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Online teaching and learning: What you can do right now with what you have

Updated: Apr 26, 2020

I am also including a list of free resources that I will continue to update, so please check back in for updates


  • I've heard from teachers that all of NoRedInk is available.

  • There are also many free resources from Scholastic.

  • Achieve3000 is also offering a free version for districts that do not already use the program. There are also additional services for those that already do.

  • I'm also sharing a link for a YouTube video on how to use Google slides as hyperdocs for more development lessons.

I’ll be honest – engagement can be a challenge when they are right in front of you, but it is definitely a challenge online. In the few months I taught English to students in Asia, I learned that you have to change your entire approach. So in planning online lessons for your students during this time of social distancing, take a step back and reflect before you jump into assignments.

Here are some things I would consider while planning:

Create a few big, broad learning intentions

This is the time to really think big picture. What do you want your students to learn in the weeks ahead? What is actually doable? What is reasonable? Do you want them to read independently every day? Do you want them to write about experiences? Support opinions?

Action step: Define your learning intentions.

Create lessons that are relevant and meaningful

This is a weird time, especially for young people. They will be away from their friends, their sports are canceled, and there is likely a lot of disappointment and fear. Harness that for your lessons.

A few ideas:

  • Daily journal about their experiences – how do you feel? What will you remember about this time? What stands out to you?

  • Expository - Share a photo you have taken that represents what you are doing while school is canceled. What does that photo represent? Explain its meaning.

  • Expository - Explain what social distancing means to you and your family.

  • Argumentative/persuasive - Do you agree with the decisions in your community? Why or why not?

  • Cross genre/making connections – What have you read/watched that connects to what is happening right now? Elaborate on the connections you see.

  • Reliable and credible sources – find social media posts for discussion or have them find some.

Consider presenting your students with some sort of stimulus for the day:

  • Video

  • Quote

  • Short piece of reading (remember, they are likely going it alone, so make it accessible)

  • Picture or image

Video conferencing

You can also take this opportunity to use a platform such as Google Hangouts to meet one-on-one with students. Zoom has also made their services free for educators.

Action step: Decide what would be most relevant for your students


  • Google Classroom – If you are a Google Apps for Education district, you have the online platform already. Think about exploring parts of the platform you don’t know to engage your class even more. As I mentioned, think about using Google Hangouts to communicate with students or encourage students to use it to collaborate.

  • – This is a free, open-source platform for courses. There is a demo you can check out to see if this would work for you and your students.

Action step – Decide what platform you would like to use and get to know it a little better


Consider getting in contact with your librarian to review what you already have available. There may be resources you have forgotten about or didn’t realize you could use. I’ve also started a list of free resources, many of which I have seen others post about on social media. If I am missing any, please let me know, so I can add it. You can email me at

Most of all, realize this is a stressful time for everyone. Be there for your students and understand everyone will handle the situation differently. Many older students will have to take care of younger siblings. Think about this when you consider your expectations and when you assign something. Most of all, don't be hard on yourself. Do the best you can and take care of yourself. Keep things in perspective. We can all do this together. Feel free to email me if you have questions!

Free resources

The site is offering access to their entire product suite.

While you still have to pay for premium, the basic resources remain free to use.

There are free books online. Suggest these to students for independent reading.

Other resources (students will need a subscription, but likely has one)


Think about educational programs you can have students stream. There is a list of options at

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