COVID-19 has drastically altered how we think about education. In a majority of US states, students have been out of school since spring, and virtual learning has taken over as the main form of instruction. While the future of schools remains uncertain, it is clear that when teachers are faced with virtual learning, it is critical that they make the most of the face-to-face instruction time they have with their students.
Our time with our students is precious, which is why we need to focus on discussion, collaboration, and connection during these brief periods of virtual interaction with them.
Here are three ways you can use Read to Lead to make the most of live instruction with students.
Grab Student Attention with Conversations About the Future
Engage students by focusing on topics that are relevant and make connections to their lives beyond school. Introducing students to the world of work as early as middle school can guide students in making informed decisions about future career paths, and help them stay motivated through the school years.
The Read to Lead program gives students the chance to take on a leadership role within three different workplaces. Students are also introduced to a variety of professions and careers within the platform, and educators can use these games as a starting point for discussions and debates among students.
Tip for Live Instruction: Flip the classroom! Send students discussion and debate questions the day before and assign reading and preparation as homework. Students will come to the live instruction prepared to discuss the topic and share their learnings.
Use Read to Lead’s offline curriculum to engage with students on the screen. With Read to Lead’s Be the Boss Activity, educators can guide their students through discussions to identify the qualities of a leader and explore what it takes to be the boss in an authentic workplace setting.
Teleconferencing platforms like Zoom also often include features that allow for virtual collaboration, such as breakout rooms for small group discussions, and chat boxes for students to type their responses to discussion questions, or even respond by “clapping” or giving a “thumbs up”.
Give Students Spaces to Talk About The Current Moment
The COVID-19 global pandemic is affecting all aspects of our lives and our students may be experiencing higher levels of stress, and anxiety. They need safe spaces to talk about how drastically their lives have changed. As educators, we need to address this situation with our students, particularly more disadvantaged children who may not have alternative channels to discuss the challenges they are facing.
Though not part of our traditional curriculum— dealing with the pandemic, managing the emotions that students may be experiencing at this time, and identifying the positive aspects of the current situation— are critical conversations to be having with our students at this time.
We have created a curated collection of Read to Lead lessons relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic. Covering topics like Making a Diagnosis, Managing Anxiety, and Looking for the Helpers, these lessons are immediately relevant and applicable to students’ lives.
These lessons are standards-aligned and can be used towards your ELA, Science, Health, Social Studies, or SEL learning goals. Each lesson is specifically designed for a distance learning setting, and include step-by-step directions for execution as well as Google worksheets for students to complete. They aim to spark meaningful conversation, promote critical thinking, foster leadership and provide support to students as a class community.
Tip for Live Instruction – Include your Students! Take stock of what’s happening in the community, state, and on a national level. Ask your students what they are thinking about, and let them help drive their learning experience.
Introduce Read to Lead distance learning lesson “Anxiety Relief” to help students identify their feelings, explore strategies to manage anxiety, and make space to uplift each other. You can download all of our distance learning lessons here.
Encourage Independent Work
The constraints placed on live instruction as a result of the transition to distance learning and remote classrooms, in another light, can be seen as an avenue for educators to encourage independent work. By giving students tasks or projects to work on independently in their time outside of virtual instruction sessions with their teachers, we can empower them to take charge of their own learning.
Tip for Live Instruction – Be Flexible – and Forgiving! One-way delivery of content through a video chat can be exhausting for both educators and students. By giving students space to explore their interests with project-based learning, educators can maximize facetime and empower students to drive their learning.
Research projects or Project-Based Learning (PBL) are another way in which educators can encourage independent work and make the most of live instruction. Allowing students to pursue topics that resonate with and interest them will engage students better. The Read to Lead platform includes a wide selection of close reading articles that students can choose to read independently and write their own articles sharing their perspectives. Educators can then dedicate their time with students to answering their questions, and helping them develop critical thinking skills.
Making the transition from in-person education to distance learning can be a challenge, but Read to Lead is here to support you through this time with useful and timely resources that you can start using in your remote classrooms immediately.
It is easy to get started with Read to Lead, and the platform is free to educators and students. It includes 44 games where students get the chance to take on leadership roles in different authentic work environments that be used in independent learning time.
Make the most of live instruction with Read to Lead’s extensive library of worksheets for students, and self-directed learning projects for students to work on independently – a total of more than 150 hours of games, curricula, and content. Most importantly all games, activities, and projects are completely virtual, easily applied to distance learning environments.
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About Read to Lead
Read to Lead is an education technology nonprofit that uses game-based learning to empower middle school students to develop their literacy, life, and career skills.