25 Distance Learning Ideas from Teachers
#1 Top Blog of 2020 Explore these 25 distance learning ideas covering subjects from STEM to ELA and find suggestions for staying connected to your students and their families.
Distance Learning Ideas: Stay Connected to Your Students
Families across the country are adapting to the ever-changing landscape of parenting and at-home learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. For us at Share My Lesson too, work and life have changed drastically. Less than two weeks after our world flipped upside down—with schools closing, parents trying to continue their children’s learning at home, and teachers moving to distance learning—we held our annual Share My Lesson Virtual Conference (likely the only conference not canceled). We had a record-setting 68,000 registrations for the three-day, fully virtual conference, covering topics from STEM to classroom management to the current challenges teachers are facing today. Our presenters all adjusted their sessions to provide suggestions on how to move to distance learning. And most important, our webinars connected teachers with other educators to help them get ideas for reaching their students digitally.
The group chats in each webinar were filled with all the amazing ways educators are working with their students in the new distance learning environment. To capture these ideas, we sifted through hours of webinars and chat transcripts so we could share the tools, ideas and actions teachers are taking to engage students remotely.
Have another example of something you’re doing? Let us know, and we’ll add it to this list.
As we were going through each of the chat transcripts, we noticed some common tools that teachers are using: Google Classroom, Flipgrid and ClassDojo were among the most popular tools. Remind and Edmodo are communication platforms educators are using to stay in touch with their students and their families. Khan Academy, CNN10 and Newsela are being used by teachers to assign work to students. And, of course, Zoomwas the most popular distance learning tool mentioned, but there have been some concerns around the online safety of Zoom recently. If you want to use Zoom but have concerns, read our blog about how to safely have Zoom meetings with your students. The best part of all these resources is that they are currently being offered for free, so you can try out as many as you like and pick the one that will work best for you and your students.
If using one of these digital tools feels overwhelming, especially if you’ve never needed to teach online before, there are other options that might work better for you.
Check out 42 On-Demand Webinars from Virtual Conference 2020
Connecting with our students is as important as assigning them work and keeping them busy. During this unpredictable time, our students are probably feeling as much uncertainty as we are. Our webinar attendees had great ideas for how educators can maintain those connections with students, which they’ve work so hard to create—even while schools are closed.
If you’re concerned that your students don’t have internet access at home and can’t connect with you virtually, you can always call them.
Many teachers are concerned about students feeling especially anxious during this time.
Want more ideas on how to support the roller coaster of emotions you and your students are feling? Join Dr. Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University for a webinar on the "The Big 7: Healthy Emotion Regulation During Uncertain Times." The webinar will be live on Thursday, April 16, 2020, at 3:00 PM EDT and then available on demand. Register here.
And, of course, it’s still important to have some fun.
Explore distance learning ideas that support students with disabilities.
Distance Learning Ideas: English Language Arts and Writing
English language arts and writing educators have gotten super creative when it comes to their students’ assignments.
Journaling or expressing one’s feelings can be very important during this time.
Another important reading tip to note: Many publishers understand the hardships some students are facing by not being able to complete their read-aloud books before schools closed. Some have loosened copyright rules and are allowing educators to use a virtual platform to read aloud to their students. Go to their websites to find out which publishers are working with teachers right now to make this happen.
Science can be a tough subject to get students to do at home—especially if you work in a secondary school and your students have to complete lab assignment.
Math teachers are also coming up with unique ways to keep their students learning about math.
Teaching any arts classes during this time might feel overwhelming, but arts teachers are finding that helping their students appreciate the beauty in the world is more important now than ever.
Read about AFT President Randi Weingarten's latest blog featuring distance learning ideas, capstone projects and creating an environment of positivity for students and educators.
Distance Learning Ideas: Be Student-Centered
Most importantly, remember that all the lessons, activities and meetings with our students are to make sure students feel safe and connected to learning in some way. Some teachers are putting a lot of work on the front end to ensure students’ lessons meet their individual needs.
Other educators are focusing on project-based learning.
There’s no right or wrong way to engage in distance learning right now. We would love to know what you’re doing. What is working for you and your students?
Not only did I find great new ways to teach, but I also was reminded of something I normally touch on in the classroom but have inadvertently neglected to consider through online teaching: my students’ emotional response to the world around them.
Thank you, Ami, for the wonderful ideas and suggestions in your article, and, especially, thank you for reminding me that I may be the only outlet my students have to sound off on this unpredictable world we live in.
Michelle, teacher in Texas
I am in a very unique teaching placement, a County Juvenile Detention Center. We are not allowed to do any virtual lessons with our students, due to security concerns. Our students have a learning program called Edgenuity but it is totally locked down from the internet. The only thing the students can see is their lessons. The teachers monitor it from home. We have made packets for the students that align with their curriculum on this program that will substitute for any online curriculum that the students cannot access. This is a long process, going through each students various courses and matching curriculum. We drop the packets, labeled with the students names, off at the facility once a week. I know this isn't a helpful hint, but it is something we have to do. Thank you all for your tips.
Ms. V, Wichita, Ks.
Thank you so much for your comment, Michelle. I'm so glad that you are eager to help your students who are caught up in this unpredictability we are facing as a country right now. Also - your cat profile picture is adorable!
Ms. V - It seems like distance learning looks incredibly different for your students. I'm glad that you're finding ways to work around the lack of internet access, and help your students the best you can. It's so important that we lift the voices of teachers who are working so hard during this time of distance learning. Thank you for sharing your experiences!
Thank you for your response, I am always trying to find ways to help my students. They are generally totally overlooked by most educators because of the lack of exposure and contact with this particular population. My students really can fall through the cracks! This sites Webinars on class management really can help teachers in "normal" classrooms. I have used these approaches with my students for 15 years, before I watched the webinars or knew that this kind of help is out there. The suggestions do work even with my challenging students. I highly recommend that teachers watch the classroom management webinars! Thank you again!