As I write this post, a gentle spring snow is falling, the fire in the wood stove is warming the house, my husband is baking bread, and my daughter is practicing cello. If I didn’t know why we were all home together on this mid-March weekday, it would seem idyllic. Unfortunately, it’s the current health crisis that has created the circumstances described above and that has drastically altered my life and most likely yours as well.
Like educators around the world, I am trying my best to adapt, accept, and develop given this new reality of school closures. For weeks, I have been curating resources shared by educators in Asia, who have experienced nearly 2 months of online schooling already. Educators in the US and Europe have much to learn from our colleagues in Asia. However, unlike students and teachers in international schools, many families in the U.S. schools I work with have limited access to a device or internet service and online learning is therefore not a viable option. I know that some schools have checked out devices to students before school closed and that some companies are now offering free Internet service during school closures, but in my rural Colorado county and many others like it, high speed, broadband internet is not yet available. Even in my own home, the internet speed is so slow that I have difficulty maintaining a connection to make Skype or Zoom calls and cannot upload videos to any platform. If my husband and daughter are also online, everything will stop for all of us. For other teachers and learners with limited high-speed internet, online learning will be difficult. Because many districts around the U.S. recognize these limitations, some schools are not even attempting to offer online learning during the crisis.
For these reasons, my colleague Mia Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I co-created these At Home Learning Google Sheets with some activities to support parents and students with the challenge of weeks at home with limited direct instruction. Thanks to Kelly Reider of English Learner Portal, the resource has also been translated into Spanish. The resource provides low-tech learning activities for students in different age groups. Click the bottom tabs on the sheets for different grade level bands and you will find suggested activities in five categories: reading, writing, discussing, helping, and creating. These categories were designed to support language development in each domain (listening, speaking, reading, and writing), social emotional learning, and creativity. Many of the activities we suggest can be completed by students in that age group mostly independently, although the youngest learners will need some guidance or support with setting up the activity or finding the materials for a creative project. We understand that parents and guardians may not have much free time to become home school teachers.
Mia originally created the “Bingo Board” idea for her daughter, who is a student in a district that is not offering online learning at this time. In order to provide her pre-teen a daily structure and some choice in how and what she learns, Mia requests that her daughter choose one activity from each category every day. We would suggest that students also have the opportunity to create an activity idea of their own or change an activity to better fit their interests. This resource is meant to be a working document and is just a starting point for creating at home learning opportunities with limited technology. Please feel free to make a copy of the sheets and change them to meet the needs of your families and students.
We update links on the ‘Great Resources’ tab daily. We have added a brief note about what you’ll find in each resource that provides more ideas for independent, online home learning. These resources include virtual museum tours, language learning, online exercise activities for young children, and more. The links all worked as of March 19, 2020. Mia and I hope this is a supportive resource for you and your families in the weeks to come.