When schools started closing because of coronavirus, we knew that teachers would need resources to facilitate distance learning with their students. To help teachers and students get the resources they need where they need them, we launched Distance Learning Projects.
Since this new project type launched on April 28, teachers have been requesting resources for both themselves and for their students to use at home. Best of all? Teachers get to pick the shipping location. Teachers can have materials shipped to their own home, or they can ship directly to a student’s home.
We were curious to see exactly what teachers and students need most for distance learning, so we dug into the data from the first week of projects to learn what teachers are requesting.
Students need books, educational kits & games, and basic supplies
Whether students are learning from the classroom or from the living room, learning essentials will always be essential. Teachers are concerned with making sure students’ home resources more closely reflect the resources available to them in the classroom.
Books, books, and more books!
There’s nothing quite like the comfort of a good book in turbulent times. Teachers have loved selecting books to give to children based on what they know their students care about most.
Top Requested Books
Best Friends by Shannon Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Waiting Is Not Easy! by Mo Willems
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
New York elementary school teacher Ms. M shared how she hopes students will use books to feel calm and connect with their families:
“The books I am requesting are meant to be used as a read-aloud during my sessions. I know my students are missing out on the personal connection, the confidentiality of their conversation, the safe space we've created in my office; thus, being introduced to the right book at the right time can help calm fears, reduce anxiety and provide tools that will help them adjust to a new set of circumstances.”
Bringing classroom fun into the home
With school online, the opportunity for hands-on learning is diminished. Teachers understand that kids need to not only pay attention to the lesson, but to truly engage with subject matter.
Topping teacher’s charts are activity journals that help with early literacy and handwriting practice books, with classic indoor recess favorites like UNO and Connect 4 pulling in a close second.
Mrs. Maiolo wants to make sure her students can stay engaged with learning throughout the summer, and created activity packs to help them do just that.
“I would like to supply [my students] with some non-screen activities they can do during this time and over the summer. I have picked out a few things I think my students would enjoy. These include binoculars and a book on birdwatching for kids, a terrarium kit and a book about gardening, and a math game and a book with math poems.”
Pencils and paper will always be key
Classroom staples are not necessarily at-home staples, and teachers are making sure their kids are stocked with the basics.
Top Requested Classroom Basics
Mrs. Court, a middle school teacher from Hawaii, shared just how far some glitter, glue, and construction paper can go to help her students feel safe and connected.
“Our 6th-grade team is working hard to make things as engaging as possible, but the emotional toll is showing in our students. When I hold a Google Classroom Meet, the thing the students miss the most is doing things with their friends. My solution is to have them remotely work on individual pieces of a class mural that we can then bring together to create a piece that will tell our story to the new generation of students.”
Teachers need devices, document cameras, and visual teaching resources
Like so many of us who are putting together home offices, teachers are putting together home classrooms — and need the resources to do it!
Computers and tablets for connecting with students
Hosting many hours-straight Zoom calls with dozens of students, parents, and other teachers can put a toll on your device in a way that checking email and watching Netflix doesn’t! So far, teachers are requesting tablets and laptops the most, enabling them to take the first step of distance learning — connecting with students online.
Ms. Haven shared how a tablet will allow her to be a more effective distance learning educator, and how that same tablet will benefit her special education students once everyone is back in the classroom.
“My learners would benefit greatly from me having an updated iPad Pro with sound and video capabilities and the ability to multitask so that I can record video lessons and meet with them for online virtual lessons.
When we are finally able to return to 'normal' school, my special education students will greatly benefit from an iPad in our classroom to complete a variety of activities and assignments”
Displaying and diagramming with document cameras
Depending on when you went to school, you might remember using overhead projectors to look at news articles or diagrams. Nowadays, teachers use a high tech version. Document cameras are proving to be a huge win for educators finding new ways to teach from their living room.
Florida middle school teacher Mrs. Yates shared her innovative yet precarious home classroom set up, and how she would benefit from a document camera at home.
“I have Zoom video conferences with my students daily, but it's hard to explain math without seeing it. I don't have a document camera at home and the one in my classroom is so old that it cannot connect to a laptop or Mac (the only options I have at home). Right now I'm balancing an iPad on top of 3 cans of Bush's Black Beans and opening the camera over a handheld whiteboard...The IPEVO document camera will allow me to seamlessly connect to my computer at home. This will allow for more efficient Zoom meetings for my students and myself.”
Teaching resources to help visual learners
Chalkboards are quintessential in the classroom, but miniature whiteboards, magnetic numbers and letters, and expo markers will do the trick from home! These types of resources — also in the Educational Kits & Games category on DonorsChoose — have been a huge help for visual learning adjusting to distance learning.
Top Requested Visual Teaching Resources
Magnetic number counters
Giant magnetic early writing pages
Expo dry erase markers
Mrs. Engelhart shared how practical resources like these will help her little learners thrive.
“While teaching small group reading, the pocket charts will help display the words the students are learning. The mobile whiteboard will allow me to teach and model writing. We can continue looking at our number of the day and build number sense with the magnetic number of the day chart.”