5 Tips to Prepare for a Remote Classroom Due to Coronavirus

March 11, 2020

All around the world, schools are closing and transitioning to remote options as a precaution against the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

During this time, we want to remind teachers that free iCivics games and other resources are an option to keep the learning going outside of the school walls, staying connected with your students, and providing them with a healthy break from the headlines that can be unsettling.

Here are some tips from the iCivics Curriculum Team to help you plan for or cope with school closure: 

Prepare lesson packets or game play alternatives for students who may be without internet at home. 

We have heard from a few teachers who are planning to put together packets using our infographics and print-and-go lesson plans. Most of our lesson plans are designed so that students can complete readings and activities on their own. These lessons will work for students who do not have internet access or mobile devices at home. If you need specific ideas, please do not hesitate to reach out. 

The best way to play our games is on computers, laptops, or tablets, but for students who may be without internet access at home, they can access the games via the Apple App Store on a tablet (needs to be pre-downloaded) or through a web browser on Android phones with a larger screen. Our games are not optimized for play on iPhones.

If you know your students will have internet and access to a device, you can create a Game Challenge Packet to spark some friendly competition. Students can send screenshots of their game certificates to show progress!

Leverage the assignments tool in Google Classroom or your iCivics account.

Before making assignments, we recommend that you review our Scope & Sequence to easily find what resources will best align with your current curriculum and the topics you will need to cover in the time your students may be remote. 

If you haven’t already done so, ensure that you have set up classes in your iCivics account. Here are instructions to follow. This is an easy way to assign directly to your students as well as view their progress.

For syncing with Google Classroom, make sure you have logged in to iCivics with your Google credentials. Here are instructions for getting your accounts connected. Once synced, you can easily assign games to your students. You cannot assign lesson plans at this time.

Create some guidelines for your students and their parents to help facilitate online learning at home.

If your students will be at home, then it’s likely that their parents or relatives will be acting as stand-in teacher aides. If you have the time, it may be beneficial to create a one-pager that outlines some tips for ensuring students are engaging fully in their assignments and that distractions are removed. Here are some ideas of what you might include:

  • Provide “time to complete” instructions for materials or activities you send home. Each of our lessons and games includes an estimated time (in class periods) needed to complete the activity. This can be translated into hours at home and will help folks gauge how much time students should be spending on each activity. 
  • Share tips you use in the classroom to get students to focus. Is it a signature clap, a quiet coyote signal, or a favorite pop song? Let these reluctant teacher aides in on your secret sauce. It’s guaranteed to create some light-heartedness.

Help alleviate anxiety for high school students with upcoming AP Exams with videos and study guides.

May is approaching quickly, which means AP exams are on the horizon. Students preparing for these exams may experience anxiety at the thought of missing valuable in-person instructional time. Help put students’ minds at ease by reminding them that they can also prepare while home. 

In light of the pandemic, iCivics, through Study Edge is offering its curated and tested AP® U.S. Government and Politics Exam resources for free. The study course features over 100 videos and accompanying study guides that break down all of the essential content, making it more accessible for all learners. All of the content can be used at home.

Email iCivics@studyedge.com now to gain free access via a custom code that will be sent to you within two business days and be valid until Aug. 31, 2020.

Be sure to check in on how your students are feeling.

Emotions around the spread of coronavirus can range from fear to information overload. If you’re using an online platform to communicate with students, create space for students to share, collaborate on a fun or silly project, or engage in a brain break while at home. 

Also, remember that you don’t need to go overboard with assignments. While being at home might seem like a break, it can be a stressful or puzzling time for students (and their families!). Ensure that students are prioritizing some time to relax, while continuing to engage in lessons. 

If you have questions or concerns, please email us at support@icivics.org. We are here and ready to assist in whatever way we can. 

Need more? iCivics has compiled enrichment activities, our most popular and timely games, and lessons into a Remote Learning Toolkit so you can easily find resources to support remote learning and share them with students and their families.