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Online Learning and Other Resources for the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic: Texts, Stories, Books, and Literacy

CRISKids by CRIS Radio

Connecticut-based CRIS Radio is offering free, temporary log-in credentials to educators, parents, and students to access their CRISKids Audio Library during the COVID-19 crisis. The CRISKids Audio Library is quite extensive, with more than 1,000 recordings, nearly all requested by teachers in Connecticut.  Access to the recordings will be free and available on any Wi-Fi connected device or smartphone, as well as through the CRIS Radio mobile app.  Those interested should contact Laura Boogaert at lboogaert@crisradio.org to receive their free login credentials and instructions on how to access the service.

Author to Author - Language Development, Literacy, Spelling & more

Matt Glover has been a teacher, principal, author, and consultant for over 30 years and runs the website AuthortoAuthor.org. Along with Ellin Keene, Matt is the coeditor of The Teacher You Want to Be: Essays about Children, Learning, and Teaching. A nationally known literacy consultant, Matt frequently speaks on topics related to nurturing writers, early reading, and supporting children’s intellectual development.

In this collection of videos, he and other educators are providing parents with resources, advice, and tips on how to teach their kids at home, with special regards to language development, literacy, spelling & many more topics. 

Read to Lead - Building Literacy with an Interactive Online Program

 Read to Lead is a tool for grades 5-9 and is 100% free. It builds literacy in the first by creating a reading experience that empowers students to see themselves as the protagonist of their own story. By reading through their day of work, students become immersed in the game play and part of the story. Read to Lead has over 30 games where students make choices in a first-person scenario, preparing them to lead and read into the 21st century. It is available on its website

ILA Replay Conference 2019

The ILA (International Literacy Conference) 2019 Conference emphasized how literacy could (and should) be embedded into every aspect of the school day and students’ lives. Among the aims: to create a culture of literacy and learning that extended beyond school walls into communities and homes, with all stakeholders—families and caregivers included—taking an active role.  That mission is more relevant now than ever before.  As educators turn to virtual channels to bring learning to their students, we want to provide digital opportunities to educators in return. 

That’s why we’re offering the ILA 2019 Replay. From April 1 through April 30, we’re opening access to six of the most popular sessions live-streamed from last year’s conference in New Orleans, LA—for free! 

Sessions included:

  • General Session: Creating a Culture of Literacy | Renée Watson and Pedro Noguera
  • Research Panel: What Research Really Says About Teaching Reading—and Why That Still Matters | P. David Pearson, Sonia Cabell, Gwendolyn McMillon, and Nell K. Duke
  • Featured Speaker: We Need More Than Diverse Books | Tricia Ebarvia
  • Featured Speaker: Teaching Vulnerable Youth How to Read and Write: Lessons About Life, Literacy, and the Pursuit of Meaning | David Kirkland
  • Featured Speaker: Choice, Access, Empowerment: Changing the Game for Young Readers | Donalyn Miller
  • Featured Speaker: Motivating Readers From the Inside Out: The Five Key Beliefs That Matter Most for Student Literacy | Dave Stuart Jr.

Webinar:Small Group Literacy Instruction at a Distance

In this video, Nell Duke discusses how to provide small-group literacy instruction for young children using a video conferencing platform (Zoom). The webinar walks participants through a phonics lesson focused on oi and then, more briefly, a lesson that builds knowledge about food chains and flow diagrams. The video concludes with reflections from four instructional coaches and a few final words from Nell Duke from the University of Michigan (For additional, mostly free resources, please see nellkduke.org.)

Spring 2020 #TheEdCollabGathering Webinars

Spring 2020 #TheEdCollabGathering offers its archived conferences on K-12 Literacy. With over 15 video webinars to watch, resources, and other information, users are guaranteed to find something to use in their own educational practice.

Kate & Maggie Roberts - Video Workshops

 Kate and Maggie Roberts, two national literacy consultants, authors, and frequent speakers, have created a variety of videos that help parents and inspire fellow educators on how to teach literacy in this new distance learning situation. Check out their videos for educators and parents here.

Writeable - Online Writing Program

From assessment to practice, Writable helps schools organize their writing programs around research-backed instruction and feedback - for every teacher and student. With 600+ assignments and prompts (and the ability to create your own), Writable helps teachers focus their writing instruction while saving time on prep and feedback. Available on most platforms. Effectively immediately, Writable is extending their free trial through the rest of this school year. 

Benchmark Universe eBook Libraries

Benchmark Education offers free access to their extensive collection of eBooks to families and educators. This collection provides access to books both in English and Spanish for grades K-6 and is accessible to users using nearly any device with internet access. Benchmark Education eBook Library has not currently pledged compliance with the Connecticut Student Data Privacy law. Please contact in-district personnel to set up the Data Privacy Pledge with this company.

Access to this library is available through July 31, 2020.

Actively Learn - ELA, Science, and Social Studies Resources

Actively Learn’s mission is to enable every student to learn deeply. On their website, the team explains:
'Our vision is why we are building the best digital reading platform for students. For too many, reading simply is not as educational and rewarding as it should be. We reinvent reading so that students deeply understand what they read, build connections between texts, and actively construct knowledge. 
As a company, we want to help students learn, think, and become people who do great things. We are optimistic about what thinking young people can accomplish and we look forward to the world they will build.' Actively Learn has not currently pledged compliance with the Connecticut Student Data Privacy law. Please contact in-district personnel to set up the Data Privacy Pledge with this company.

They offer text and video resources for ELA, Science, and Social Studies with scaffold and higher-order questions. Browse their resources catalog here. 

Phonics Faux Pas: Avoiding Instructional Missteps in Teaching Letter-Sound Relationships

This article, written by Nell K. Duke and Heidi Anne E. Mesmer, reviews 7 common mistakes that occur when providing phonics and early reading instruction. 

Harvard Collection of Free Online Resources

The Widener Library at Harvard University has accumulated a list of various publishers and vendors that made some or all of their content freely available due to the changed library situation in this pandemic. Note that this content, however, does not include material that is normally only available through Harvard Library student or faculty access. Reed Lowrie from Harvard also notes: 'Also, the Harvard-based Open Access Tracking Project has an extensive, tagged library of information on Open Access. Offers related to the pandemic are tagged oa.humanitarian; follow that feed here.' 

Webinar: Personalizing the Reading Experience

Learn skills that you and your students can use to personalize digital reading experiences. How to adjust display features and text-to-speech will be included. All platforms will be addressed

Presented by: Lynn McCormack & Luiz Perez, AEM Center

Spanish Children's Stories

Through the website, The Spanish Experiment, comes a collection of well-known children's stories translated into Spanish and spoken by a native Spanish speaker. Listen to the story in Spanish and follow along by reading the text in Spanish or English while enjoying the illustrations.

Bookshare - Learning at Home During COVID-19

Bookshare is a free online library that provides access to over 800,000 ebooks in easy-to-read formats. The following resources will help students with dyslexia, blindness, cerebral palsy, and other reading barriers to continue learning during school closures. Bookshare provides both a guide for educators and for parents/caregivers on how to access these materials. Bookshare has not currently pledged compliance with the Connecticut Student Data Privacy law. Please contact in-district personnel to set up the Data Privacy Pledge with this company.

Learning Ally

Learning Ally is a leading nonprofit education solutions organization that transforms the lives of struggling learners by delivering proven solutions that help students reach their potential. Specifically, Learning Ally provides schools and caregivers with student access to audiobooks that can be used as an accommodation for students with reading-based learning differences, such as dyslexia. Learning Ally has also pledged compliance with the CT Student Data Privacy law.