The Second Line Blog

Here’s How We Can Keep This Crisis From Digging Even Wider Educational Divides

I am a former school leader and a current educational strategist who works with charter leaders from all across New Orleans. Together, we have been thinking about the intersection of educational inequity and the disparate impact of COVID-19. With so much instability in our children’s educational experience, we know that high-quality curriculum matters more than ever before. We are considering what to do now to support our children, as well as what comes next. 

WE WILL STILL FACE THE REVERBERATING IMPACTS THAT ARE COMING FROM THIS CRISIS, ESPECIALLY IN OUR MINORITY COMMUNITIES.

Scientists continue to work on ways to stop this pandemic—and when they finally do, we will turn the page and look to the future. It’s hard to believe now, but folks will get back to work, restart the economy, and begin to see past this horrifying time in our nation’s history. When we rush back to our lives, however, we will still face the reverberating impacts that are coming from this crisis, especially in our minority communities.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley said it best in a recent tweet—“Our Black and brown communities face a crisis within a crisis.” In Louisiana, for instance, while Black residents make up around 30% of the state’s population, as of April 20, 56% of Louisianans who have died from COVID-19 have been Black. 

That inequity is not only found in the toll of the virus itself. We will also see an impact on those people of color who faced insecurity in jobs, food or housing even before this moment. And we will see an impact in our education system, too. In Louisiana, as in many states, school buildings will be closed through the end of the school year; the learning loss that normally occurs during the summer is now a real risk even before summer begins. The cost of a slow rollout of distance learning could be significant, and take the greatest toll on children of color. 

MANY CHILDREN LACKED THE TECHNOLOGY NEEDED TO CONNECT.

When the virus hit, schools and districts with mostly White and affluent students could have the confidence that most of their students would be able to fully engage with online distance learning right away. For districts like New Orleans, with mostly students of color and students who are economically disadvantaged, quick efforts to roll out online distance learning faced a significant barrier: Many children lacked the technology needed to connect.

TAKING ACTION TO KEEP KIDS CONNECTED AND LEARNING

Our district leadership took immediate action to purchase the materials those students needed, but it takes time to procure, safeguard and distribute technology citywide. Many of our students were—and are—also dealing with housing and food insecurity that makes it more difficult to launch and maintain an at-home learning environment. 

DISTRICTS THAT SERVE MOSTLY STUDENTS OF COLOR, AND THOSE WITH HIGH RATES OF ECONOMICALLY DISADVANTAGED STUDENTS, WILL FACE A STEEPER CLIMB THAN OTHERS WHEN IT COMES TO DISTANCE LEARNING.

This is not unique to New Orleans. Across our nation, districts that serve mostly students of color, and those with high rates of economically disadvantaged students, will face a steeper climb than others when it comes to distance learning. But by having a strong, clear distance learning plan, we can make sure closed buildings do not mean closed schools and drastic educational losses.   

This means connecting students with technology, if at all possible. It also means continuous engagement with students and families, through the phone, the internet, or both. And it remains as important as ever to provide a high-quality, standards-aligned curriculum. We cannot fully control that students may take in less material than usual right now. We can control whether or not that material is the highest quality it can be. 

Many Tier-1 curriculum vendors are providing updated materials for a distance learning context online. Schools can take advantage of this, lowering the lift of translating existing materials for a new kind of delivery. Schools can also continue to provide their teachers with (virtual) professional development around their Tier-1 curriculum, so they can better adjust to this “new normal.”

ACADEMICS ARE ONLY ONE PART OF THE RESPONSE

Academics are just one part of this, though. A strong distance learning plan also takes students’ basic needs and mental health into account. During this pandemic, Black and Brown children will lose loved ones at a disproportionate rate compared to their White peers; this will take a deep emotional toll. An incredibly high number of New Orleans’ children had already experienced trauma prior to this event, and this horrible crisis could cause those numbers to increase.  

