Exploring together in the virtual learning space

Online resources for educators that not only connect students to specific content, but give them the opportunity to discover and pursue their interests
By: | May 15, 2020
(Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash)(Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash)
Rachelle Dene Poth is a foreign language and STEAM teacher at Riverview Junior/Senior High in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. She is a featured speaker for FETC.

Rachelle Dene Poth is a foreign language and STEAM teacher at Riverview Junior/Senior High in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. She is a featured speaker for FETC.

Something that I have noticed over the past few weeks is that a lot of ed-tech companies and educational websites are providing support not only for educators, but also for families.

There have been so many great ideas shared about how families can engage together in the remote learning experience, with strategies for focusing on self-care and balance as much as possible. We should also look for opportunities that promote more active learning and creating—from participating in a scavenger hunt, creating a family video and designing a game to making a family album together. 

As an educator, I have tried to move away from the materials that I would typically use in my classroom, and look for new ideas and websites to give students an opportunity to drive their own learning, to become curious, and to share their experiences with their families. We know that when we can provide more authentic and meaningful ways to learn, student are more engaged and motivated.

Including options for students to simply discover new ideas—moving away from the devices when they can—may help with some of the wearisome feelings that students and families may be experiencing right now. Trying project-based learning or challenge-based learning, or perhaps using genius hour, for example, may just be the type of change we all need. 


Read: Updated: 288 free K-12 resources during coronavirus pandemic


Learning through discovery

The resources we provide now should not only connect our students with content, but also give them an opportunity to learn and explore their own interests. 

I have tried to move away from the materials that I would typically use in my classroom, and look for new ideas and websites to give students an opportunity to drive their own learning.

What I like the most about such resources is they can be used by anyone, and the type of learning experiences are not limited. Our students may find something they are interested in and decide to pursue their own study of it or simply be excited to tell their teachers and/or families what they learned. We can continue these experiences, too, as we transition to our classroom spaces.

Here are eight options to check out:

  1. Crash Course: This free resource, which my students enjoy, allows educators to choose from 15 different courses that offer videos on a range of topics for the high school and college levels.
  2. Explore Live Cams: This site provides students with the opportunity to learn about animals, places, climate and more by watching live feeds from locations around the world. Each location also includes weather information, related facts, Q&A sections, and maps. This is one of my favorite resources because there are so many places and more to discover, with activities and helpful information.
  3. Daily read aloud sites: There are many different authors who have signed up to read stories out loud each day. Pernille Ripp, the creator of the Global Read Aloud, recently share a long list of read aloud information for educators and families.


    Read: 3 best practices for taking students on virtual field trips


  4. NASA: There are more than 140,000 photos and resources to view and download from this library. 

  5. Khan Academy: Find a daily schedule for learning activities to offer different grade levels. Each template comes with links to relevant content from the Khan Academy library.
  6. Livestream learning options: For younger students, choose livestream activities that are available throughout every weekday.
  7. Scholastic: To help educators and families with remote learning at home, Scholastic launched a website that provides daily lessons for students in grades pre-K and up. 
  8. Virtual 360 tours: This site provides a list of tours so educators can still offer field trips during remote learning.

Rachelle Dene Poth (@Rdene915) is a foreign language and STEAM teacher at Riverview Junior/Senior High in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. She is a featured speaker for FETC®.


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