Parents worldwide have unexpectedly become educators as, one after another, state leaders announced school closures in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Daily schedules are circulating on social media and people are sharing free resources, ranging from purely academic to fun and reassuring, in a decidedly uncertain time. Many experts urge teachers not to stress if they haven’t scheduled 6 daily hours of learning for their students–children are already likely stressed from an unexpected school break, so balancing academic time with fun time is perfectly fine.

“When it comes to remote teaching, start with reassurances to students. Our goal is not to create a fully-featured, 6 hrs/day online learning experience for all students. The goal is to prevent students from losing any ground while school is out and work on fluency or automaticity for what they’ve already learned. Start with reading, then add some writing and math,” says Hilary Scharton, VP of K-12 Strategy for Canvas. “Kids can do lots of age-appropriate science ‘experiments’ at home just cooking with mom or dad. Next steps could be replicating what happens in your face-to-face class online. There are lots of free tools that will let you upload a PDF so your students can annotate on a worksheet. You could do a video call with a conferencing app. Send your students links to newspapers or content sites. If you’re already using different apps in your classroom, use them more.”

Related content: A teacher’s 7 tips for learning during the coronavirus outbreak

Edtech partners and service providers have stepped up to support teachers and administrators who are suddenly tasked with becoming online educators. Following is just a small sample of the rapidly-increasing free resources available to teachers and parents. We plan to create a number of resource lists to help our readers maintain a bit of routine and normalcy for students, so check back often for new content.

1. Your school or district website. With little to no warning, teachers and administrators across the nation (and the globe) scrambled to move lessons and learning resources online. Many districts tried to get devices and/or wi-fi hotspots to students for extended breaks. School or district websites offer learning materials, links to teacher webpages, assignments, and information on resources such as district TV stations.

2. Adventure2Learning is offering free access to its digital learning content and resources to students and families affected by school closures due to the coronavirus. Those needing immediate access can use the code LEARN60 at checkout with the Monthly Access Plan. Videos cover core subjects and also give students the chance to get up and move with stretching, yoga, and dance. Videos on SEL and mindfulness may be useful as parents address children’s anxiety or worry over sudden school closures and the virus itself.

3. Children’s authors are offering live stories and live sessions online. Mo Willems, of the beloved “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus,” is hosting a daily lunchtime doodle session where he invites kids to draw along with him. Kids are welcome to send him questions, which he’ll try to answer during the doodle sessions. Sessions begin at 1 p.m. ET each day and then remain online for streaming.

4. It’s a great time to get kids reading more, and Epic! is offering free Remote Student Access for families through the end of the school year (June 30, 2020). Families only need an invitation from their teacher to get started. Students will have anywhere, anytime access to the full Epic library on all devices (including web browsers, the iOS app and the Android app), and teachers can stay connected to their students by assigning books and collections and tracking reading activity and progress. Remote Student Access is only available by invitation from an educator. While individual families are not eligible for this offer if a child’s teacher is not using Epic, Epic is always free to educators and educators can sign up for a free account.

5. Canvas, from Instructure, has collected a number of resources to help educators prepare for school closures and stay in touch with students. It also has curated resources for instructors, students, parents, and administrators.

10 things to help students during the COVID-19 outbreak

6. STEM Sports is offering five free STEM lessons involving sports to students in grades 3 through 8 to continue their education at home. The lessons use basketball, football, soccer and volleyball to teach students science, technology, engineering and math principles while encouraging and engaging children in physical activity.

7. Promethean’s cloud-based lesson planning and delivery software, ClassFlow, is freely available to schools, teachers, and parents to drive remote learning amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Through ClassFlow, users can access a huge range of K-12 educational resources across subject matters and share lesson content with students that are working from home or other remote locations. Students will have the chance to complete tasks and work with teachers through the cloud to ensure that learning continues during the closure.

8. Modern Teacher is offering a full set of resources to help teachers prepare to provide effective, rigorous and engaging online instruction. The resources will include daily webinars on best practices and challenges to anticipate; free organizational tools; digital e-learning activities that leverage free content; and collaboration and engagement strategies for students in an online environment.

9. Krisp, a company that mutes background noise while users are on audio or video calls, streamlines remote learning for teachers and their pupils. Krisp blocks screaming siblings and roommates, barking dogs, traffic noise, and anything else that is not the user, allowing people to focus on their lessons and be more engaged. As communities work together to combat the spread of the virus, Krisp recently decided to offer all students, teachers, hospitals and government workers unlimited Krisp for free for the next six months.

10. Winsor Learning, provider of science-based reading instruction for students, will make a variety of its services and products available free of charge to parents, teachers, and schools as districts and states across the U.S. grapple with the challenge of keeping education progress on track with schools closed.

Laura Ascione
About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura


Add your opinion to the discussion.