Online Education During Uncertain Times
Trusted Resources for Students and Parents by Schoolteacher Carl C. Bache
Generally, online education is best suited to self-paced, individualized learning. Since this type of learning is not what most elementary, intermediate, and secondary students have been accustomed to, a little foresight could have improved our current distance-learning situation. But, as we all would agree, only hindsight is 20/20. In a best case scenario, teachers would have reached out to students and families regarding the resources that best fit individual students based on what has been taught so far in the school year, their levels of achievement, and their access to appropriate technology. For students with disabilities, both the student and parents would be contacted and guided by case managers regarding available resources.
While some available resources are not free of charge and must be purchased, others are provided on a "freemium" basis, meaning part is free and part must be purchased. However, the good news is that most online education resources are currently free because schools are closed and distance learning is a must. Math resources, because they can be particularly labor intensive to produce, may be costly to purchase. But a great starting point is the Khan Academy.
For literacy resources—reading ability, comprehension, and language skills—there are many free and easy-to-use options that provide individualized and self-paced learning. For test-oriented reading skills, I suggest readtheory.org. This site also allows for written responses. Another great reading resource, especially for children in early grades, is readworks.com. For additional practice in nonfiction reading, I favor the newsela.com. Another great all-around reading site is commonlit.org. Finally, for practice with writing, try noredink.com. For students who may wish to explore creative writing, one of the best sites, in my opinion, is NaNoWriMo.
There are also education resources to coach adults left with the task of becoming a teacher. One might begin by investigating the state department of education instructional website. But the best approach is a teacher-student consultation to gain a good understanding of the direction in which the students were headed academically before schools were closed. This understanding is especially important in science, social studies, history, and civics. But, again, resources really should be based on the specific unit of instruction the student is currently working on. With a Google account, anyone can take advantage of the Google Cultural Institute, which allows for virtual trips to many of the museums of the world. Additionally, there are many online science resources to be Googled. Check out the Exploratorium.
Finally, but importantly, the most valuable lesson parents/guardians can teach is how to be calm and collected during all periods of uncertainty. For that, I suggest the books and articles of Hal Runkel, author of my favorite book titled Scream Free Parenting. You can sign up for Runkel’s weekly emails to gain insight into how parent self-care can be the most important part of maintaining a sane home while still trying to keep academic skills moving forward in a positive direction.
Carl C. Bache, MAT