WIDA Can Do Descriptors for Grade 2

Instructor: Bill Sands
WIDA Can Do Descriptors provide examples of classroom activities that ELL students should be able to complete at each level. Read on for more specific information on these expectations.

WIDA Can Do Descriptors: Grades 2-3

WIDA Can Do Descriptors provide expectations of English language learners through a list of sample classroom activities that should be completed at each grade cluster. The WIDA standards group grades 2 and 3 together and chart progress using six proficiency levels.

The sample tasks focus on each of the four areas of the English language: writing, speaking, reading, and listening.

Key Uses

The WIDA Can Do Descriptors are centered around four Key Uses, each of which concentrates on a unique communicative purpose. The uses are as follows:

  • Explain: This domain gauges a student's ability to prove that they understand the 'how' and 'why' of a given topic. This may include explaining cause-effect relationships and the results of an experiment.
  • Argue: Students will need to formulate their own opinions and support their ideas using evidence. This domain asks students to state their own preferences and build comprehensive arguments.
  • Recount: This domain concentrates on a student's ability to relay content learned in a lesson. For this Key Use, students should have the ability to summarize a story and recount a past experience.
  • Discuss: This skill area tests how well a student is able to interact with fellow students and instructors. Group activities and projects are just two examples of tasks upon which this domain focuses.

WIDA Proficiency Levels for Grades 2-3

There are six proficiency levels for the Can Do Descriptors. These descriptors are arranged in ascending order, beginning at Level 1 (Entering) and concluding at Level 6 (Reaching).


At the most basic level, entering students are able to perform rudimentary tasks. They can respond to simple prompts with short answers and can pick out key words and phrases in a given text, but will require more assistance when attempting to communicate.


Students at this level can determine important information in a text (the who, when, where, etc. of a story) and use oral descriptions to identify images or pictures. They can also explain the individual steps that make up a greater overall process. Students at this level can also tell the difference between fact and fiction.


Developing students can use graphic organizers to communicate information. They possess the listening skills to follow oral instructions and are capable writers who can write in a number of formats including poetry and journals. These students can also point out various viewpoints that are expressed in written forms of text.


Students at the expanding level are able to place a series of events into the correct order and orally describe situations that have impacted their personal lives. They can recognize and identify important ideas and details in text when there are illustrations and can create their own stories. Expanding students can also sort information into distinct groups (e.g., like and dislikes, advantages and disadvantages).


Bridging students possess a number of skills related to critical thought and analysis, including the ability to compare the merits of various arguments and use evidence to support their own opinions. Bridging students can also start and sustain conversations. They also have the ability to dispute the ideas of others in a manner that is courteous.


The most advanced level, reaching students are able to perform complex tasks such as following pre-determined rules during a debate and incorporating personal comments into their responses to other ideas. These students provide quality analysis of common stories, including opinions on the morals and lessons contained in folktales. While reading a text, reaching students also have the ability to pinpoint an author's viewpoint.

Resources for Teachers with ELL Students

If you're a teacher with ELL students, you should be aware of the myriad resources available from Study.com. This Resources for Teaching English Language Learners course covers a wide range of relevant topics that are covered in a series of engaging video lessons.

For further assistance, you may also want to consult these Activities for Teaching English Language Learners and Activities & Resources for Teaching ELL courses, both of which contain plenty of creative ideas to help keep your students focused and improve their English language skills.

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