Home Schooling during the Novel Corona Virus.

Well i am a teacher based in Hong Kong so we find ourselves under a defacto quarantine arrangement. I actually wrote this a couple of weeks ago and decided not to post it in the hope it would have all blown over. However students are now out of school until the 16th of March, and teachers are being asked to come up with online learning activities to try to bridge the gap. This is no small task and for some of us to switch to online learning with out being able to properly teach the students ( and lets be honest the teachers) how to access, interact and utilize these resources has its challenges.

There are many online resources, but most of the full in depth programs require a certain amount of pre-teaching before hand. So it leaves us with a little problem. I have tried to find ones that keep this to a minimum, and hopefully this is needed for a short a time as possible. When its all over i will be so happy to get back into the classroom, change the title to just homeschooling resources and drop the Corona Virus part!

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but i can try to point us all in the right direction. I have found and located some good resource sites that homeschooling parents and teachers have been using for years. It should help you find something, though of course not every site will fit your particular needs there is something for everyone here.

Feel free to take a look of them, i have tried to find ones that are totally free but there are some mixed in where the payment or subscription is worth considering.

If you need English specific Websites put a post about online learning as well here.

1. TED-Ed

Ted talks are superb for older learners, so more suitable for upper Primary ages. Most of the talks, and they are on so many different subjects, will have subtitles in your native languages so it doesn’t have to be all about English. The speakers are world leaders in their fields and the talks come with lessons and ideas to explore all for free. Great for everyone not just homeschooling.

2. Reading Eggs

You have to pay for this one, but they have a free trial, so you can see if it suits you first. It teaches reading with games and activities and is aimed squarely at younger learners it is really popular so that free trial is definitely worth a look!

3. Khan Academy

Totally free and absolutely fantastic, This group offers an ever expanding library of free lessons on science, history, maths at levels from Kindergarten upwards. It has videos and plans to go through either at school or at home. It is completely free to use and is a superb resource for either full lessons or idea generation for teachers.

4. Quizizz

A great Kahoot style site that allows teachers to create and make quizzes for any subject or topic they like. These can be assigned and marked and even linked to google classroom. They are a little more kid friendly than the google forms version.

5. NASA Education

This, as you would imagine, has a lot of STEM and Science based activities and games. It covers the whole K1 – 12 year groups, and is great to build motivation knowing it is NASA who designed all of these.

6. Project Gutenberg

Basically a free online library, with over 60000 books. If you need reading resources they also have a good collection of classic and modern children’s literature as well. If you need to set reading work this could certainly come in handy

7. Steve Spangler Science

Great science activities from this site, there are videos, lessons, activities and links to know more. I use this in my lessons and it will be just as fun and useful in a home environment. I really enjoy these ones.

8. Homeschool.com

A useful and informative site that is great for beginners and for those who have been homeschooling for a long time. It has a forum, which offers a level of interactivity for the teacher or homeschooler and means you can ask other more experienced homeschooling parents for advice and tips.

9.  HowtoSmile

This is simply an awesome resource. Math and STEM lessons, information and activities from museums and teachers. over 3000 at last count. it is designed to be after hours activities so perfect for home environments, though i also use them in school a lot. I like it so much i made the title bigger to grab your eye 😉

10. The Activity Mom

Written and maintained by classroom teachers who are collaborating to share the resources they have developed for others. It is aimed firmly at younger students and the activities are both fun and educational! Lots of good ideas and free resources here.

11. PowerMyLearning

This is an online platform that has thousands of games, activities and videos from kindergarten to year 12. It covers all school subjects and can be used both in school and out of school! Did i mention its free!!

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Some of the Best Online English Resources

Games, Worksheets, Songs and Activities.

At the moment, it being February 9th 2020, I am stuck at home here in Hong Kong. I am a teacher here and have been for a long time. They have closed the schools till at least March the 2nd, for the Corona Virus and though I am sure my students were a little pleased when that was announced, fast forward a week with most of Hong Kong closed and it is actually pretty boring.

I am trying to make their days better by doing one of the things that makes my days better which is making resources, and thinking of new ways to make learning more fun for them.

I am using google classroom and padlet but we are in the unfortunate position of most of these being new to students and it is way more difficult to teach them how to use an App they have never seen as well as try to teach them my subject, oh did i mention i am an English teacher, and my students are 6 and not native english speakers.

So I have got together this list, fairly large list, of online English resource sites including mine that I hope will be helpful to you all, be you in a classroom, homeschooling or like me trying to design online learning while stuck at home!!! I wont go into to much detail on them as its a fairly long list, but to have them all in one place is something I have found useful.

Epic Books:

A free site and associated app for teachers, but you have to be in the classroom to keep it usable and free, other wise its paid at 7.99 USD a month. For over 25000 books and quizzes though, its not a bad deal.

