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#RemoteLearning Ideas with and for Younger Learners

this post was cross posted from the Langwitches Blog by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

When preparing for remote learning, the “little ones”, Pre-K through 2nd grade deserve our special attention.

In the best case scenario, our young learners will already have had opportunities to practice the use of the devices they will be using at home. They will already be routines in place that the children have practiced in the physical classroom with their teachers as guides regarding netiquette, login procedures, digital citizenship (all at developmentally appropriate stages). In other scenarios, we have an incredible opportunity to embed these age-appropriate skills as part of our #remotelearning.

Once at home, the young learners will need backup from their caregivers, if (when) technology fails and to keep a healthy balance between screen time and analog activities. The youngest of our students, will need their caregivers to facilitate synchronous and asynchronous communication between the teacher, learner, and classmates.

As with older students, we should be aiming to provide opportunities for students to amplify their learning, not merely filling out worksheets or answering questions or prompts in a ping pong (teacher asks a question, student answers, teacher gives feedback) mode. This does not mean that all activities should be digital activities. Learning happens everywhere. Sometimes it is as simple as recording an analog learning experiences to capture and be able to share with a wider audience that will amplify learning.

Another aspect to consider is to take school closures as an opportunity to practice precisely the skills, we ALL need to develop to be self-motivated and self-directed learners/workers. As many adults are also being forced to work from home, away from their offices, these skills are/will always be in high demand. Asynchronous activities (not happening at the same time, the teacher is teaching or when other classmates are learning), are a great way to pave the way and plant the seeds for self-motivated and self-directed learning.

Especially with our younger learners, it is important to NOT only focus on content and curriculum as we are moving to online learning due to school closures or other unforeseen emergencies that might happen in the future. The social emotional aspect of suddenly changing routines, being away from their classmates, potentially being isolated in quarantine at home, requires us to be mindful and adapt to the needs of our young learners.

Kim Cofino just published an important blog post with 6 Weeks & Counting: Lessons from COVID-19 School Closures. She shares a shift in focus that connects to the social emotional aspect, I was alluding to above. As we might prepare for a long term online learning experience, the tools and structures we are building around the delivery of our curriculum online, we can’t forget to build community with and for our learners. This requires a mindshift in acknowledging that these community connections will be/are inherently different than our in person connections. That makes these community connections not better or worse, just different… and we need to be flexible and adapt to new forms.

image by Kim Cofino

Ideas: How can teachers communicate, teach and share remotely ?

  1. Model your own remote learning process with your students, share how your home office looks like, how you are learning new things? Model and encourage them to share their own learning with others.

  2. Curate quality and age appropriate links for your students to investigate about topics of interest.

  3. Give Feedback

  4. Record a short video for your students. Engage them by asking your young learners to dig deeper (ex. what makes you say that?)

  5. Personalize

  6. Record individual video clips for your young learners. Be specific, use their names, respond to something specific they have done at home and shared.

  7. Storytelling– Record a video of yourself or audio reading or telling a story.

  8. Songs, Poems, Fingerplays, etc. Record yourself singing your favorite song (if you are a singer) or maybe lip-synching, reciting a poem or performing fingerplays.

  9. Create a podcast and invite your students to contribute short audio files to be included in a future episode. Or plan out a crowdsourced podcast episode.

  10. Encourage your young learners to use reflective prompts and thinking routines to make their learning visible and shareable.

  11. Embedding Visuals Into Teaching and Learning

  12. Create STEM Challenges -Check out the following sample from Stephanie Hultine with the password: Stemtime or be inspired to use or adapt from 70 STEM Simple Activities for Families by Chris Woods

  1. Share a Comic Strip with photos you took (digital) or illustrated (analog–> digital) to communicate a message to your young learners.

  2. Share with young learners the upgraded KWHLAQ chart to guide them in their thinking and learning. Have younger ones respond to What do you Know?, What do you Want to know? How will you find out? What have you Learned? What Action will you take? and What further Questions do you have? as part of a recorded video or audio clip (on FlipGrid or as a stand alone clip to be shared with teacher and classmates)

Ideas & Activities: How can students capture, reflect and share their learning with teacher and classmates?

