Pitsco Education is offering five STEM/STEAM activities perfect for K-5 learning at home. Using a few readily available household items and some creativity your students can learn while making 5 projects.
For older students, Pitsco Education has made its SySTEM Alert! publication available which includes STEM fast facts, trends, related topics, and much more. A quiz and answer key is available for each as well.
For more information and many more resources visit Pitsco Education’s STEM @ Home website.
As districts have moved to distance learning amid fears of the spread of COVID-19, it has been a learning experience for all — even in schools like ours that have had a 1:1 computer initiative for years.
Jersey Community High School is located in a small rural district in southwest Illinois, about 45 miles from St. Louis. We’re the only high school in the county and serve about 1,000 students in grades 8-12. When we launched a 1:1 initiative with Chromebooks several years ago, students quickly embraced the daily use of computers and educational technology.
Related content: How this district moved online with a moment’s notice
Now, as we complete our third week of remote learning, I have seen this experience bring both challenges and opportunities. Here are a few strategies we have implemented to make the shift to distance learning, along with a few lessons learned along the way.
Determine who has access to technology and plan accordingly.
In our district, we found out on a Friday that our schools would shut down the following Tuesday, which meant we had the weekend to prepare. More importantly, we had that Monday with students so we could gather information from them and tell them what to expect in the coming weeks. Having that one day with them was incredibly helpful.
Be your own boss–an enticing dream that is achievable with honed business know-how. It’s a career journey that can actually start in school through programs that prepare learners for future entrepreneurship in a continually evolving workforce.
In the edWebinar “A Shark Tank State of Mind: Empowering an Entrepreneurial Mindset,” educators shared strategies for developing the capabilities and mindset students should embrace to become entrepreneurs.
Shaping and promoting entrepreneurship
A steadily changing job landscape is expanding the entrepreneurial pool, presenting unique career options for young people, noted Erica Hart, an EVERFI Community Engagement Manager. Learning business basics, management psychology, and entrepreneurial principles equips them with evergreen business competencies.
There are a host of tools and strategies that teachers can use to do this work. EVERFI’s web-based Venture Entrepreneurial Expedition is a good starting point. It teaches students how to build start-up capital, generate business ideas, conduct market research, pitch a product or service, and finance, market, and grow a business.
When everyone in our district received the message that school would be closing, many people’s first reaction was to think we simply had a long spring break. But not us educators – teachers across our district immediately got to work, learning new technologies and adjusting curriculum for our new reality: distance learning.
At the end of the day, we know it’s about the students and their learning comes first – no matter the shape or form it may take.
Related content: Bringing calm to distance learning during a pandemic
While these are certainly unprecedented times and there is no one-size fits all approach to distance learning, I’d like to share my tips for educators and districts when delivering distance learning:
Meet faculty and students where they are
Our district is approaching distance learning technology with educators the same way we look at ensuring students are prepared – the content needs to be relevant for students, and the same is said for our adult learners.
As educators, we often hear about the importance of teaching critical thinking skills to our students. What we hear about less, however, are the most effective techniques for teaching those skills and how teachers can implement them in the classroom—especially now that schools are forced to provide virtual instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Laurel Springs School, an online K-12 education provider, we have mastered the art of teaching in an online classroom. With a competency-based model and asynchronous instruction, students at Laurel Springs must be able to think critically about their lessons and assignments, and the demonstration of concept and skill mastery is crucial to their success at our school.
Related content: 8 learning apps for students with special needs
In an online academic environment, the focus on critical thinking skills is amplified. Our learning model fosters independence and self-advocacy with applications in all areas of a student’s life. The earlier students develop these skills, the more well-equipped they are to grow as learners, expanding their knowledge base and making connections both across core content areas and in the world around them.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the turn to emergency remote learning pose numerous issues with respect to the health and well-being of students.
Research suggests that prolonged isolation and environmental stress factors could lead to significantly heightened depression and physiological problems.
Related content: In a time of crisis, a reading tournament scores big
These risks, nevertheless, can be mitigated through shared experiences and the maintenance of interpersonal communication. As it relates to children, through the integration of collaborative assignments as part of a pandemic pedagogy, schools can play an important role in supporting student resilience.
In this vein, as a high school social studies educator, I have devised strategies to ensure that collaboration is incorporated into the classroom with an emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving, and inquiry.
Collaborative song writing and art
At the end of a unit on environmental issues in my freshman Global Studies course, students are typically tasked with writing and performing rap lyrics from the vantage point of teenagers from the future (e.g. 2100) suffering from the effects of climate change and communicating their feelings in a letter to previous generations.
As a teacher, team building is something that comes naturally. We do it to break the ice at the beginning of the year, to build a community in our classroom, and as a brain break when our kids (or the teachers) need a break.
Now that we are all learning and teaching from home, building a community and connecting with our kids is a little harder with distance learning factored in.
Related content: Student mental health goes virtual during a pandemic
Here are 10 excellent team-building strategies to keep the kids engaged and having fun all while learning a little more about their classmates and building a better community.
1. Name Game: Every member of the group chooses an adjective that starts with the same letter as the first letter of their first name. They put that adjective in front of their first name, and they have their new name. So for example: Joyful Jill. For an added challenge, you can see if people can remember everyone’s names throughout the conversation.
Zoobean’s new Beanstack Distance Learning Reading Challenge, sponsored by Lerner Publishing Group, promotes independent student reading through the use of best-in-class digital learning resources with free access to the Lerner™ Sports Database, featuring athlete biographies using digital literacy tools that correlate with curriculum standards.
Zoobean and Lerner invite all interested school districts to participate, even if they are not current customers of either organization; free product licenses will be provided for those that need them. In addition, Lerner pledges to donate new books to the winning institutions upon completion of the challenge.
For the past 20 years, I’ve been fortunate to help students with special needs receive the high-quality education they deserve. During this time, I’ve guided them and their families as they navigate the common misconception that online learning can’t work for them. It can and it has.
But for those who are new to the online learning environment, making the switch during such a tumultuous time in our nation can be overwhelming to say the least.
Related content: COVID-19’s impact on academic gains
While the online classroom isn’t for everyone, the vast majority of the families I serve are happy with the supportive state-licensed teachers, interactive and engaging classes, and flexibility that online school offers them.
As more and more traditional brick-and-mortar schools turn to online learning amid the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve received an increasing number of inquiries about how online school serves students of varying abilities.