Edit to add: It is now 2023 and teaching from home was the norm for some time so while these tips and ideas aren’t always going to be relevant, be sure to keep them in your back pocket because as we’ve learned, we never know when things are going to change!
Hello everyone, chances are you are reading this blog post because you are either a teacher needing ideas for how to switch to e-learning or a parent wondering how you can keep your kids engaged during the next few weeks. At the time of writing this post, schools across the nation are closing due to Coronavirus. Now on top of worrying about whether we have enough toilet paper at home, teachers are now scrambling to make sure that their students are still learning amidst all this chaos.
Now I am going to put a full disclaimer up here because I believe in being completely transparent. I am not a teacher anymore, nor am I a parent. However, helping others has always been my desire ever since I was a little girl. I wanted to share tons of ideas, tips, and resources that will help both teachers and parents during this stressful time. And if you are a parent AND a teacher, major props to you, and thank you for all you do!
Using Digital for Teaching from Home
“Because we are living in a digital world, and I am a digital girl.” Not really, I am actually still a paper and pencil kind of gal, but digital is what we are turning to these days. When you think of online schools or virtual platforms a lot of them seem to use the same method. This is super easy to use with Google classroom!
Google classroom is honestly unfamiliar territory for me, but this site Teacher Center has several video tutorials and tips on how to get started! There are many other ways to utilize Google tools to teach. Google hangouts can be used as a virtual meeting room where you and your students can chat. You can even prerecord lessons to show later. Google slides are essentially Powerpoint.
As of 2020, almost all of my no prep units are also available as digital and make teaching from home easier!
Websites for E-Learning
- Brain Pop
- Turtle Diary
- National Geographic for Kids
- ABC Mouse
- Class Dojo: great for communicating with parents.
- Moby Max
- Adventure Academy
- Math Games.com
- Scratch: teaches kids to code and create games!
- Duolingo: learn a new language!
- Built by Kids
- Teacher Your Monster to Read
- PBS Kids
- Scholastic for Kids
- Go Noodle
Sites to learn about how to talk about Coronavirus
- PBS Kids: How to Talk to Little Learners About Coronavirus
- How Teachers Can Talk to Students: Across Grade Levels
- Coronavirus and Parenting: NPR Questions and Answers
- Brainpop Video
Teaching from Home Ideas with Limited or No Internet
Let’s face it you guys, as much as we would like to believe that every single student will have access to a computer is just not feasible. Teaching from home has its own challenges. Many children honestly may be upset because the classroom may be their safe place. Unfortunately, not every single child is going to be learning during this time because of a variety of reasons. They may have plans already for spring break. They may not have adults able to help them even get online.
Going to an online classroom sometimes takes YEARS to learn as a teacher and I hope that no schools are actually requiring you to learn all of this in a day! If however, they are asking that you have some sort of plan here are some fun ideas to still have your students engaged and learning without having to go fully digital.
Libraries: many libraries now have ebooks on hand. They utilize programs such as Overdrive, Hoopla, and Cloud Library. Grab some ebooks and have a read-aloud, or assign a book report or reading activity, but only after ensuring every student has access to the book or hears you read it!
Read: Are you one of those people that says things like, “I NEVER have time to read!” Well, here’s your chance to change that. You know students learn by modeling, so incorporate reading as much as possible. Have students share their knowledge of a book they have read by having them do any number of activities:
- Write a play about the book.
- Create a comic strip about the book.
- Make a quilt square.
- Have students write a letter to a friend pretending they are a character from the book.
- Explain the book with a fun writing craft such as an umbrella or kite for spring!
Now I want to share another hard truth pill, not every one of your students may have access to books at home and you can’t require them to go to the library when things are shutting down left and right. This might be a good time to write up a Donor’s Choose project for a set of books to send to kids if the closures last longer than a few weeks. You can also cash in on those Scholastic Book points.
Writing was probably my absolute favorite subject to teach and as long as your students have access to paper, pencils, and possibly crayons, the ideas are ENDLESS. Here are just some ideas for having them practice writing.
