Resources for High School Students & Families

Message for Students & Families

Dear Students and Families,

As the details surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolve, we want to do our very best to connect you to resources and information that may be a support to you, your family, and your school community.  We recognize that this is a stressful, unprecedented, and unsettling time. We believe that community resources, normalcy, and routines will help us to get through this tough and confusing time together. To that end, we are working to compile and share family resources to meet basic needs, as well as links to support student learning and postsecondary planning during this disruption to traditional in-school learning.  To the extent possible, we encourage students to develop new routines to support their social, emotional, and learning needs.

This document contains resources to support high school students and families.  Importantly, the RISE Network does not maintain relationships with any of the providers listed below and has not had the time to more rigorously evaluate or endorse these resources; instead, we are working quickly to centralize information to empower students and families with information and tools that may be helpful over the coming days and weeks.  Please contact info@ctrise.org if you would like to share a resource, and we will continue to add to this document as we identify additional resources in the following areas:

Stay Healthy, Stay Safe, and Stay Positive!

The RISE Network Team

Family Resources

Meals Distribution – Many RISE partner districts are doing their best to ensure that students and families have access to nutritious meals while schools are out of sessions.  Please follow the link here for your district to find more information about distribution sites, locations, and hours: East Hartford, Hartford, Manchester, Meriden, Middletown, Naugatuck, New Haven, Norwalk, and Stamford

COVID-19 Information – Details surrounding COVID-19 are quickly developing and rapidly changing.  A number of sites help to centralize the latest information and guidance for students and families in Connecticut.  The Connecticut State Website has a page dedicated to providing residents with latest information on COVID-19, as well as resources for families.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides up-to-date information and guidance around how to stay healthy and informed.

Connecticut Food Bank – Connecticut Food Bank offers food for adults and children in need in Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London, and Windham counties.  The Connecticut Food Bank also offers a mobile food pantry, and you can learn more about distribution sites through their Twitter (@CTFoodBank). 

Internet Connectivity – A number of internal providers are now offering free or reduced-cost internet coverage, ensuring that students and families can access the information they need, when they need it.  Follow the links here to learn more about internet offerings. Comcast is offering two months of free service for new customers.  AT&T is also offering different options to support connectivity.  Likewise, Verizon is offering internet options.

FAQ About COVID-19 for Workers and Employers– This document contains information regarding options for employees about benefits and wages that individuals may be eligible to apply for if their employment status is affected by COVID-19.  The document includes links to apply for unemployment, as well as links to get in contact with the Connecticut Department of Labor. 

FreeConferenceCall.com– During periods of uncertainty and heightened anxiety, it is important to stay connected to friends and loved ones.  FreeConferenceCall.com allows individuals to sign up for reusable conference call lines. That way, families can use a shared and no-cost conference call number and passcode to connect multiple parties in one conversation.  We can maintain social distancing while also staying connected.

Continued Learning

Khan Academy – Khan Academy offers free online content and interactive courses across content areas and grade levels.  The search feature and drop-down menu allow you to search by subject and course. Each course has lessons to teach specific skills; that way, you can focus on where you are within a specific course.  The site also allows you to test your understanding and earn points towards mastery. Khan Academy also provides free SAT prep online courses and tools in collaboration with the College Board.

LearnZillion – Similar to Khan Academy, LearnZillion is a free resource that students and teachers can use to preview or review content. There are instructional videos, practice problems, and multiple subjects and grade levels represented. The best part is that everything is Common Core-aligned! Sign-ups for individual accounts are free, but schools and districts can also purchase accounts to ensure cohesion. 

College Board SAT Prep – For many juniors, SAT administration dates have been cancelled or postponed.  This gives juniors (and freshmen, sophomores, and seniors!) additional time to study and prepare.  The College Board (the makers of the SAT) offer online practice tests. You can also sign up for a free app that allows you to access a practice question each day.

Newsela – Newsela works to unlock written text for students and educators. The site offers articles on a variety of subjects, and then creates leveled versions of the articles to meet students where they are with reading abilities. They also offer suggested writing prompts for articles. In light of school closures they have made all their content available for free.

CommonLit – Students and teachers can access a free digital library of over 2,000 high-quality reading passages for learners in Grades 3 through 12. Teachers and students can filter and sort resources by Common Core standard, paired anchor text, grade level, genre, and literary device.  Features include: guiding questions, annotation, and progress monitoring tools. 

Listenwise – Listenwise offers a digital library of 3 to 6-minute stories and podcasts for students with transcripts to promote fluency with speaking and listening standards alongside work on reading comprehension; all content also includes linking to Lexile levels. The site includes are English language arts, social studies, and science lessons aligned to podcasts, as well. Premium accounts are available for free to schools closed due to COVID-19. 

The Learning NetworkThe New York Times offers free reading and writing (and discussion!) exercises for students to engage with content from The New York Times. The site also offers resources for teachers via codified and curated unit plans, as well. 

Ecree – Ecree offers students a free online experience to receive real-time feedback on their writing.  Students may submit written work, and the Ecree offers feedback to improve the student’s spelling, grammar, organization, and overall writing quality.  Due to COVID-19, Ecree is offering free student access through May 31, 2020. 

