Message for Educators
Dear Teachers and Counselors,
Like you, we are watching the new coverage surrounding COVID-19 with great concern for our students and their families. We also recognize that you — our terrific partners and RISE educators — are dealing with tremendous uncertainty around what the rest of this school year will look like. Amidst all of this uncertainty, we’ve been struck by your unyielding compassion and commitment to your students. Whether organizing meal distribution or coordinating virtual college counseling, your dedication to your students inspires us!
At RISE, we are motivated by your actions, and we also want to do our very best to support you, particularly as you work to provide students with online instruction and support. We recognize that this is a major undertaking, and we want to support your efforts by aggregating resources. This document contains tools to support teachers and counselors. Importantly, the RISE Network does not maintain relationships with any of the providers listed below; instead, we are working quickly to centralize information to empower educators with information and tools that may be helpful over the coming days and weeks. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.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:
- Online Instructional Tools
- Best Practices for Online Instruction
- Online Instructional Content
- Counseling and Postsecondary Resources
- Mindfulness and Mental Health
- Resources for Students and Families (English | Español)
Stay Healthy, Stay Safe, and Stay Positive!
The RISE Network Team
Online Instructional Tools
Google Classroom Training– As districts continue to explore what distance learning will look like for students, teachers may be asked to quickly get up to speed on facilitating a Google Classroom. While we know that many educators are already familiar with this platform, for others, it may be new. Google offers a series of videos on everything from the basics — like how to create a new class — to more advanced moves, such as how to create different assignments and use their grading tool. At the very least, it’s a great place to start your learning.
YouCanBookMe– This website allows students or families to schedule meetings directly to your calendar without sharing information about your other appointments. You can also have students and families complete a brief survey beforehand to be aware of what they may be wanting to talk about or best way to contact them. This may be helpful if you want to have them sign up for their best time for individual check-ins or family connections.
Loom– Loom is a video-recording tool that allows you to record your screen along with a voiceover or video. Educators can use it to record themselves as they provide instructions for an activity, go through a slide presentation, make changes to a document, or complete “virtual whiteboard”-style activities. Students can also use it as a tool to record themselves presenting or showing their work while completing activities. Loom is currently offering free “Pro” accounts to teachers and students.
Flipgrid – Flipgrid is an online platform that allows teachers to create “grids” or meeting places for your class around different topics. Students then upload video responses, reflections, or question back to the grid for their teacher and peers to view. It’s TikTok, but for the classroom! There are video editing capabilities, text features, and different bells and whistles that make it more engaging than just uploading a video to GoogleClassroom. Flipgrid can also be integrated with GoogleClassroom.
Kahoot! – Kahoot! is already a popular tool among students and educators in the traditional classroom setting, and educators can use Kahoot! in their online classrooms to engage students in games and assign self-paced activities. Teachers can use Kahoot!’s existing templates and games to check student understanding and engage students in a fun format. Kahoot! does integrate with Google Classroom. Kahoot! is now offering free access to all features to support distance learning in response to COVID-19.
Slido – Slido supports student interaction and engagement during virtual lessons. Teachers can ask students to participate in polls, submit questions, or provide feedback. This also serves as a tool to check for student understanding periodically throughout the lesson.
Edmodo – Teachers can use Edmodo to communicate with students, share assignments, administer quizzes, and facilitate chats and discussions. Edmodo also encourages educators to share resources and support one another. Edmodo offers a variety of training webinars to support educators who may be new to the platform or looking to sharpen their skills. Edmodo is a free product.
Deck.Toys – Deck.Toys allows teachers to quickly build lessons online. Teachers can integrate content they already have (e.g., slides) using Deck.Toys. The platform also allows educators to differentiate for students, creating different pathways and allowing students to work at their own pace. Teachers can track student progress as they work through the lesson.
Edlastic– Edlastic is an online assessment tool that allows educators to build and save their own assessments to monitor student learning and progress over time. Edlastic can connect with Google Classroom, allowing educators to review questions and answers with students.
Hapara – Hapara integrates with Google Classroom and is designed to help teachers make the most of the platform. Hapara helps educators to manage student work, differentiate assignments, and promote student agency in the learning process. Hapara offers webinars to help teachers manage their online classrooms. Hapara will be free to teachers through June 2020.
