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Central Elementary special education students visit grocery store virtually

  Central Elementary School special education teaching staff created a virtual trip to the grocery store to provide students real-life lessons they typically get as part of an in-person community trip.

Kelsey Castello, who teaches academic and life skills for students with special needs, created the virtual lesson with photos and videos from the special education paraprofessionals.

Castello’s students require significant support for communication, sensory behavior, and academic skills, she said.

Community trips are normally a big part of the curriculum, but they were cancelled this year due to the pandemic, Castello said.

“We wanted to find ways to creatively do the lessons,” she said.

Castello created a Google Slide grocery store trip presentation which included lessons on making a grocery list, going to the store while wearing a mask, shopping, and putting groceries away at home.

The lesson teaches students life skills such as how to behave in public, how to create a list, among other skills.  Special education paraprofessionals created videos showing them shopping in the store and putting away their groceries.

Parents appreciated the virtual lesson, Castello said.

“Parents said this is really cool that (we) are still able to incorporate the community trip and get real live video of it,” she said.

The lesson may seem simple to an outsider, said Principal Dr. Jennifer Hennegan.

“In actuality, this lesson is strategically planned to introduce vocabulary, teach real world skills, provide an opportunity for students to ‘see’ their paraprofessionals, and to match visuals and real-life activity with the grocery list in the Google slide,” she said.

The special education team will continue to use these virtual trips even when District 202 returns to in-person learning, Castello said. “We found things that were successful and engaging for future years,” she said.


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