KIZCLUB

Free printable work. stories and props. They helpfully split it by topic and phonics so its easier to navigate. Also have crafts and songs on the site as well. Definitely work a look.

Games to learn English

this website has a selection of interactive games for English learners. It is has limited phonics games, but has a lot on vocabulary and grammar.

English Club

A website full of word searches, crosswords, vocab and grammar. It also goes on to business English level if you need something of that level. It also has elements of listening which is hard to find online.

Making English Fun

You are already here, but i try to put on online games and resources that can form the basis of full lessons. They also include listening and reading exercises. As its my site I will put to links in 😛 one to the resources and one to the games. Resources and online games

Super Simple Songs

Over 20 million subscribers cant be wrong. Loads, and I mean LOADS of songs for young learners. From ABC and beyond with colorful and well animated images as well.

StarFall

If you bookmark just one website make it this one, covers phonics and reading with fun and interactive quizzes for free. (online at least) and has more difficult texts for more advanced learners as well.

Vooks

A new and shinier version of Epic books, these books are beautifully animated, there is a month for free now and a year for free for teachers at the time of writing!

British Council Activities

A big selection of language learning for all areas of English. It does require access to printer though. Interactive games and targeted song help to supplement your lessons.

Teach your Monster to Read

Not going to say to much about this again as i wrote a whole article on this site here and a review of the app here. It is superb for younger learners. It is free to play online, and can be used by teachers to chart progress but costs to buy the app.

Learning Games for kids

These are lovely, keyboard controlled games for kids. They are really difficult to play!! though a lot of fun. The language is actually pretty good, just the games are challenging, could be my age though! Lots of choice and looks great!

KidsTV

A YouTube channel with hundreds of child friendly songs with education themes, like counting, math and English. Great in addition to more formal tasks.

KidZone Worksheets

A free worksheet website that seems to be linked with the publisher DLTK, well they have their logo on it anyway. covers core subjects and also splits by Amercian grade levels as well.

Worksheet fun

A worksheet site that has hundreds, and hundreds of worksheets. It seems to focus on Maths more than anything else but there are some pretty good English ones on there as well.

ESL Galaxy

I selection of about 4 websites that offer good child friendly revision games on vocabulary for the most part. Takes a bit of navigation but once you have it you will be using these again and again.

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How to gain more blog visitors – Facebook adverts vs Facebook Groups


A month ago I wrote about how trying Facebook groups gave me a 300% boost in traffic to my website. Now I want to update you on how that is going and why I still think its a really GREAT way to get targeted people to view your content.

On January the 11th this year i wrote about what happened when I started using Facebook groups to share my content the post is here. In a nutshell, visitor numbers went up, for me through the roof, for bigger bloggers maybe just a little rise but I am still at the beginning of all of this. So i just want to share my experience and tips again if any of you are new to the marketing of your blog or website! I make no claims to be an expert in this so if you have advice for me PLEASE share it at the bottom of the page as i will listen to all advice as well! However….

The rise in visitors really gave me the confidence boost i was looking for, and encouraged me to make my own Facebook group to be able to share content on there without being at the whim of other groups’ Admin, Moderators and timescales. I will explain more about the perils and pitfalls of that later tho.

Weekly Facebook Group growth

So i want to share how the whole month has been going. Each day I have been posting a link and description into about fifteen or so Facebook groups, If you want the TL, DR version the graph kinda says it all! (especially if you click it ;), The graph above is from the 8th of January when I first posted content into the groups, till today, the 8th of February. As you can see the numbers of visitors held steady at about 600 900 views, and on one day in particular they shot through the roof!

This was me posting one page, or one resource from my teaching Blog (this one) onto Facebook groups, with the exception of yesterday. Which still pulled in nearly 500 people without marketing (that’s the ultimate aim) to be able to be more hands off with the marketing side of things, and just be able to concentrate on the content side.

This graph is the comparison from December to January, and to February the 8th. In December I added just a little content, I was trying to build up steam at that point, and in January I tried to add something on most days. I have no idea why I seemed to miss Wednesdays! It wasn’t by design. As you can see there is a huge increase in views and visitors.

Now in this time i also paid for a Facebook advert, it was on this post (a post about motivational quotes and teaching), which is fine. It is nice and helps people through the day and i thought i might do well with an advert. I put 10 dollars down for 3 days and targetted teachers, and people with an interest in education and they certainly saw it! Over 15000 people and 1000 likes on facebook! not bad.

but… can you guess which day that was? i have the January graph on the image above, see if you can guess which day it was. I will put an advert (sneaky i know) below this so you can’t see the answer right away.

Now if you are like me you would have said January 26th with that huge spike in visitors, over 3500 on that one day alone, but like me you would have been wrong!

