Preparing for an Extended School Closing – Resources for School Librarians

Extended school closings

As the coronavirus continues to spread it seems like more and more schools are closing for an extended period of time. This is leading to schools frantically trying to come up with a plan to keep students learning and engaged during this time.

When you go online to search for information or to find resources to use with your students it can be very overwhelming. There is so much information out there that it can be hard to know where to start looking. You go onto Facebook and there are hundreds of posts on the topic. And we all know that once you start down that rabbit hole you can be lost for hours. In this blog post I am sharing some different lesson ideas that you can possibly implement if you find yourself in this situation.

On this page you can find links to various websites that you might find helpful. This includes websites that are offering free access to their services for schools affected by the coronavirus. If you have any suggestions or ideas I can add please contact me. I will update these pages as needed.

I also put together a free library skills activity pack for grades K-5. In it are worksheets and printables that you can send home in print packet or upload to Google Classroom or similar learning management system. I hope they are helpful.

First steps for and extended school closing

One of the first things you want to do is to provide students, families, and teachers with ways they can access library resources from home. This includes usernames and passwords for any subscriptions you have like World Book or Pebble Go. You also want to include resources that the public library offers. If the public library has an e-book collection show students how to access it. If the library offers any tutorials, print or online, make those available as well. I’m not sure how this idea would work but maybe you can talk to the library and arrange for students to apply for a library card before school closes.

If you have a library web page make sure this information is displayed prominently (if it isn’t already). You can also create a free web page with Google Sites.

Think about how many students will not have access to technology at home. Even if your school is 1:1, families may not have internet access or WiFi. In this case, the most realistic option is to send home packets of work for students to complete.

Of course teachers will be doing this, but there is no reason you can’t as well. It doesn’t have to just be worksheets either. Send home reading logs, bookmarks for students to color or reading response graphic organizers that can be filled out with any book the student has access to. Provide parents with handouts of ways they can help their children with their reading at home. This can include reading comprehension questions they can ask before or after reading, how to do a picture walk and the importance of allowing the child to read to them. Talk to the reading teacher and see if he or she already has these kinds of handouts.

Apps and Websites

If your school does close for an extended time period you want to be prepared with some ideas and suggestions of how you can still provide some type of teaching to your students. You also want to be able to offer help to your teachers and administration as they develop a plan. The tools below are just a few apps and websites that can help you get started.

Google Classroom: Some librarians have their own classrooms set up either for individual classes or grade levels. If you do not ask if you can be added as a co-teacher to the classes that are already set up.

Zoom: Zoom is a video conferencing platform that is perfect for teaching remotely. One way librarians can use it is for story time. You can still have story time even if school is closed. When a student logs-in they will be able to see you and any other students who have joined. Of course, students will be very excited to see your house and their classmates houses so it will take a while to get everyone settled and ready to listen. In fact, it might take a session or two, but the possibilities to utilize this tool are endless. As the teacher, you will be able to mute student microphones so there is less distraction. Not only can you do a story time but also songs, rhymes or fingerplays. You can also do a kind of show-and-tell. Students can share their favorite book from their bookshelf. Read a story about pets and everyone can share their pet with the rest of the class. There are other websites similar to zoom like Google Meet.

Kahoot: You can create games and quizzes for students to play. Students or classes can play against each other or a student can do a kahoot by themselves as a self-paced challenge. Kahoot is also offering a free premium membership for schools closed due to coronavirus.

Edpuzzle: Find a YouTube video to share with your students. You then turn that video into a lesson. You can record your voice to personalize it, and hold your students accountable by embedding questions in the video.

Other technology tools:

Digital Citizenship

This is an excellent time to provide digital citizenship lessons to your students. If you have time, focus on this before your school closes. You want to include not only the basics of staying safe online but also touch on how to evaluate websites to determine the information is trustworthy (fake news).

If students will be recording videos or participating in some type of online class with video they will need some guidelines on how to do this safely and correctly. Simple things like wearing the clothes you would wear to school, only record a video with an adult present, be careful of what is in the background as you record your video and keep outside sounds to a minimum.

Providing internet safety lessons for students to complete at home is also an excellent idea during this time. Share resources through Google Classroom, use Edpuzzle to create video lessons or even just send home a packet of worksheets to complete and reading comprehension passages.

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Other ideas

Have students do a LEGO challenge or other simple makerspace or STEM activity. Send home instruction sheets before you close so students can reference back to them. Or share links to videos online that might be useful. Ask students to record a video or take a picture so they can share their creations either online or when they come back to school.

Choice Boards: Create different choice boards or menus that give students options of activities they can do at home. You can create digital choice boards or send home paper copies. You can create these for any grade level.

Ask students to clean-up their bookshelf at home and then take a “shelfie”. Have students organize their books at home into categories of some kind (genres, fiction and nonfiction).

Podcasts: Provide a list of podcasts that students can listen to and then provide some way for them to respond to it. The Wakelet board has a website you can use to find appropriate podcasts.

If you have any ideas or suggestions that you would like me to add to this blog post or the Wakelet board please contact me and let me know. And be sure to download the free activity pack.

8 Responses

  1. Hi,
    Do you know of any sites that read aloud fairy tales for second graders? We want the students to be able to follow along on their iPad screens.

  2. Any specfic ideas on send home packages .very few of our students have computers or internet access. We are a snall remote , community

    1. I have a few different sets of library no-prep printables that would work well for sending home to students in packets. There are two free sets you can download and three larger, paid sets. Also in the free distance learning activity pack there are two different scavenger hunts for students to complete at home.

  3. Any ideas for middle grade fiction that can be paired with audiobooks? Our teachers are wanting to do Save Me a Seat by Sara Weeks but I can only locate the audio version through Epic. Any other free online places that might have the pdf of the actual book? I’m also open to other ideas that might be freely available in both formats. They just finished City of Ember and were able to find it freely available online.

    Thanks for any advice!

    1. Hi Tammy,

      I have not been able to find a version of that book available to read online. If your teachers want to choose another book there are some other websites besides Epic that are offering free access. Tumblebooks has a teen book version with a large selection. Also Junior Library Guild has a separate middle school database to choose from. This blog post talks more about these two options.

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