By Lisa M. Kiss, M.Ed., contributing author Teaching Kids with Learning Difficulties in Today’s Classroom: How Every Teacher Can Help Struggling Students Succeed (Revised & Updated 3rd Edition)
As the COVID-19 pandemic forced me and many other educators to enter the online world to educate students, I began looking for resources to help me meet the challenge. I gained a great deal of knowledge and skills quickly and wanted to share that with other educators. In May, I wrote about “Online Resources for Kids with Learning Difficulties.” That blog provided teachers with strategies and resources to engage students who experience challenges with distance or virtual learning.
Today’s post shares additional strategies and resources I have found since then. Education is all about sharing experiences and resources with other educators! Read on to see what new items I have discovered.
Help Students and Families Set Up a Work Space
In addition to what I shared in May, I found that families needed guidance about what and who should appear in the background when a student is using Zoom or another online platform. I now provide parents with a tutorial on how to minimize distractions from pets, peers, phones, toys, and other electronic devices. I also share with parents how to assist their child throughout the online session. I encourage parents to prompt on-task behaviors but not to provide answers. I share with parents that it is okay for their child to make mistakes and that these mistakes will lead to learning.
I found that assisting parents in setting up online platforms is best accomplished through the following steps: I send an email with all links, apps, usernames, and passwords. I then set up a one-on-one Zoom session with the parent to walk them through how to install or download each app or website.
Tailor Tools, Times, and Methods to Maximize Engagement
As I shared in May, I provide direct instruction using Zoom and support that with online learning tools that I tailor to meet my student’s needs. But for this to be successful, you need to know your students well. If you are unsure about your students’ academic levels, many online programs can help you determine them. If you are unsure of your students’ motivators, talk with their parents. Make parents a partner in this experience.
I found that, for my students, focusing attention on an instructor on a computer screen for an extended amount of time is very difficult. To assist with this, I present the direct instruction, provide an interactive activity, and then reward students with a brain break. This helps increase student engagement. I also work with parents to determine the best time of day for instruction and possible rewards for their student for engagement in learning. I call each parent and discuss motivators specific to their child. This initial legwork makes teaching online much more beneficial in the long run.
Get Creative with Resources
I researched many online educational resources to assist in making meaningful progress happen for my students while not in the classroom. Since my last blog post, I have found these additional resources to assist you in encouraging students’ active engagement online.
Homer: Learn & Grow
Bookabi (platform for building storybooks)
Vocabulary Spelling City
Sushi Monster (Math Practice)
Math Geek Mama: “FREE Online Math Manipulatives for At-Home Learning”
Moose Math (math game for kids)
Prodigy (online math game)
Virtual Math Manipulatives (Google slides showing math manipulatives that students can click on to access)
Virtual Teaching Hub from University of Florida (a collection of resources, how-tos, and more)
Social and Emotional Learning
Free Spirit Publishing
Lisa M. Kiss, M.Ed., is the director of special education at Tulpehocken School District in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Previously, she taught in special education and gifted education for over 20 years. She has supervised numerous student teachers and has presented at several state conferences on the topics of cluster grouping and inclusion to help all students be successful. She lives in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
Lisa is a contributing author to Teaching Kids with Learning Difficulties in Today’s Classroom
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