RESOURCES FOR PHYSICAL HEALTH CARE, FOOD, SHELTER, AND MORE REMAIN CRITICAL

It is imperative, then, that our distance learning plans involve connecting mental health experts, like social workers, to provide support to students, families, and school staff members who have been heavily impacted by this crisis. Resources for physical health care, food, shelter, and more remain critical as well. We can leverage external partnerships to help do so—they are more important than ever. Making certain that students receive vital supports is key to the strength of our community and the growth and health of our students.  

WE CAN REIMAGINE WHAT SCHOOL LOOKS LIKE

We must maintain our focus on the present moment and through the close of the school year. But we must also look even further ahead. There is much we will learn from this crisis—from how to support students experiencing trauma, to how to connect children to local resources, to how to best leverage technology. We can take what we have learned to reimagine what school will look like in the next two, five, or even fifteen years. We can also join in conversations with our families, community members, fellow educators and students themselves about what we will need from federal, state, and local officials as we re-open schools.   

Together, we can keep this crisis from digging even wider educational divides. Our children of color already face great inequities. If we focus on distance learning and whole-child support, and keep an eye on the future, we can help keep them safe and learning today and expand their opportunities tomorrow.  

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This article was first posted on educationpost.org

The FCC and Trump Administration Are Sacrificing Student Learning for Corporate Profit

Once again, the FCC and the Trump administration are sacrificing underserved children on the altar of corporate profits. If there was any question who the FCC works for it was answered this week with another timid and industry-favoring response to the pandemic.

Yesterday, with ample self-promoted fanfare and self-congratulations, the FCC pulled in their pal Betsy DeVos from the Department of Education to tout their latest puff of smoke, in a press release titled, “FCC and U.S. Department of Education Promote Remote Education So Students Can Continue Learning.”

At first, you might think this is a good thing. After all, everyone agrees that right now every child needs internet access, otherwise they cannot attend school. And just because a child was born to a parent with an old debt should not lock them out of the virtual schoolhouse. That’s why thousands of parents, educators and activists have been imploring the FCC to force cable companies and broadband providers to put the pandemic and the country ahead of their own profits. But the FCC won’t do it. 

Instead, the FCC used yesterday’s press release to throw up a smokescreen, and not actually solve this problem—a problem it could fix with one stroke of a pen.

What a joke. And by the way that joke is on you, as a taxpayer. But it weighs most heavily on the 12 million students in the U.S. without reliable access to internet. 

First of all, the press release literally has nothing new to offer. It’s essentially a summary of the money already allocated for education in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was enacted more than a month ago. And by the way, that $16 billion is not nearly enough to deal with the sudden and unimaginable body blow the entire education sector has been dealt.

Worse, the FCC is basically saying that the way they’re going to “help” is by telling states and schools to deal with the problem themselves. Insult, meet injury.

I reached out to an expert who has worked for over a decade with the FCC’s E-Rate program, which is intended to make internet more affordable for schools and libraries. Here is how he described the “news” from DeVos and the FCC: “It’s still wholly incomplete. Block grants and optional choices still doesn’t include fucking internet.”

If you want to bore yourself with the details you can check out what they are promising. But the bottom line is that kids don’t need some block grants, with no promise they get connected, or some optional choices, publicity efforts, or partnerships with internet companies, who may offer you grace or they may not. 

And that’s the rub. We don’t need a program that relies on the kindness of internet companies or states. The FCC needs to guarantee an individual right for every low-income child to internet that allows them to fully participate in school. At a minimum they need to state this as the goal and use the pressure of their federal regulatory authority to hold the feet of these profit-driven, broadband goliaths to the fire. 

The FCC and particularly its chairman Ajit Pai could do this, and the fact they don’t says a lot about who they serve and who they don’t.

Don’t be bamboozled, the current “news” from the FCC will have all our underserved families right back where they are now, in 6 months, probably less. Sitting outside the virtual schoolhouse door, relegated to a second-class internet, or begging for kindness from fickle and greedy cable companies, who hold the key to the schoolhouse door.Our babies deserve better. Please sign and share the petition, and join Arne DuncanJeb Bush and nearly 15,000 others who believe that internet should be a right for low-income children, and that the FCC should demand that any internet company that wants to use the nation’s airwaves provide free service with no strings attached for the most vulnerable families.

