April 2, 2020

Easy Student Projects for Distance Learning

3 Great Resources to Eliminate Digital Busywork.

Educators in every corner of the country have been working feverishly to put together distance learning activities for students that will keep them engaged and, let’s not kid ourselves, occupied for the next several weeks. Many edtech companies have so generously offered their products and services free, making high quality apps that were previously cost-prohibitive for districts available to all. But as I’ve come to see with my own young children at home with me the last 2 weeks, the sparkle of these digital apps and websites can quickly fade with daily use. 

Tolerance.org recently polled teachers across the country about what supports they needed most and found that “more than 80 percent requested “Do Something” projects that could easily be adapted for distance learning.” Offering daily skills practice along with real-world projects will help keep the at-home work time fresh and give kids authentic ways to apply their learning. So for all of you amazing educators looking for additional resources to keep kids learning with something more than just iPad apps, we’ve got a great list for you!  

Below we’ve curated 3 great resources and favorite projects for engaging, interdisciplinary student projects that can be completed at home.


Tolerance.org is known for their professional resources and lesson plans focused on four domains– identity, diversity, justice and action. They’ve answered educators call for authentic, real-world “do something” tasks with their curated list of projects. Take a look at the entire list here–Do Something Performance Tasks.

Our favorite projects combining literacy and social justice to adapt for distance learning are:

PBL Works

PBL Works, the go-to project based learning gold mine, has an incredible library of projects that are standards-aligned and cover a wide range of subjects and grade levels. Many of their projects can be adapted for at-home learning. Visit my.pblworks.org to search the entire database.

Our favorite projects to adapt for distance learning are:

Khan Academy with Partners– Disney and Pixar

Khan Academy is a great resource for personalized learning as it allows students to view instructional videos on a broad range of topics, then work through practice exercises to target learning to individual needs. In addition to skills practice, Khan Academy also offers great lessons from well-known partners like Disney, NASA, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Our favorite video-based projects for distance learning are:

  • Pixar in a Box: Production Lessons— Get a glimpse into the creative minds at Pixar. This 6-part series of lessons cover topics from color science to animation and character modeling. Students will use math, science, computer science, and humanities skills to emulate what real artists do.
  • Disney Imagineering in a Box— Go behind the scenes to see how artists, designers and engineers collaborate to create theme parks. Students watch videos and complete exercises to design their very own theme park!

So as you move from simply acclimating students to the online environment, to providing more challenging content in the coming weeks, we encourage you to grab one of these fun and rigorous “Do Something” projects. Your students (and their parents) will thank you!

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