Professional Development

July 22, 2020

10 Must-Have Tools for Distance Learning

We all know that teachers and students both need a variety of tools handy for successful learning in the classroom, but what about distance learning? What tools do teachers and students need for successful remote learning? I know as teachers, we constantly search for the best ideas and items to help our students. I wanted to help you get a head start with some ideas for must-have tools for distance learning.

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Teacher Tools for Distance Learning

1.Tabletop Pocket Chart

A tabletop pocket chart will be a must-have this year! You can use it while teaching live on Zoom or during a recorded lesson on Loom. You can use a pocket chart on your table during shared reading, phonics lessons, science lessons, sight word practice, alphabet work, and more!

While teaching live, you can manipulate the pieces for students. Just ask a question and manipulate the piece for the student. If you are recording, you can talk through your lesson while sorting pieces or making a list.

If you don’t already have one, check out THIS ONE.

2.Quality Headphones with Microphone

Wearing headphones will help you hear your students more clearly and allow them to hear you more clearly. I’d highly recommend them as one of the top tools for distance learning. If you are recording lessons, you’ll definitely want your young learners to hear you well and with a crisp voice.

There are many affordable options with great reviews on Amazon and THESE are less than $15!

3.Document Camera

Many teachers use document cameras in the classroom daily, so it can be hard to transition to home without one. First, you might ask for permission to bring your classroom document camera home while teaching remotely. If that doesn’t work, there are several affordable options you might look into.

You can use a document camera for interactive read alouds, writing lessons, shared reading lessons, phonics, science, and more!

I searched for one that is small, can easily travel with you, and that has great reviews! You can find this LongJoy Document Camer HERE.

4.Educational Background

Students flourish with consistency and normalcy. If possible, try to come up with an educational background that mimics the classroom. If you’re feeling super creative, you can change up the theme each week or month to coordinate with learning. Here are a few ideas for simple and practical backgrounds:

  • Magnetic backgrounds: Use an oil drip pan (pick one up at your local auto parts store) and cover it in fabric. Then, you can add decorations. The best part is that you can purchase mini-magnets and tape them on to anything you want to display behind you.
  • Whiteboard: This is a great choice if you like to write while teaching and have it displayed.
  • Colorful map of your choice
  • Alphabet chart that you tack into the wall behind you
  • Trifold board: If your teaching area needs to be mobile, consider decorating a trifold board. You can set it up anywhere you need to teach and easily move it around.

Anything will do! We just want students to feel “at home” in their virtual classrooms.

5.Excellent Lighting

Because you’ll want your students to see you and your teaching resources clearly, you’ll want bright lighting in front of you while teaching or recording videos.

You’ll want to use “white” lightbulbs if possible. You can set up an inexpensive lamp without a shade near you to brighten up your teaching area. The more white or daylight your bulb is, the less yellow you’ll look and the better your students will be able to see your resources.

I have used this small ring light for years! I love that it easily clips onto my computer and my phone! It’s about $10!

6.Online Timers

Another handy teacher tool is an online timer. You can set it to set a time limit for students to write down an answer or to help keep yourself on track. THIS website has quite a few fun timers with different themes that students are sure to love!

Here’s a bike race timer.

Student Tools for Distance Learning

Let’s equip students (and parents!) for effective and efficient remote learning. They definitely won’t need all of these tools, but I wanted to provide enough variety for you to be able to find something practical that works for you!

1.Literacy Toolboxes

This tool is something I think every kindergarten through second grade student will benefit from having. A literacy toolbox is simply a small container will literacy tools and manipulatives students will need for guided reading, literacy stations, or literacy work at home.

I went into great detail about these in THIS POST. I also put all of the printable things your learners would need like alphabet charts, elkonin boxes, letter tiles, and sight word cards. Check it out and grab your freebie today!

2.Caddy to Hold Basic School Supplies

Students may get to work in the same area each day, but some students might be moving around the house for school work. Encourage parents to put everything students need for learning in a caddy so it’s always in one easy-to-grab spot. Here is what our’s looked like this past spring!

If you are doing distance learning only, reach out to your administrators to find out what resources are available for families who might not have the basic school supplies. Is there a supply pantry you can get things from? Is the district donating supplies to families in need?

After touching base with all of your students, find out if everyone has the basic school supplies handy at home. This might include:

  • pencils
  • crayons
  • scissors
  • glue
  • paper

Use the resources you gathered from your administrators to help students get the supplies they need. While some school work will be done on the computer, it is important for young learners to also do things with paper and pencil in their hands.

3.Dry Erase Board

Another handy tool for distance learning is a dry erase board. Students can use them to brainstorm ideas, write down notes for their turn to talk, or to write down answers and hold them up during whole group time.

HERE is a set of boards. If you are a parent, gather 5 others and split the cost!

You can also check your local dollar store, too. You can use anything from a normal dry erase board to a plastic plate!

Use dry erase markers with plastic plates to do quick checks during whole group lessons.

They don’t have to be fancy at all! If your budget (personal or school) doesn’t allow for extra purchases, students can always write on scratch paper, too!

4.Volume Control Headphones

In many families, parents and students are all trying to get work done together in the home. Volume control headphones can help keep students focused during learning time by blocking out the noise around them and protect their little ears. They’ll also be able to hear their peers during live video classes better, too!

These are the headphones that we have chosen for our kids. You can find them HERE.

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Let’s equip ourselves and our students the best that we can so everyone experiences success while distance learning. Will it be the exact same as the classroom? Nope, but we can sure make the best out of a difficult situation.

If you want to join over three thousand other teachers in a collaborative community, come check out my Facebook group where we share all of our favorite tips, ask great questions, and help each other come up with creative solutions!

Happy Teaching,


8 Get to Know You Games for Distance Learning

Getting to know your students can be trickier while distance learning. Grab this FREE printable with eight get-to-know-you games and activities so that you can start connecting with students, help them get to know each other, and build a positive classroom community.

Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your students love and that are easy to implement for teachers.  Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, you’ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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3 Responses

    1. If only there were more hours in the day! ha ha! I am so glad you appreciate it all! I am more than happy to help!

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