Scaffolding Learning with Rich Tasks: Curriculum Design

During Covid-19, teachers are designing curriculum that students might complete either at home or onsite at school. Based on our research and strategies at the Berry Street Education Model (BSEM), we would like to offer suggestions to bolster your instructional planning. We recommend that teachers design rich tasks for your young people to do at home, rather than sending through smaller tasks. We do not want to overwhelm students or their parents with the need to manage too many things at once.

Remember many parents are working from home so they may have limited time and energy to support their child’s learning, and many teachers working from home might be juggling caring responsibilities as well, so let’s keep our expectations of each other and ourselves reasonable!

Differentiate the learning 

This is a time when being able to differentiate the learning will be important. A differentiated curriculum is a learning program designed to meet the various academic needs of all students including those who have special needs. Some of your young people may struggle to focus on their schoolwork, some may not have ready access to internet, equipment or a quiet space for learning. However, there are some evidence-based teaching principles that will be even more relevant when students are working from home. If the task is fun, engaging and well scaffolded then engagement will increase, which will improve learning outcomes.

By designing tasks that are accessible and rich in learning opportunities while also including extension activities for those kids who do have the resources and support, we will be more likely to be able to connect with and support all our young people.

BSEM sample plan

We’ve developed an example of a scaffolded BSEM sample plan: ‘Catering for your Family’. We have adapted a task to span multiple learning sessions and link to several areas of curriculum. It is also a task that can fit nicely into a household routine.

Think carefully about how much written work you will ask your students to submit as evidence, consider using photos, checklists, phone calls, reflection activities or conversations. There are many ways to evidence learning. It is inevitable that teacher’s preparation time will increase, especially in the short term as we get ready to work differently.

Connection: more important than ever

Caring, connected relationships with teachers will mean the world to young people, particularly to our most vulnerable students. The work that our teachers and schools are doing during this time is so valuable, so please look after yourselves and each other.

Download ‘Catering for your Family’ – a sample task and learning session plan


By Grace Langton, Berry Street Education Model.

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