Pronto – Pronto provides an online communication hub. It helps to connect students and teachers in different locations through online chats and videos. Pronto is free for educators.
Best Practices for Online Instruction
Transitioning to Online Learning – This article, written by a former teacher and published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, provides considerations for schools and districts moving toward online learning. It offers suggestions on how to build a platform that allows students to see the parallels to the traditional classroom. This is a recent publication written in response to COVID-19, helping schools and districts that are moving forward with online learning.
Tips for Setting Up Temporary Distance Learning at Your School – This article offers questions to consider when organizing e-learning for students. Questions range from high-level logistics to specifics around student expectations. The resource provides tips and pointers for educators who may be new to the format and looking for guidance to maximize teaching and learning for their students.
10 Best Practices to be an Effective Online Teacher – This article offers 10 best practices to keep in mind when facilitating online learning. For example, the article describes the importance of setting clear expectations, soliciting feedback from students, and taking advantage of existing resources and tools (i.e., what we’re trying to do that here by centralizing existing tools, content, and strategies!).
How to Be a Better Online Teacher – Online instruction is perhaps more common among postsecondary institutions. This resource, made available by The Chronicle of Higher Education, provides a primer around online instruction. For example, it explains terms like synchronous and asynchronous instruction. It also offers strategies and common missteps for teachers online.
Online Instructional Content
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 New York Times’ Learning Network – The New York Times provides 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.
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.
BrainPop– BrainPop provides 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 introduce students to new content and topics, 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.
Discovery Education– Teachers or principals may request free access to Discovery’s library of resources (e.g., videos, readings, primary sources), primarily in the areas of science and social studies. Typically, schools or districts would need to purchase licenses for the use of these resources; however, Discovery is making resources available to any school experiencing a closure due to the virus.
Online Courses from Ivy League Universities – This site has aggregated online versions of courses across content areas from Ivy League institutions. These courses consist of recorded lectures, associated reading materials, and assessment activities. Teachers can assign students to engage with individual class sessions or an entire course.
The Real Time Curriculum Project – This website contains a series of articles on various current events. It provides questions at the end of each article to then support student discussion and/or response.
Google Expedition – Google Expedition offers a new way of learning through virtual reality or augmented reality. Students can go outside of their classroom (or home) to explore laboratories, the international space station, or even travel and discover ancient artifacts in Egypt.
Actively Learn – This website provides texts and videos in ELA, science, and social studies. Educators can search for readings and videos by content area or resource type. Along with each resource, the website offers an essential question, text summary, polling questions embedded in the text, key terms and definitions, and more! Actively Learn is free for the rest of the school year.
Curriki – Curriki offers an online resource library for teachers. Teachers can search for lessons by content area or using a search bar and keywords. Each lesson includes detailed guidance, and educators who have used the lessons provide their ratings of the resources.
Nearpod – Nearpod wants to help teachers “spend less time planning and more time teaching.” Teachers can choose from a resource bank of free lessons or plug-in content (e.g., virtual field trips, polls). Nearpod integrates with Google Classroom.
Counseling & Postsecondary Resources
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.
Naviance – Many schools and counseling teams use Naviance to support postsecondary exploration and the college application process. Naviance is now providing their College, Career, and Life Readiness Curriculum free to all districts that have an account through June 30, 2020. This link provides steps on how to access the free curriculum.
Career Test – Counselors may want to encourage students to complete career aptitude tests (like this one) to help students explore various post secondary pathways aligned to their interests and skills. This resource provides a simplified Holland Code career aptitude test for students to identify personality strengths and link that information to potential careers.
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.
CASEL Resources – The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) offers guidance around how to help students and adults process a wide range of emotions. This document contains links to resources and strategies to manage emotions connected to COVID-19. It also includes tips for educators and support staff with recommendations regarding how to talk with students about COVID-19.
My Kid’s School is Closed, So Now What? – This resource (geared towards parents and caregivers) contains tips to help students keep a schedule and reduce their anxieties. It also includes suggested activities for students to help navigate stress and anxiety.
15 Mindfulness Apps– This website has links to 15 mindfulness apps with different features and offerings. For example, Headspace is a student-friendly app that has 1-minute, 5-minute, or longer mindfulness videos/prompts. Some of these apps are available free of cost.