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This article was first posted on citizen.education

A Shortlist for Schools and Parents on How to Survive COVID-19

As with any natural disaster, catastrophic event, or unforeseen change, the impact on marginalized communities and communities of color is multiplied due to centuries of subjugation and oppression which has led to lasting inequities in our society. This time with the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is, unfortunately, no different. 

If we take New Orleans as an example and look at the data that our Data Center provides, you can see that the hospitality and tourism industry is our number one industry. You can also see that the income disparities amongst folks that work in that industry are tied to race, with white people vastly outpacing people of color in income. Our hospitality industry is getting hit hard at this time, with several restaurants closing and therefore laying off their workforce, which in New Orleans means Black and Brown folks. 

What happens when our service industry workers of color have lost their jobs and are now balancing that stress on top of caring for children who would otherwise be in school with meals and technology provided for them? Unfortunately, we’re living in that reality right now. 

Several folks in the education and activism space have written pieces about how COVID-19 is illuminating disparities. Others have curated resources for parents and schools on how to make the most of this transition. 

 Digging through resources is a job on its own so below I’ve done some of the work for you and provided brief summaries of a few I’ve found helpful. 

For Schools:

Covid 19 Response Strategy-Mini Equity Audit: Beloved Community’s free webinar assists organizations and schools in assessing their Covid 19 response strategies to ensure their strategies are centering equity in their plans and decision-making, especially during moments of crisis and uncertainty.

Schoolrunner Webinar – Learning While Schools Are Closed: Resources for Distance Learning: Three New Orleans schools outline how they moved quickly to serve students and families in transitioning to virtual classrooms.

Equity Isn’t Just About Technology. It’s About Supporting Students and Families: Here’s what drew me into this interview piece: “Nearly 30 million low-income students rely on schools for breakfast or lunch, leaving schools scrambling to make new plans. Fourteen percent of households with school-age children do not have internet access, most of which earn less than $50,000 a year. And research indicates that students from low-income backgrounds could fall further behind their peers if learning stops too long and the country sinks into recession.”

For Parents:

Raising Race Conscious Children: This website has amazing resources for adults and parents seeking ways to talk about race and identity with youth. Now is a great time to lean into these conversations with your children, as Covid-19 is highlighting how identities impact experiences and disparities.

Supporting Families During COVID-19: A great place for daily videos and free resources for parents. Parents can even sign up for daily email tips for parenting through Covid 19.

Tips for handling work and kids during COVID-19 isolation: This article shares tips for how to explain the pandemic to your children, and how to create stability during this time.

Liberate Meditation App: This is the only meditation app by and for the Black and African Diaspora. They offer free guided meditations, organized by topic and how you’re feeling. Many are kid-friendly, too!

I urge you at this time to lean into empathy for your neighbors, youth and colleagues who are experiencing multiple intersections of oppression during this time. Lead with love and grace in this moment, and if you’re a leader of a school or organization, please continue to prioritize equity and inclusion in your policies and practices. Now is not the time to sweep those initiatives to the side in exchange for quick fixes and urgency. Be kind, practice gratitude, stay inside, and we’ll all get through this together.

Join a Conversation on Learning and #PostCovEd

While privileged parents and pundits have the luxury of debating whether to prioritize academic or social-emotional learning, those on the front lines of exposure to the virus and job loss have little mental energy left to ponder how to keep education on the radar for their children at all.

Nonetheless, some leaders are showing the way forward, whether by borrowing established best practices from the homeschool community, bringing personalized attention to each student into remote learning or helping parents support young learners with disabilities at home. Education visionaries, brightbeam and 4.0 Schools, are teaming up to open a conversation on these practices and shine a light on students and families who might otherwise be left behind.  