My best day ever!

The day, well 3 days. I had this ad running were on the 8th. 9th, and 10th of January, right at the beginning. There were some visitors that day, but nothing compared to what came later, when I stopped advertising with Facebook. If you look at the image below it shows you i have 994 engagements, but this is on Facebook, not clicks to my website, so people were liking it on their Facebook feed but that didn’t translate to visitors to the website, and that was an issue. In fact only 9 visitors are recorded through this advert.

I think there is push-back on Facebook especially when people see the words sponsored or ad and this push back stops people clicking through to your site, now as a new site it was just an experiment, but it appeared and continues to appear to me that if you want to target people to your site then instead of paying Facebook to send them the content as an advertisement just join a page that is similar to your subject and start putting your posts, resources and articles in there.

It is working better than advertising for me, and it costs me about 15 mins a day. You will soon know if what you are writing and presenting is popular or not, and it gives you the opportunity to engage and help people or offer advice in the group.

Now i am a new site, or most of my content is new, so as of yet my SEO is not going to be hitting google search engines, though i do rank first for my website title which is nice. So until i can see my pages appearing in search engines this is great way to drive traffic to my little corner of the internet for the sake of 15 mins a day waht have you got to lose!

Hope that helps if you have other tips and tricks feel free to post them at the bottom.

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Teach Your Monster to Read Mini-games Instructions

          All English Phonetic sounds covered in 12 engaging games.

  1. https://www.teachyourmonstertoread.com/minigames

This site covers EVERY phonics sound and has 12 different games to teach and practice them. It is totally free to play online and is the best full targeted phonetic games site there is. It also has, if you explore the site, board games, posters, sight words and lots and lots of other resources for teachers and students. I wrote a full review on this site and app here. The app is not free ( well it is twice a year) but if you have tablets or IPads it is well worth the purchase if your school is able. There is an example of the full game below.

I am putting a video of me helping my class access these games below as I am based in Hong Kong and currently all students are off school until March. So we are gathering resources and materials for them to work on at home. I will change it back when this is all over.

Instructions for my class

Instructions for teachers

  1. Press the link to go to the Teach your monster page. It will look like this.
  1. You can assign the sound that the students should choose from this selection. (they are all there)
  2. Once the student has pressed the sound they will have this screen in front of them.


3) The top level of games are letter to sound tasks. So simple listen to the sound and press or drag the correct sound to match. This is more suitable for Kindergarten or Juniors (depending on reading levels) I will highlight briefly the activities in case you need to explain to the students.

Letter Sound Matching Games Breakdown.

Letter sort. Sheep and Duck games:

These two games are the same game play but with different graphics. Students simply listen to the sound of the letter and them use the mouse to make the monster pick up the sheep or the ducks and over them to the correct area. For all of these examples I have used the sound ’’ y ’’ as an example. They have to play through three times to complete the sound.

Sound recognition games:

These two are also the same gameplay but different graphics. Students have to press space key or tap the mouse to have the monster jump on the flower or balloon. It will say a sound, then they have to jump or drop to the correct sound. Get three letters and sounds to complete the game.

Sound Recognition building games:

These two games ask the students to slide the spaceship or submarine over the letters to hear the sound and then click or press to pick up the sound. They have to listen and then see which sound is next in the purple tower. Then they slide the ship back over the tower and drop the sound into place. They can then move onto the next sound. The game completes when they finish building the tower.

Word Building and Segmenting Games

These games are a little more in depth and ask students to listen to be able to build words. They are really useful for students to have to listen and then deconstruct the sounds that make up individual English words.

Save the bear and Shoot the asteroids games. Word building and segmenting.

Students have to listen to the word and then shoot or jump to the correct sounds to make it. There are two versions in each game one is listen to the word and then build it with letters, the other is look at the word and then build it with sounds. Both are useful.

Jump to balloon or asteroid games:

Students have to listen or read the word and then either jump to the right sounds or letters to correctly spell it. There are three levels to compete before they can finish. Similar to previous game.

Beach and Goblin word game:

The game will say a word and students have to catch the moving characters to spell it. It moves between spelling with letters and spelling with sounds. All three of these games ask the students to so almost the same thing but in slightly different ways.

Note: These games are not designed to be played for hours and hours at a time, so please assign them for 10 minutes or so a day. They will be much more effective that way. 

On the full site you have board games as well as the full game, however if you are running a full class it does take some time to set up the user names and passwords for each student. That is definitely worth doing but using these games is a good way to introduce the game before you do, or it is equally as good for students to work on at home.

With me being based in Hong Kong and our schools being off for at least a month due to the Coronoa Virus i am setting this as a daily / bi weekly activities for my students to use at home. It will keep them engaged and hopefully keep them practicing the skills they have learnt.

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