Episode 7: My Virtual Preschool Classroom
Early childhood special educator Shawna Cook shows how she created a virtual classroom to engage her preschoolers and their families. (12 min.)
- Early Care and Education Environment Indicators and Elements of High-Quality Inclusion: E2: Family Partnerships, E6: Instruction
- DEC Recommended Practices: Family, Instruction
In this episode, young children learn through hands-on activities. Take note of the creative strategies and materials Michelle uses to engage children and their families through virtual learning.
- How are you intentionally bringing to life remotely what would have happened during face-to-face instruction? How do you approach material selection? How do you partner with families to ensure materials are made available?
- Michelle Rodriguez accessed donations to gather materials which she provided to all children in her classroom to use at home for hands-on, play-based activities. What agencies and organizations have you partnered with in the past to help provide learning activities experiences, and supplies? What other opportunities for partnerships exist in your community that could help provide learning activities, experiences, and supplies to enhance instruction?
- Michelle describes the intentional adjustments she made to remote instruction to be sure hands-on and play-based activities were incorporated. What examples of high-quality teaching practices incorporating hands-on activities and play-based activities did you observe in the video? What is another play-based or hands-on activity you would facilitate when working with Kruz or Matteo, the two children highlighted in the video?
- The two parents featured in this video gave specific examples of things Michelle does to support them as they support instruction and learning at home. What did you notice about the things they mentioned? Using this feedback from the two parents, what is an example of something else Michelle could do to support and partner with these parents to support instruction and learning at home?
- Michelle mentions how important it is to educate families on what and how she is teaching so that children get consistent support across the school, home and community settings. What are examples of meaningful ways that you can educate parents about supporting instruction and learning while also building relationships and trust, and acknowledging and honoring their routines and schedules?
Shawna created a virtual classroom to support the children and families in her classroom. She began with written lesson plans, but found that these didn t engage families. She created a Bitmoji Classroom to create this online space. For this activity, read Educators Turn to Bitmoji to Build Community and Engagement, and consider these questions together in small groups:
- What were the most striking features about Shawna s virtual classroom?
- Which features do you think were most helpful for children?
- Which features do you think were most helpful for families?
- What is your comfort level with technology and have you tried a strategy similar to Shawna's?
- Which method would you use from the article to find out more about setting up a virtual classroom? Would you read more articles? Watch a YouTube video? Visit the Facebook page? Jump right in and try it out with the Bitmoji app?
- Consider the parallels between our different perspectives as adults re: virtual classroom features, use of technology and methods of exploration and how those differences might also be true for the children and families in our programs. How can we best individualize given those differences?
- Reaffirming Key Early Childhood Practices During a Pandemic (ECTA Center)
- Epstein's Framework of Six Types of Involvement (Center for the Social Organization of Schools)
- Understanding Family Engagement Outcomes: Research to Practice Series: Family Well-Being (National Center on Parent, Family and Community Engagement)