This time we’ll be talking about free and low cost resources parents and students can use to continue education while schools are closed. Ralston will be talking about educational tools that have been around for a while in addition to some new options being offered by various organizations and our own resources. Read the transcript below:
Hey everyone, Ralston here, owner of Strive Academics. Welcome to Ahead of the Curve episode two. Currently we are live streaming to Facebook, YouTube and Instagram live. We’re still working out a couple of the kinks, so forgive me if there are a couple of hiccups here and there. Today we’re going to be talking about some of the resources that students can use while schools are engaged in distance learning. I’ve collected a couple of resources, some that I’ve talked about before on our blog, as well as a couple of unique resources that I’ve found since. There are a mix of resources that are around throughout the year in addition to resources that a few organizations are currently offering to students specifically during this time. So let’s just go ahead and dive right in.
So one of the first resources that I wanted to talk about is Cold Turkey. This is a unique one and I think it’s going to be very, very helpful for students right now, especially those who are struggling with some of their study habits. As we all know, working on our own can sometimes be difficult. Both students and adults alike have a lot of trouble keeping themselves to task. So I particularly love this resource Cold Turkey because what it allows you to do, they have a couple of products but mainly for students. What it allows you to do is set a couple of parameters of websites that you’re allowed to visit or lock down your screen specifically for typing or whatever kind of work you’re trying to get done. Basically it just won’t allow you to use certain websites. So if you know that getting on Facebook is a problem while you’re trying to get some work done, Cold Turkey will help you…well…actually force you from accessing that website. And so this is a particularly useful study tool for students that are just spending too much time doing other stuff than keeping on task.
Now the next resource that I wanted to talk about is one, just to help you stay a little bit focused too because I know some of us love to stay on track with a little bit of music while we’re studying. So two resources I wanted to mention is either Noisli or Spotify. Noisli is a service specifically tailored to this that allows you to create your own playlist up to, uh, I believe it’s an hour and a half of streaming per day. So you’re able to create some ambiance while you are studying and you can set it to your mood or whatever. But of course we know a lot of other options like there, like Spotify, as I mentioned before, have playlists where people have organized their own playlists for studying.
Personally, I love lo-fi playlists if I’m going to use a playlist in the first place, but usually I just study in silence while getting some work done. But Spotify, Noisli, even YouTube: you know, a lot of people create or curate their own YouTube playlist as well, and there are a lot of great study playlists out there. So if you’re someone that likes a little bit of background music – you can’t focus in just the silence – these are great resources for you as well.
Now for people who want to make their learning a little bit more fun or perhaps study with some classmates, the next resource I want to mention is a great alternative to that. Kahoot!, as many students may be aware of, maybe you’ve used it in class before. Kahoot! Is a great resource where you’re able to create educational games and quizzes and play either on your own or against some friends. So I believe the free version allows you to go up to 10 people per game. But I also know that during this time, Kahoot! is offering their service – their premium service – free to schools in addition to that. So they’re allowing them to create even more extensive games and use some of their more premium features during this time.
Now the next resource I want to talk about is one of my favorites. I always use Quizlet, especially, especially for studying when it comes to things like vocabulary or just anything that requires a lot of memorization. Now, the basic Quizlet many students are probably also familiar with, but often times I find myself forgetting some of its functionalities or even that it’s out there in the first place. So Quizlet allows you to create digital flashcards. It makes it great for studying, but in addition to that, they have some premium features that will allow you to make some more interactive games (and diagrams). It’s kind of similar to Kahoot!, but it also has some interactive study materials. Great for teachers out there or people who are homeschooled or even the students who are just more inclined to make something interesting with their resources.
Next I wanted to go into a resource that I found recently. It’s called Tynker. This one is more for STEM-related study. Tynker is a great resource for students who are interested in learning a little bit more about the STEM field and so on. So I’m actually going to bring it up on my web browser here. You’ll be able to see this if you’re in either my YouTube or my Facebook live stream, but I’m actually going to share my screen. So just taking a quick scroll. Uh, apparently… I think I messed up the spelling of it. It’s T, Y,N ,K , E R, (it was spelled Tynkor on the live stream) but it allows kids to study coding and other STEM fields in a more gamified way. So I think this was a pretty interesting resource, great for kids as young as five and up. It’s something that I found recently that I think could be really useful, especially if you’ve got a little more extra time on your hands, a great resource to learn a new skill.
And speaking of that, one that I’m a little bit more familiar with and I think is probably geared more towards a little bit of an older audience: Code Academy is a great resource for anyone who’s looking to learn coding as well. I’ve used it myself in the past to brush up on a few coding things. Code Academy is always a great resource and it’s been free before this. I believe its plan is to remain free forever.