Picture prompts: This would be a fun activity for parents/guardians to do with their kids. Go through a photo album (if you are old school like me) or scroll through photos together on your phone. Have students pick out a picture along with their parent/guardian and then write about what was happening in the picture.
Create a magazine/newspaper: My sisters, cousins and I would do this as kids. We would write little articles about what was going on in the world, talk about pop culture, and more. I also at one time made a magazine about animals for a school project and the results were so fun to relive even to this day!
Create a comic strip or comic book: This is going to soon be a separate blog post, but one of my favorite activities I created was a comic book unit! Students learn all about the writing process and then ultimately create a comic book! To read more about this awesome unit, click here: Comic Book Writing Blog Post. This unit also includes digital sections and makes teaching from home and also incorporating art easy!
Write a letter: Have students write letters to each other and you! Going the route of snail mail may be fun for kids! Get permission from every parent to share addresses or even open a P.O Box if you don’t want everyone to know where you live. This is one fun way to benefit from teaching from home.
Future class: It’s spring at the time of writing this and we all know that summer is on everyone’s minds regardless of how long these closures go. Have them write letters to the future students of your class. have them share tips for being in your class and share memories.
While on that note, memory books are a great creative way for students to remember the school year.
Journal: This might be a scary time for your students because it is for some adults(myself included). Have them journal about how they are feeling during this time. My friend has many activities for social-emotional learning that would be great to use during this time.
ABC Book: for younger kids have them create an ABC book by assigning each student a letter. They can draw an animal that starts with the letter, write a sentence that starts with the letter, and much more.
Use premade writing prompts! I have a free sample listed in my store to get you going.
Tips for YOU to Survive Teaching From Home
By now if you have gotten to the end of this post you may be tired, overwhelmed, and still in shock with things. Teaching from home just seems like utter chaos. However, the most important thing you can do for your students is to stay calm and relaxed. I know this is easier said than done as I myself struggle with severe anxiety. Pretend that no matter where you live that there is an event such as a blizzard keeping you from going to school, yet you still have to teach. How would you do it?
Teachers are by nature creative people. We have to use our resources and knowledge of our students to ensure that they are still learning. This will be a better situation for all if you try not to panic and remain stress-free. Here are some tips for doing so!
- Practice what you preach: By that I mean journal your feelings about the events going on.
- Call a friend that will not exacerbate your stress. Don’t constantly talk to people who are in the same mindset as you if you are one of those people that is freaking out. Finding a calming friend to talk to.
- Read!!!!!!!!! It’s so easy to lose yourself in a good book and forget what’s going on outside!
- At-home spa day: this can go for guys or gals! Do face masks, take a bubble bath, and try a new hairstyle (hey if it looks bad you don’t have to go out).
- Learn hand lettering.
- Create playlists for your students when you do go back.
- Watch Youtube tutorials! Want to learn something new like how to play the guitar or write in calligraphy? Chances are there is a tutorial for that! I legit taught myself how to knit by watching Youtube videos!
- Binge-watch a new show, or rewatch an old favorite!
- Plan ahead! Use this time to get your ducks in a row. Plan ahead for additional weeks that may happen or even plan for the next year.
- Limit social media, news, etc. This helps SO much it’s not even funny. I find myself stressing more after reading the news so limit your time on it and find reputable sites.
- Amazon. As long as you are not looking for toilet paper, you can find tons of helpful things such as adult coloring books, anxiety workbooks(I have this one), and stress toys.
- Most importantly, spend time with your loved ones if you can. Play with your kids if you are lucky enough to have them. Read together and talk more. Watch movies as a family. Call distant relatives. Skype with your friends if you are trying to avoid going out. Pretend it’s the 90s and Facebook message people ala AIM. Have picnics in the living room. Make pillow forts. Just be present.
On this final note, remember, educators are rockstars. Teaching from home doesn’t change that at all! Without you, there wouldn’t be scientists trying to solve this crisis. There wouldn’t be authors writing those books that take your mind off things. There wouldn’t be directors to give you all the binge-watch-worthy shows. All of it’s because of you! Stay safe, stay calm, and remember you are awesome!