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Capture student skills with e-portfolios

Welcome to our new series, COVID-19 Innovations. Here, we chronicle the innovative ways that career and technical educators continue to engage students as lifelong learners and prepare them for rewarding careers, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the 2020–21 school year.

During COVID-19, Rachel Conover of Indian Valley Vocational Center in Sandwich, Illinois, has provided her students with choices. Conover’s culinary arts students demonstrated learning in various ways, including videos, photos and written reflections, using CTEfolio.

Brockton and Somerville school districts in Massachusetts are also piloting CTEfolio. This image shows one of many customizable challenges for Somerville students.

Documenting skills digitally

CTEfolio presents a digital portfolio of student knowledge, skills and experiences. Developed by CAST, a nonprofit education research and development organization, CTEfolio aligns with the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is a framework for designing accessible and rigorous learning environments for all.

Through CTEfolio, students curate evidence that demonstrates their learning in one central location. Conover offers feedback directly on student work, and students make improvements based on her input. Learners have access to CTEfolio for five years after graduation, and employers can gain access to see evidence of student competencies.

Supporting students with disabilities

Tools like CTEfolio are particularly useful for learners with individualized education plans, Conover said. Students with disabilities can struggle to effectively navigate multiple digital platforms. She described how digital portfolios help students that struggle with verbal communication, memory, anxiety and organizational skills. In CTEfolio, students learn how to assemble and display learning and skills to instructors and potential employers. Built-in accessibility features — text-to-speech, speech-to-text, dictionary and translation — help achieve this goal.

Do you have a COVID-19 innovation to share?

ACTE wants to hear about the innovative ways you are coping with the impact of the pandemic on CTE and career development. Please fill out this short form, and you could be featured in this series. For additional ideas on remote, blended and socially distanced in-person learning for CTE, check out ACTE’s comprehensive guide High-quality CTE: Planning for a COVID-19-impacted School Year and CTE distance learning lesson plan resources.

CTE students promote mask wearing

Welcome to our new series, COVID-19 Innovations. Here, we chronicle the innovative ways that career and technical educators continue to engage students as lifelong learners and prepare them for rewarding careers, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the 2020–21 school year.

Instructors at Nassau Technical Career Center (NTCC) — a shared-time center that offers career and technical education (CTE) programming for learners in grades 9-12 on the campus of Florida State College of Jacksonville in Yulee, Florida — faced many challenges in fall 2020. Among them was getting students to wear face masks properly. Teachers shared that instructional time was being used to enforce mask-wearing policies.

Design and development

NTCC’s entrepreneurship and marketing teacher partnered with digital media teachers in Nassau County to promote proper mask wearing.

Entrepreneurship and marketing students researched successful business slogans and developed key phrases to promote proper face mask usage. Digital media learners studied graphic design principles and used Adobe software to design posters and flyers. Upon receiving finished artwork, the entrepreneurship and marketing students assisted with the printing and distribution of campaign materials.

A sense of ownership

Now more students across the district are aware of the importance of proper mask wearing. In addition, the learners that actively participated in the campaign have a sense of ownership and pride. Now, they advocate for proper masking.

Do you have a COVID-19 innovation to share?

ACTE wants to hear about the innovative ways you are coping with the impact of the pandemic on CTE and career development. Please fill out this short form, and you could be featured in this series. For additional ideas on remote, blended and socially distanced in-person learning for CTE, check out ACTE’s comprehensive guide High-quality CTE: Planning for a COVID-19-impacted School Year and CTE distance learning lesson plan resources.

Students practice hands-on skills outside

Welcome to our new series, COVID-19 Innovations. Here, we chronicle the innovative ways that career and technical educators continue to engage students as lifelong learners and prepare them for rewarding careers, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the 2020–21 school year.

