5 great teacher-focused websites: Supporting students through coronavirus

A number of global themes and issues have been developed that can support student learning and well-being during the closure of schools, community centres and physical learning spaces.

Here is a starter list of 5 great teacher focused online sources covering a range of Covid-19 related materials suitable for many subjects, introduced by Colm Regan, including CSPE, English, Business Studies, Politics & Society, Geography, Mathematics, Science, Transition Year modules, Home Economics, Environmental Education and beyond.

1. Teacher Planet – Tolerance

Very rich site to explore with extensive education-focused materials.  Developed by the US Educators Network, the site offers theme-based materials (e.g. on bullying, child labour, democracy, environment, black history – and even, Ireland) and practical, active teaching materials.  Check out:

  • posters, classroom activities, project ideas, ‘fun stuff’ (cartoons), worksheets (by subject) and lesson plans (see, for example those on Geography – in particular the link to the Smithsonian Institute learning lab).
  • pay attention to the ‘Cool Tools’ section – over 50 ideas and activities organised thematically.
  • see also the onward link to Education World – another teacher focused rich source from a US context but highly adaptable (includes ideas for parents in the current situation).

2. National Geographic – Education

The education website of one of the world’s best known magazines.  Hugely rich and full website.  Search by class level, subject and resource – infographics, activities, photos, videos, articles etc.  You can sign in and then save materials for future use. Examples include:

Photo text: ‘Sometimes, the vegetation is preserved in the coal seam, making coal perhaps the most “fossil-y” of fossil fuels. Here, a group of coal miners crowd around a petrified tree stump in 1918’. 

3. Global Footprint Network – Educational Resources

Educational resources section of the popular Footprint Network which investigates our ecological footprint at a host of levels – product, country, region etc.  If you have not explored this site yet, do so now – a very rich source of ideas and activities.  See, for example its footprint calculator, its data sources, its ‘footprint futures module’ (human dependence on the biosphere), its activities list (see the Fish Game for example) and its videos listing (see ‘How much nature do we have?).

The site includes a very useful, potentially project-focused section on case studies per country.

4. Teaching Tolerance

Dedicated to education work and ideas on tolerance, diversity, democracy and rights, this site offers a wealth of materials and suggestions as well as practical activities.  Includes a major focus on key issues – race, religion, ability, class, gender and sexual identity, immigration and activism.  For example,

  • in the case of the latter topic, there are class level designed activities and projects with almost 50 suggested ideas – letter writing, poetry and storytelling, photo essays, oral history projects etc.
  • see the ideas under the heading Identity Portraits (where students create visual self-portraits containing symbols representing the student’s identity, beliefs, values or areas of interest related to diversity, anti-bias or social justice etc.)
  • see also the rich gallery of images to stimulate art-based projects entitled One World Posters
  • the site also offers facilitators guides plus a set of relevant podcasts.

The site also focuses directly on issues related to COVID-19 and the responses to it including the issue of scapegoating others.

5. Oxfam Australia – education resources

From our colleagues in Oxfam Australia, a wealth of materials and ideas which can be filtered by class level, subject, topic, cross curriculum focus, resource type and case studies.  Given its Australian origins, the site includes an interesting focus on Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders with onward links. Check out:

  • the excellent What She Makes website – a focus on the context in which many of our clothes are made (you could then link this focus onwards to other sites such as The Clean Clothes Campaign)
  • for something a bit different in terms of focus see the site’s Banking on Shaky Ground which focuses on the responsibilities of banks when making investment decisions overseas? How can big business operations leave local communities in developing countries homeless and hungry? And how can consumers and young people influence their decisions?
  • you could then link this focus to Financial Justice Ireland and their education section. With a range of business, finance and politics related teaching resources for post primary level.