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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.

Common Tools Used for Distance Learning

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, Zoom was 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.

A teacher in Cranberry Township, Pa., said, “If you don’t want to create a Google Classroom (which is a ton of work), a workaround can be to create a Google Doc Calendar with a link to a lesson/video/curriculum and a Google Forms link to submit work (if that’s part of your need).”

A teacher from Philadelphia said, “Our district created learning guides to pick up as a packet or view online. My specific school created a PPT [PowerPoint] with more thorough directions.” Students’ completed packets could be returned to a teacher by email or collected when schools reopen.

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