Maybe you’re adapting your entire curriculum to work in a hybrid or remote teaching environment. Maybe you’re teaching in-person—but in a classroom environment that doesn’t feel like any you’ve experienced. Or maybe (and, oh man, our hearts go out to you), you’re still just not sure what your school has planned for the school year.
No matter what, you know there will be a list of things you’ll need for your students to learn. Here’s five things you can stock up on right now, no matter whether you’ll be teaching in-person, remote, or a mix of both. We’ve made sure there’s more flexible shipping options available than ever, so for lots of items, you don’t need to be at your school building to get packages delivered.
1. Basic supplies
Kelly, a third grade teacher in Virginia, is stocking up on the basics. “They can be used to make at-home learning kits or individual supply bags for the classroom. You can never have too many supplies!” Especially if communal boxes of markers might now be a thing of the past, it’s not a bad idea to stock up on enough supplies for every student to have their own.
2. A document camera
Since schools started closing in March, a whopping 2,000 teachers across the country have requested a document camera. Amy, a kindergarten teacher in North Carolina, explains why, noting that it’s an item that’s equally valuable remotely or in-person: a document camera lets her share books and other students’ work from a distance now, but will be a huge asset with in-classroom learning down the line, too, when it will let students present their own work to the rest of the class.
Angela, a 6th grade teacher in New Mexico, also loves some of the document camera’s advanced features, with “all the ways I can record video, but also demonstrate to my students, and with the scanning feature, create editable PDFs for student assignments.” It’s official: it might be everyone’s favorite all-in-one teaching tool.
3. Hands-on learning kits
Whether you know you’ll be teaching remotely or just want to take your homework game up a notch, you can set up your students with all the hands-on supplies they need to banish the worksheet and learn hands-on at home.
Josie, a third-grade teacher in Washington, builds an individualized math kit for every student that includes base ten blocks, linking cubes, multiplication and division flash cards, multiplication write-and-wipe boards, plus printed resources like hundreds charts and multiplication charts, all organized it all in a way that is easy for families to navigate.
Hands-on kits aren’t limited to elementary school. Sarah, a 10th grade teacher in New Jersey, set up her students with the basics to do physics labs at home: a ruler, measuring tape, toy cars, marbles, a ping pong ball, and straws. In her words, “Knowing each student has at least this set of toys will allow me to do at home labs with confidence,” letting her teach speed, velocity, acceleration, momentum and more.
4. A few assorted tech items
Whether you want a couple in-classroom Chromebooks to make up for a closed computer lab, or you’re teaching remotely and know a few students might need a tablet to complete lessons at home, now’s the moment to make sure you have some options available. Just remember to request only a couple laptops or tablets at a time, keeping your project cost low, for the best chance of funding.
As you think about technology you might want to have available to lend, headphones are a current hot-ticket item. Leticia, a kindergarten teacher in California explains why: “Most of my students live in homes where there are two families sharing a space, and it gets really noisy for them.” Headphones can be a hand for students learning from home today, and as anyone who’s ever created centers in their classroom knows well, having headphones on hand is always useful for in-classroom learning, too.
5. Support from other teachers, too
Your fellow educators know best what you’re dealing with this back-to-school — so turn to them for help in reinventing your curriculum right now. With Teachers Pay Teachers gift cards you can access teacher-created and teacher-tested resources that will help you level up your digital or hybrid lesson planning game.
If you haven’t already, you can also come join a group of 20,000+ teachers all trading resource suggestions and fundraising tips in our DonorsChoose community on Facebook: it’s the perfect place to get ideas on how you can make this very weird, challenging school year something that works for you and your students.