As the coronavirus continues to impact schools, TpT is committed to curating tips and resources for teachers who are finding themselves in distance learning situations. If you’re an elementary ELA teacher, you’re likely grappling with how to keep your students accountable as they complete reading and writing assignments at home. Here are some ideas from teacher-experts on how you can do just that. 

Ideas for independent reading for elementary students 

  • Use games to incentivize good reading habits. Motivating students and getting them excited about reading is a challenge that many ELA teachers will likely face in the coming weeks. K-2 teacher and TpT Teacher-Author Amanda Richardson recommends navigating through this by creating a reading bingo card and challenging kids to cover every spot on the card by completing all of the readings.
  • Ask students to keep a reading log. If your students are reading independently, TpT Teacher-Author and ESL specialist Donald’s English Classroom advises teachers to create a reading log for students to complete while they are learning from home. “This is a great opportunity for the family to log all their reading time, list stories, and write simple reports on what they’ve read or listened to!” 
  • Facilitate online discussions, when possible. When your students have the opportunity to discuss the book they’re reading, it helps them not only build interest but also motivates them to keep reading. To facilitate this experience, 20-year teaching veteran Peter D. says: “Choose a chapter book or a novel for students to read independently at home. Then, use Google Docs or Google Classroom to have a class discussion about the book online.”  Whatever you assign for reading, be sure to choose topics that will keep your students engaged. High-interest reading passages are key to keeping students reading when they are away from the classroom,” says former upper elementary school teacher and TpT Teacher-Author Shelly Rees. “By providing passages that are appealing and interesting to students, you have a better chance that they will finish related assignments.” 

Ideas for independent writing for elementary students 

  • Have students keep a journal. To encourage your upper elementary students to write at home, 5th grade teacher and TpT Teacher-Author Think Grow Giggle recommends asking them to write in a journal each day. “Have students create a quick list of things that they did each day or week, like help around the house, play a game, ride their bike,” she says. “Students then select one thing from their list and write a short paragraph to explain more about it. When they return to school, their journal now serves as a brainstormed list of what they did while they were out of school.” 
  • Tell students to write letters. For a real world application, TpT Teacher-Author Bow Tie Guy And Wife says to consider letter writing as a way to keep students writing. “Since social distancing is going to physically separate us, this is a wonderful way to sneak in writing practice and teach important life lessons,” he says. “Many nursing homes and elderly care facilities are completely quarantined. The elderly are left without daily or weekly visits from their loved ones. Receiving a letter or coloring page with a friendly note would absolutely make their world!” 

Resources to get you started

More tips the TpT community 

Looking for more tips from TpT about distance learning? Check out these blog posts, which feature strategies to help you get started:

Keep an eye on the blog and TpT’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, where we’ll be continuing to publish more tips and resources on distance learning!