Home learning/distance learning/remote learning (or whatever your school is calling it) is definitely new territory for most (if not all) of us. Here are some tips and strategies that I think will help make this process more effective for you, your students, and your parents. Some of these apply to digital learning but many are applicable with printable work as well.
Noe: This is completely new to me and these tips may not work for you and your situation. I am sharing these tips from the perspective of a teacher of students who struggle with learning/retention and don’t have much (if any) home support. I am also sharing these tips from the perspective of a parent with a child who is not a huge fan of homework (to say the least 😉 ).
One more note: I am linking to lots of free resources in this post that I think will help. For those who are interested, I have also linked a few resources from my TPT store. As always, you are under no obligation to make any purchases at all and please don’t feel pressured to do so.
Send Videos and Songs to Help with Learning (Digital Tip)
There are tons of videos on Youtube or other sites that you can use to supplement instruction or review. Send the links to your students with instructions to watch them as part of their lessons. This will not only help the students, but will also help parents who are learning the skills alongside their students.
Here are some other sites (besides Youtube) to access videos and songs:
And here are a couple of blog post round-ups.
Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
Don’t bombard students with busy work. It is not necessary to send 6-8 hours of school work home. I would strive for a solid 1-2 hours. Give less work, but more meaningful work.
Here are some examples:
*Instead of 8 math problems a day, assign 4 (as an extension, you can have students make a video explaining how they solved one of the problems)
*Instead of sending home a text to read each day, send home one high quality text for the entire week. Assign a different task each day. For example FREE reading lesson plans for this type of home learning, click here.
Parents will respect and appreciate this and you will have more student buy in if they don’t feel like you are giving them busy work.
Re-arrange or Be Flexible with Your Pacing Guide
If you can, rearrange your pacing and teach skills that are “easier” to teach remotely or easier to learn independently. Hopefully, our schools will only be closed for 2-3 weeks. So, if you can, move skills around on your pacing guide and save the difficult skills for when we are back in business in the classroom.
Math – Identifying and Remembering Attributes of Shapes
Reading – Text Evidence – This is a skill students need lots of practice with and an easy one for them to practice. Click here to read more about text evidence and grab a free set of task cards that you can send home.
Writing – Writing about reading or writing in genres previously learned. Click here to grab Free Writing Choice Boards to send home.
Science – Concepts that don’t rely heavily on experiments
Social Studies – Topics that are easy for the students to understand without needing a lot of context. You can also send videos or engaging texts to help students learn the content.
Lots of Review Skills
If possible, do a lot of review skills. But again, meaningful work and not busy work. This is your chance to go back and review all those skills you have taught your students.
And remember that review skills are not always review for all of our students. Send videos, songs, and even pictures of anchor charts to help review the skill. Another option is to send home help sheets. Grab a free help sheet for 4th and 5th grade reading skills here.
Do you need review work that won’t overwhelm?
These resources are all available in printable and digital format.
And here are free math printables that are perfect for review at home.
Provide lots of choice.
Providing your students with choice is great for home learning. Providing choice will allow students to self-select tasks that they can successfully accomplish. It will also help with student buy-in.
One easy way to do this is through choice boards. Here are some free ones you can use:
Free Magazine Choice Board – Grab a free magazine choice boards on this post. If you have extra magazines, send them home with a copy of the choice board.
Free Reading and Math Choice Boards – Read more about these choice boards and grab lots of free ones on this post.
If you are in need of more, check out the choice boards in my TpT store by clicking here. I have choice boards for grades 3-5, math and reading. I will be working this month and next to have digital versions available but I don’t have a set timeline now.
Send Home Games
If you can, send home printable games for the students to play by themselves or with siblings/parents.
Here are some free games that work well for the purpose of home learning:
Differentiate as Much as You (Realistically) Can
Differentiation is hard enough in a regular teaching situation and doing it remotely is even more of a challenge. However, differentiating work for your students who really need it will ensure that this time is not wasted.
Here are some practical ways to differentiate with home learning:
1. Assign fewer problems. Have a discussion with specific students and make sure they know to only complete half the problems (or assign a specific amount).
2. Have students set a timer. Assign a reasonable time limit and have the students stop that task when the time is up.
3. Choice boards. You can modify choice boards to have easy tasks and pre-assign those or you can require fewer choices for students who struggle or work slower.
4. If possible, differentiate the printables you assign.
Here are some pre-made differentiated math practice printables from my TPT store:
And these reading printables are not differentiated but they are perfect for differentiating reading practice for your 4th/5th graders who read on 2nd/3rd grade reading levels.
Repetitive Tasks or Formats
You definitely don’t want to bore your students with the same work each day, but there is something to be said for repetition. It provides structure, and the parents will greatly appreciate it.
Send the Work in Parts/Chunks (Versus All at Once)
My 8th grader just received a huge 80+ page packet from his school. He is overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed. I know his school means well (we all do), but I recommend sending the work out in chunks or parts if you can.
I do recognize this is not possible for some schools. If you cannot send the work in chunks and you think the work will be overwhelming for students (and parents), I recommend giving a framework or guideline to guide them as they complete the work.
This could be a time frame or schedule, such as how many minutes they should spend on each subject a day. It could also be a page/question guideline. For example, complete one page from each subject a day.
And lastly, this is a worrisome time for all of us. I bet our children are anxious and scared as well (even if they don’t/can’t verbalize it). Try these tips for adding in some humor/light-hearted fun into your home learning:
- Send a funny meme of the day to your students. If your are not digital, sneak some memes into the packets you prepare.
- If you are digital, allow students to dialogue or just talk with you on a daily forum. Share fun memories and jokes. Ask them how their day is going.
- Send links to brain break videos or favorite songs to have the students dance to each day before beginning work.
I sincerely hope that these tips help you navigate this new territory of home learning that we are facing across the country. If you have any more tips that I have not included, feel free to leave them in the comments. We are all in this together!