Resources for teaching remotely
Recent events have resulted in the closure of educational establishments around the world. Some schools appear to be better prepared than others for the remote delivery of lessons. Unfortunately, the organisation where I work is scrambling to try to get things organised after having closed to students.
While applications that enable classes to be taught online can be useful, now is not really the time to be doing a crash course on online learning platforms or collaboration software, especially if the learners haven’t been inducted on its use. It is better to stick with what you are familiar with, whether it is sending activities via email or putting things on some sort of online platform such as Moodle. You might even consider sending some work for your students in the post (GASP!).
On a more positive note, it is refreshing to see some companies being very generous by offering free access to their resources while schools are closed. Here are some of my favourites:
Macmillan English gets a thumbs up from me for offering free access to all of its resources during school closures, including Onestopenglish. The website was already frequently used by teachers for its free resources and by extending free access to its premium resources we now have access to some excellent materials. Some of my favourites include a series of Live from London video lessons, news lessons and a series of listening lessons called A ghost’s guide to London. There is also a section with teaching ideas by Jill Hadfield called Fun with grammar, which is worth browsing for when lessons in real classrooms resume.
Kahoot! is well known for its classroom quizzes, which students do together live (synchronously). But did you know that the company is offer all its premium features for free during school closures? This includes tools for distance learning, such as setting quizzes for learners to do with a deadline. In a similar style to Quizizz, learners don’t have to do the quiz at the same time (it can be done asynchronously). Participants will see the questions on their device and the results are announced when the deadline has passed. Out of the two applications, I prefer Kahoot! because it seems to have more shared quizzes to choose from. However, I also found that I need to be quite selective becuase there is quite a lot of ‘junk’, such as when users create a practice quiz. Just set up Kahoot! as you would normally, but instead of hosting the quiz live, click on the ‘create challenge’ option, set a deadline and send the link to your learners.
Sumdog is well known in primary schools for maths practice. However, it does offer spelling and reading activities too and the premium version is free during school closures. The free version was mainly for evaluation purposes, but the premium version opens up the complete range of topics and powerful tools which lets teachers set practice around different topics. Students in a class can be split into groups and given differentiated activities and the site’s reporting features are very comprehensive, enabling you to see which learners have logged on, how long they have spent on activities and how they did. If you’re new to Sumdog, there is a little bit of work involved in entering the names of your learners and then sending them their log in details, but I think it is worth it for enabling you to see how individual students are doing and adjusting the activities you set.
Twinkl is another well-known site in primary schools for worksheets. It is worth a closer look if you teach younger learners, with a comphrehensive section with EAL resources as well as activities for teaching English to younger learners. At the time of writing, the site is offering free access for 1 month during school closures. An offer code is required, which is UKTWINKLHELPS.