School’s out, summer’s here, and most of us still need to stay home because of stay-at-home directives in our local areas. In most cases, this isn’t too much of a challenge since a large yard or a nearby park can offer space for getting the wiggles out. But, for the learners that also want to keep their minds sharp (or for the parents that want this for their kids), there are free online learning resources for every type of learner at any age. Below are 25 online resources that might spark your learners’ interests. So, grab a bowl of ice cream and check these sites out.
Here it is – summertime – which means school’s out and there is A LOT of time to fill. You’ve probably spent more than a few hours looking online for things all of your young ones can do, from toddler to teen. I’ve also done my research and found some fun activities that combine inside and outside, adaptable for all ages and group sizes. Explore and enjoy!
Topics: summer activities
It seems that in just a few months, anyone interested in or having to do with education is trying to understand the differences between distance learning, online learning, blended learning, flipped learning, virtual learning…you get the idea. Many of these terms have been used interchangeably with similar descriptions, but there are differences. For example, what’s the difference between a virtual learning environment and a virtual classroom? Then, once a difference has been identified…so what?
Our children are experiencing a time in history that’s unique to us all. They have had limited connection with their teachers, classmates, and friends. They are seeing and hearing events on the news and in social media that can cause feelings of anxiety and fear. They might not be able to handle or process the emotions that are bubbling up. With more and more time spent on devices, our children – regardless of age – struggle with skills such as cooperation, conflict resolution, managing thoughts, and problem solving. Because of this, fostering social-emotional skills has been a focus in education since at least the 1990s.
I know I’m not alone when I envisioned a future in robotics as Rosie the robot maid on The Jetsons wheeling around dusting my furniture. When I began to see the trends in education to include more robotics and coding, I thought, “Yes! I can have my own Rosie or R2D2!” But that is a simplified vision of what robotics learning, and other advanced tech such as 3D printers, can offer. Educators who were already incorporating robotics and 3D printing could see the benefit these innovations had on their students’ learning – increased engagement, improved critical thinking skills, and enhanced conversation and collaboration in the classroom.
When I was teaching, I really looked forward to parent conferences. Each of my students had a folder filled with assessments, writing samples, and other pertinent evidence of learning growth (or needs for improvement). Students facilitated their conferences, talking about what was in their folders, and gaining a sense of accountability and ownership of their learning. Afterwards, I’d talk with the parent(s), grandparent(s), or guardian and inevitably get to know about other family, their work, and family plans. Parent conferences gave me a sense of deeper connection to my students through their families. That connection would start a bit at Back to School Night, but a one-on-one, sit down convo was much better than the 30-minute “this is who I am and what I expect” show and mingle in the second week of school.
Once upon a time, in a land not too far away (Los Angeles, CA), I once engaged in, planned and facilitated, and tried to stay awake through quite a few professional development sessions. Most were mandated and scheduled right before school started in the hopes that something would transform our practice so much that 100% of our students mastered all learning objectives in 180 instructional days. After a few weeks of school, many of us were overwhelmed and discouraged that all of those awesome strategies and techniques didn’t work with every situation, every subject, or every student. I do not envy district and school administrators tasked with the responsibility of selecting and organizing PD each year.
Do you remember the first time you made a paper airplane? Who taught you to fold one? Did your plane fly? I think I was about 6 years old and my uncle visiting from the Philippines showed me how to fold one using one of my homework sheets. I was fascinated as I watched him make the folds, ensuring that each fold was precise, explaining each step. Then he took the newly built paper airplane, lifted his arm, and – whoooosh!-- it flew across my living room. It worked!! This was my first exposure to science and engineering, and it was one I often repeated throughout my elementary school years – design, construction, and test flights to identify the “perfect” paper plane. I was doing STEM before STEM was part of our educational vocabulary! Well, today is National Paper Airplane Day and this is the perfect time to explore the different areas of STEM with one activity.
Today, you’re facilitating your weekly online lesson and the focus is transition words. As usual, your ‘regulars’ are doing what they do best – answering questions, participating in discussion, and sharing examples. Your quieter ones are sending you chat messages when they have questions or are confused. Who you’re not hearing much from are your English Language Learners, or ELLs. They are on camera, smiling through the lessons, even raising a ‘thumbs up’ when you ask the class if everyone understands. But you’re having doubts about how well they are comprehending. You can’t easily stand next to their desks and check work. Your aide isn’t there to do a double-check or ask a question in the native language to ensure understanding. What can you do to help your ELLs in a virtual classroom?
Assessment isn’t a new idea or one limited to teaching. We assess daily – What is it that I like about this TV show and should I watch it again? What criteria will I look for in my next sofa purchase? What is my diet goal and how will I check my progress in meeting that goal? Learners of all ages are regularly assessing things like clothes, games, movies, even social media platforms according to a set of criteria.