Join us on Thursday, April 23, at 5 p.m. Central Time, for our inaugural Zoom web chat, #PostCovEd: How the Pandemic Is Changing Schooling Now and for the Future. Our panelists include:

Scott Frauenheim, CEO, Distinctive Schools

LeeAndra Khan, CEO, Civitas Education Partners

Christina Laster,  Parent and Civil Rights Leader

Olivia Mulcahy,  Parent and Educational Consultant

Travis Pillow, Editorial Director, Center on Reinventing Public Education

TO REGISTER, CLICK HERE. SPACE IS LIMITED.

We invite you to start the conversation in advance, here on the blog. What are you doing to prepare your students, kids, family members, or your community for an extended period of remote learning? What should happen when students return to school?

Or, jumpstart the discussion on social media. Use the hashtag #PostCovEd on Twitter to share  your thoughts on what systems, teachers and parents can learn from adapting to extended school closures.

MEET OUR SPONSORS

Brightbeam is a nonprofit network of education activists demanding a better education and a brighter future for every child. Brightbeam serves as the umbrella organization for Education PostCitizen EducationProject Forever FreeChicago Unheard and more than 20 local digital platforms that spotlight education issues around the country. Learn more at brightbeamnetwork.org

4.0 is the largest and earliest first check investor in the next generation of education innovators. Through two fellowships, we invest coaching, community, curriculum, and cash in promising leaders to test tomorrow’s learning models with students and families in their local communities.  Today, our 1,000+ alumni have impacted the lives of over a million students nationwide. Learn more at 4pt0.org

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This article was first posted on chicagounheard.org

The Future of Education: How to Prepare for the Upcoming School Year

Last week our Louisiana government officials announced that the likelihood of students returning back to school this school year was unlikely. I immediately felt for the parents and teachers who are struggling through this time with school work from schools as well as the task of working from home. Though it is without a doubt the best choice made in order to keep us all safe, the realistic demands of what it looks like for children to be home for the next four months are tough. 

Here are a few tips for parents to help prepare you function a little bit better all while facing the realities of what is ahead this upcoming school year. 

Parents: 

  1. Creating a Schedule: I am almost sure that summer camp will not be an option so the first thing you want to get around to is creating a schedule. Children may not love school but they love structure. And this does not have to be such a rigid thing. Plan your days around when you can give them time to support their studies as well as your own work demands. Now this may mean you needing to wake up earlier to have a few hours of silence but trust me, it is worth it. You will not be able to run an operation just like school and you don’t have to try. Do the best you can with school demands and do not be afraid to say, “I need help” to your school provider. 
  2. Virtual Learning: This practice may become a part of your child’s life. If possible, when you can, please invest in a computer. Even if/when our students are able to go back to school, online assignments will still be given. 
  3. Prepare for Learning Gaps: There will be gaps in learning. Remember students are missing one on one instruction especially the little ones. Grades K-3 spend much time teaching the foundational skills that need to be taught in order for students to do more complex learning. During the summer, utilize the free resources to help support your child. I have some on my page. If you aren’t into looking online, do the basics. Reading, writing, multiplication facts. You can even add arts and crafts. The local dollar stores have small canvases and water paint. There are also puzzles. Kids like those. Even the big ones. 
  4. Parental Involvement: More parental involvement will be needed more than ever when school returns. Proper planning will be a must. As soon as the school calendar becomes available, you want to make arrangements to be present at all school events.  

Teachers: 

  1. Summer Professional Development: Please, please, please professionally develop yourselves to use technology as you continue on. If in the event, resources become available for students to have one to one computer access, you want to be prepared. You do have some time to accept the new normal, but not too much. There are some schools who are requesting teaching samples via Zoom. Learn to use technology to work with you and not against you. 
  2. Prepare for Learning Gaps: Just as parents should prepare for learning gaps remember they are headed your way to fix them in no time. Prepare for remediation. Create your scope and sequence for those gaps. Familiarize yourself with previous grade level standards for coherence and utilize the Louisiana Department of Education website for resources when planning. 
  3. Parental Involvement System: You have some time to get creative with this one. Think of times, events, opportunities for you to create an automatic system of parental involvement. Weave it into your plans for the year. 

