Teaching kids through the power of the interwebs.
Over the last three years I have been teaching kids with autism remotely using a combination of cartoons, printable materials, and flash games. Using these three methods for delivering instruction, it’s time to put them in a formal preschool autism curriculum that I can use for my private business that is easily accessible for families. Recently I have been looking at a company called VIPKID. This is from their About page:
VIPKID provides an international learning experience to children in China between the ages 4-12. Headquartered in Beijing, the company offers fully immersive one-on-one English language instruction provided online by highly qualified teachers. The curriculum is based on the U.S. Common Core State Standards and uses a flipped-classroom approach to foster creativity and critical thinking skills.
On their website they provide a demo lesson that prospective teachers must perform as an interview before moving on to one of possibly two mock classroom demonstrations before being considered for the job. The demo lesson is basically a power point presentation that is displayed on the screen next to the video feed from the web-cams. Both the teacher and student can make simple marks on their slides.
By providing a lesson that is highly structured and scripted, they can have almost anyone deliver English instruction. The ability of the teacher to gauge a kid’s understanding to push or support the kid on the fly will make a huge difference in outcomes but honestly the structure itself guarantees that the kid will pick up something.
Key aspects of a structured lesson.
For the adult running the lesson there is a clearly defined agenda with objective vocabulary and sentence patterns.
There is a reward/token system to help keep the student engaged.
The first “teaching” slide, starts kids off with a warm up activity. Here they stress using Total Physical Response (TPR) to help convey language. In preschool classrooms this is very similar to our circle time activities. We blast the kids with fun activities with lots of hand and body movements usually paired with songs, or books to get the day started.
With the kids all warmed up, they then move onto a review section. Review sections are great ways to check for understanding and maintenance of targets taught in the past. They should provide an activity for the child to be successful before a new target is introduced. Here they are reviewing the sounds for letters A & B before they introduce the letter T.
Introduction of the new target letter T. Here again a lot of TPR is helpful for teaching the name, sound, and a few examples of vocabulary that starts with the letter T.
The lesson ends with two activity slides. The first one helps break down a consonant vowel consonant word. This is pretty standard for teaching English in our traditional classrooms. The final slide has the student identify the sound they just learned.
The entire lesson is completely in-line with what I have seen and have done in traditional classroom environments. This is the structure I plan to wrap my preschool autism curriculum around.
Here is demo of one of their teachers going through the slides.