -2 1 S CHO OL YE AR
In our pursuit of excellent teaching for each and every student, we are consistently guided by
our foundational beliefs about learning and our values as educators, which are reflected in the
Framework for Teaching (FFT) developed by Charlotte Danielson. That said, the school year ahead
will be like no other before it and, we hope, like no other after it. Having recently managed the
greatest and most ubiquitous crisis our education systems have confronted in our lifetimes, our
teachers now face incredible uncertainty and rapidly evolving and changing understandings of
what their lives and work will be like throughout the 2020-21 school year.
Our nation and our field are simultaneously undergoing a racial reckoning that is long overdue.
Our country was built on racial inequity, which is reflected in our public education system.
Students, families, and communities of color have long borne the trauma of systemic racism. Now
that the underlying inequity and trauma systemic racism causes are becoming more public and
visible, educators must accept responsibility for acknowledging and working to heal both.
An equity imperative has always been implicit in the FFT. As Charlotte Danielson wrote, "a
commitment to excellence is not complete without a commitment to equity" (2007). In this guide,
and in all of our work moving forward, we will make this imperative explicit and be unapologetic
in our commitment to racial justice. We must acknowledge that our approaches have allowed
inequitable systems and unsupportive learning environments to too often go unchecked.
Promoting excellence means not only that we focus on best practices and encourage ongoing
teacher learning and development, it must mean that we prioritize understanding how practice
does or does not center equity and justice - particularly as COVID-19 and systemic racism intersect
and pose an ominous threat to communities of color. Good teaching cannot be blind to issues of
racial justice. Excellence for some is not excellence at all.
© 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org 3
This guide and its approach are informed by our conversations with educators, our experience as
an organization, and what we’ve learned from our partners. We provide here our recommendations
for meeting the needs of students in this time of crisis. Recent events have focused more
attention on systemic racism in our systems of education and our practices as a field, which
many scholars and educators have long been working to dismantle. And COVID-19 has now forced
us into the type of personalized, 21st century learning that many have long championed. In this
context, we have an opportunity to create even more engaging and just learning environments
that support student autonomy and success.
We have focused primarily on recommendations for remote learning. While we recognize that
some have already and will return to physical classrooms and school buildings, the decisions
about how to set up classrooms (e.g., distance between desks) are local ones. The majority of
schools will be doing some form of remote or hybrid learning (or may move in that direction at
some point during the year), and many of our recommendations to prioritize family engagement
and student wellbeing are applicable in all contexts during this time.
This guide, though aligned to the FFT and rooted in its enduring principles, reflects some
important shifts in response to our current context:
A Focus on Fewer Components
All 22 components of the FFT remain incredibly important, and we plan to continue adding
others to this guide. And yet, our research, observations, and conversations with experts
and practitioners have led us to a narrower set in order to better support educators in the
context of online learning and remote instruction.
Updated Components and Elements
A third edition of the entire Framework has been under development for the last year.
Some of the most exciting and relevant changes are previewed here. We think these
changes are especially important to online instruction as well as our work for racial
Teachers need support, not scores. Now is not the time to be thinking about how to
evaluate teacher performance in a new and fluid context. This moment compels us to
pause and engage in a thoughtful reset on our approaches to teacher support. For this
reason, this guide does not contain a rubric with four levels of performance. Instead, we
describe priorities, actions, and strategies that align to proficient and distinguished
practice, are focused on supporting students’ learning and wellbeing, and can help
increase student autonomy and success.
4 © 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org
I NT RO DUCTION : H OW TO U SE TH IS G U ID E
Each of the eight components is presented on two pages.
The first page is descriptive
and provides an explanation,
including elements that help
define the components. The second page includes: Priorities
Our recommendations for
where teachers should
focus their time and energy,
especially during the
beginning of the school year.
These are the most important
things to get right this fall.
A set of actions teachers can
take immediately in order
to set themselves and their
students up for success.
and suggestions for how to
engage students and their
families during distance
None of these lists are exhaustive, and local factors and context should also guide the priorities
and initial steps taken during this school year. There are many resources available that provide
recommendations and strategies for teaching well online. We will continue to share these
resources and align them to the components of the FFT. Our hope is that this guide will help
educators apply the common language of the FFT to our current context - to see the connection
between the components of effective instruction and remote learning.