BrainPop – Offering videos for students and teachers on a variety of topics across all grade levels. The site is offering free access for any school experiencing a closure during this time. Videos and quizzes can be used to explore new material to students, and teachers can integrate the resources with Google Classroom.

CodeAcademy – Students engaged in Computer Science classes can access this coding platform complete with instruction, tips, and how-tos. It is leveled and meets the needs of different grade levels to target problem-solving skills and analytical thinking. Math and science teachers can incorporate the exercises into their lessons or activities as they think about how to support students in skill development.  Similarly, Hour of Code offers opportunities to access and practice hour long coding tutorials. 

Scholastic Online Classroom – Primarily for elementary and middle schoolers, this online classroom has a wealth of readings, videos, and lesson plans. It can be useful for parents needing to care for their younger children, or teachers looking for ways to differentiate their work for lower-level students, which is even more critical with remote learning. Resources span across disciplines with lessons in almost any subject area.

List of Education Companies Offering Free Subscriptions – This website provides a comprehensive list of online resources that are providing free subscriptions to educators and/or families at all education levels.  These resources can support caregivers with younger children, as well.

College & Career Planning

Big Future – College Board’s Big Future website is a great resource for high school students as they start to explore college and career options, as well high school seniors preparing to take the next steps in their postsecondary journey.  The site allows students to explore different colleges and majors, encouraging students to identify strong reach, match, and safety schools. The site lets students search for scholarships, which can make college a more affordable option.  

Common Application – The Common App is used by nearly 900 colleges and universities.  That means that students can complete one application and apply to multiple schools.  This helps to save time and energy! Please note that some schools do require supplemental essays and forms in addition to the Common App, but the Common App does help to streamline the process.  You can get started on the main sections of the Common App at any time, though school-specific supplements are usually available on August 1st of each year, so students will want to do this step as they head into senior year.  Get started today!

College Essay Guy – The essay section can be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding sections of the college application.  It’s where you get the opportunity to tell the college bit more about yourself. The essays can also take a lot of time; you have to develop a good idea, draft your essay, and edit it to achieve a great end product.  The College Essay Guy offers great free resources and guides to make the essay-writing process more manageable.  

FAFSA Application – College-bound seniors, if you have not yet completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), this is a great time to do it!  College-bound students must complete the FAFSA in order to become eligible for federal student aid, such as federal grants, work study, and loans.  Did you know that every year, students nationwide miss out on close to $3 billion in available federal funding due to not submitting the FAFSA? Be sure to complete the FAFSA to access financial resources that can help make college more affordable!

CT Students for A Dream – CT Students for a Dream is a non-profit organization helping undocumented students pursue and achieve their college and career goals.  The organization’s website offers a wide range of resources for students and families who may be navigating the application process as undocumented individuals.  CT Students for a Dream offers online tools and resources, including a list of scholarships organized by deadline, as well as in-person support and guidance. 

Online College Visits – A number of websites allow students to engage in virtual tours of colleges and universities.  These interactive sites allow students to explore the college campuses, view different facilities, compare different schools, and begin to see themselves as college students on various campuses.  Start your college tours at Youvisit.com, Youniversity.com, Campustours.com , or eCampusTours.com.

Financial Planning and Scholarship Databases – As seniors begin to identify their college plans, it is also important to begin building a plan to finance college.  Discover offers a wide range of resources to analyze financial aid award letters, understand loan options, and more!  Fastweb.com and Scholarships.com offer a free database and resource for students as they seek out and learn about private organizations providing scholarships.

Mindfulness & Mental Health

CDC COVID-19 Resources to Manage Anxiety and Health – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a mental health webpage associated with COVID-19.  Recognizing that the virus may cause heightened levels of stress and anxiety, the CDC provides coping and stress-management strategies.  For example, the CDC recommends that you take breaks to do activities that you enjoy, and that you make opportunities to connect with others about how you are feeling. 

Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty – This article explains how uncertainty can erode feelings of safety and breed further stress.  The article offers specific strategies to help individuals take care of their mental health. For example, it is important to separate what is within and outside of our control, spend time outdoors, and do what helps you to feel safe. 

Coping with Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks – The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers guidance around signs of increased stress (e.g., increase or decrease in energy, excessive worrying or crying, an increase in irritability).  It also lists helpful strategies to manage and respond to stress (e.g., eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep, avoiding excessive caffeine). The SAMHSA also offers guidance specifically for parents and caregivers around how best to support young people during this outbreak.

Copper Beech Institute Online Offerings-  The Copper Beech Institute teaches mindfulness practices to inspire purposeful living, compassionate action, and encourage a healing shift in how we interact and relate with one another. They will be holding virtual meditation sessions to promote solidarity in this time of uncertainty as they practice compassion, resiliency, and loving kindness meditation. 

8 Meditation Apps for Teens– This article from Teen Vogue lists eight different phone apps parents or teens can download to help with mindfulness, meditation, or stress management.  Each one has a description, feature highlights, and cost information (many of them are free!).