Free Low-Tech/No-Tech Distance Learning Activity 12-Pack

The pandemic is spreading quickly and it looks like my initial two-week Coronavirus lesson plan isn’t going to be enough. Since my brain’s default is worst-case-scenario mode, I’m now expecting all of our schools to cancel in-person instruction for the rest of the spring semester.

Will this actually happen? I have no idea. What does this mean for our students? Again, no idea. I’ve never taught in a 1:1 school and my online learning experience is limited to a couple of dismal professional development courses. Not fun. And, yet, fun is exactly what we need right now. Everyone – kids, parents, you, me – are freaked out and we don’t need more stress. Am I really going to ask 9th graders to read Romeo & Juliet on their own? Nope. Am I going to learn an entirely new online platform without any actual training? Nope. Am I expecting students with limited or no internet access at home to be able to meet for virtual office hours? Nope.

Instead, I have a plan – and it’s a fun plan. I’m calling it English Class in a Jar.


Depending on what your district requires, these plans can be standalone activities or supplements to district-provided curriculum. All I know is that our teens are looking to learn and earn their final quarter’s worth of credits. Let’s help them get started.

I’ve pulled together 12 assignments (click here for the free download) that teens can work through on their own at their own pace. Parents, if they choose to, can easily administer the work or kids can manage it on their own. The materials are all repeatable, so we’re good for 12 or 24 or even – yikes! – 36 days. We’ll see what happens.

Please note: Most of these activities are also available as individual free product downloads via my blog or online shop and you may already have some of these worksheets in your filing cabinet or on your computer’s hard drive. I’ve bundled them together in one download to help streamline lesson prep and resource harvesting for teachers and homeschool parents.

How are you doing with the transition to home study? Let me know how things are going and if you’ve found any resources to make the transition easier for the rest of us. Teach on, everyone!

18 thoughts on “Free Low-Tech/No-Tech Distance Learning Activity 12-Pack

  1. Jaelynn Conklin says:

    When I find myself in a deeper place of need, I realize that answers and solutions to that need are much more meaningful. Thank you for the much more meaningful help!

  2. A friend in need is a friend indeed, Jaelynn. We’re all good friends right now. Hang in there! 😉

  3. Hi Laura,
    I was just wondering, what’s your plan for assessing SSR if the school year comes to a close. I really liked the low-stakes nature of book talks and I’m afraid (perhaps, inevitably) replacing book talks with something else will ruin the fun of SSR.
    Heather Leland

  4. I hear you, Heather. For now, I’ll let the previous 4th quarter deadline stand. If we don’t return to school, I’ll probably let that go or ask kids to tell a parent or friend about their book. Grades are up in the air right now. Heck, everything’s up in the air. Until we receive directives from our school leaders, there’s not much planning to be done in terms of assessments, final exams, etc. For now, I’m just breathing.

  5. Frances Moseley says:

    In my state, all schools are closed until at least April 17. I teach in a 1:1 school so our students have extensive experience with Google Classroom, although it now looks just a wee bit different. More a learning curve for parents. We are carrying on with curriculum as much as possible with adjustments of course. Travel and has free virtual tours of about ten museums around the world that are great. Also, has a list of free audio books that you just click on to listen to, no download required. Love your resources, Laura. You always have things that I can use.

  6. Yeah, Frances, I just heard tonight that our whole state is shuttered until April 20. Thanks for the virtual field trip ideas! I’ve been using my library’s Libby and Hoopla subscriptions, but I’ll poke around Audible’s free offerings, too. Great suggestions!

  7. Thank you! Thank you. I find that even though these beautiful kids of ours have their phones glued to their hands, it doesn’t necessarily relate to their understanding of long-distance, virtual learning. They are transitioning and many are having some difficulties learning like this.
    These resources are so good, they are engaging and make those necessary connections again.
    Thank you!

  8. Happy to help, hopes77! I know how our kids feel. I’m pretty techy, but I’m also struggling to navigate this new path. Hoping the ease of these familiar tasks will bring us all some comfort. 🙂

  9. Ann Van De Water says:

    Laura, THANK YOU!!!!!! I have purchased many of your materials and used your free stuff too. I am extremely grateful for the current resources. If I lived nearby I would make you and your family a lasagna and bring you a huge bouquet of flowers.

  10. Aw, my pleasure, Ann! Stay healthy and hopeful – and keep that lasagna in the freezer. You might need in here in a few weeks. 🙂

  11. Lora Saikin says:

    I have been following your blog for some time, and this semester I finally had the opportunity to assign a 20Time Project to my senior English class. All of the students in this class have access to some form of technology. (Not all of them are connected to the internet, but internet providers in our area are providing families with free internet for 60 days.) All of my classes are already set up in Google classroom, so making the move to distance learning is not as traumatic for me and my students as it is for other teachers on my campus. I have told my 20Time students that the rest of the semester will involve finishing and chronicling their projects, reading a book of their choice by a British author, and creating and studying their own lists of vocabulary words in I am so thankful that we were already well into the project before spring break and the extended “spring break” arrived. While I wish my first time doing the project had been more “normal,” I am so glad I decided to try it this year. Thank you so much for sharing your great ideas. I am definitely going to share this post with my fellow teachers.

  12. Oh, Lora, thank you for this note – a drop of sunshine! – at the end of a very long week. I’m so glad you had a plan in place that’ll work with a little modification to fit these strange distance learning times. Share away, my friend! I hope the materials are useful to other folks on your team, too. 😀

  13. You have become my go-to person when I am at a loss. 90 or more % of my students do not have internet access at home, and we only had 48 hours to prepare two weeks worth of lessons. We’ve now closed for an additional month. It’s been weird times. I shared with my department your post with the info for how to turn a pdf into an editable document, and you are our collective hero. Thank you for being so willing to share your experience and what you’ve learned with the rest of us. I hope to eventually be able to pay it forward.

  14. Thanks, Mary, for this note! It helps. 🙂 It’s such a weird and stressful time and I have so many more questions than answers right now. Glad Amy Almada’s tutorial is helpful (for other folks who haven’t seen this yet, go here: and it makes me feel better to keep spreading the word about the solutions we find. Stay strong, healthy, and hopeful! Better times are coming.

  15. This is so good of you, in these times when any and all help is welcome!

  16. Thanks, bloggingaboutstem! Hope these ideas are useful. 🙂

  17. Love the love, Emily! So glad you found this post. 🙂

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