Teaching the Homebound or Hospitalized


Illustration, Harrison Weir, From The adventures of a dog. . . , 1857, NYPL

Any good advice for a certified history educator who will possibly become a homebound/hospitalized teacher for children who are too ill to go to school? Thanks.


It can be a challenge to provide homebound and hospitalized students with the sort of interaction that other students receive each day in the classroom. Fortunately, the web puts numerous highly interactive activities within reach.

You'll find links to online resources throughout the Clearinghouse website, but here are a few that we think would work well for homebound students:
A number of museums have built excellent interactive history activities. The British Museum maintains a set of sites on ancient civilizations, and the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has a collection of activities for kids to do at home. The Center for History and New Media recently partnered with the Smithsonian to create The Object of History, a site where visitors can manipulate artifacts, listen to curators talk about their role in history, submit questions, and curate a virtual exhibit of their own.

Many smaller museums offer more focused tools. For example, try the Plimouth Plantation's investigation into the first Thanksgiving.

The Monterey Institute has created a comprehensive online course in U.S. History that combines text and multimedia content delivery with interactive activities. You'll find it online at the HippoCampus website where you can set up a space for your own students, hide topics you don't want to cover, and bookmark ones you do.

You can also use the internet to give homebound students opportunities for social interaction. If you have multiple students covering the same material, try giving assignments that let them collaborate virtually. You could provide discussion prompts or projects that they would complete using email, instant messaging, or a discussion board.

Ask a school technology coordinator to help you install Course Management Software, or use one of the many collaborative web tools that have been developed in the last few years. Google Documents is good for collaborative writing, or you can register for a private wiki at WikiSpaces.com. They're flexible, easy to use, and free for teachers.

If you're really feeling adventurous (and if your students have access to fast Internet connections), think about using Skype voice chat or videoconferencing.

About the Author

The Stanford History Education Group, located at Stanford University's School of Education, engages in projects on how students learn history in high school, middle school, and elementary school classrooms.