In these trying times, online learning resources seems to be all anyone in education can talk about. There have been more seminars, listicles, and free trials than I can count coming into my inbox daily. It’s hard to sort out what has or has not already been said, but I will try to share some ideas that have helped me through this transition.
Educator and Student Mental Health
The psychological effects on educators and students have not been discussed enough. Eliminating access to school can put many students in potentially stressful spaces. Teachers are being asked to teach remotely with virtually no training and limited resources. Mental health has never been more important.
There are lots of online therapy apps that can be helpful for teachers and students who need access to mental health services. However, what I’ve found most helpful during this time for both myself and my students is re-centering/meditation. My favorite apps for this practice are Calm and Insight Timer. Both have free and paid options, as well as beginner and advanced options. Calm is “the world’s happiest app” allowing users to practice breathing, meditation, and sleep assistance. Insight timer has the “largest free library of guided meditation” and has a complete section just for teachers! It is so important to practice any strategies that can help reduce stress during this unprecedented time. As my work-wife always reminds me, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” Fill up your cups, educators!
Essential STEM Online Tools
I know I’ve written about technology in the past, but there are some essential pieces of online tech that can be vital to not only teaching but to student comprehension during this time. Here are a few of my favorites:
If you are a GSuite school, you can schedule virtual meetings with your students easily using Meet. Once you’ve added your meet account, all you have to do is schedule an event in Google Calendar and click “add conferencing.” This creates a link to a video conference at the time of that event. That link can be used again by copying and pasting into your next calendar event in the conferencing section. I prefer this to Zoom because of its simplicity, but it lacks the functionality features like breakout rooms and recording sessions. If you’re looking for that, Zoom may still be your best bet. If you do not have GSuite, Google Hangouts and Duo function similarly to Google Meet.
I’ve talked about these awesome simulations before, but I’ve been using PhET Simulations more than ever during online learning. They’ve added an online learning FAQ section that is great for beginners. They even have a button that can link the simulation to Google Classroom directly from their site. I’m teaching introduction to circuitry, and wouldn’t manage without the PhET Circuit Construction Kit. It’s the next best thing to my students actually building circuits with real materials and gives my students access to learning no matter where they live.
Khan Academy Courses
This site has come a long way in the past decade and can’t be beat in terms of ease for educators. This is especially true when it comes to AP and other test prep courses. I needed my students to complete one more section of the AP Physics curriculum before my school closed. I was able to link it to my Google Classroom, assign the entire College Board aligned section, and have the students start learning in about 15 minutes. Most of them were familiar with the site already, so it was an incredibly smooth transition remotely. I’m able to easily track their progress along the way. Students can rewatch videos, re-submit progress quizzes, and get helpful tips along the way. It was a lifesaver.
As we all settle in to this new normal. I want to remind all educators of something I was recently told. “You are not working from home. You are at home during a pandemic and trying to work.” Keep that in mind, give yourself and your students much needed breaks, and remember, you’ve got this!
To find more resources for online learning, at-home activities, and resources, check out this collection of blogs.