That’s all for now my friends. If you need help with any of these parts, parents or teachers, I am here.

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This article was first posted on askmissheard.com

I Just Found Out Millions of Children Are Being Denied Access to an Education And I Helped Do Something About It

Much to my surprise, I recently learned that even though Internet providers have signed the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge, promising to provide internet to low-income families, there are still millions being rejected from these free internet offers. 

Why do you ask? 

Well, because they might have prior debts or have applied for service before all of this hit, and because our country has centuries-worth of history connected to ignoring those most in need, namely people of color and those who are categorized as low socioeconomic status (aka the poor). (If you need further proof, check out the 1619 Podcast which outlines how the enslavement of Africans in this country built the fabric and structures of these United States, which are designed to benefit very few of us.)

This pandemic continues to highlight deeply embedded inequities in our society that have previously been ignored by the general public and our leaders, and not having access to education is one of these inequities. 

Children being denied access to education is a civil rights issue, but what can you do about it? Sign this petition, as I did. 

If you’re ready to support you can visit this link to read more, share it with your friends, make a donation, and spread the word. As the writers of the petition state, “Millions of families across the country who are facing the most economic hardship are being rejected from these free internet offers. We all need to come together to bridge the digital divide, and corporations should not be allowed to block access to the schoolhouse door in pursuit of profit.”

Here’s 3 Ways Schools Leaders Can Address Equity During COVID-19 School Closures

In the hopes of stopping the spread of coronavirus, many schools around the nation are closing for the remainder of the school year. Many K-12 schools are focused on helping families navigate this new landscape by ensuring access to online instruction and that meals for vulnerable children continue. But what about commitments to equity? In this challenging time, school leaders must envision a new urgency to attend to the equity and inclusion needs of students, too. Using leadership frameworks from education scholars Muhammad Khalifa and George Theoharis, I recommend a road map of three key actions that school leaders can take to advance equity and promote inclusion during extended school closures.

Define your school climate. The work of an equity-oriented school leader has always meant prioritizing the work that centers the lived realities of students.  Begin by reflecting upon the beliefs and practices of your school that foster belonging. Consider how your school has sought to establish equitable access and treatment for all students in a climate that marginalizes many of us by our race, ethnicity, faith, language, ability, class, immigration status, and other identity markers.  Then operationalize those beliefs and practices as tangible expectations for teachers, staff, students, and family members.  

Young students enjoy the routine of Morning Meetings where they can share moments about their lives and build community across differences.  Leaders can mobilize class parents to build phone trees and plan routine phone conversations among pairs or triads of students. With a little creativity, the phone calls can have active agendas that students complete together by solving a riddle, sharing a personal experience, or playing a game over the phone.  Older students tend to be a part of groups through classes, clubs, or sports that rely on the direction of teachers to establish equity. Educators can access free videoconferencing resources and facilitate online community time for existing school groups and open opportunities for individual students to be in community with others. 

School leaders should be included in government planning meetings to advocate for open access to local parks for youth who practice social distancing, consider making unused school space available for urgent local needs, and ensure that human services administered by the school can be delegated to local nonprofits.  If you come up against inequities in the larger community, call upon the teachers and staff to join you in challenging health, economic, and social injustices so the climate of belonging that resonates within your school can echo across the larger community.

Affirm inclusion. Educators recognize the best practices for fostering inclusion in our diverse classrooms.  We affirm students’ identities, we add diverse perspectives to the curriculum, and we teach content with multiple strategies to advance all students’ achievement.  But during a time of extended school closures, teachers and leaders must collaborate to redefine inclusion to center students’ socio-emotional needs. Using the tenets of trauma-informed school leadership, school leaders can plan how to address the complex fears, tension, confusion, isolation, and frustration of the whole school community. 