© 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org 5
A RECO M M E NDE D PAT HWAY
The components are not presented in the order they have always appeared in the FFT. In the past,
our support has focused on working with partners as they develop practices and approaches
aligned to the rubrics that meet the needs of their context. Given the shared elements of the current
context, our recommended pathway implores users of this guide to prioritize student wellbeing,
equity, and racial justice. Without a deep understanding of students’ identities and lives in the
midst of these crises, we have little chance of meeting their needs.
02 Engaging Students in
Building Responsive With these systems
Knowing and Valuing Learning Environments and structures as a
Your Students Based on what foundation, plan and
Begin by deeply you learn, create a facilitate engaging and
understanding your supportive online coherent instruction
students’ identities learning environment designed to meet
and assets; their and establish or adjust students where they
current context and systems and supports are in this moment
needs; and how to that prioritize equitable (Components 1e, 3b,
best support their access, easy navigation and 3c).
social, emotional, and of learning experiences,
academic development and ongoing
in partnership with formative assessment
families and caregivers (Components 2a, 2c,
(Components 1b and 3d).
6 © 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org
I NT RO DUCTION : H OW TO U SE TH IS G U ID E
A N I NVITAT ION
It is our sincere hope that much of the content in this guide will be outdated by
the 2021-22 school year. And yet, we believe that our profession and our systems
of education have begun a much needed transformation which will extend well
beyond this year and the next. How we are able to adapt, learn, and evolve during
this moment, both by creating more student-centered learning opportunities and
focusing on anti-racist practices, has the potential to fundamentally reset the
purpose and practice of public education in this country.
In this moment, we hope that the FFT itself and the specific guidance included
here will support teachers as they continue to work relentlessly on behalf of
students with dignity and grace. This moment will pass, but the principles of
effective pedagogy and our commitment to equity and racial justice will not.
We are always in a process of becoming, and our understanding will evolve as
we learn more from you and with you about teaching online, teaching for racial
justice, and teaching through uncertainty so that we can continue to share
the knowledge of the field and build equitable learning environments where all
teachers and students can thrive.
We invite all educators to join us in the work of applying the enduring principles
of the FFT to this present moment. We will continue to work throughout the year to
provide relevant, just-in-time suggestions for serving all students with hope and
dignity. Stay tuned for ways to offer suggestions, give feedback, and build on what
we have started here.
© 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org 7
D EMO N ST R AT ING K NOWL E D GE OF STUD ENTS ( 1b)
How are each student’s individual context, identity, assets, and brilliance valued and viewed as
the foundation for their academic and personal success?
Teachers know and value Teachers build on students’ Teachers apply their knowledge
their students’ identities, assets to support the of students to advocate boldly on
as well as their academic, development of identity, their behalf and foster student
social, and emotional intellect, and character. assumption of responsibility for
strengths and needs. learning and personal development.
Knowing and valuing students is at the heart of great
teaching no matter how or where it occurs. Successful
teachers are consistently guided by who their students
are, which means they understand, honor, and leverage
students’ intersecting identities - including their
racial, cultural, religious, and gender identities, among
others. Teachers’ knowledge of students also goes far
beyond understanding their familiarity with content or
their academic skills to include their social, emotional
and personality strengths. In the context of remote
instruction, robust profiles of students are necessary
to inform instructional decision-making. Teachers need
to spend significant time and effort early in the year
learning about their students, their particular contexts
during school time, their current wellbeing, and other
specific assets and needs in relation to learning and
Elements of Success
Respect for Students’ Intersecting Identities
Students’ lived experiences and funds of knowledge are the foundation for the development of
identity, purpose, intellect, and character.
Understanding of Students’ Current Knowledge and Skills
Learning experiences reflect what students bring and are designed with their current
knowledge and skills in mind.
Knowledge of Whole Child Development
Students’ cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development are all addressed in the
design of learning environments and experiences to promote student success and autonomy.
Knowledge of the Learning Process
Learning requires active intellectual engagement and appropriate support aligned to
students’ individual differences and needs.
8 © 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org
DEMO NST RAT IN G K N OWL E D G E OF STU D E N TS ( 1 b )
• Learning about each student’s motivations, driving interests, daily schedule and context,
and current level of wellbeing, especially any trauma or stress resulting from current events.
• Establishing priority goals and objectives for each student for the first quarter, inclusive of
social and emotional needs .
• Tracking information about students’ context, mindsets, interests, and needs.
