Academic Resources & Tips for Online Learning & Homeschooling
The 4 MOST IMPORTANT TIPS for maintaining a healthy balance when learning remotely – in both a virtual classroom and as an individual.
PRIORITIZE SYSTEM OVER GOALS: Goals create both unnecessary pressure and anxiety as they are mere idealistic expectations of the future, whereas the reward of successful results are inexoribly tied to planning, sound executive functioning skills and focusing on incremental tasks in the present.
MODIFY ENVIRONMENT & BEHAVIOR TO MAXIMIZE PRODUCTIVITY: It is critical that each individual do their best to set up a space for studying and online learning that is separate from the potential distractions of every day life or personal space. Environment shapes behavior, so controlling their environment allows the individual to shape behavior and take ownership of the process. The unique choices that each student/family must make to create a space conducive for learning are always going to be a bit different, but they should aim to limit distractions from daily life, including pets, cellphones, sound from other people in the home/area.
- MAINTAINING BALANCE IN LIFE WHEN LEARNING/STUDYING REMOTELY: For real-time online learning to be successful, a strengthened collaborative effort between teachers, students and parents is essential. In order for students to learn and teachers to teach with patience and versatility, they must make upholding in balance life as paramount. Some strategies are:
- Schedule Frequent Breaks: Try the Pomodoro Technique: 20-25 minutes of focused work, followed by 5 minutes breaks. After 2-5 rounds of this, extend break time to 10 minutes etc. You will likely be shocked at how much is accomplished if you employ this time management strategy.
- Protect from Screen Fatigue: Use the blue-light filter on computer, phone and other devices or wear blue-light filtering glasses. Blue light occupies the highest energy portion of their visible spectrum and exhausts our eyes and brains. It also disrupts Circadian Rhythm and can cause sleep problems. The human visual spectrum starts with red light, which is much easier on our eyes and does not penetrate into the retina like blue light. This science-backed reality is especially important to consider at night when it its effects are amplified due to no natural light.
- Consider the Mind-Body Connection: A healthy, well-rested body contributes greatly to learning. Every habit easily becomes a learned behavior and establishing strong fundamentals with regard to executive functioning skills, organization makes achieving a balanced life much more fluid.
- Try setting up a central hub (large calendar) of organization for both schoolwork, family/social events, exercise and personal endeavors.
- Make sure to move around or stand while working/studying
- Make an effort to learn about nutrition and how to best keep yourself healthy.
- Try Preparation of Studying the Old Fashion Way: Using a pad and paper to outline or write an essay or studying from a physical textbook if you are able, can have a wonderfully positive effect (particularly, since one may be able to work outside or another healthy environment)
- Encourage Student’s to Learn Something of Interest: iWhatever it may be, it is essential to create opportunities for individuals to be explore areas that intrigue them, to exercise creativity, to practice physical or psychological discipline, to learn new skills or trades, and to experiment as they become a student of life. It is this process that sparks eternal flame that becomes the student & teacher within each of us.
4. MEASURING PROGRESS: Take note of what is and isn’t working and commit to making the best changes for your productivity. Rather than assessing how close you are to your goals, look back on each day and/or week to reflect on what you have accomplished. Trust your instincts: If you are feeling in control and confident, you are likely making good choices; if you are feeling out of control and stressed, take the time to identify where these feeling originate and don’t hesitate to ask for input from teachers or family.
Supplement Learning with Applications, Extensions & Websites
Resources for Reference (Free)
- Kahn Academy: Well-known resource of interdisciplinary videos, explaining concepts, providing lessons & guidance for student and parent daily scheduling and organization (in 25+ languages)
- Quizlet: An easy way to make study sets in any subject. Students can study flash cards, organize concepts that they must focus on, and take customized quizzes (Offered in 20 languages)
- Youtube: A wealth of educational videos, including channels from reputable sources, such as: National Geographic, AsapScience, TedEd, Edutopia, Metropolitian Museum (MET), Common Sense Education, History Channel, Big Think & Expert Village.
Reading & Content Resources (Free)
- CommonLit: Online library for students, teachers & parents, providing free reading passages, texts, literary resources, and narrative/book pairings
- Newsela: An online resource that integrates with Google, providing advice for distance learning, a library of texts in different subjects and ways to organize an individual’s academic experience
- NuseumED: An online resource that provides primary sources and multimedia that contextualizes texts & taught with in schools.
Applications & Techniques for Learning Differences
- Beeline: An application that adds gradual color-changing to any text to help students with dyslexia or who struggle with tracking
- ModMath: created with by parents of strident students with dysgraphia and has been coveted by students
- Edji & Kami: Both allow for students to annotate pdf documents to encourage quality note-taking and to nurture active & close-reading skills
- Evernote & Notability: Helpful in that they allow for customized note taking and information gathering that meet the needs of the individual students, so they can feel comfortable focusing in class without the pressure of missing information. Both apps allow a student to save handwriting, documents, screenshots & video clips into a digital notebook that can be organized and referenced later(Chrome & iOS)
- Stay Focused: Sets daily allowances for social medial websites( Chrome & iOS)
- Socratic: An app that allows students to take a picture of homework questions and get step-by-step answer explanations. There are an increasing number of these tools, and I ONLY recommend them to assist with independent learning. (Of course, they can also be abused)
- Google Docs. & Microsoft Docs: Both have many extensions to customize your experience, but their use as a collaborative tool between peers and student-teacher allows for real-time interaction and monitoring, where it is easy to leave comments and share feedback with writing and projects.
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