The Covid- 19 outbreak and resulting school closures have many families wondering how they will keep their teens engaged and learning from home for weeks, or perhaps months, at a time. We’ve compiled a list of free digital tools and resources to help parents and teachers keep teens focused on positive activities while at home.
Learn to code
Khan Academy offers free online courses in a variety of subjects, but one, in particular, gives students the opportunity to participate in an hour of coding and provides them with a certificate of completion, which is a great feedback mechanism to keep students motivated.
Girls Who Code has also made online at-home resources available. Their activities cater to beginner and intermediate level students and include screen-free creative exercises that can build problem-solving skills.
Reflection: Ask students what they liked or disliked about their coding activity, what they would change, and how they think coding could be valuable to them now or in the future.
Tour a Museum Online
A number of museums offer free online tours, and many are hosted through Google Arts & Culture, including The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), The Museum of African American History and Culture, The British Museum, the National Gallery of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Belvedere in Vienna, and more. Visitors can learn important and inspirational historical facts and view famous works of art and gain insights about the techniques used to create each piece.
For students interested in science, NASA also offers virtual tours of its facilities, including the Glenn Research Center, the Hubble Space Telescope mission operations center, and the International Space Station.
Reflection: Ask students what they liked or disliked about each tour, what their favorite piece or part of the tour was, why it was their favorite, and what they learned overall from participating in the tour.
Learn a New Language Online
Duolingo is a fun and evidence-based way for kids of all ages to learn over 30 languages for free. The engaging tool guides language students at any level through learning modules that are easy to understand and self-paced.
Reflection: Ask students what language they have chosen and why, how they think learning that language will help them now and in the future, and what they learned in their lesson.
Seek a Digital Volunteer Role
Many local and even national nonprofit organizations rely on volunteer support for social media management, email campaigns to get the word out about their organization, and more. If a teen already supports an organization with in-person volunteering, they can check out the organization’s website to see what type of assistance they are looking for during this time. If a teen is looking to start volunteering, VolunteerMatch.org and Points of Light are great places to search for virtual volunteering opportunities.
Reflection: Ask students why they are volunteering for the cause they have chosen to support. After they complete their service, ask them how they think it impacted the organization and the people they serve, in addition to how doing the work made the students feel.
At Ascend, we have created a digital program called Challenge Accepted! that students can use to stay engaged in positive academic and social-emotional activities while at home. Many of the activities we have listed above are challenges for students to complete through our platform. Completing challenges earns students points, which makes them eligible to win college scholarships. To learn more, parents and teachers can visit this page.
Ascend is a student empowerment platform that enables schools and mentoring organizations to cultivate, track, and measure student goals and achievement. Ascend is proud to be a minority and woman-owned business and supports organizations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Texas, and beyond.