5 Teaching Resources That Are Perfect for Classrooms
Teaching in a digital world was difficult before COVID-19, but the pandemic sent our reliance on digital materials into overdrive. Now that most of us have reintegrated back into the classroom, we're facing a new challenge-hybrid learning.
Many teachers are breathing a sigh of relief as they get back to more traditional teaching methods, but creating a balance of traditional and digital strategies is the best way to keep students engaged, teach course material, and prepare kids for an ever-increasingly digital world.
If you're searching for authentic, effective, and simple ways to create a hybrid or blended learning environment, you have come to the right place! Here are five of our favorite hybrid learning resources for teaching in the wake of COVID-19.
Even if you haven't heard of Edutopia, you have most likely heard of its founder. The George Lucas Educational Foundation and Edutopia were started by none other than the man who wrote and directed the original Star Wars movies. This foundation is dedicated to helping students thrive in their studies, careers, and adult lives by finding ways to transform K-12 education so all students can gain the necessary knowledge, attitudes, and skills to thrive. In an ever-increasing digital world, that means setting teachers up with both traditional and digital learning materials.
Browsing the website is a good place to start, but Edutopia also has a dedicated resource for blended learning strategies. This resource is different than your run-of-the-mill list of online games. Instead, it focuses on case studies and research from actual educators. For example, in one case study, Kristin Weller outlines how she puts a single iPad to work in her classroom, giving all of her students the opportunity to teach and learn by creating podcasts.
Don't worry! There are more traditional resources too, like this page that lists 13 virtual games you can play in your elementary classroom. You'll find fun ideas for playing familiar games, like Connect Four and Checkers using Google Slides, as well as viral video games, like Among Us, which is a kid-friendly murder mystery that can be used to get students comfortable with face-to-face interactions over Zoom.
It's not easy to create hybrid lesson plans, especially when there are so many standards to take into account. As an educator, you no longer have to source articles and create questions on your own, and you also don't have to spend hours scouring the web for a set of materials that will work in your classroom. Newsela strives to make it a lot easier by choosing content for you that is accompanied by writing prompts and questions that all align with common core standards.
There are a lot of features that make Newsela stand out. Not only do they post educational content on a variety of subjects from all over the web, but they also post the content at five different reading levels, so your students are never stuck reading a timely article that is too easy or too hard.
A variety of activities are available for every article to support learning according to common core standards, and teachers have access to data that includes the time students spend reading each article, how well they did on the quiz, and if they left or responded to any annotations as they were reading. These are great features, but perhaps most importantly for your students, the articles that you can choose are actually interesting! From animals that are granted personhood to articles about the current state of politics and entertainment that includes articles about Beyoncé, your students will actually want to read what you assign!
This is a paid subscription service, but some of the content is available for free when you sign up. In addition, this service can be purchased with federal funds from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), making it more accessible to classrooms, schools, and districts that want to put high-quality, relevant content in the hands of their students.
It's important to have a multitude of different kinds of resources at your disposal, but sometimes, teachers just need a massive list of games to play in the classroom. This can be harder to find than it sounds! Most online lists aren't updated, which means you have to continue looking for new lists of games to try. In addition, many lists focus on highly educational games, which is good-but what if you want to play a silly game with your students as an icebreaker?
Baamboozle has you covered! This massive database includes over 750,000 games made by real teachers that you can play in your classroom, whether you're gathered in person or looking for games to play over Zoom. Plus, it was named one of the best websites for teaching and learning in 2017 by the American Association of School Librarians, so you know it must be good!
From providing scavenger hunts that kids can do at home to naming silly hybrid animals and learning holiday vocabulary words, you'll find an endless array of options that require zero preparation ahead of time. Plus, you can create and upload your own games to share with other teachers!
Simply sign up for a free account to get started. There is a "Plus" membership option that enables you to get rid of ads, but it also comes with other perks, like access to private games, the ability to edit existing games for your classroom, and more.
If you're an educator, chances are you have heard of the National Education Agency (NEA). It is an organization that is made up of 9,000 elected delegates who debate issues, set NEA policy, and assemble resources that benefit more than 14,000 communities and 3 million educators all across the United States. The purpose is to champion justice and excellence in public education, so you know they are going to have some great resources for teachers when it comes to hybrid learning environments.
The NEA's blended learning page focuses more on resources for teachers that ensure hybrid learning opportunities are fair, equitable, and safe. The kinds of resources you'll find on their website include the following:
#1 - Health and safety resources include guidance on addressing student needs during a pandemic, safety information on continuing meal service during school closures, and more.
#2 - Communication resources include a check-in survey that can be used by parents and students, as well as a cheat sheet so that families have all the essential information about tech in the classroom at their fingertips.
#3 - Equity resources help teachers tackle the digital needs of underserved families, provide information on Universal Design for Learning, and more.
#4 - Community resources include information on holding virtual back-to-school nights and how to build a nurturing, safe, and connected online learning community.
#5 - Technology resources include apps and websites for learning, resources on cyberbullying, and how to issue digital devices to students for use at home.
Of course, we had to include edHelper!
EdHelper is an extensive online resource for educators in the subjects of math, reading, language arts, spelling, and more. Its database of resources includes thousands of printable worksheet pages, workbooks, activities, and games for students in pre-K through high school and is organized by grade and subject so teachers can easily access materials that are relevant to the course materials that are currently being taught in their classes.
In addition to pre-made worksheets, edHelper resources also have a Make Your Own feature that enables educators to create spelling workbooks from weekly spelling lists that are actually being used in the classroom, as well as custom puzzle books in a variety of subjects. Downloadable math activities are further supported by the edHelper Let's Play School app that enables students to practice targeted math skills using technology, with player data being uploaded onto a single portal where teachers can access scores for each student.
edHelper offers a more immersive experience for students in the classroom and at home because math worksheets can be paired with the Let's Play School app. Students learn new concepts from their teacher in class, they practice what they have learned by completing engaging workbook pages, and they put what they have been practicing to the test by playing math games online. This makes for a more comprehensive approach to teaching, and because you can track student scores and activity on the app, you can assess which students need more practice and which students are ready to move on to the next concept.
Teaching in a hybrid classroom is a challenge, but figuring out how to do it effectively in your classroom can have huge benefits for your students. Whether you're struggling to find worksheets the kids actually want to do, you want to make sure you use technology equitably, or you're looking for a database of online activities, these resources will help hybrid learning come alive in your traditional or virtual classroom.