• Providing significant time in the first month of school for structured student sharing with
START ۜ Conduct one-on-one student interviews to understand context and immediate
HERE needs. When individual interviews are not feasible, use narrative surveys or journal
ۜ Set individual priorities for each student focused on social-emotional needs and
establishing routines for learning. When possible, group students to address priority
ۜ Collaborate with other colleagues who work with your students to create a shared
system for storing, tracking, and updating student profiles and priorities.
Synchronous ۜ Begin each session with an open-ended question, prompt, or poll
Engagement that allows students to make connections to the content and their
own lived experience.
ۜ Email a simple, one-question survey prior to each synchronous
session that gives students the opportunity to share relevant
information about their current context or wellbeing that could
impact their participation or focus in the session.
ۜ Allow students to write or discuss personal connections in small
or whole groups at the end of each session.
Asynchronous ۜ Provide opportunities for students to request or create online
Engagement groupings based on common interests or shared experiences.
ۜ Establish a system for students to readily access their learning
goals for lessons or units of study.
ۜ Create folders or files that prompt students to share about their
identity and interests related to daily lessons or units.
ۜ Create student profiles that students own and manage as a
means of building their identity and how they show up for peers
and the class.
ۜ Consider a journaling routine that supports daily reflection either
online or on paper.
© 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org 9
E N G AG I N G FAMIL IE S & CO MM UN I TI ES (4 c )
How are families and communities engaged in the learning and development of students?
Teachers communicate Teachers engage families and Students’ families and community
respectfully with families communities, demonstrating members are key decision makers
and community members a clear value for the role they and active participants in the
to further the academic play in student learning and academic life of students and see
and personal success of personal development within teachers as allies in their students’
students school. development and success.
If students are to succeed in school and
achieve their full potential in life, teachers
must view themselves as partners in
education with families and communities.
A strong connection between school-based
learning and students’ home and community
context is essential to success during
remote instruction. Yes, teachers need to
communicate clearly and effectively with
caregivers to ensure they are informed, but it is
not enough to simply communicate with them.
Because the primary learning environment
during remote instruction is unique to each
student, teachers should engage with families
in culturally competent and responsive ways
to understand their circumstances and meet
each students’ needs.
Elements of Success
Respect and Cultural Competence
Teachers interact with families and the community in ways that respect their values and
Learning Community Ethos and Values
Learning experiences and environments are extensions of the community and uphold its
values, creating a shared vision of student success.
Standards and Curriculum
Established structures and processes keep families informed about the instructional program
and bring the community into the decision-making process.
Engagement in Learning Experiences
Teachers connect students’ out-of-school learning and lives to their efforts in school and take
the lead in forming partnerships and relationships to strengthen those connections.
10 © 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org
ENG AG I NG FA M IL IE S A N D COM M U N ITIE S (4 c)
• Establishing a direct-to-family communication plan for every student that prioritizes their
preferences and needs.
• Being responsive to students’ at-home learning context, including space, device/internet
access, and schedules.
• Providing clear, consistent access to daily and weekly schedules, meeting links, and
assignments for families and caregivers.
• Helping families and caregivers learn to navigate the online tools and platforms used for
instruction, especially any learning management system and video conferencing tools.
START ۜ Make individual contact with every parent/family to establish a communication plan,
HERE including the mode and cadence of ongoing communication.
ۜ Based on individual conversations and/or a survey, create a system to document and
track home or family parameters that might impact student participation and learning.
ۜ Be sure you understand your school or district plans for assisting families and providing
resources (such as devices, free internet access, and essential school supplies).
Synchronous ۜ Host regular virtual office hours or informal gatherings focused
Engagement on building community and providing a space for families and
caregivers to learn more about digital resources, ask questions,
and raise concerns.
ۜ Invite family and community members to a virtual gallery walk or
presentation to highlight the work of the class.
ۜ Ask families or members of the community to give virtual tours of
their work spaces or other areas of the community.
ۜ Invite other members of the school (e.g., the principal and social
worker) and community (e.g., family members and local business
owners) to join lessons to support group work, share expertise, or
participate in discussions.
Asynchronous ۜ Acknowledge and understand the many ways in which families
Engagement might engage, and examine the assumptions you may be making
about their engagement with online learning.
ۜ Create schedules (and backup schedules) to share with caregivers
and students. Get input and adjust as needed through regular
ۜ Create a digital resource to explain some of the terminology
related to online learning that may be unfamiliar to caregivers.
