What the we as the the collective group of educators need to realize is that no matter how well we plan lessons and learning in virtual environments it just won't be enough for our most vulnerable learners. Nor will it meet the differentiated needs of our students with special needs.
Instead of focusing on the Edtech tools and ways to keep learning going (which is a valiant effort) let's instead look at the (perhaps more important) non-edtech ways to encourage learning and creativity during these times of isolation.
Here are 10 Remote Learning Ideas that require no technology. A few you might need to download instructions or a worksheet. But the vast majority only things you already have around your home, some space to move and time.
10 Remote Learning Ideas, No Edtech Required
Read- Reading is foundational to all learning. At the top of any learning list should be taking time to read. Adults and kids should be reading daily. 15-30 mins is all you need to keep your brain flexible and moving. And it's a great family activity. It can be challenging if you don't have any books at home. See if your kids school is letting you check any out or look up where a Little Free Library is closest to you.
Writing and Reflection- Writing is reading too. Keeping a journal of what is happening every day during these times will be a fascinating way to look back upon. Sure, you might be sharing on social media every day but social media comes and goes. Paper will stick around for a long while after they are gone. Writing, like reading keeps the mind malleable. So keep a journal, record your thoughts, or even just write a story.
Living History Project- For many kids they may not realize they are living in a historic moment that is unfolding before their eyes. A great thing for kids to do that requires zero technology is to interview themselves and their family members in their home about what is happening. If possible you could take this a step further and interview family members in another location over the phone. This could be part of a larger project where kids interview family members about other times in their history and compare what it was like then to now. The Living History Project is a way for kids to understand where their family has been and make a deeper connection to those stories that might be lost forever if we don't capture them. If you need ideas StoryCorp can help.
Learn an Offline Skill- During this period of physical distancing I have been occupying my time learning to be a better cook. (Thanks BA!) It was always something I wanted to do with my daughters but never had the time because of my traveling. Now is the perfect time to learn a new skill you always wanted.
Learn To Code...Yep, Code- Coding involves a great deal of mathematics, logical and algorithmic thinking. And you might think coding is an exclusively online activity. However, it doesn't have to be. Code.org has an awesome collection of coding fundamentals that require no technology. (It does require internet access to get to the lessons, however). The basics learned, while fundamental to coding and can be used far beyond it.
Explore Nature- Being stuck inside can be a drag. (It is a good idea thought. We all need to stay healthy!) In the northern hemisphere we are undergoing a change into spring. And with it brings a whole host of changes. Get out in the backyard, front yard or where ever close to home to see what is changing. Record how many insects you find. Chart the growth of plants each day to see which ones grow the fastest. If you have a camera, take pictures of all the birds you see. Get out and explore nature around you!
Practice Mindfulness- It's important during these times when schools are closed and physical distancing is the norm that we keep mental health top of mind. Kids can feel the stress of the adults in their lives. Mindfulness can be a way to relieve some of that stress while building mental toughness. There are loads of apps that teach guided meditation but you don't really need any of those. Sitting quietly and comfortably for 10, even 5 mins a day while focusing on deep, rhythmic breathing can help bring focus to the mind while providing a center for the rest of the day.
Become A Maker- We traditionally think of makerspaces as places filled with lathes and 3D printers. Being a maker is exploring the edges of your creativity. But you don't need any fancy equipment to make. Have some LEGOs? The LEGO IDEAs page has 1000's of community submitted projects. Have an old appliance just collecting dust? Take it apart and see if you can put it back together or make it into something new. Even using paper and a pair of scissors. See if you can cut a piece of paper to make a hole big enough you can walk through. Being a maker isn't about the space. It's about the problems you try to solve.
Exercise- Not only do we have to keep our mental health in check, our bodies need attention too. You don't need a home gym or any equipment to get into an exercise routine you can stick too. Jog in place, sit ups, push ups, stretch, Yoga, there are lots of ways to get your heart pumping. And you can incorporate math too by charting your progress over time. Challenge yourself to do more than you did the day before.
Become A Scientist- As a former science teacher I have been filling my daughters' time with lots of science activities we can do a home. All of the things we have been doing (that you can do as well) don't require any skills or knowledge of science and all you need are things you probably have in your cabinets. Kids can work on their predicting and observation skills while completing many of these activities. This website is one I use a lot and has loads of ideas. None require any technology!