As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to rage on, causing what appear to be mainly larger urban school districts to make the decision to close in-person learning, whether for several days/a week at a time or for longer periods, many students and families find themselves suddenly left without a solid, reliable learning plan in place. Some districts and individual educators are trying to do all they can with the virtual tools and other resources they have at their disposal, while some districts and individual educators are simply closing shop altogether. As one parent whose daughter's large urban school district recently closed for a week told me, "Some teachers are going above and beyond, while others are treating this like a vacation. They're not meeting with students virtually, and they've assigned no work." And a high school in a nearby district decided to cancel semester final exams altogether because of COVID-19.
Whether you're a student reading this, or a parent, guardian, other relative, or fellow educator deeply concerned and frustrated by this truly tragic situation of lost time and learning, I offer a number of resources, ideas, and strategies here, in no particular order, to help you design your own at-home learning plan when you find yourself not provided with one by your school system and/or teachers. The following suggestions can also certainly serve to enhance and reinforce the assigned learning from school if you are, hopefully, receiving regular instruction virtually.
BrainPOP - I make use of BrainPOP, a subscriber-based learning platform, quite frequently during my typical day in the classroom. I highly recommend it. With a very clean layout that is easy to navigate, the BrainPOP family of websites offers young learners video lessons on a wide range of curriculum-aligned subjects, as well as quizzes and activities that can be completed for deeper engagement with, and understanding of, the material presented in the video lessons. Check the BrainPOP homepage frequently for various specials and discount offers that run from time to time. You can purchase your own home-based subscription, or see if your school or district already has a subscription that you can use to log in with. A very high-quality, fun, and engaging learning tool.
Think about possible careers and professions - Check out this career readiness resources page I put together a while back, featuring previously-published posts here on this blog, as well as content from other sites. If you're thinking about entering a trade and you reside in Wisconsin, learn about the Wisconsin Apprenticeship System.
Explore volunteer opportunities - Check out this previous post I wrote about the many benefits of volunteer work. Volunteering can provide a wealth of opportunities for learning new skills, strengthening skills, making meaningful connections through networking, gaining new perspectives, sharing talents, and making a difference in the lives of others.
Prepare for the ACT and/or SAT - It's never too early to begin preparing for these tests. Check out this page I put together a while back with various resources, ideas, and strategies to help you prepare for these very important college admissions tests and ultimately get the best score(s) you can. If you start early enough, even years earlier, then your preparation work won't feel like a burden, you'll perhaps even improve your overall grades and performance in your classes, and you most likely won't have to worry about retakes! And yes, these tests are still relevant.
Learn a new language, or make the time and effort to strengthen and deepen your existing language skills - The ability to communicate in another language is a highly-desirable, and hence marketable, skill to have.
Research a country - Is there another country whose people, culture, cuisine, history, language, and economy capture your curiosity? Gather facts, photos, and relevant video links, and put together a nice presentation on your chosen country using a slide deck format like Google Slides or PowerPoint. Give a presentation to your family just as you would to your classmates or any other audience. This is a wonderful learning opportunity allowing you to build on a variety of relevant life and career skills, like research and fact-finding, conveying information and ideas, public speaking, writing, creativity, and educating others.
Let's plan a trip! - I took this idea from a wonderful social studies course by the same name (Let's Plan a Trip!) that I assisted in during my district's summer school this past summer (you can read more about that here). Similar to the above idea of researching a country, but with a slightly different focus. With this idea, you research one or more countries as if you're getting ready to actually visit them as a tourist. Where will you stay? How will you get there, and how much will this transportation cost you (for example, your flight ticket)? Who will you bring with you on the trip? What's your overall budget? What kind of activities and sightseeing would you like to do?
Learn financial literacy - Financial literacy is so very, very important. Learn how to save and budget. Learn how to plan for emergencies. Learn how to spend wisely. Learn about investing and preparing for retirement. Understand how the decisions you make today about money will impact the rest of your life, either positively or negatively. The earlier you begin learning these crucial lessons and begin implementing good strategies and habits, the better for you and your loved ones. The personal finance category here at my blog helps keep track of my posts about money, saving, wise spending and looking for deals, retirement planning, etc.