Many notices are being sent from school leaders that detail issues of operations during an extended closure.  In this public health crisis, leaders can address the emotional complexity of the moment in addition to logistics.  By relying upon the existing support teams at your school, identify the students and families who need direct assistance.  Connect virtually with families across differences and strategize how to center their child’s socio-emotional needs with reminders of inclusive practices that teachers employ when school is in session.  Enlist local media outlets to broadcast socio-emotional guidance and resources from school counselors. 

Engage parents. Parents are under enormous stress and tension.  Many school leaders oversee schools with families who were already impacted by trauma, housing insecurity, food insecurity, tension, or illness. School leaders can help empower marginalized parents to advocate for their children’s needs by creating accessible lines of communication between them and parent liaisons, familiar teachers and counselors and community leaders.  Again, virtual spaces can be used, but just for parents to congregate and build consensus around the needs of their children. School leaders can mobilize local resources that parents may need, such as safe school-age day care, access to books and manipulatives, youth recreation that instills social distancing, or equipment for students with special needs.  

Failure to enact equity-oriented school leadership during an extended school closure has the potential to put our children and youth at risk in their communities.  Marginalized youth are at risk of disproportionately harsh responses by public officials and community members if they gather together, unaccompanied, in public spaces, for example.  Children and teens are susceptible to mental illness if their socio-emotional needs go unaddressed. The stability of the family home is at risk if parents are unable to meet the physical, emotional, or academic needs of their children.  When schools close, we risk losing much more than academics—we risk losing our direction to advance equity and foster inclusion. School leaders are passionate about education and devoted to student success. With planning, communication and online tools, they can stay the course and continue to work for equity and inclusion, the principles of community and the heart of every great school.  

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This article was first published on citizen.education

How to Work Remotely and Teach Your Child During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Parents are stressed and panicking as schools across the nation close for weeks. The governors of Indiana’s neighboring states (Illinois and Michigan) have closed schools across their entire state. Indiana Governor Holcomb decided to offer schools a wavier of 20 instructional days instead of mandating a statewide school closure. If school leaders decide to close schools, they do not have to worry about making up days to meet the minimum 180 instructional day requirement. Shortly after this announcement on Thursday, March 12, a press conference was held stating all schools in Indianapolis would be closed from Monday, March 16 with students returning to school on Monday, April 6. However, many schools closed sooner on Friday, March 13.

Not every school is taking the waiver option during the closure. My school has decided to have students complete work packets at home. As an administrator, I reported to work yesterday to print off packets that teachers submitted to me electronically. Then, I helped distribute the packets to parents when they came to school to pick them up yesterday afternoon. 

In my role as a parent, I am in a different situation. I live in Washington Township, and the district is using the waiver. I don’t have the luxury of a work packet (not that I want worksheets for my sons to complete). They sent this following guidance yesterday:

Q: What should students do at home during the closure and will there be eLearning days?

A:  As you are aware, the Governor stated on March 12th that school districts are able to waive up to 20 missed instructional days due to Coronavirus.  Due to this announcement, March 13 through March 27 will be 11 waived instructional days. WT values continued instructional activities, however, and will designate these days as At Home Learning Days for our students.  These will not be designated eLearning days, so the Indiana requirements for eLearning days do not need to be followed.

The guidance continues and states, “Your child’s teacher(s) will communicate at home learning opportunities by Wednesday, March 18.” 

Luckily, my husband is a Senior Database Analyst – Team Lead for the state of Indiana in the Indiana Office of Technology.  In this role, he can work remotely. He does this a few times a month. Typically, he works remotely alone or works remotely because one of our sons is at home sick. There is a difference between working at home while a sick child is lounging on the sofa versus working at home with children who are active. When I came home from work yesterday, my husband looked exhausted. He said, “What are we going to do with them for the next three weeks?” I think his exhaustion made him forget that he is married to an educator, and I already have plans for meaningful activities for the next three weeks. 

Below, I have included some suggestions. This is not an all-inclusive list, but hopefully, this will help parents maintain their sanity during these troubling times.