ۜ Share already available tutorials for the platforms and apps you
are using and create a few of your own if necessary for specific
practices or aspects of your approach.
ۜ Through a Google Doc or other interactive tool, ask students and
families to contribute ideas and resources for an upcoming unit.
© 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org 11
C R EAT I N G E NVIR ONME NTS OF RESPECT & RAPPORT ( 2 a)
How do learning environments honor the dignity of each student and support their individual
and collective flourishing?
Learning environments Learning environments are Students play an active role in
are characterized by characterized by positive creating learning environments
caring and respectful developmental relationships characterized by a sense of
interactions. that are intentionally community, where all members feel
nurtured and celebrated. safe, valued, and connected.
Relationships are essential to student success. In the
current context, an environment of respect and rapport
must acknowledge and be responsive to the global
health crisis and systemic racism we are confronting
and their impact on the lives of students. Students need
to experience safe, supportive, and challenging learning
environments where each of them is valued, feels like
a full member of the community, and is supported in
taking risks. As with other components, the quality of
learning environments is as important online as it is
face-to-face. Community building and the modeling of
positive relationships can be more difficult (or may feel
less natural) when there is less face-to-face contact.
For this reason, teachers should focus even more on
strategies, lessons, and activities focused on the creation
of a positive environment at the beginning of the year
and embed them consistently as time goes on.
Elements of Success
Interactions, both between the teacher and students and among students, demonstrate
caring and respect that honors the dignity of each member of the community.
Sense of Belonging
Teachers and students co-create a community that reflects their unique collective identity
and interests as a class while honoring individual identities.
Ways of interacting in the classroom are culturally responsive and supported by teachers’
own cultural competence.
Positive Conflict Resolution
A clear and culturally competent approach to conflict resolution has been established and is
used effectively to resolve conflict and restore trust.
12 © 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org
C R EAT I NG ENVI RON M E N TS OF R E SPECT & R A PP ORT ( 2 a )
• Working relentlessly to create a just and supportive classroom that acknowledges and is
responsive to systemic racism and the current health crisis.
• Creating safety and space for students to learn, explore, ask questions, and voice reactions
to current events. Including:
• The space to express anger and grief as needed, especially for students of color.
• The space to explore racial identity and the realities of systemic racism, particularly for
• Modeling self-care and actively reinforcing courage, compassion, and humility through
crisis and conflict resolution.
START ۜ Reflect on your own readiness to address trauma and support students during this
HERE time; seek guidance and support when you need it.
ۜ Thoughtfully plan for early and frequent conversations with students about justice
in the context of your classroom.
ۜ Identify resources and prepare a "day after" plan in advance so you are ready (to the
extent possible) to discuss a racially charged local or national event with direct and
differentiated student care.
ۜ Understand your context. Clarify relevant district/school policies and seek to
understand where your community and families stand.
Synchronous ۜ Begin each day with a virtual morning meeting focused on
Engagement building and maintaining community, trust, a sense of belonging,
and student wellness.
ۜ Set expectations and provide support for active listening and
participation through the use of nonverbal cues to be used when
students are not the speaker.
ۜ Present and review student-generated norms or protocols for
engagement and discussions prior to the start of the lesson.
ۜ At the end of each lesson or synchronous session, have students
self-assess their level of participation, sense of belonging, and
interactions with other students.
Asynchronous ۜ Identify a publishing platform (ideally one that allows for
Engagement speaking/recording and writing) where students can respond
to prompts in order to learn more about each other and build
connections and community.
ۜ Send a morning message each day to help students transition to a
ۜ Address any online conflicts; explicitly model commenting
respectfully, and engage via direct messages or one-on-one
conversations with students who are still learning. Offer sentence
stems to set students up for success.
© 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org 13
M A N AG I N G R OUT INE S & PR OCED URES ( 2c )
How do routines support learning environments and experiences that reflect shared values
and promote student success?
Routines and procedures, Routines and procedures, Students have voice and play
managed primarily by teachers, largely student-directed, an active role in designing and
support opportunities for maximize opportunities adjusting classroom routines
student learning and personal for student learning and and procedures to support their
development. personal development. learning and personal development.
