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Distance Learning for Parents | Virtual Learning Advice

Virtual Learning Parents

Distance Learning Parents

I know you didn’t sign up for this. It’s tough teaching at home; it’s especially tough teaching your own kids at home. You don’t have the training, nor the tools. Your first go-round of in-home teaching last spring may have been an epic fail. However, before you pour that second glass of wine or click out of this article, let me give you some good news. You’ve got this!

You are reading this article because you care. You want the best for your kids and know that throwing a pity party for yourself or playing the blame game is not going to get the job done. Besides the emotional, physical, and spiritual health of your children, nothing is a greater priority than your child’s education.

So, you are right to be concerned about Covid Brain Drain. As a recently-retired teacher, I’m active on all the teacher Facebook groups, and I can tell you that the news from teachers welcoming back their students is that students have not made the traditional year to year growth. Additionally, student work ethic has taken some serious hits. Teachers will do their best to catch up their students, but this is not business as usual. They’ve never done this before, and despite their commitment and effort, they don’t have the training, nor the tools, to completely revamp what they’ve done for years. School district administrators have done the best they can, but money that could have been invested in teacher training and tools had to be diverted to Covid-proofing retrofits, cleaning, hiring of nurses, etc.

I know, first hand, that this is the case. I’m a small publisher of teaching resources, and despite the fact that I have developed a number of sure-fire digital resources, they’re not selling like hotcakes. District staff are telling me that they have no money to purchase new materials. I’m still selling to individual teachers, but many of them are looking at salary freezes and lay-offs. So, district administrators and teacher are looking for as many free distance learning resources as possible. Now, you don’t always get what you pay for, but more times than not, the free resources are not going to captivate the attention of you or your child.

So, what to do?

  1. Accept the fact that you are primarily responsible for the education of your child, not your teacher and not your child. The teacher may be amazing, but even the best have shortcomings, especially with Covid restraints and challenges. Your child is probably like 99% of the students I taught at the elementary, middle school, high school, and community college level i.e., learning is not their highest priority and their parents and teachers are not the main characters in their own stories.  The 1% are rarities. I’ve “taught” some of these self-starters and high achievers, but they are simply not normal.
  2. Analyze what the teacher is and is not teaching, and supplement as needed. Face it, you’re going to have to invest some time and money in learning how to supplement the teacher’s instruction for your child.*
  3. Be extremely and overtly positive about what and how the teacher is teaching. If you are not naturally inclined to do so, fake it ’til you make it for the benefit of your child. Send complimentary emails to the teacher and cc the principal. Honey draws more flies than vinegar.
  4. Reward (bribe) your children to do their best work. Extrinsic rewards, especially short-term, task-specific rewards, work. Leave the intrinsic reward development until Covid is over.
  5. Provide the supplies your child needs to succeed, and keep other children out of their work area as much as possible.
  6. Help your child stick to a schedule. If your child’s teacher has a ZOOM meeting at nine each morning and records it, keep your routine the same and don’t use the recording as an excuse to work around your schedule.

What not to do?

  1. Don’t coddle your kid. Make your child reads and re-reads the assignment directions and does the work. Don’t make excuses for your child’s lack of effort. Don’t fill in the gaps. Don’t contact your child’s teacher when the child should be doing so.
  2. In your supplemental teaching, don’t pass out the workbook/worksheet and expect it to teach your child. Specific worksheets can provide ideal independent practice, but only after you have taught the concept, content, or skill and provided some guided practice.
  3. Although parents should have high expectations of their children, don’t ignore the debilitating effects of social distancing. Know when and when not to cut your kid some slack.

* From my experience, these four subject areas tend to be lower instructional priorities for most teachers’ distance learning/virtual learning:

  1. Grammar, usage, and mechanics
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Spelling
  4. Study skills
  5. Individual reading deficits

Pennington Publishing provides digital and printable resources for each of these subject areas. Each resource has a diagnostic assessment to determine what your child knows and does not know. Video tutorials are also provided. You don’t have to have a teaching degree to be successful with these products. Plus, my email and phone number are on my website and I love to help parents decide which programs will best supplement instruction for their children, and I also answer any questions about how to use the materials. As a reading specialist (MA Reading Specialist), I am skilled reading diagnostician. If you have need of these services, click HERE for further information.

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Grammar Distance Learning

Digital Grammar Programs

Virtual or In-Class Grammar

Grammar, usage, and mechanics (punctuation, capitalization, spelling, quotations, citations, etc.) are ideal subjects for distance learning (virtual learning). The teacher can ZOOM, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc. the lesson content, and students can use Google slides for interactive practice of the lesson content, concept, and skill. Google forms self-correcting tests can serve as formative assessments (unit tests), and any necessary remediation can be assigned via additional slides practice.

