It’s challenging to make virtual learning work but due to coronavirus “shelter-at-home” orders, millions of parents have found themselves doing exactly that. The proliferation of distance learning apps and online tools provides any parent with Internet access with as many resources as a Grande Vegas casino bonus to allow them to guide their child as s/he continues his/her education.
To set up an effective virtual learning environment you’ll need to identify some of the basic tools that are available and then adapt them for your child’s learning needs. Even after your child goes back to school, you may well wish to continue to use these tools to supplement their schooling with some fun, at-home, educational activities.
You can find interactive tools for any grade and any subject – kids as young as first grade are comfortable with technology and will enjoy using apps and online tools for subjects as varied as reading and writing, math, sciences (check out STEM tools), literature, history, civics and more.
Many people complain that kids today don’t read enough so their writing skills have also suffered. Others note that, if writing is presented in a way that makes it interesting, kids will write just fine. The ProWritingAid tool allows users to compose in the tool (or copy/paste a document to be uploaded in the program) and it will then check for overused words, incorrect grammar, overuse of clichés, passive voice and sentence variety.
The personalized instruction tool gives students a chance to see their strengths and weaknesses. The tool summarizes the piece’s strengths and weaknesses and includes suggestions for changes and data. Suggestions include issues with sentence length, the piece’s readability, overuse of adverbs and more.
As the student to illustrate a concept or subject using the Canva poster-making tool. The basic Canva tool is free and you can pay a small amount for the upgraded version to make the image even more engaging. Using Canva, the student can upload prepared images or make a new one to create a logo, resume, infographic, business card, invitation, flyer, wallpaper or certificate.
The app allows you to add text to the image so students can display what they’ve learned through creative design. With Canva, dry information can come to life as the student is challenged to explore, innovate and engage in new ways.
Studying through gaming makes it easier for students to learn new information and retain data. It also creates an engaging learning atmosphere. Quizlet facilitates this type of learning environment.
Quizlet can be used very young learners as well as with older high school age students. Using Quizlet the student can review material in an interactive and engaging manner. The facilitator creates a quiz about any type of material and the student competes with him/herself or with other learners to complete the quiz.
You can make your own quiz for your student or your student can create his/her own quiz to share with peers. You can also look in the archive for a quiz that’s already been created by another teacher who archived his/her quiz for use by others.
Other students who are learning from home can join in with your student as everyone works in pairs, in groups or, if they wish, independently.
Google for Education aims to move education forward by making a wide range of digital tools available to teachers and students. Google Classroom wants learners to deepen their learning through collaboration, engagement, innovation and Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS).
Google hosts and distributes collaborative networks, communication tools, digital documents and other types of useful virtual learning tools. You can adapt these tools for any subject including social studies, language arts, math, science and many other subjects.
Google’s apps are designed to work in tandem. The idea is that you can integrate various media to create virtual classes, watch the students work, track document changes, participate in online discussions and more. Some of the best Google tools for classroom use include
Google Tour Creator
Classrooms have been using Google Expeditions for years. Now Google Expeditions expands on the idea of touring the earth virtually by giving students the chance to experience sites and locations in 3D.
The student can create his/her own tour using imagery from their own 360 photos or from Google Street view. Photos are uploaded into Poly, Google’s library of free VR and AR objects and are then ready to be included in a Google Tour. The student can plan out their route or focus on one particular site. It’s helpful to have VR technology but if you don’t, Google Cardboard can be used to make a VR headset that works just fine.
Google Classroom LMS
If you’re savvy enough to set up your child’s lesson plans in an organized manner you can track everything via Google Classroom Learning Management System. You can create your child’s class, track assignments and send feedback all while keeping all materials and resources in one easily-accessible location.
Assignments can include work on outside apps (so, via Google Classroom, your assignment might include requesting that your child create a Canva poster or complete a Quizlet quiz).
Google Docs, which includes documents, spreadsheets, presentations and forms, is an easy way to create and archive information. The documents are stored on the user’s Google account so they are archived in Cloud, ensuring that the work – into which the user can insert text, images, videos and links – is never lost and can be retrieved by any Internet-connected device.
The blogger tool is just a more snazzy version of old-fashioned essays and book reports. Not only can the student write his/her work online but can be motivated as his peers see it and comment on it.
Google Voice is a recording tool that gives students a chance to record themselves. Using Google Voice the student can create audio presentations, practice reading skills, make up a song and sing it, work on speaking skills while learning a foreign language, etc.
Like Google Voice, YouTube allows the user to make a video and then upload it to the YouTube platform for the world to see. Anyone can make a video using their mobile phone and then upload it to their YouTube account. Videos can be labeled “public” or “private” so privacy can be maintained.
You can have your learner illustrate ideas, stories, concepts and other information through the Google Draw tool. Google Draw allows the user to express him/herself through online drawing tools. The drawing can then be embedded into a Google Doc or presentation or shared via a social media platform.
If your student if ready to learn about the world, Google maps will make the lessons fun and interactive. Google maps can be used to teach geography, history and social studies as you stimulate curiosity about different places in the world. .
Some of the activities to do with Google Maps include:
- Explore the local neighborhood, city, state or country. Identify specific points of interest in the area under discussion.
- Have the learner describe a locale based on research: How many rivers are there nearby? What modes of transportation would people need if they lived in that area? Where is the nearest nature reserve?
- Measure distances.
- Compose directions between two points.
- Organize a scavenger hunt and ask the participant to find specific points of interest within a specific area.