Though well-run classrooms can (and should) take
on a variety of forms, the establishment and ongoing
maintenance of routines and procedures is essential to
the success of a classroom community. Because teachers’
goals for students include intellectual engagement,
collaboration, and autonomy, and because there are
often 30 students with them at a time, routines and
procedures are a must. In a classroom, a lack of routines
and procedures is often readily apparent. In the context
of remote instruction, the necessity for routines and
procedures is equally important, but may be less obvious.
Routines and procedures continue to be essential and
must take into account the context in which students are
engaging in learning and the support they receive at home.
For younger learners especially, it is even more important
when teaching online that parents and other caregivers
understand and are able to support essential aspects of
a well-run learning environment. The absence of routines
to support remote learning can lead to lost instructional
time as it might in a classroom, but may also leave some
students completely disconnected and disengaged.
Elements of Success
Collaboration is modeled, taught, and reinforced so that students work purposefully and
cooperatively in groups, to support one another’s success.
Student Autonomy and Responsibility
Routines support student assumption of responsibility and the development of skills, habits,
and mindsets that promote student autonomy.
Equitable Access to Resources and Supports
Resources and supports are deployed efficiently, effectively, and equitably for the benefit of all
14 © 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org
MA NAG I NG R OUTIN E S & PR OC E D U R E S ( 2c )
• Being explicit about the shift in responsibility students are experiencing.
• Modeling every expectation, routine, and procedure multiple times and in multiple settings.
• Recognizing and celebrating student autonomy and resourcefulness.
• Identifying and supporting students who are struggling to learn remotely due to specific
challenges in their homes.
HERE ۜ Strategically establish a small, central set of shared routines and procedures to
develop a sense of belongingness and shared identity; routines should be for whole
group, small group, and independent learning blocks.
ۜ Ruthlessly organize your materials and resources and ask others for feedback on
how easy they are to navigate.
ۜ Explore options in your native platform or in supplemental apps for students to
track their own progress.
ۜ Explicitly set expectations and teach whole group and small group etiquette for
online learning (e.g., mute when others are speaking, when it’s ok to use the chat
feature, how to leave/return if something comes up at home). Allocate time to
practice these procedures just as you would classroom procedures.
Synchronous ۜ Practice routines, procedures, and navigation; e.g. a scavenger
Engagement hunt in which small groups have to find important documents
and navigate between virtual spaces.
ۜ Have students use emojis and "raise your hand" functions
appropriately during the lesson as an established, nonverbal way
to ask questions, raise concerns, or indicate understanding.
ۜ Set up breakout rooms, whiteboards, and slideshows in advance.
ۜ Give students opportunities to demonstrate how they are
adapting shared routines (e.g. note-taking) or creating their own
via screenshare or webcam.
Asynchronous ۜ Create video tutorials using a web-based recording tool to help
Engagement students and their caregivers navigate your particular online
classroom, successfully use the available resources and supports,
and upload or share additional resources.
ۜ Introduce routines that support a daily or weekly cadence for
learning, e.g. simple poll questions to take attendance each
ۜ Use clear and consistent labeling for assignments and activities,
so students know where to find resources, due dates, and other
ۜ Send a daily interactive agenda home each afternoon or at
the beginning of the week. Include daily activities with all the
necessary links the learner will need to access. Refer to the agenda
throughout the day.
ۜ Clarify the supplies students will need to have for particular
learning experiences and ensure all students have what they need.
© 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org 15
U S I N G A S S E SSME NT FOR L EARN I NG (3 d)
How do students assess their progress and apply feedback from other students and the
teacher, as well as their own reflection, to support learning?
Formative assessment Teachers and students use Students take initiative to analyze
supports student learning formative assessment to their own progress against a
and development. elicit understanding, analyze clear standard in order to achieve
progress, and provide the outcome and identify new
constructive feedback. opportunities and challenges.
While assessment of learning has been more heavily
emphasized by policymakers in recent years, teachers
have long known that assessment for learning is a
far more powerful and important tool as we consider
individual student learning, especially during remote
instruction. When teachers assess for learning, they
carefully consider student responses and look at their
work daily and weekly to gauge how students are spending
time, whether they have learned the content, and where
they are on the path to meeting the learning goal. If the
realities of remote learning result in insufficient data on
student progress, teachers avail themselves of the many
tools that can be used to get a snapshot of the class or
monitor progress of individuals. Teachers also encourage
and support students to monitor their own understanding
and progress toward clear criteria for success. They
provide clear, useful, timely feedback to students, and
students are taught to provide it to one another. Feedback
may focus on addressing gaps or misunderstanding, but it
should also provide encouragement and identify strengths
that students can leverage in this or further challenges.
