Due to COVID-19, unprecedented numbers of US schools have been forced to transition to virtual learning. It has been an interesting change for everyone involved, from students to teachers to parents. At this point, you or your child may be falling behind due to the increased lack of individualized attention and the decreased opportunity to ask questions and/or collaborate with peers. In this article, we explore a few free resources available to high schoolers in order to catch up, keep up, or advance through the rest of the school year and summer.
Khan Academy – Khan Academy has daily schedules for students ages 2-18 to keep them learning, as well as parent and teacher resources such as weekly learning plans for math levels through Algebra 2. They have practice materials and study guides for AP classes, computer programming, science, and economics courses in addition to the usual grade level math courses you would expect Khan Academy to have.
PhET – PhET Interactive Simulations, hosted by the University of Colorado, provides science and math simulations in categories such as physics, chemistry, math, earth science, and biology. The videos are based on education research and attempt to engage students by creating learning environments that feel like games. There are thousands of teacher-submitted lessons as well, and the website includes tips on how to incorporate simulations into everyday learning.
Virtual Nerd – This website has thousands of videos for math up through Algebra 2 (including Geometry), as well as common core math and SAT & ACT quantitative prep. These videos tend to be monotonous but are incredibly descriptive and informative. They are separated into specific categories, so you know exactly what topic the video will be about in order to avoid wasting time on subjects you don’t need help with. Spend some time on Virtual Nerd to catch up or get ahead over the summer.
Project Gutenberg – If you’re looking for free resources as far as classic reading material, Project Gutenberg has over 60,000 e-books available to download. The library contains mostly older works (expired US copyright makes them available for distribution), but they’re a great resource for enhancing your reading comprehension and vocabulary. They make it easy to browse by genre, age group, and topic. You may even know some of the books you will be required to read in the upcoming year and can get a jumpstart on them. This is especially helpful when taking higher level classes in order to familiarize yourself with the material beforehand.
CommonLit is a free website that encourages analytical thinking through free and accessible texts. Through thousands of reading passages for grades 3-12 and enhanced with assessments, data that measures your ELA growth, and other resources developed by teachers, students can increase their reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. They have materials organized by literary device, grade level, genre, and theme.
High school is often the first time students encounter bibliography requirements and, at the end of a long essay, this task can seem daunting. ZoteroBib is a free resource that will convert your URL sources into citations for you, in any style. You can edit, delete, and manually enter information into your bibliography as well. ZoteroBib does not require you to create an account or install any software, and is very user friendly.
Other Free Resources
edX -This platform offers over 2,500 courses online, all free. There are courses in Business Management, Engineering, Computer Science, and other popular fields. They also have their own versions of Master’s programs (MicroMasters) which are a series of graduate courses intended to advance your career, recognized by many employers. edX offers professional development programs and certificate programs as well. Taking a course with edX is a great way to enhance your resume and demonstrate to admissions committees that you can handle advanced, college level material. Coursera is another well known e-learning platform worth checking out.
Codecademy – If you’ve ever been interested in learning how to code, this is the summer resource for you. Codecademy offers a free basic program perfect for getting started. You can begin coding within minutes of joining and it is designed for beginners. The ‘basic’ program offers mobile practice and 25 courses – the perfect starter pack.
DuoLingo – DuoLingo is a fairly popular language learning platform. It is free, and offers daily practice goals and activities with assessment and progress checks along the way. The lessons are manageably short and fun, and the platform is visually engaging and colorful. Use this summer to learn an entirely new language or brush up on your Spanish before taking the next level in the fall. Read more about Duolingo here.
Most of us have had to adjust to an entirely different method of learning in 2020. However, that certainly doesn’t mean we can’t find unique ways to evolve, especially with many helpful resources available to us online for free. Students should take this summer and the extra time at home to work on the subjects they struggle with and increase their knowledge in the areas that excite them most. This way, students can keep their brains active and engaged before transitioning back to school in the fall, whatever that may look like.
About the Author
Morgan is a Managing Tutor at MyGuru, a boutique tutoring company offering virtual tutoring in most academic subjects and standardized tests. All of their independently contracted tutors have many years of tutoring experience and impressive academic backgrounds. MyGuru stresses the importance of mindset, strategy, confidence, effective study habits, and time management and organization skills in achieving superior performance in school and on standardized tests. Visit us for more information on our various offerings.