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Distance Learning Ideas for Elementary Teachers – How to Stay Connected with Your Students

Distance Learning: Ideas for Staying Connected with Your Students

This is a very challenging time for teachers and students. We are both in uncharted waters and miss being together in our classrooms. Our young students are just as worried about the future as we are and it is important for teachers to reach out to them and give them support. In this post I am sharing ideas for how to connect with and teach your students during the school closures.

The following apps and programs are free to use and will allow you to communicate and virtually teach your students during these troubled times. Students need to be given support and encouragement now more than ever, and although it may not be like what they are used to in the classroom, it is still important they receive motivation, encouragement, and instruction.

Regardless of which app or program you choose to use with your students, try to create some sort of schedule for posting or meeting with them. Young students feel more secure when they know what to expect, so if they know they will hear from you each weekday at a certain time it will help.

Also, be prepared and allow time to respond to both parents and students. They will need your positive reinforcement and will appreciate your responsiveness to their needs.

While it is not possible to replicate your entire school day online, you can still send high priority lessons and share educational experiences that will help your students. The most important thing is to stay connected in whatever way possible.

Seesaw App

I have been a fan of Seesaw for some time now and absolutely love it! It is a free app that allows you to create and send assignments, videos, pictures, links to students and effectively communicate with families.

If you are new to Seesaw, go to seesaw.me to sign up. It is very easy to set up and they have step by step tutorials in their help center to get you started.

Please note that they have a special section with remote learning resources. If you currently use Seesaw in your classroom and wish to use it for distance learning, you need to use the special Home Learning Codes that allow students to securely sign in to the Seesaw Class app from home. They can access all learning tools but can not login as another student or see the work of other students in the class.

To get the Home Learning Codes, you need to log in from a computer, they are not available on the app. You will see a banner at the top of your page, click “Get Home Learning Codes” (blue button).

Seesaw app home learning codes

From there you will be able to get the home learning codes for your students. Students will use these codes to sign in to Seesaw from home.

Benefits of Using Seesaw for Distance Learning

You can send video to your students. Students miss seeing you and Seesaw provides an easy, secure way to send videos to your students.

You can provide audio directions for assignments. This is so important, especially for young learners who can not read. It also allows you to clarify the assignment for parents or caregivers.

You can provide feedback and positive reinforcement to students to motivate them and help them feel more calm and secure.

You can easily communicate with parents.

Students’ families and extended families can see what they are learning and write comments. It is a way for students to communicate with extended family that they may not be able to visit with right now.’

You can still send printed resources or materials to students. Since many of you probably did not have a lot of notice before having to do distance learning with your students, you may not have digital materials available. No problem! You can simply tape any printed page to a wall, take a photo of it, and save it to your camera roll. A “straight on” shot similar to the example photo below works best. Then send it to your students as an assignment. Students can use any of the tools in Seesaw to complete the page .

Students can send pictures or videos of their at home learning experiences. There are many opportunities for students to learn at home and they can share what they are doing with you via pictures or video. This is also an opportunity for you to include items from around the house in your assignments.

Students can record their responses to assignments using the microphone. This is especially helpful with young students who can not write long responses or put their words into writing.

Google Classroom and Google Hangouts Meet

Google Classroom is a wonderful platform that many of you may already be using to send and share content and assignments to your students.

During the school closures, you can take advantage of Google Hangouts Meet to schedule video calls and meet-ups with your students. Google is offering this service for free through July 1, 2020.

CLICK HERE for information on how to access Google Hangouts Meet for free through July 1, 2020.

If you are new to Google Classroom and not sure where to begin, here are some helpful links for getting started:

You will need to have a Google account in order to use Google Classroom. To get a free Google account, click here.

Sign in to Google Classroom

Create a class

Add/invite students to your class

Post an Assignment / Send the Product File to Students

****Important steps to follow when posting your assignment******
•Under “Add Attachments” choose the Drive icon
•Select the product file from your Google Drive and click “Add”
VERY IMPORTANT! Next to the attachment, click the Down arrow and choose “Make a copy for each student” so they can work in their own file.

View assignments

Grade and return an assignment

Free Number Bonds Google Classroom/Google Slides Resource

Boom Learning

As many of you know, I love Boom Learning! It is a safe, secure platform where teachers can assign interactive, self-checking digital resources to their students.

If you are new to Boom Learning, now is a great time to give it a try. Boom is offering free ultimate memberships to all new members through June 2020! Membership allows tracking of individual student performance reports for up to 200 students and (if you want) the ability to create your own Boom Cards. CLICK HERE for more details and to get started.

Boom Cards are very engaging, fun, and interactive for students. The self-checking feature allows students to get immediate feedback which is very motivating for them. They allow students to interact with educational content in a meaningful way and get excited about learning. All of this makes them a perfect choice for distance learning.

There are a number of free and paid Boom Learning resources available on both Teachers Pay Teachers and the Boom Learning platform. For a limited time, you can also find special discounted items on Fridays using the tags #FlashFridayFreebie for free items or #FridaySavings for discounted items. You can browse my Boom Learning resources here. If you have any questions, please email me at lessonsforlittleones@gmail.com and I will be more than happy to help you.

Benefits of Using Boom Learning

Self-checking. Students receive immediate feedback.

Interactive and engaging for students.

Can be used on a variety of devices.

Can be used with Google Classroom.

Easy log-in for students (picture log-in is available for younger students).

Easy differentiation. You can easily assign different decks to different students.

Easy assessment with student reports (included in the free membership).


Zoom is a simple online meeting tool that you can use to meet with your students. It allows you to share your screen so it is a fabulous way to give students instruction time.

It is free to use and they are temporarily lifting the 40 minute time limit on free accounts for schools affected by the Coronavirus. CLICK HERE to set up your free account.

Once you sign up, you will be walked through how to set up a meeting with your students. Basically you send your students a Zoom link with a time to log-in. Your students simply click the link at the appropriate time. The Techie Teacher shared a free, editable set of directions for students on how to access Zoom Meeting that may be helpful.

You will be able to see and hear all of the participants. It is a great way for everyone to reconnect! I do suggest that after everyone has had a chance to say “Hi”, you mute your students when instruction is about to begin. Background noise is very loud and distracting! You can individually unmute students when it is their turn to talk.

You can click the Share button to show your computer screen. This is a great way to teach a lesson! Make sure to have all of your necessary materials within reach so you don’t have to leave the screen.

You have the option to record the meeting so that students who could not participate at the given time can watch it later. Please be sure to get permission from your school and parents first!

I hope this has been helpful in giving you some ideas for connecting with your students. Remember, it may take a few tries to get it right and get all of the kinks out. This is new for everyone so give yourself and others some grace.

I know this isn’t as good as seeing your kiddos in person or being in your classroom, but it is better than no contact at all and your students and their parents will greatly appreciate your efforts. Good luck and if there is anything further I can help you with please let me know 🙂

You may also like:

Home Teaching & Learning Ideas & Freebies – Keeping Kids Busy & Engaged

Boom Cards Resources for Preschool – Grade 2

Google Classroom Resources

Hi! Thanks for stopping by!

I’m Tina and I’ve taught preK and K for 20+ years. I share fun and creative ideas that spark your students’ love for learning. 

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