Structured Independent Work at Home During Distance Learning

I've always loved teaching students to work independently in the classroom! I've shared about how a student's ability to work (and play) independently will also benefit families at home.  If you want to know more about why I think independent work is so important, check out this post!

Many of my students are only working on technology during remote / distance learning, so I was determined to create a system for students to work independently using technology. If you want to support students with working independently on technology at home, then I have some tips & ideas for you!
Benefits of structured independent work using technology:
I wanted to start by sharing some of the reasons why using technology for structured independent work is AMAZING!
  • It's more portable than ever! If students have technology at home, they can work independently at home without families needing to worry about hands-on materials. Students can also easily run these systems on Chromebooks or iPads in the general education classroom. 
  • It saves you time & resources printing, laminating and velcroing a ton of different work tasks.
  • As students get older, it's common for technology use in the classroom to increase. Teaching students to navigate and use technology independently is a really important educational and life skill!
I hope you're starting to be sold on why independent work using technology is awesome, now on to some tips for doing it!

Use visuals & schedules!
Just like with traditional structured work systems, a schedule & visuals will also support students with working independently on technology! I use a drag & drop schedule that I made with Google Slides. Students drag & drop pieces from the schedule to the work activities (just like they would with a traditional printed structured work system). Then I embed the work activities directly into the Google Slides™. Once you have a template for structured work, you can either create your own work activities or copy and paste activities you find/ buy online into the template! You can also create a video for students to watch you modeling how to run the work system on technology. 

You can grab a simple matching independent work system and template for making individualized structured work system with Google Slides here!

Use a consistent platform!
I think this is the most important thing when supporting students with working independently using technology! If the platform used for independent work is constantly changing, then it will likely cause students to struggle to navigate and use the platform independently. Find a platform you like (i.g. Seesaw, Google Slides, etc.) and stick with it to give students the opportunity to master using & navigating it!

Be flexible with the work you assign.
It's important to remember that the work students can complete independently using technology will likely be different than the printed work they can complete independently in the classroom. Completing work on technology comes with a learning curve, so we need to take this into account when deciding on the level of work to assign for independent work using technology.
A few things to think about when assigning independent work on technology include:
  • What does accessing technology look like for this student?
  • Is this student able to drag and drop on technology?
  • Is the student using a mouse or touch screen?
  • Is the student using voice to text?
  • Is this student able to type?
A few ideas for independent work on technology:
  • Watching an academic video
  • Listening to an audio book or recorded story
  • Any drag & drop activity (there are a TON out there for matching & sorting)
  • Typing/ copying words

I hope this helps you to get a structured work system in place using technology during remote learning! I'm hoping to continue with this system for some students once we are back to in-person learning too! I realize that using technology isn't possible for all students/ schools but if it's accessible to you, it's work a try! If students don't have technology at home or benefit more from printed/ paper independent work, I have some freebies and ideas for implementing that here!