About the Author:
Katie Breitholtz is a EL Learning Specialist from Henry, Illinois. She teaches because she wants to make a difference and believes in creating safe spaces that promote learning and making mistakes.

Remote learning was a new teaching and learning experience for most teachers this spring. It was a challenge to help students without knowing what they needed. Now, many school districts are starting with remote learning, and some are doing it indefinitely. Teachers have to adapt how they deliver curriculum, create digital assignments, and assess in new ways that cannot be “Googled” to find the answer. With that said, it is crucial for teachers to scaffold and support students just like in the classroom, except digitally now. 

Edulastic is an incredible platform to differentiate for students of all ability levels. Assignments and assessments can be cloned easily to adapt questions for students. In addition, there are simple ideas to increase engagement and reduce frustration without being in the classroom. One of the most effective ways I supported my students at a distance was through hints. 

Hints are intended to support students to show their understanding without giving away the answers. For students with IEPs or 504s, they are required to meet the student’s academic needs. Hints can add the support teachers are looking for. If you haven’t tried adding them here are some suggestions to get started! 

Where are the hints?

When you are creating a question, there is a hint box at the bottom of the screen. 

Sentence Starters

Sentence starters or frames are a great option for ALL students, but any English Learner or students with special needs would benefit from the beginning of the response. For some students this option helps reword the question that may clarify any confusion. In the hint you have outlined the need for two different details and explaining. Remember there are many ways to do sentence frames or starters! 

Example Question: How do Iris’s actions affect the story? Use two details from the story to support your answer.

HINT: Iris’s actions affect the story by _________ and ___________ because______. 

Rephrasing the Question

Similar to sentence frames, the hint can rephrase a question that may cause confusion. Many state tests use academic vocabulary that students can be unfamiliar with, so while students are still learning how to navigate them, a rephrased question in the hints can alleviate the problem. 

Example Question: Which of the following pieces of evidence from the story best identifies the reason Madison squints? 

Hint: Which example or quote explains why Madison squints? 


The phrase a picture is worth a thousand words comes to mind first. Add a picture to the question to help students connect what the question is asking. Visuals can be of all types and depending on the content area it will vary. Listed below are some ideas. 


  • Anchor Charts with related information
  • Notes 
  • Graphic organizer 
  • Picture of unfamiliar vocabulary words
  • Scene from the movie or graphic novel 
  • Sample problem solved step by step 
  • Infographic 


One of my favorite hints is video. Who does not enjoy watching a video rather than reading? Video hints can range in how they support students such as, building background knowledge, activating prior knowledge, teaching new concepts and review. The video could be linked to a class lecture that was pre-recorded, YouTube video, or any other video that helps the student.

Audio Track

Example sequencing question from a novel study of The Lightning Thief: The hint sends the student back to the chapter because it is part of a longer text.

This idea may sound strange for some teachers who do not use audio to listen to texts often, however it can be incredibly useful. In ELA, adding an audio track was used during a novel study. I added a track so the student could relisten to the recording again while using the book to further understand the text, so the response was more thoughtful. Audio supports students with any language or reading difficulties. Again, this is a support to help move students in the right direction without giving away the answer. 

Back to the Text

Teachers spend extra time sending students to a specific section of the text while they are working on assignments or assessments. Remote learning will be no different. Save yourself the time and headache by putting the suggestion in there for students. Again, I am not suggesting teachers give away the answers so use your professional judgment on whether a chapter, page or paragraph is most appropriate for your hint. 

These simple additions to your questions can transform how your students interact with the assignments or assessments. Remember that if your students have specific accommodations in the IEP, the hint section offers the option to provide it in a visually appealing way. It can be easily visible or hidden with a click.  The suggestions for hints is in no way an exhaustive list of ideas, but they are a starting point. 

Pro Tips:

1. Create a video for the directions that shows the students exactly what they will see. Go through the entire set of questions in preview mode and click on each hint.  Post it with your assignment so students know how to use the additional support. 

2. You can add multiple hints to one question! The opportunities for student support are truly endless.