Teaching Resources for Distance Learning

What a week this has been!

Our school district in Colorado shut down a week before Spring Break, so this past week was our first go at Online/Distance/Home Learning. I have heard it called a wide variety of terms, but one thing's certain, it is unlike anything we have ever done before.

First things first-- there is absolutely no "right way" to go about this.

This is a huge shift for every single person across the globe. I find both comfort and discomfort in that, but I want to offer you three of the resources that have worked for me this past week in the hope that you can add to your toolbelt in these upcoming weeks and months.

Hopefully, next week I will be back with three more. But for now, everything in bite-sized pieces!

Always feel free to share some of your favorite resources in the comments. One of the benefits I have always loved about blogging is the sharing of ideas and the virtual "opening of our classroom doors," even if those have now been closed in real life for the rest of the school year.

Disclaimer: I have been teaching fifth this year, but my daughter is in third and I taught third for a billion (actually 12, but you know...) years, so I am offering these ideas for a 3-5 setting. As always, feel free to pick and choose based on your own situation :)


Screencastify is little gem has saved my life when it comes to creating tutorials of new programs we're rolling out. This is a free Chrome plugin that allows up to five minutes of screen recording, including audio.

I have used this to walk through a lesson on Google Slides, to show a tutorial of how to login to a new program, and even to model how to create something like Make-a-Map on BrainPOP.

Its max limit on the free version is five minutes. At first, I was feeling rushed, but it forced me to choose my words carefully and not ramble on incessantly-- just like in the classroom! 

And, let's be honest, how many students are going to watch a video longer than five minutes with undivided attention?

With Screencastify, you can edit your clips, record a tab or whole desktop, even your webcam, and the videos automatically save to your Google Drive!

There are also links to upload directly to YouTube, post directly to Google Classroom, embed, or download the clip. 

Yes, there are certainly other ways to do this, but the ease of Screencastify paired with the direct save and post features are big reasons to add this to your list of resources for online teaching. 

Here's an overview from their site with more information, or just Google search the many tutorials for how the features can help you in your teaching:

The free version I have been using has been fantastic, but they do offer teacher discounts at 40% off the regular price for the premium version. Plus, they donate a portion of every sale to Donors Choose, so it's worth exploring if you need more features.

**UPDATE** Screencastify is joining the ranks of the other AMAZING companies stepping up to help teachers during this time. Use code CAST_COVID (case-sensitive) to go to an unlimited account. THANK YOU, SCREENCASTIFY! 

Find out more HERE.


Since our state is in full stay-at-home orders, my students are feeling pretty disconnected. We meet daily on Zoom, but that is more of a classroom setting and I wanted a way to let them share their creativity and personalities... all of which this year's class has in abundance!

Enter Flipgrid!

This site is a hoot, but proceed with caution since it can quickly turn into a free-for-all without specific instructions (unfortunately speaking from experience!).

Flipgrid allows you to post a prompt and students can create videos (within a time parameter) to respond. Then, they can reply to each other's videos and even give "likes" if you set up that feature.

There are filters, stickers, text and whiteboard options as well.

There are a lot of settings for the features and I deeply appreciate that as a teacher. You can set the videos to be moderated before posting, turn off/on replies, likes, and view counts, and hide or delete any messages that you'd like. 

You can adjust the length of the videos and add links and YouTube videos to help clarify the directions. There are also grading features if you choose to use this for something more academic. 

We haven't gone in that direction yet. So far we've used it for:
  • Saying "hi" and saying what we did over Spring Break
  • Birthday greetings for our classmates
  • Pet introduction
  • Building a fort and giving us a tour

I will say the pet introduction kept me busy all day yesterday because it was so sweet to watch my students with their fuzzy friends. I even had a student introduce a plant as a pet and we all loved it. 

I recommend laying out expectations and using the moderating features as you get started, since we aren't all together in the classroom and it takes some getting used to at the beginning. 

But the connections we've made and the engagement and excitement of my class has been worth it-- we've been able to create shared experiences and carry on "conversations" in a way that just isn't possible in the current situation.

Give it a try HERE.

YouTube Writing Prompts

Writing is a tricky subject to get kids excited about online. They can keep a journal, reply to prompts, and give written responses to reading, but I was looking for a fun twist to get them engaged with writing creatively in this new online environment.

Enter an amazing YouTuber and his creative writing videos! John Spencer (and a second site of his HERE) has been one of my favorite discoveries. He's a former middle school teacher and his channel is not just writing prompts, but offers some inspiration for teachers as well as quick lessons for the classroom. 

His prompts are on-point, he provides illustrations that match all of the different ideas to think about, and his videos are only about two minutes long-- just enough to get the creative juices flowing!

Aren't these fantastic!? And there are so many to choose from!

I've assigned these videos with both a Google Doc and Google Drawing because I feel that the illustrations are an important component to these creative writing prompts. Plus, with my more reluctant writers, I'm hoping these prompts and the illustrations can help spark their imagination and keep up their writing stamina.

Find his sites HERE and HERE.


I hope these three resources can help alleviate some stress as we prepare for another week of teaching. If you have any you'd like to share, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

**Update: Find Part 2 of my favorite Online Resources HERE.

In the meantime, know that I am cheering you on and wishing you, your students, and your family the best during this time. You are having such a positive impact on your students and they are so fortunate to have you!


  1. I keep coming back to your posts, Stephanie, finding the resources you share to be exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks!

    1. Thank YOU for your kind words and encouragement :) I am so glad these can help. Best of luck teaching in this new environment!