School Closures in Illinois: Online Learning for IL Teachers and Students

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

As officials respond to the coronavirus in Illinois, many schools face closures and are turning to distance learning. If you are a teacher or student in Illinois, consider these tips as you prepare for online learning.

Online Learning in Illinois

As the COVID-19 situation spreads across the country, a growing number of schools are closing. In the state of Illinois, 852 school districts and 3,872 schools could be affected by these closures. Many of these schools are turning to distance learning so that students can continue to address academic goals. Fortunately at this time in history, online learning is an increasingly accessible option.

Teacher Tips for Online Learning

If you are a teacher looking to help your students learn from home, what are your options? Your school may have an established platform, or you may be trying to put together something new. In either case, here are some pointers to consider.

  • Give students clear goals for each online learning interaction.
  • Provide a variety of tools for students to address their goals. Students will be more motivated to perform tasks if they have some level of choice. Consider:
    • video lessons
    • articles to read
    • online games
    • projects or activities that can be done at home with common household items
  • Make clearly defined assessment measures so students know how they will prove they've met their goals.
  • When recording a video lesson or interacting with students online in real time, pay attention to your setting. Make sure the lighting is good, and don't stand in front of anything distracting. Speak clearly. If you are recording a video, watch it before posting to make sure it is clear.

Student Tips for Online Learning

  1. Know your goals. What you are expected to learn, and what is your deadline?
  2. Vary your learning tasks. It's hard to stare at a screen all day. Try to use different types of learning activities (videos, experiments, writing, reading, discussion) to work toward your learning goals.
  3. Make a schedule and stick to it. Decide what time you will do schoolwork and when you will take breaks. It's easier to keep working when there is an end in sight.
  4. Set up a work space. Find a spot with good lighting, near a window if possible. Get your supplies together before you sit down to work.
  5. Minimize distractions. When it's time to work, ask your family members not to interrupt you. Turn off the TV and music, and set aside your electronics.
  6. Be sure you make time in your day for healthy eating, rest, movement, fresh air, and social communication. Maintaining a well-balanced schedule will make you more successful at your schoolwork as well.

Using to Learn Online in Illinois

For Teachers has a wide variety of online resources. From video lessons to lesson plans, project and activity ideas, discussion questions, and essay prompts, can give you resources to use with students of all ages for every subject area.

For Students

Do you need help with one of the topics your teacher assigned you to work on at home? has these options to help you learn at home:

  • video lessons for all grade levels and subjects
  • quizzes and flashcards to help you review information
  • study answers for step-by-step help with homework questions
  • project and activity ideas so you can extend your learning at home

For teachers and students embarking on online learning in Illinois, remember that learning from home can be a big adjustment. If one tactic doesn't work, try something a little bit different. Be flexible, and do your best!

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