  1. Daily Learning Reflections… these reflections can be recorded via video or dictated to an adult, who will write it down. Emphasis on reflection, metacognition, communication, social-emotional …

  2. Become a Documenter: What do you do? What do you see? How are you feeling? What makes you happy? What makes you sad? What are you thinking? What makes you laugh? Emphasis on reflection, metacognition, social-emotional, sharing…

  3. Video Conferencing: group or individual. Practice netiquette (how do we behave during a video conference?) Emphasis on communication, media literacy, network literacy, digital citizenship…

  4. Art work: students create their art work. If created in analog form, take an image to digitize and make shareable. Students add their explanation and reasoning behind their creation as an audio file. Caregivers or teacher create QR codes to audio file and publish on classroom communication platform. Emphasis on reflection, communication and explanation…

  5. Games & Board Games: play together in small groups or in pairs via video conference platform. Learners can also record their family playing the board game and add explanations to teach others the rules. Emphasis on communication and explanation…

  6. Draw a “treasure map” of you house or apartment. Hide (for others to find) or search (have a caregiver hide an item for the student). Record the treasure hunt or reflect on the hunt afterwards by making thinking “audible”and shareable. Emphasis on reflection, metacognition, spacial thinking, critical thinking…

  7. Infographic of Learning: With photos/images, the students create a visual of their understanding and share their “infographic” back with the teacher and class. Emphasis on information flow, information literacy, digital citizenship…

  8. Share solutions to STEM Challenges posted by teachers or from their own choosing. Capture the process, capture thinking steps, document the solutions. Emphasis on inquiry, communication, critical thinking…

  9. What Do You Wonder About? Share a daily recorded diary about the things you wonder about? Check out Wonderopolis for ideas. Emphasis on inquiry, critical thinking, communication

  10. Students record (video or images) themselves cooking with their family and capture ingredients used, cooking techniques and directions to share. Create a collaborative cookbook with all the classmates Emphasis on process, explanation, crowdsourcing, media literacy…

  11. Students see themselves as “researchers” or “professors”. See themselves in a new role with responsibilities to investigate, document, analyze, share and teach others about their findings.

  12. Physical Activities: Students share how they stay active? Running, jumping jacks, dancing, yoga, etc. They video record themselves or create a photo collage of a variety of activities. Emphasis on media literacy, communication, social-emotional learning…

  13. How does the students’ learning environment look like at home? Let the students create an area in their house that makes them feel comfortable? They take a picture and share with teacher and classmates with a short explanation. Emphasis on communication, media literacy, social-emotional…

Thank you for sharing images Carlee Kowalec

  1. Organize the House– (This idea came from Stephanie Thompson) Find a space in the house that needs organizing, take before-after pictures and annotate the image to share your strategy, ideas, process, etc.

  2. Students create a tutorial about something they have just learned or want to share their expertise with others. Emphasis on communication, empathy, media literacy…

  3. Blue Challenge Students take photos of anything “blue” (or any other chosen color) they see during the day. At the end of the day, they choose one photo with an explanation of the reasoning behind choosing it and their experience with the color blue that day (adapted from the Blue Challenge). Emphasis on media literacy, reflection, metacognition, visual literacy…

  4. Tooth Traditions Around the World– Contribute a video to this FlipGrid. Students share the tradition of their country, when they lose their first tooth? Emphasis on communication, culture, language, crowsdourcing…

  5. Be a Robot– Idea by Keri-Lee Beasley Emphasis on computational thinking

  1. Tell a story, read a book or sing a song to pet, sibling or parent- Students are recorded with video and share their response to watching/hearing themselves. Emphasis on reading skills, communication, music…

  2. Write a Book- Students create a story, picture or chapter book (about their learning, about their time at home, about their passion, about their pets, about all things magnetic as their house, etc.). Caregivers help in planning different chapters or teacher might send book template (Book Creator App) to each student to be customized. Emphasis on writing skills, communication, media literacy…

Magnet Book made by 5-year-old Elena and her grandmother

Sea Adventures Book created and written by 6- year-old Elena

First Grader Elena’s Book: Reading Tips

Tools for Young Learners

Further resources

Did you know that Janet Hale and my book A Guide to Documenting Learning: Making Thinking Visible, Meaningful, Shareable and Amplified is an excellent framework for remote learning? The ideas and resources are ALL applicable , adaptable and an excellent framework for #remotelearning!


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