Elements of Success
Clear Standards for Success
The characteristics of high-quality work and the criteria established as evidence of success
are clear to students and those supporting them.
Monitoring Student Understanding
Teachers and students are constantly monitoring learning and make use of specific
strategies to elicit evidence of understanding.
Timely, Constructive Feedback
High-quality feedback comes from many sources, including students; it is specific and
focused on improvement.
16 © 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org
U S I NG A S S E SSM E N T FOR L E A R N IN G (3d )
• Being clear on what students will do to show grade-level mastery and how their progress
toward that goal will be monitored.
• Modeling and teaching students specific competencies and habits to support self-
assessment and the application of feedback, including judgement, reflection, reasoning,
• Making sure students receive feedback that is affirming and focused on growth, and that
they have real opportunities to discuss it and reflect on it.
ۜ Audit your assignments and assessments and modify what would have been visible
in a live classroom to be visible in a virtual setting.
ۜ Plan and practice formative checks by modality - for every block of instructional
time, know how you will get information from each student.
ۜ Teach students how to create success criteria for group work. Practice creating and
using these criteria weekly.
ۜ Provide weekly opportunities for students to self-assess and identify successes and
ۜ Build the format and routine for celebrating student self-assessment.
Synchronous ۜ Use polls or quick quizzes intermittently throughout the
Engagement synchronous lesson to gauge understanding of topics or concepts.
ۜ Schedule check-in times with individual students or groups of
students during synchronous learning.
ۜ Utilize chat boxes or other communication platforms where
students can share their thoughts, answers, or reactions.
ۜ Use non-verbals via video-conferencing platform or reaction
buttons (if available) to monitor understanding.
Asynchronous ۜ Make your feedback multi-modal.
ۜ Find a go-to set of digital formative assessment tools for your
students to engage with and become accustomed to using.
ۜ Have students submit responses through a variety of media both
recommended by the teacher and of their own choosing (e.g.,
written response, audio, or video recordings).
ۜ Invent or adopt (and communicate to students) efficient ways for
students to express their level of understanding or the content of
a lesson as it’s progressing.
© 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org 17
PL A N N I N G COHE R E NT INSTRUCTI ON (1e)
How are learning experiences structured to provide flexible, student-centered opportunities to
learn important content and develop positive habits and mindsets?
Learning opportunities are Learning opportunities are Learning opportunities prioritize
coherent in structure and specifically tailored to meet the needs of individual students
suitable for the students in the needs of individual and support student assumption of
the class. students in the class. responsibility for learning.
One primary responsibility of teachers is planning coherent
instruction. Though teachers cannot do the work of learning
for students, they can thoughtfully organize learning
experiences that facilitate it. To do so successfully in the
context of remote instruction, teachers must not only have
a deep understanding of their content area, the standards,
and curriculum, but they must use their understanding of
students’ readiness to learn as the basis for instructional
design. Technology and online learning environments
provide certain advantages by allowing even more ways for
students to engage through multiple modes and means
of interacting. Flexible learning and grouping of students
can be facilitated through technology, with a greater
variety of tasks and activities available. More is not always
better, however, and these opportunities must be logically
sequenced and, in some cases, students may actually
benefit from a slower pace and fewer options.
Elements of Success
Tasks & Activities
Tasks and activities are specifically matched to learning outcomes and provide opportunity
for higher-level thinking, encourage student agency, and create authentic opportunities to
engage with meaningful content.
Multiple strategies and approaches are tailored to individual student needs to create the
appropriate level of challenge and support for each student.
Student groups are an essential component of learning and development, and are organized
thoughtfully to maximize opportunities and build on students’ strengths.
Structure and Flow
Lesson and unit plans are well structured and flow from one to the next to support student
learning and development.
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PL A NNI NG COH E R E N T IN STR U CTION ( 1 e )
• Meeting students where they are given widely variable learning environments and social-
• Holding tight to grade level expectations and challenging content.
• Aligning learning outcomes to the modified schedule to maximize fit between outcome and
• Maintaining coherence for students across a variety of platforms and modes.
START ۜ Analyze your school schedule and expectations to identify time available for
HERE synchronous and asynchronous engagement.
