by Abby Zoia, MS, CED, LSLS Cert. AVEd
Scary. Bizarre. Isolating. Frustrating. Confusing. These are all words that have been used to describe the state of our world, and they are all accurate. We are living in a very surreal moment in time. So many questions exist, most of them unanswered. Yet, as I learn about all the amazing things educators are doing to stay connected to their students and families, other words come to mind. Dedicated. Committed. Strong. Determined. We can get through this, together.
At CID, we have been asked what our teachers are doing for and with our students. While we are learning and adapting week by week, we want to share with you the current plan for our school.
For the children in the Joanne Parish Knight Family Center, our goal is for each individual family to continue to receive coaching from parent educators via tele-intervention services. In addition, we also want to offer consistent support to our toddler class. Our e-learning plan for our two-year-olds includes a combination of individual and group activities.
- The teacher sends out a weekly e-mail to the families with a variety of suggested daily activities. She attaches a video message to encourage the child to engage in some favorite classroom routines. She has also added a private YouTube link for morning circle time which can be accessed by the parents at any time.
- Once a week, each child’s individual therapist sends the family a weekly email with a short language activity for the caregiver and child to do together.
- The toddlers and their families will also have a “virtual playdate” once per week.
For 3-5-year-old students in the Anabeth and John Weil Early Childhood Center (ECC), our goal is for each student to have three face to face interactions with his or her teacher weekly. Each of these opportunities are scheduled for thirty minutes utilizing Zoom and SMART Technologies. The teachers have worked with the families to set a weekly schedule. A parent or adult caregiver must be present during all sessions.
- Students receive 2 individual sessions per week focusing on speech, language and listening development in accordance with their IEP goals and objectives.
- Students receive one whole-class session per week focusing on language, listening and pragmatic skill development. These are play-based and interactive to promote social-emotional connection and development.
- Teachers also provide ideas and suggestions for specific activities families can do with their child to promote speech, language and listening skills throughout the day.
Additionally, families and students in both toddler class and ECC can participate in preschool activities via a private YouTube link. Storytime, movement activities, music, games and more will be provided by our teachers daily.
For 6-12-year-old students in the Virginia J. Browning Primary School, our teachers are utilizing a combination of independent work and individual sessions.
- Teachers send out daily newsletters to each student in their homeroom class using an online classroom app. In these newsletters, the teachers give 3-5 daily objectives. These objectives are assigned in the areas of language, reading, writing, science and social studies. Teachers can also add a video morning message to promote connection and provide a brief explanation for the learning objectives. Students can post completed work on the page when applicable.
- Examples of objectives include: read for 20 minutes, journal for 15 minutes, play a game with your family, visit (a given website) and begin research on (an assigned topic), etc.
- Students receive two weekly sessions via Zoom and SMART Technologies. These sessions will focus on speech, language and listening development in accordance with their IEP goals and objectives.
For all our students and families no matter the age, websites and other resources are shared to provide additional learning opportunities within the home. These carefully chosen resources provide extension ideas for students and families to promote carry-over of speech, language and listening skills throughout the day. We have also created a link to a variety of resources on our webpage that can support not only parents but other professionals working to support students remotely.
It is our absolute goal to stay connected with all our families and students. While we want our students to continue learning, we also realize this is a challenging time for families. We respect the need for balance between schooling at home and the variety of demands on parents. Dedicated. Committed. Strong. Determined. We will get through this, together.
A huge thank you to the following CID staff for contributing to this document. Without them, none of these amazing learning opportunities would be possible. Their leadership is truly appreciated by all of us.
Lynda Berkowitz, CID principal and coordinator of the Anabeth and John Weil Early Childhood Center
Amy Hudson, coordinator of the Virginia J. Browning Primary School
Kathy Gallagher, director of the Joanne Parish Knight Family Center
“Social distancing is staying away from people, not from your purpose.”
– Amit Kalantri
Abby Zoia is currently serving as the Coordinator of the Emerson Center for Professional Development at Central Institute for the Deaf (CID). Ms. Zoia holds a Missouri teacher of the deaf certificate (K-12), professional certification from the national Council of Education of the Deaf, as well as Listening and Spoken Language Specialist certification from the AG Bell Academy. She has served as a teacher at various age-levels for more than 16 years and was recently the Coordinator of the Virginia J. Browning Primary School at CID. In addition to presenting at numerous CID workshops, Ms. Zoia has presented at the international conventions of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.