Before I get into suggestions, let me address how I am setting up these recommendations. The reality is that each family that has children at home has different levels of access to materials and resources. Keeping this in mind, I am including activities that do not involve the internet or television. I also want to note that Comcast and Spectrum are offering free internet during school closures.

Secondly, teaching means involvement. I would not give children a list of activities and walk away. I suggest that parents schedule break times into their day while working remotely to do some activities with their children. In the schedule template, I include at the end, parents can determine which activities they will do with their children and which activities they will have their children complete independently or with siblings. 

Let’s get into what people came to this page to read!

Reading

The public libraries in Indianapolis are also closed. Fortunately, my children checked out some library books recently. Since many libraries across the nation are closing temporarily, parents can order books online to be delivered to their homes if they can afford it. Below are some other options to get children reading.

Hard copy text – This option has been around for ages. Students can read books, magazines, comics, newspapers, etc.

The following includes online reading resources:

  • Scholastic Learn at Home – Scholastic has provided free resources online, separated by grade, for students to complete.
  • Scholastic Early Learners – This webpage contains books for kindergartners. At the end of each book is a quiz. There are books about jobs in the community. Children could read those books for social studies or read animal books for science. 
  • Newsela – This site is offering free access to leveled articles for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. Parents should email their child’s teacher if they do not know their child’s reading level.  
  • E-books – E-books can be purchased online or downloaded for free through public library websites. Parents who have devices, but do not have internet, can download books on their devices in the library’s parking lot. I actually sat in the Pike library parking lot inside my SUV with the vehicle on and heat on high during the blizzard of 2014 to check and respond to email because our cable and internet were out for days. The library in Speedway, Indiana confirmed you can do this in their parking lot on their Facebook page.
  • Audiobooks/read-alouds – Parents can read to their children, have them listen to audiobooks, or watch other adults read books online. The list included below, I already had posted on my personal website, http://www.edcuatorbarnes.com, before this pandemic.
    • Animated Fables & Beginning Readers – ABC Mouse provide fables for young children to watch.
    • CBS 4 Reads – On this YouTube channel, local community members in Indianapolis, including yours truly, are reading books! Click here to view my video!
    • Grammy’s Book Nook – This YouTube channel provides stories and songs.
    • Just Books Read Aloud – This website provides 730 children’s books read aloud.
    • Bluford Series Audio – The Bluford High series is a popular urban teen book series. Children can listen to the books online.
    • Lit 2 Go – This is a free resource of non-copyrighted literature online with audio. There are plenty of classic texts on this site.
    • Storyline Online – This website has celebrities reading children’s literature.
    • Storynory – This website provides free audio stories with text.
    • Unite for Literacy – This website provides non-fiction picture books with audio.

Writing

Students can write at any time during the day, but I suggest having students complete writing after reading, so they can write about what they read.

Book summary – Children can use Reading Quest’s lesson closure summary to summarize what they read.

Writing Prompts – A writing prompt is simply a way to get a child to answer a question in written form. Parents, with multiple children, could have each child come up with five questions. Then, one could be picked each day to answer. Also, I have a list of writing prompts on my website. I will add any cool writing prompts shared with me to the list!

Reflection journal – Students can create a primary source documenting how they feel about what is happening each day during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Math 

Flashcards – Parents can buy, make, or have their children make flashcards to practice math fact fluency. 

Recipe doubling – If parents have recipe books in their home, they can have children take a book and figure out the math to double or triple recipes. This a good way to practice work with fractions.

Shapes hunt – Younger children could go on a scavenger hunt to find shapes around their homes.

Geometry – Have children use a tape measure to measure items. Then have them calculate the area.