ۜ Analyze your learning objectives to determine what is most suitable and critical for
synchronous instruction. Consider:
ۜ Whole group: direct instruction, modeling, experiments, community building
ۜ Small group: targeted skill building, repetition, discussion, peer to peer
ۜ One-to-one: diagnosis, assessment, encouragement
ۜ Develop a manageable and easily accessible system for organizing schedules,
materials, homework, and apps that support differentiated pathways for students.
Synchronous ۜ Consider the rationale for synchronous learning. Keep durations
Engagement brief (e.g. maximum 30 minutes for younger students), and plan
to use the time purposefully for group discussions, community
building, small group instruction, and collaboration.
ۜ Clearly explain the purpose of the session in advance (e.g. via
email or LMS mesage) and revisit it throughout the session.
ۜ Pull together small groups of students, both heterogeneous and
homogeneous, in synchronous sessions as you would in the
classroom. Focus on supporting their learning by addressing
individual needs and providing feedback.
Asynchronous ۜ Consider flipping new content acquisition and skill practice to
Engagement asynchronous sessions when appropriate (video-taped lessons
are great tools for direct instruction).
ۜ Provide multiple tasks and activities for students to choose from
to reach the objectives. Explain the rationale for choosing each or
provide a clear pathway for students to consider.
ۜ Carefully curate the online tools you will use: there are many,
many options, but students can get app fatigue. Pick a small set
to use frequently to allow students to develop comfort and have
ۜ For major tasks or activities, find a volunteer (e.g. another teacher
or a parent) to test drive the activity and ensure it will be easily
navigated and understood.
© 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org 19
U S I N G Q UE ST IONING & DISCUSSI ON TECH NI QUES (3 b)
How do students reflect, reason, and explain their thinking by asking and answering questions
and engaging in dialogue with others?
Questioning and discussion, Questioning and discussion, Students intentionally use
framed and led by teachers, framed or led by teachers questioning and discussion to
are used effectively to and students, support critical develop their own and others’
support student learning and thinking, reasoning, and thinking, reasoning skills, and
development. reflection. habits of reflection.
Learning is a social process, and dialogue
supports the acquisition of new knowledge,
critical thinking skills, and social-emotional
development. It invites students to formulate
hypotheses, make connections, or challenge
previously held views. Many teachers and
students may have more experience with
online discussions than other aspects of
online learning. For older students especially,
email, messaging, chat, and social media apps
are part of everyday life. However, selecting
and implementing strategies for questioning
and discussion that can strengthen online
conversations is important. As in other areas,
some aspects of discussion may seem easier
online. There’s no mute button during an in-
person discussion, after all. Still, it is important
for teachers to practice and develop techniques
that support student thinking in synchronous
and asynchronous discussions.
Elements of Success
Critical Thinking and Deeper Learning
Questions and discussions require critical thinking, have multiple answers, and are used to
deepen student understanding.
Reasoning and Reflection
Questions and discussions challenge students to reason, reflect on learning, justify their
thinking. and generate ideas for future inquiry.
Students demonstrate curiosity and engage one another through questions and dialogue,
challenging each other’s thinking with respect and humility,
20 © 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org
US I NG Q U EST I O N IN G & D ISCU SSION TEC H N IQU E S ( 3 b )
• Creating opportunities for peer-to-peer engagement that support social, emotional, and
• Modeling curiosity and humility in dialogue with students.
• Providing multiple options for scaffolding dialogue in both synchronous and asynchronous
HERE ۜ Co-create norms for peer-to-peer engagement with students.
ۜ Adjust your daily and weekly schedule, challenging yourself to have students
spend more time in peer discussion than any other modality (as developmentally
ۜ Be explicit about when students are to maintain single attention (one conversation,
one focus) versus when it is acceptable to use multiple channels (chatting during a
video, recording reactions on a padlet, etc.)
ۜ Research and experiment to identify digital ways for students to generate ideas and
responses individually and collaboratively that help prime their dialogue.
ۜ Create a shared space where students can continue discussions after a lesson and
offer suggestions for future topics or discussions.
Synchronous ۜ Use an app that supports backchannel conversations during class
Engagement discussions - and also allows the conversation to continue when
the synchronous learning ends.
ۜ Utilize breakout rooms to prioritize small group discussions,
which are typically more effective and engaging than whole-group
ۜ When a student responds, encourage all students to write a
comment or give a thumbs up/down to express agreement or
disagreement and a reason.
