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Apr 21, 2020 |
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As teachers and school staff navigate remote instruction, consider these tips for engaging high schoolers and their families: 

Listen to families.

Administer surveys to families to gauge the type of support they need. Ask for preferred communication types, comfort level with technology, and what their biggest concerns are for their children’s education. 

Designate a centralized platform for communicating with families.

Utilize tools such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, or Facebook to keep in contact, and as a safe space for families to communicate with each other. Review security settings for the platform you choose and ensure only your students and their families can access your content/group. 

Consider conducting a daily or weekly announcement video shared via email and through the designated communication platform(s). 

Make information accessible. 

Strive to be inclusive of families who speak various languages and write communications at no higher than a sixth-grade reading level. 

Not all families have experience with technology or know how to email or fill out an online form. Conduct webinars or short videos explaining the platforms you will be using and how they will support home learning. Many platforms have already developed instructional videos that you can pass along to families as well.

Encourage families to create self-accountability plans. 

Self-accountability plans include students reflecting on their learning and performance, setting goals, and creating action plans. Self-assessment strategies include student reflections, rubrics, graphic organizers, oral assessments, and individual targets. 

Throughout the learning process, students can ask themselves: What are my learning goals and how will I achieve them? Am I making progress toward my goals? How effective are my study and learning strategies? What will I do differently next time? 

Consider alternatives to traditional assignments.

Offer opportunities to extend learning using virtual field trips or online lessons. There are many great resources for this like Google Earth VR, StoryCorps, National Geographic Education, National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Archives, Ford’s Theatre, Newseum, Big History Project, and Smithsonian Learning Lab.

Consider opportunities that aren’t tied to grades, where students can explore or research topics for enjoyment. Wonderopolis® is a great resource for this, because students and their families can find content for practically any topic that interests them. Each Wonder of the Day® includes informational text, fun and engaging activities, and related media, all helping to build background knowledge and vocabulary skills. The site also features Microsoft’s Immersive Reader, a new technology that expands content accessibility through a variety of reading assistance features.

Let students and families know you’re there for them, even from a distance.

In closing, strive to check in often to address frustration or confusion and to ensure students are keeping up. Checking in can help the emotional wellbeing of your students. Remember some will be experiencing the loss of their extracurricular activities, prom, and graduation. 

NCFL is here to support you and the families you serve. Is there a topic you need more help with? Could you use more support or resources for online learning? Comment below to share your thoughts.


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NCFL Partners

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Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $50 million, Toyota has also contributed a wealth of in-kind support — including advertising, planning and management expertise — to form one of the most progressive corporate/nonprofit partnerships in the nation.

Three major programs have been developed through the Toyota partnership based on the family literacy model of parents and children learning together. These models have influenced federal and state legislation, leveraged local dollars to support family literacy and led to successful programs being replicated across the country.

Read more about Toyota's commitment to communities

William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust

NCFL received its very first donation in 1989 from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to promote and implement family literacy programming, first in Kentucky and North Carolina and later nationwide. The Kenan Family Literacy Model in part laid the groundwork for 30 years of subsequent family literacy and family learning programming developed by NCFL.

Kenan has continued to support NCFL’s place-based family literacy programs since our inception. Most recently, it has invested in our organization’s Sharon Darling Innovation Fund, which will launch emerging ideas and programmatic evolutions in the multigenerational learning space.

Learn more about the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust

Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation began partnering with NCFL in 2006. A signature effort of this partnership is the National Literacy Directory, a resource that launched in 2010 and strives to guide potential students and volunteers to literacy services, community education programs, and testing centers in their communities.

The National Literacy Directory contains over 10,000 educational agencies located across the United States and has a dedicated toll-free number to help support those wanting to pursue educational opportunities in their communities.

Dollar General also provides support for development of NCFL’s innovative family learning resources centered on financial literacy and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®.

Learn more about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation

PNC Grow Up Great

PNC Grow Up Great believes deeply in the power of high-quality early childhood education and provides innovative opportunities that assist families, educators and community organizations to enhance children's learning and development.

PNC Grow Up Great has partnered with NCFL since 1994, most recently in Louisville, Kentucky, to support Say & Play with Words, our pre-Kindergarten vocabulary-building initiative.

NCFL's work is also featured on the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website. The Lesson Center includes over 100 free, high-quality preschool lesson plans and research-based instructional techniques and strategies. All lesson plans contain Home/School Connections printouts, in English and Spanish, to help families extend and reinforce the learning at home.

Learn more about PNC Grow Up Great

U.S. Department of Education

Initiated through the U.S. Department of Education in 2018, the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC) program provides 12 grantees and 13 states with five-year, $5 million grants to promote and implement systemic evidenced-based family engagement strategies. NCFL was selected to lead SFECs in two states, Arizona and Nebraska, and is a primary partner for two other SFECs in Kentucky and Maryland/Pennsylvania. 

The SFECs work to support family engagement through state- and local-level agencies while providing both professional development to school districts and direct services to families related to children’s academic outcomes and overall well-being.

Learn more about the U.S. Department of Education

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

NCFL was named a recipient of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s "Voices for Economic Opportunity Grand Challenge," which seeks to elevate diverse voices in order to broaden the conversation about the issues inhibiting economic mobility and generate deeper awareness along with actionable understanding. NCFL will develop and launch a podcast series that will highlight the remarkable stories of low-income, diverse families across the U.S. who have improved their communities through Family Service Learning.

Foundation Website