Online math – Below are a list of activities students can do online:

  • Brain Genie – Students can practice math skills such as fractions, place value, ratio, time, and more.
  • Counting Songs – Students can learn to count and skip count to music with Jack Hartmann.
  • Creature Capture: Fraction Games – Students can play math games to help understand fractions.
  • Get the Math – This is an interactive website to help middle and high school students learn math through real-world problems.
  • Learn Zillion Math – This website provides over 1,000 free math instructional videos.
  • Multiplication – Students can master multiplication facts through games and activities.
  • Multiply by Music – Students can master multiplication facts through music with Jack Hartmann.
  • Khan Academy – Students, K-12, can practice math (this site also covers other subject areas).
  • XtraMath – Students can practice math and parents can track the progress.

Science

Cooking – This is a perfect time to teach children how to cook. Mixing ingredients together is science. Children will also be able to use math, and maybe even learn grandma’s recipe.

Moon journal – Students can record a drawing of how the moon looks each night.

Here are some electronic science resources:

Social Studies/History

Discuss family history – Get out a photo album and share stories about your family or even yourself.

Biographies/Autobiographies – Children can read biographies, autobiographies, or memoirs. They could also call a relative and interview him or her and write the relative’s biography.

Here are some online social studies resources:

  • History for Kids – This online resource provides information about various historical topics. There are even quizzes and worksheets.
  • Census Coloring Book – Count Me INdy has posted a coloring book about the census. Even if your child does not want to color, he or she can read the information.
  • This Day in History – This website provides information about what happened on different dates in history. As a bonus, children could write their own ‘this day in history’ about the coronavirus. 
  • Government Career Videos for Kids – This website provides videos of different jobs.

Art

Think outside the box – The art teacher at my school does think outside the box Thursday every Thursday. Students get a picture of a shape with the line, “This is not a (fill in with the name of the shape).” The students are tasked with taking that shape and making it something else. The last one I saw was a shape that looked like a shark’s fin. The paper said, “This is not a fin. Think outside the box.”

Visual journal – Children can draw pictures to express how they are feeling while at home instead of writing about it.

Paper airplanes – Children could make paper airplanes and have a contest with their siblings to see which one flew the furthest. 

Coloring sheets – If you Google coloring sheets, there are tons online that could be printed to color.

Other 

Learn a new chore or perfect an old chore – Let’s keep it real! Kids can be messy. 

Now, they have plenty of time to contribute to housecleaning.

Learn or practice typing  – Check out Typing ClubTurbo Typer, or Nitro Type.

Learn or practice a language – Duolingo is a good resource, and Mango Languages is making its resource free.

Break

This is a time for your child to have a choice. Disney is even providing Frozen 2 on its streaming service three months early.

  • Eat
  • Play with toys indoors
  • Play outdoors or go to a park for a walk
  • Exercise
  • Listen and/or dance to music
  • Nap
  • Go Noodle – This is a free website where kids can dance or complete calming activities
  • Watch television or stream a show
  • Social media – Older kids with cell phones will want to chat with their friends or classmates. Parents should monitor social media usage.

Schedule 

Children need routines. Parents need to create a consistent schedule for their children to follow. This is a sample schedule we plan to use with our sons on Monday. Please note: I included a couple of activities not listed above that they have access to through their school.

TimeSubjectActivityIndependently
or with sibling
With adult
8-8:30BreakEat breakfastx
8:30-9OtherChoresx
9-9:30ReadingRead a bookx
9:30-10WritingComplete writing
Prompt
x
10–10:30BreakSnack & TV show
of choice
x
10:30-11ScienceNASA Science:
Space Place
x
11-11:30Science/
Math
Help make lunchx
11:30-12BreakEat lunchx
12-12:30Social StudiesRead a biography of choicex
12:30-1:30BreakPlaytime outdoors or indoorsx
1:30-2ArtThink outside the boxx
2-2:30BreakSnack & TV show of choicex
2:30-3MathProdigy or Dreambox (resource from school)x

Last, since I believe in working smarter and not harder. There is a list of free educational resources that are being updated daily at http://www.amazingeducationalresources.com/.

Hopefully, this is helpful. We can all get through this if we work together. Last, don’t forget to follow social distance guidance and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.


This article was first published at indy.education