ۜ Give student facilitators opportunities to "share their screen"
to show their work or explanations rather than verbalizing
Asynchronous ۜ Create spaces for offline discussions: blogs, chat spaces on LMS,
Engagement shared Google docs, etc.
ۜ To support student autonomy, create sign-up sheets for informal
discussion groups (via phone or video conference platforms)
based on lesson or project assignments.
ۜ Periodically send brief surveys or emails during the day that
include questions written to prompt thinking and ask students to
explain their reasoning.
© 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org 21
E N G AG I N G STU DE NTS IN L EARNI N G (3 c )
Do learning experiences give each student the opportunity to do the learning and engage in
ways that are challenging, authentic, and relevant?
Learning experiences engage Learning experiences support Students take initiative
students intellectually, curiosity, encourage critical to increase the challenge,
requiring them to think and thinking, and include multiple complexity, relevance, and rigor
collaborate. ways for students to engage of learning experiences.
and represent their ideas.
In order for successful learning to occur for each student,
intellectual engagement is a necessity. Knowledge of
students, planning for instruction, assessment, routines and
procedures, and other aspects of teachers’ responsibilities are
ultimately about creating opportunities for students to engage
with content, with one another, and with their own learning
and development process. Teachers must provide rich
opportunities, promote teamwork, use engaging materials, and
give students time to reflect on learning - especially in a virtual
environment. Busy work, such as mindlessly filling in blanks
on digital worksheets, is as unproductive in online learning
as it is in person. In some cases, it may be more challenging
to determine whether students are engaged in online learning
experiences. The cues that teachers look for may be less
obvious in online environments, and it may be easier for
students to fade away. It is essential, therefore, that teachers
use the myriad of online resources at their disposal to support
Elements of Success
Rich Learning Experiences
Students demonstrate agency and critical thinking in completion of tasks and activities that
require high levels of intellectual engagement.
Collaboration and Teamwork
Student collaboration is a key component of learning and engagement, and students take
initiative to collaborate in new or unplanned ways that further their learning and make it
more engaging and meaningful.
Use of Instructional Materials and Resources
Instructional materials and resources are used effectively to support intellectual engagement
and deep learning of the content.
Opportunities for Thinking and Reflection
Individual lessons, activities, and tasks, as well as instructional pathways, have multiple and
effective opportunities to think, reflect, and consolidate understanding.
22 © 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org
ENG AG I NG STU D E N TS IN L E A R N IN G ( 3c )
• Encouraging multiple ways of interacting, multiple modes of accessing information, and
multiple means of representing thinking.
• Making space for student choice and interest-driven learning across all subjects.
• Celebrating and sharing student creativity, curiosity, and resilience.
• Maintaining and modeling a learning stance on engaging through technology so students
feel free to explore and improve their experience.
• Deviating from plan in the face of authentic student curiosity and initiative.
ۜ Plan for individual and group projects that are purely interest based.
ۜ Audit your plans and assignments for points where students might be offered more
ۜ Know your content "critical path" - what you must convey versus what you can hold
lightly if spontaneous opportunities for student innovation appear.
ۜ Find a technology friend. Students will always adopt technology faster than adults, so
have someone you can learn with when a new app or feature emerges that might further
engage your students.
Synchronous ۜ Take advantage of small group synchronous sessions to gauge
Engagement student engagement.
ۜ Consider holding one-on-one meetings with students to dig into
how they are engaging with asynchronous work.
ۜ Plan synchronous screen time using a combination of audio and
visual cues such as infographics and videos.
ۜ As students engage in tasks or activities, consider how students
will share their thinking and reasoning by chat, in an online
document, or other written response.
ۜ Provide opportunities for students to partake in collaborative,
inquiry-based research using websites or online articles.
ۜ Allow students to submit assignments in a variety of forms such
as PowerPoint, Prezi, or pre-recorded segments.
Asynchronous ۜ Create a choice board to provide both structure and choice. For
Engagement instance, post the board on Monday, and give students until
Friday to complete it, at which time you can have a discussion to
reflect on the key ideas and an assessment.
ۜ Find or create interactive presentations that guide students
through information, activities, and inquiry.
ۜ Use a tool or platform to create an opportunity for reflection
by asking students to post at the end of their day. This builds
accountability and ownership, while giving students a flexible way
of sharing and synthesizing.
© 2020 The Danielson Group | www.danielsongroup.org 23