Teachers can record videos to provide repetition and additional practice for remediation.

In other words, distance learning works nicely to help students catch up, while they keep up with grade-level instruction.

I highly recommend Pennington Publishing’s full-year Teaching Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and High School programs. (After all, I’m the author 🙂 These separate, standards-based programs are rigorous, yet have plenty of remedial practice to help students who don’t have much of a grammar background. The print and digital resources feature 56 (64 for high school) , twice-per-week, 25-minute lessons to help you teach both mechanics (punctuation, capitalization, quotations, etc.) and grammar and usage skills and concepts.

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Click to view the quick Grade 4 Video Preview.

Click to view the quick Grade 5 Video Preview.

Click to view the quick Grade 6 Video Preview.

Click to view the quick Grade 7 Video Preview.

Click to view the quick Grade 8 Video Preview.

Click to view the quick High School Video Preview.

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Each grade-level program has been designed for both in-class and distance learning with printable PDFs and Google slides, forms, and sheets. If you prefer teaching with PowerPoint, simply download the slides into that format. As the Burger King commercial says, “Have it your way.”

How to teach the 56 (64 for high school) scripted, no-prep, and minimal-correction lessons:

  1. Administer the diagnostic assessment to determine mastery of previous grade-level standards (Google forms with Google sheets recording matrix).
  2. Use the scripted lesson and lesson display in the teacher’s guide (PDFs) to teach the paired mechanics and grammar lessons in-class or via Zoom, etc.
  3. Students complete and self-correct the guided practice, slide activities, simple sentence diagram, mentor text, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments (Google slides and PDFs)
  4. Assign additional independent practice if needed to all or some students (Google slides and PDFs).
  5. After completing four of the lessons, administer the biweekly unit test (Google forms). Administer the final exam at the end of the year (Google forms with Google sheets recording matrix).

The Teaching Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics program features a secret agent theme in the Google slides with drag and drop activities, type-in-the-box practice, audio files, and problem-solving (secret codes and such). The theme is fun, but the learning tasks are rigorous.

Click to view the Grades 4-8 Instructional Scope and Sequence (table of contents) with CCSS Alignment Documents. The Teaching Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics program provides effective grade to grade instructional continuity.

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or… Also check out the Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Interactive Notebook Grades 4-8.

Need a no-prep interactive grammar notebook to teach review and grade-level grammar and mechanics standards? With Cornell Notes, foldables, tons of online links, practice worksheets, and biweekly tests? And how about options for Google slides, forms, and sheets for effective distance learning?
 
 
*Rigorous assessment-based instruction. Each of the 64 lessons provides a separate teacher’s guide and student lessons for a full year of grammar and mechanics instruction. A lesson includes these instructional components: Cornell Notes Mechanics and Grammar Lesson with links and Resources (for in-class display or ZOOM) and corresponding student lessons (printable PDFs and Google slides); Cartoon Response, Writing Application, and 3D Graphic Organizer (PDFs)
 
*Complete alignment to the Common Core Standards with built-in review. Lessons include assessment-based instruction in all grades 4-8 grammar and mechanics (language conventions) Standards with special emphasis on the Progressive Skills Review Standards grades 3–8.
 
*Biweekly unit tests (printable PDFs and Google forms) including definition, identification, and application (answers included) …20–25 minutes to complete
 
*Clear directions with the same instructional procedures for each lesson. Perfect for both the beginning teacher, expert grammarians, and substitutes
 
*Online links to songs, posters, sentence diagrams, and more
 
*Diagnostic Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics Assessments (printable PDFs and Google forms) with 77 remedial worksheets (printable PDFs and Google slides), each with a formative assessment… plus, an Assessment Master Matrix for progress monitoring (printable PDFs and Google sheets)
 
*Final exam covering all 64 lessons (Google forms and sheets)
 
*Simple and fun 3d graphic organizers from Tangstar (the best on the web) with clear directions and less mess and interactive Google slides with a fun, problem-solving secret agent theme with drop-and-drag, audio, and fill-in the text box activities
 
*Minimal prep and correction. Teachers don’t have to create their own INB for student make-up work. Print three student pages per lesson, set out the crayons, scissors, and glue (or tape), and your students write down examples and annotate on the Cornell Notes in their comp books or spiral notebooks. You display the teacher pages, read the lesson, and lead the discussion. Everything to make you the expert grammarian is included.
 
*Flexible curriculum. Teachers choose what works for their schedules and class time. Complete all or part of each lesson. Mix and match the paper INB and digital activities.
You can have it your way! With flexible, grammar curriculum for both in-class and digital (virtual learning) from Pennington Publishing.

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