Melissa Kraich Portfolio


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About me

Welcome to my mini course! My name is Melissa Kraich and I have been a teacher for about 8 years. Currently,  I am a Kindergarten teacher in a virtual cyber charter school and I absolutely love it! I think the most amazing part about teaching Kindergarten is the amount of growth the students make over the course of the year. Many students go from knowing only a few letters at the start of the school year to reading short stories -- it is extremely rewarding to see this type of development!

This is my final semester in the CDIT program here at the University at Albany. In this master’s program I have learned a great deal about how to implement technology and its role in education. Last year, in June, I got married in Disney World and this year at the end of February I had my first baby. He is now nine months old and doing so well. While my new role as a parent has been exhausting it has been a delightful adventure. Looking forward to learning with all of you during this semester!

My Topic and Purpose

Topic: Instructional strategies for teaching Early Literacy Skills in a virtual setting

Purpose: As a remote kindergarten teacher I am confronted with a recurring question: How can I increase reading proficiency in my class’s virtual environment? When my colleagues and I discuss this, we are confronted with a variety of follow up questions. What are some strategies that we can use to encourage and motivate our students? How can we encourage remote students to engage in reading activities? And can traditional ways of reading instruction be used in our virtual setting?

Reading and writing skills are key to our students’ future success, teachers (particularly those of us assisting younger learners) must carefully consider our approaches to teaching reading and writing, and keep in mind that young learners are not experienced with letter recognition, letter sound fluency, and how to decode words. When we as virtual teachers do not, we risk overlooking the challenges that are ever present to our brick and mortar counterparts.

Increasing reading proficiency is important for a variety of obvious, and not so obvious reasons. Of course, students need to master reading as a skill to be successful in future grades. But as technology advances, remote students need to be able to read and quickly comprehend prompts with minimal assistance. This is different from traditional settings where students can ask their teachers questions and receive immediate feedback from a physically present teacher. Understanding how to encourage, motivative, and reach young students in a remote setting is a necessity for educators, and being effective as a remote teacher requires careful reconsideration of many teaching strategies traditionally taken for granted.

Scope of Learning Outcomes and Content

By the end of this course, learners will be able to:

  • Discriminate between the three foundational areas of early literacy. (Verbal/Recall and Intellectual Skill/Discriminations)
  • Evaluate learning activities to determine if they are suitable for implementation into a virtual foundational literacy course. (Intellectual Skill/Rule Application)
  • Develop differentiated learning activities for high risk, moderate risk, and low risk readers in a virtual setting. (Cognitive/Organizational Strategies)
  • Implement engagement strategies that are effective for instruction within a virtual teaching environment. (Affective/Attitude)

Needs Assessment

What is the nature of the problem/opportunity?

Remote teaching is becoming more prevalent around the country in the forms of virtual cyber charter schools and tutoring companies. It is important to examine some reading techniques that could be useful to educators when instructing in these remote settings, especially for elementary school students. There are several studies, conducted in the United States, Cypress, Poland, Norway, and Israel, that reported on the best practices for remote teaching which arose during the emergency shutdown. Research by Mavritheris et al. (2023) notes that teaching during the pandemic brought both opportunities and challenges to teachers and students. One of the most prominent opportunities brought to students is the experience and skill they gained utilizing different computer programs and digitals skills that are invaluable for their future education. Another study conducted by Potyrala et al. (2021) reported that e-learning will increase in popularity, therefore, there is a need to have additional research conducted on distance learning models. This same study compiled a list of positive effects associated with teaching remotely during the emergency shutdown e.g., self development for students, parent awareness of curriculum, and digital competences. All of these positive outcomes are reasons to further pursue a mini course on distance education practices for elementary school aged students particularly in the area for literacy since it is arguably one of the most important core subjects.

The problem/opportunity can be summarized as follows:

Problem: There are minimal resources available to educators who are teaching elementary reading skills in online settings.

Opportunity: A course that provides foundational knowledge on literacy, resources, and strategies for teaching new readers will support the growth of remote literacy programs for elementary school students and their instructors.

Is it an instructional problem/opportunity that is best addressed through teaching and learning?

The problem opportunity outlined above is best addressed through teaching and learning. During the covid 19 pandemic many educators struggled to transition their in person course to a virtual course. This task is multifaceted because it takes known reading strategies, primarily utilized in a brick and mortar setting, and tweaks them to be accessible in an online environment. After the pandemic many have started to embrace the idea that online education could be the right fit for their child/children (especially those in the early elementary school age group). Providing educators with some basic, yet effective, tools for teaching young students in online settings would be a helpful contribution to the online teaching community.

The learners/participants:

The learners for this course primarily consist of educators and administrators who are tasked with either converting an in-person literacy course to an online course OR who already have an online literacy course and are looking for some tweaks to enhance their instruction through high leverage instructional strategies.

Intent Statement:

This mini course will provide participants with foundational knowledge on literacy, resources, and strategies for teaching new readers and will support the growth of remote elementary literacy programs.

Analysis of the Learner and Context

Learner Analysis

This course is intended for 8-10 educators who have a desire to learn more about teaching foundational reading skills in a remote elementary school setting.Specifically, this course will be a guide to teachers and administrators who are interested in learning effective reading strategies for elementary school students.

Prior Experiences, Knowledge, and Skills

This course would be most beneficial to those who have a few years or teaching experience either in a brick and mortar setting or in a virtual setting. Both groups of educators would be able to explore new teaching opportunites in the online world or brush up on their preexisting skills in remote literacy teaching.

