Due to the COVID pandemic, teachers, and students have been forced to transition to eLearning. 1st and 2nd grade are so essential for academic success because it strengthens the basics to move forward successfully. Parents and teachers are worried that constant screen time and lack of communication will cause students to lose out on fundamental social interaction.
Two months ago, we set out to design socialization practices for students within remote learning. Through research, interviews, and prototyping, we have produced a framework for teachers to incorporate social skills seamlessly with online classroom activities while students have a new and fun way to learn about themselves and fellow classmates.
How The Framework Works
The framework uses the idea of discovering shared experiences and connections to motivate students and have a base for teachers to have social skills within their teaching plan. These new discoveries also develop curiosity within students that is needed for lifelong success. These discovery points are split into three sections: self, peers, and community. Within these sections, the teacher adds activities that aid in exploring these topics. The teacher has the freedom to choose the activities to allow time for them to be done offline and have activities align with the learning topic of choice. Each student receives a guide with all activities. The guide allows students to complete assignments off screen and improve necessary motor skills including writing and cutting with scissors. Each activity is represented by a piece to add to the guide. When an activity is completed, the student receives a piece to cut out and color to add to the guide. The reward of getting a piece keeps students motivated and excited to complete activities. When the guide is complete, the final assignment is a worksheet for students to show all of their social connections.
In order for students to gain social skills, it’s important for them to know about themselves.
The first section of the framework is focused on connecting with themselves then using those practices to relate with others. Students express who they are and what they think.
Each student starts with a blob/character that represents how their emotions and physical body connect. It it separated into two parts: inner self and outer self. The inner Self is the colored inner circle and this deals with thoughts and opinions. The Outer Self is represented by the lighter outer circle and this deals with outward presentation like physical appearance.
The second section of the framework is focused on connecting with peers. This section is for activities that are about getting to know classmates, finding common interests, and sharing experiences. When interacting, students understand how their feelings or actions affect others.
Since everyone is different, each student’s composition has its own color and shape representing their individuality. When they interact with each other, their colors blend together. It helps the student understand how their actions affect one another.
The third section of the framework is focused on connecting with community. This section is for activities based on surrounding communities including family, neighborhood, or their town. This gives students the opportunity to explore their area.
It’s important that students are able to communicate what they have learned and are able to share their experience. The final worksheet was made so students can present their connections holistically to show what they have learned from the experience. This final assignment lets teachers see that the lessons have really stuck. The teacher can also display all of the student worksheets for parents and the rest of the community in an on or offline environment.
This framework has been designed to give structure for social skills within a teacher’s curriculum. During remote learning, there can be problems with communications between students and parents. The printed guide lets kids and parents know what is needed to be completed. If the student didn’t receive the piece for a specific assignment, the teacher can easily explain why and offer help. This also helps the teacher control their individual standards for their assignments. The students are awarded a piece to decorate and color to add to their guide so motor skills are being improved. And, this is an action that can be done with or without a screen.
In the age of COVID, where children have few opportunities for socialization, we hope this framework will foster success in reaching critical development milestones for children of all walks of life.
We look forward to hearing how you might implement this new framework. We are happy to share the materials!