Now one probably everyone’s familiar with: YouTube. YouTube is a great resource out there. You’ve got to be a little bit more careful because not all resources are made the same. So with YouTube, you’ve probably got to do a little bit more searching to find something that’s suitable to your needs. And one of the downsides with using something like YouTube as well is that you need to probably have a much better idea of exactly what you’re searching for. Because if you don’t know, for example, let’s say a two step equations is what you’re working on, or systems of equations and you’re not familiar with that name, then it’s going to be pretty difficult for you to find the kind of content that’s actually going to help you out there. So because it’s not organized specifically for learning, it’s going to be a little bit more difficult in that regard. But as we know, there’s tons of free content on YouTube, some of which we’re putting out ourselves for a variety of subjects, pretty much anything that you can think of would be useful to learn on that website.
Now, this next one is not a free resource, but it’s one that I always keep coming back to and I always recommend to students because I think that it is really a perfect resource for students who are looking for some more guided practice and are really looking for additional practice to work on particular subjects. So if you need to test yourself more instead of just doing the studying part, this is a great resource. This one’s called IXL. Many students are probably familiar with it. A lot of teachers of the students that I interact with often assign some coursework on IXL for homework. And so IXL is a really great utility. It offers a free version, which are able to do a couple of problems in whatever area you have. So it offers courses, I believe from K through 12 in all the core subjects. Additionally, I found they also offer some resources in Spanish as well. So I’m particularly excited about that. I may brush up on it myself. If you’re looking to do a little bit more than just the problems that they offer for free, then the subscription price is $10 a month for one subject or a $20 a month for all four of the core subjects. And it’s great practice. It starts off easy with some of the more simple problems and then progressively gets harder over time as you complete more and more problems to help you gain that true mastery. And so it will mix the problems up with some variety, which is something that I always like to do for our students as well, because that shows you that you’re really understanding how to approach the problem from all sorts of different angles, and that’s really the true test of whether you understand the content or not. Right? So particularly I love IXL too because it also gives you immediate feedback. So say you get an answer wrong. Well, IXL is going to show you first at that answers incorrect and then it’s going to give you a breakdown of how you should have approached the problem. So I really love this particular tool. Uh, exactly for that reason because not only does it give you immediate feedback, but it also alternates the questions and gets progressively harder, which is exactly how I like to approach tutoring and instruction with my students as well.
Now onto a couple of resources that are doing things specifically during this term. Next one is Khan Academy. Now many people know Khan Academy as a resource that’s always free. It’s a great nonprofit out there for education. But one thing that I recently saw while I was browsing on their website is that they’re offering free courses every single day during this time. So while schools are closed and doing distance learning, Khan Academy is taking the opportunity to step in and really provide that education for students that need it or who needs something more of like a guided instruction. And so if you go onto their main page, just khanacademy.org, you’ll probably see a pop up first thing where it’s talking a little bit about the guided classes that they’re offering. And they have a schedule on a couple of different streams. But they’re offering classes from K through 12 as well. Maybe some college classes, but I haven’t particularly checked on that myself. But every single day from, I think it’s somewhere around like 8:30 up until four or five PM they’re having classes on the hour every single day, and it’s a really great resource for students that just need a little bit more support with some of the content that they’ve been learning throughout the school year. I think it’s a great thing that they’re doing and I hope that they continue on with their mission to provide education to our students out there.
Last, I also wanted to mention for students taking more advanced classes: the College Board. So College Board, as you may know, is the creator of the SAT as well as AP exams. What the college board is doing during this time is that they’ve created their own (virtual) AP classes. So for students who were gearing up to take the AP exam and still have hopes to take that in the future – if you don’t want to fall off track because we know there’s a lot of content covered on those tests – the College Board has stepped in and created their own AP classes online. It’s kind of the same thing as Khan Academy where they’re creating streams every single day with different classes. So again, check that out on their website. It’s on the homepage collegeboard.org where you can see a little bit more about what they’re doing there.
So those are most of the resources that I wanted to talk about. Of course, I’ve mentioned before that we have our own resources on our worksheet page offered on teachers pay teachers, striveacademics.com/worksheets, as well as now Etsy, and, in the future, many other places. Now our resources aren’t free, but they’re pretty low cost: most of them ranging from $1 – $5. We’re constantly, especially during this time, trying to crank out as many of those resources as possible because we want to help you fill that gap as well. Great for students who are homeschooled or looking for a little bit additional practice. So I always love the content that we put out of course, and we’re always looking to make more free resources.
In addition, I consider particular podcast and live stream one of our resources as well. Always keep checking back on our website and our blog for the many things that we’re doing there because we’re constantly trying to keep you updated with the various resources that will really help you stay ahead of the curve and stay ahead of your peers as well. So in the next episode, I’m going to talk a little bit more about study strategy as well as things that students can do to stay on top of their schedules while distance learning is still in effect. So that way our students aren’t falling behind because I know, like I mentioned up top, a lot of students…it can be difficult having to deal with your schedule and all the messages that your teachers are sending, as well as just everything coming from every which way. And, you know, sometimes some of that homework can just fall through the cracks. So I’ll be talking a little bit about not only tools, like I mentioned today, but some of the strategies that you can employ as well just to make sure that you’re staying on top of everything. That’s it for today. I’ll see you next time.