Interests and Motivations

Ultimately, teachers want to improve their craft or enter into the virtual teaching world without recreating the wheel. This course would prepare a teacher with some high leverage tools that could help bring up reading scores and show growth within their classroom.

Learning Context and Setting

This course can be used as a professional learning course to help acclimate teachers to teaching reading in the online setting.

Time Commitment

As a self-paced course the learner can take as much time as needed to go through each module. However, it would be a good idea to do a module per week and dedicate 2-3 hours to each one. If your time is budgeted in this way then this will work out to be a 4 week course!

Resources Needed

Students taking this self-paced course will need to have a strong internet connection, and a computer where they are able to access the links within the course.

Performance Objectives

  • Discriminate between the three foundational areas of early literacy of language development, alphabet knowledge, and phonological awareness.
  • Critique one of the literacy learning activities and explain if it supports learning in foundational literacy.
  • Develop three differentiated instructional activities that would be taught in small groups.
  • Implement two engagement strategies and evaluate if the techniques were effective.

Task Analysis

Before taking this course, the learner:

  • Should be able to use learning platforms designed for remote meetings such as zoom, teams, and Newrow.
  • Should be familiar and have experience implementing educational terminologies/concepts such as differentiation, modification, engagement strategies, and assessment.
  • Should have a basic understanding of how to use google apps, and screen recording programs such as screencast.

Unit 1:

Foundations of Early Literacy

After this unit, the learner will be able to:

  • Summarize the foundational areas in early literacy using prior knowledge.
  • Research foundational literacy skills using provided resources (clips and readings).
  • Redevelop ideas based on the information you gathered from the resources presented in the activities.

Unit 2:

Literacy Learning Games/Activities

  • After this unit, the learner will be able to:
  • Explore learning games/activities focus on foundational literacy skills.
  • Critique one literacy learning activity and explain how an activity can align with a foundational literacy skill.

Unit 3:

Differentiating Instruction/Groups

After this unit, the learner will be able to:

  • State examples of assessment data that could be analyzed to separate students into differentiated learning groups
  • Explain the criteria used for categorizing students into high risk, moderate risk, and low risk reading groups
  • Develop three differentiated instructional activities to be taught in high risk, moderate risk, and low risk reading groups

Unit 4:

Engagement Strategies for Early Literacy Skills

  • After this unit, the learner will be able to:
  • Research engagement strategies appropriate for Early Literacy Skills
  • Implement two engagement strategies and evaluate if the techniques were effective.

Curriculum Map

File:Curriculum Map for Instructional Strategies for Early Literacy Skills .pdf


References and Resources

  • Aguilar, Galperin, H., Baek, C., & Gonzalez, E. (2022). Live Instruction Predicts Engagement in K–12 Remote Learning. Educational Researcher, 51(1), 81–84.
  • Diller, & Hays, A. (2023). Reading, Research and Relationships in a Third‐Grade Virtual Book Club. The Reading Teacher, 76(5), 535–544.
  • Keow Lee Yong, Norasykin Mohd Zaid, Nur Husna Abd. Wahid, Zakiah Mohamad Ashari, Nornazira Suhairom, & Mohd Nihra Haruzuan Mohamad Said. (2021). Challenges in Emergency Remote Teaching Among Malaysian Public Elementary School Teachers. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, 16(24).
  • Maria de Lourdes Ramos da Silva, & Giovanna Avalone Rovai. (2023). TEACHING IDENTITIES AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF PRESCHOOL AND ELEMENTARY STUDENTS DURING REMOTE TEACHING. Revista Interinstitucional Artes de Educar, 9(1), 355–370.
  • Meletiou-Mavrotheris, Konstantinou, P., Katzis, K., Stylianidou, N., & Sofianidis, A. (2023). Primary School Teachers’ Perspectives on Emergency Remote Teaching of Mathematics: Challenges and Opportunities for the Post-COVID-19 Era. Education Sciences, 13(3), 243–.
  • Potyrała, Demeshkant, N., Czerwiec, K., Jancarz-Łanczkowska, B., & Tomczyk, Ł. (2021). Head teachers’ opinions on the future of school education conditioned by emergency remote teaching. Education and Information Technologies, 26(6), 7451–7475.
  • Ristic Dedic, & Jokic, B. (2021). CROATIAN PUPILS’ PERSPECTIVES ON REMOTE TEACHING AND LEARNING DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. Društvena Istraživanja, 30(2), 227–247.
  • Shamir-Inbal, & Blau, I. (2021). Facilitating Emergency Remote K-12 Teaching in Computing-Enhanced Virtual Learning Environments During COVID-19 Pandemic - Blessing or Curse? Journal of Educational Computing Research, 59(7), 1243–1271.
  • Shepeard. (2022). Teachers’ Perceptions of Challenges and Teacher Effectiveness in Providing Inclusion Support for K-5 Students with Disabilities During Emergency Remote Teaching. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
  • Schuck, & Lambert, R. (2020). “Am I Doing Enough?” Special Educators’ Experiences with Emergency Remote Teaching in Spring 2020. Education Sciences, 10(11), 320–.
  • Shaunessy-Dedrick, Elizabeth, et al. “Effects of Differentiated Reading on Elementary Students’ Reading Comprehension and Attitudes Toward Reading.” The Gifted Child Quarterly, vol. 59, no. 2, 2015, pp. 91–107,
  • Skar, Graham, S., & Huebner, A. (2022). Learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of emergency remote instruction on first grade students’ writing: A natural experiment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 114(7), 1553–1566.