Online learning for English Language Arts is not easy for parents, teachers or students.
I never thought that a global trend of remote teaching would occur. Even though technology advances daily, the social benefits of attending a brick and mortar school are amazing. Literally overnight the world changed.
Last Thursday (March 12, 2020), I called my husband after school to discuss dinner plans. He informed me that a co-worker told him schools in Ontario would be closed for the next 3 weeks. I was in complete shock. I was preparing for just one week off as the following week was March Break for all schools in Ontario. The government decided to close schools for 2 weeks after March Break to help “flatten the curve” of Covid-19.
I had one school day with my students to ensure they took items home with them that they might need for three weeks at home. I spoke to each student to ensure they had enough books at home or had them borrow books from my classroom library.
I have brainstormed ideas below to help teachers and parents who want to implement online learning for English Language Arts.
Here are my 5 key tips for transitioning to online learning.
- Start small. Don’t assume all your students have technology, wifi or are able to work all of the fancy websites/apps that you want to try out.
- Be flexible in your requirements and schedule. Is it mandatory that all students watch a daily lesson at the same time or can they access the lesson at any point during the day/week?
- Use this time to reinforce previously taught lessons and skills. Even as an adult, I find it extremely difficult to learn new things on my own without first being taught or shown by another person. Try to continue with your current unit of study if possible.
- Rules and common sense apply. You would not text your students normally, so don’t do it now. Ensure all technology/app platforms are district approved. In my district, MANY MANY of the tech things teachers are promoting are not allowed. My plan is to create very short videos using Screen-Cast-O-Matic that can be uploaded to Google Classroom as well as assigning work using Google Slides.
- Create a home base for your students. Where should students go each day to look for their new learning? Google Classroom? Remind? A Google Slideshow? Ensure that this tool is easily accessible to your students. Do not make them go on a scavenger hunt each day to find their lessons.
Weekly ELA Schedule For Online Learning
- Choice Reading Daily (Articles or Novels)
- Choice Writing Daily (Creative Writing or Daily Journals)
- Speaking Skills Daily (Select the 7 most interesting lines from your current choice novel and practice reading them out loud fluently. Your goal is to pique your classmates’ interest in reading this novel. Bonus if you can read a picture book to a younger sibling.)
- Listening Skills Weekly (Give students a list of podcasts to listen to or remind them to call friends/family members and have a conversation, not just a text message.)
- Media Analysis Weekly (Have students complete a weekly review of a media source they have been using during their time at home i.e. podcast, movie, social media, website.)
These lessons can be easily adapted to be just pen and paper tasks, blended learning (mix of paper and digital) or 100% digital.
Formal English Language Arts Assessments
- Reading Assessment Options Reading Journal Digital Format, Retell Relate Reflect Review Book Analysis, Article of the Week, High-Interest Articles
- Writing Assessment Options: Creative Writing Prompts or Choice Boards
- Speaking Assessment Options: Students can present these to their classmates using Zoom Video Conferencing or Google Hangouts Meet, pre-record themselves using cellphones and upload to Google Classroom or post on Flipgrid.
- Media Assessment Options: Media Reviews
Where to Find Online Books
- Project Gutenberg (Free Public Domain Books)
- The Bluford Series (Audiobooks with YA Content)
- LibriVox (Free Public Domain Audio Books)
- ESL Bits (Audiobooks and E-Books)
- List of online books from Book Riot
- Classic Books Library of Congress
- Open Library
- Make an instructional handout or video for your students on how to access your school and/or public library using their library card number.
Student Friendly Podcasts
The great thing about podcasts is that if students have a cell phone and an internet connection they can listen.
- The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel
- Book Club for Kids
- Smash Boom Best
- Best Podcasts for Kids
- 16 Great Learning Podcasts
- Best Podcasts for Elementary, Middle, and High School
Required to Provide Full Units?
If your district/school/school board is requiring you to provide structured units at this time. Here is my go-to resources that are ready to use in both PDF and Google Slides format.
- Novel Study Unit
- Short Story Unit 1 or Unit 2
- Engaging Non-Fiction Readings
- Article of the Week Responses (Learn more about Article of the Week here)
- My Life in Logos Paragraph/Essay Writing
- Rant Writing (Students vent about a topic that frustrates them)
- Student Book Talk Assignment
The entire message of this blog post is to give yourself, your students and their families grace. These are uncertain times. Everyone’s first priority is to stay safe and healthy.
Download these FREE Emergency Lesson Plans
Please reach out to me directly if you feel that there is something I can add to this blog post to make your online learning for English Language Arts a success.