Episode 2: Teaching Through the Screen, Not On It
Early childhood special educator Rebecca Vitelli illustrates three elements for her virtual classroom: relationships and connections; hands-on, playful activities; and being safe, kind, and helpful. (15 min.)
- Early Care and Education Environment Indicators and Elements of High-Quality Inclusion: E3: Social Emotional Learning and Development, E6: Instruction
- DEC Recommended Practices: Instruction, Interaction
As you watch this episode, take note of the different social situations that Rebecca sets up intentionally. Listen and watch for the strategies she implements for each of her three core elements of a virtual learning environment, both in the classroom and in the home.
- How do you provide opportunities for children to build relationships with one another when you are providing instruction in small groups? What are examples of questions or prompts you provide during small group instruction to facilitate relationship building?
- The video mentions a box of materials provided to all families which included instructional materials and manipulatives to help children and families actively participate in remote lessons. If you were sending a box to children in your class, what are two to three things you would include in the box? How would you incorporate these items into remote instruction?
- Rebecca encouraged the children in her class to find something in their homes to use for an "alphabet soup" activity, and the children used spoons, pots, containers, etc., during the activity. What are other common household items that most children can access that can be used to encourage interaction during instruction and practice with concepts and skills when children are in the home setting?
- Rebecca acknowledges the shift from teaching through a screen to teaching on a screen. How can you ensure learners are engaged and motivated by the instruction? How might your mindset shift to support this?
- When talking about the constant shifts and changes in plans for instruction, Rebecca gives the advice to "take a breath, give grace, and do the best we can." Think about a time when you had to adapt to a major shift in your work. How did you give yourself and others grace and acknowledge and honor the emotions and uncertainty that go along with change? How did that help you and others adapt and thrive through the shift?
Think about the three elements that Rebecca identified for her virtual classroom: relationships and connections; hands-on, playful activities; and being safe, kind, and helpful. In order to emphasize these elements, Rebecca uses many different kinds of visual supports to address individual learning needs. Divide the group into three small groups and:
- Assign one of the three elements to each group:
- Relationships and connections.
- Hands-on, playful activities.
- Being safe, kind, and helpful.
- Before the breakout discussion begins, ask each participant to search online for an image or "visual support" that they might use to describe the element.
- Once everyone has found their image, ask them to share it with the small group and describe why that image would be an effective way to visually describe the element. To show their image, participants can share their screen, print the image, or pull up the image on their phone - whatever works best for each person's technology comfort level.
- Ask small groups to reflect together about the images chosen and then decide which image should be shared back with the large group.
- Reconvene the large group and ask a member of each small group to share the image that they chose and why it is an effective way to visually describe the element.
- Reflect within the large group about the three elements and ways members might use visuals to communicate the concepts to children.
Practice Improvement Tools
- Interaction Checklists (see Child Social-Emotional Competence Checklist)
- Interaction Practice Guides for Practitioners (see Preschooler Language Learning)