If you have young ones at home, you’ve probably heard something similar to this more than once, “It’s summer break! I don’t need to read!” Yep, for most of our children, summer break is just that … BREAK – a break from getting up early, a break from reading and writing, a break from homework. But you and I know that a total break can lead to a ‘break’ in learning progress. The term ‘summer slide’ is not new to most of us – the loss of hard-earned skills achieved during the school year. This loss can make returning to school much more challenging, especially if peers are on pace. Really, the goal of continuing to read over the summer will help our children retain literacy skills, build comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary skills, and feel more confident and successful overall. Besides that, reading is the foundation for learning in all other subjects (yes, you do have to read in maths!). Just reading a few books during the summer can make all the difference!
We’re getting deeper into summer and most of us are still staying home because of coronavirus stay-at-home guidelines. In most cases, this much of a challenge since a large yard or a nearby park can offer space for getting the wiggles out. But, for children that also want to keep their minds sharp (or for the parents that want this for them), there are free online learning resources for every type of learner at any age. Below are 25 online resources that might spark some interest. So, grab a bowl of ice cream and check these sites out.
Here it is – summertime – which means school is out and there is LOTS of time to fill. You’ve probably spent more than a few hours looking online for things all of your young ones can do, from toddler to teen. I’ve also done my research and found some fun activities that combine inside and outside, adaptable for all ages and group sizes. Explore and enjoy!
Topics: summer activities
Raise your hand if professional development days before the new school year are your absolute favourite? That’s what I thought (hands still clutching cup of tea). Even as one who used to plan and facilitate PD days, motivation for setting up the classroom outweighed the desire to review the previous year’s accomplishments and develop plans for improvement. Yes, those topics should be evaluated and discussed, but the anticipation of having a class full of different learners and personalities is much more exciting! This school year, many educators are still waiting to find out how teaching and learning will happen – physical classroom, virtual classroom, blend of both? As we all wait with bated breath, what professional development options are available for teachers at home?
It seems that in just a few months, anyone interested in or having to do with education is trying to understand the differences between distance learning, online learning, blended learning, flipped learning, virtual learning…you get the idea. Many of these terms have been used interchangeably with similar descriptions, but there are differences. For example, what’s the difference between a virtual learning environment and a virtual classroom? Then, once a difference has been identified…so what?
How many of us have heard the terms “distance teaching,” “online learning,” “virtual classroom,” “blended learning”, or “hybrid learning” more in the past few months than they have in the past few years? Teachers, how many of you had to use multiple sites, systems, and platforms to close out the year? Besides the challenges of teaching from home, many teachers also had to deal with the online programs that had been implemented at the beginning of the school year and “flip the switch” for the rest of the school year. Not to mention the difficulties of helping their students virtually, or through other means when remote learning was not possible (due to lack of internet access and/or web-enabled devices). I’m sure we can all agree that the end of the school year couldn’t have come soon enough.
Our children are experiencing a time in history that’s unique to us all. They have had limited connection with their teachers, classmates, and friends. They are seeing and hearing events on the news and in social media that can cause feelings of anxiety and fear. They might not be able to handle or process the emotions that are bubbling up. With more and more time spent on devices, our children – regardless of age – struggle with skills such as cooperation, conflict resolution, managing thoughts, and problem solving. Because of this, fostering social-emotional skills has been a focus in education since at least the 1990s.
It’s doubtful that you haven’t already heard of the concept of blended learning, or possibly have already implemented a blended learning model. But, just in case, this approach combines face-to-face learning with online learning experiences. Basically, blended learning changes what has been traditionally ‘front-of-class’ style of lesson delivery to incorporating digital tools and features to create a more interactive and engaging experience. Blended learning used to be a novel idea that some teachers saw as an innovative opportunity to explore, but it has become more necessary as learners – digital natives – spend more time creating and viewing content on web-enabled devices (think Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok).
At one time in my career, I engaged in, facilitated, and tried to stay awake through quite a few professional development sessions. Most were mandated and scheduled right before school started in the hopes that something would transform our practise so much that 100% of our students mastered all learning objectives in the school year. After a few weeks of teaching, many of us were overwhelmed and discouraged that all those exciting strategies and techniques didn’t work with every situation, every subject, or every student. I do not envy school leadership tasked with the responsibility of selecting and organising professional development each year.
Maths questions and story problems have the unique reputation of being the focus of many memes on how confusing they can be (Question: If you have 3 pencils and 6 oranges, how many clowns will fit in a car? Answer: Blue because ducks quack.). Now imagine a teacher repeating, reviewing, and restating terms and solution steps so that students finally understand. A scheduled one-hour lesson can easily take half a day! Now imagine that scenario in a virtual classroom. (I can already hear the crying…from teachers, students, and parents!) Thankfully, G Suite for Education has tools that can support Maths teaching and learning, while making the experience engaging, interactive, and successful.