Activities for a Remote or Hybrid Start

This resource was part of our Election 2020 collection, designed to help you teach about voting rights, media literacy, and civic participation, in remote and in-person settings.

Starting the school year remotely is uncharted territory for educators. While the opening weeks of school are always a time for building community and focusing on social-emotional learning, this is especially crucial as the 2020–21 school year begins. Educators need to consider how they can create welcoming environments that prioritize care, relationships, and community, regardless of how and where their students are learning. Students will be more likely to engage, take risks, and support each other if they feel a sense of trust and belonging among the group members and with their teacher.

This collection of activities address three important goals for the beginning of the school year:

  1. Reorienting students to school
  2. Getting to know each other and building relationships
  3. Creating classroom community

Navigating the Activities

The activities are designed for teachers to use in conjunction with Opening and Closing Routines. Teachers can choose from multiple activity options and coordinate with colleagues who may teach the same students to avoid repetition of activities or readings. Each activity includes an “asynchronous extension” to help students apply key concepts to their own lives in meaningful and creative ways. Teachers should also review our Journaling in a Remote Learning Environment and Contracting for Remote Learning strategies before these introductory activities.

Bringing Current Events into the Classroom

Before students can engage with challenging topics, they need to feel confident that they are part of a brave and reflective community where they are known, valued, and supported by their teacher and peers. For these reasons, it is important to lay the groundwork first for this kind of student-centered space with the activities and routines provided. If you then want to begin processing local and global events, you can find resources on our Teaching with Current Events page.

Get More Resources and Strategies for Remote Learning

View our resources for supporting teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.