Career and technical educators have shown creativity and flexibility in the face of campus closures and social distancing requirements. In fall 2020, the career and technical education (CTE) department at Rockbridge County High School (RCHS), in Virginia, collaborated to provide students, as much as possible, with a genuine CTE experience. RCHS faculty supplemented virtual instruction with an outdoor CTE classroom along with prepackaged materials for hands-on practice.

Open-air learning

While RCHS delivered most instruction remotely, students in certain CTE programs could sign up to work one-on-one with their instructor: automotive technology and auto body, building trades and construction technology, manufacturing and electronics. In addition, aerospace technology students flew drones. Family and consumer sciences learners carved pumpkins.

The outdoor, socially distanced setup enabled students to complete performance assessments and check off competencies. Those learners who chose not to participate in the open-air classroom participated in virtual learning and assessment.

To comply with safety regulations, learners completed health screenings and had their temperatures taken at check-in. All students and instructors wore masks at all times. Workstations were sanitized after each use, and some learners also wore gloves.

Going mobile

Throughout the fall, educators worked to ensure that all learners who chose to participate in the outdoor classroom had transportation. RCHS hoped to take the classroom mobile, traveling to locations around the community with equipment loaded on trailers. However, rising case rates and colder weather resulted in the closure of the outdoor classroom in mid-November.

Do you have a COVID-19 innovation to share?

ACTE wants to hear about the innovative ways you are coping with the impact of the pandemic on CTE and career development. Please fill out this short form, and you could be featured in this series. For additional ideas on remote, blended and socially distanced in-person learning for CTE, check out ACTE’s comprehensive guide High-quality CTE: Planning for a COVID-19-impacted School Year and CTE distance learning lesson plan resources.

NEWS: Woodworking industry rallies to support CTE

Woodworking teachers faced a challenge that might sound familiar to many career and technical education (CTE) teachers: how to make it work while distance learning. The answer: with strong support from industry. The Society of Wood Manufacturing (SWM) and its members donated materials, supplies and funding to benefit CTE students in California. SWM reallocated budget and resources to help as many teachers and students as possible. They identified three specific areas for support:

  1. Procuring wood materials for students
  2. Securing tools and supplies for students
  3. Assisting teachers to prepare materials and toolkits

Woodworking industry answered the call to support CTE in California.

SWM, a chapter of the Association of Woodworking & Furnishing Suppliers (AWFS), requested donations of materials and supplies from AWFS member companies. Industry responded quickly and generously. In total, SWM collected and distributed about $60,000 in donated wood materials and supplies from the woodworking industry. In addition, SWM awarded 19 $500 grants to California woodworking teachers to use towards distance learning supplies.

AWFS member company Royal Plywood of Cerritos, California, contributed more than $50,000 in materials. Donations arrived on two flatbed trucks; they included laminated panels and multiple species of hardwood. They also shipped materials from Roseburg Forest Products in Oregon. “We are thrilled that we could help out the local high school students by donating some of the materials we have in stock,” said Dave Golling, vice president of business development at Royal Plywood. We think this is a great program and will make a real difference for the woodworking teachers and students.”

SWM offered hands-on support for career and technical educators.

Saúl Martín, president of SWM and vice president of manufacturing at Architectural Woodworking Company (AWC), volunteered to cut and distribute wood materials for the teachers. He worked with several different instructors to help develop and send home woodworking kits for students. He then cut more than 20,000 pieces of poplar for students to use. Martín opened AWC to the teachers on three separate Saturdays to let them load as much free wood as they could take.

“SWM wanted to do something that would impact as many woodworking students as possible,” said Martín. “The teachers really needed some help from industry to boost their woodworking programs.”

About AWFS

The Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS), founded in 1911, is a nonprofit organization that wholly owns and produces the biennial AWFS Fair. The largest trade association serving the entire home and commercial furnishings industry, AWFS has more than 400 members, including manufacturers and distributors of machinery, hardware, software, tooling, lumber, components, wood products and supplies for the woodworking industry including cabinet, furniture, millwork and custom woodworking products.

 

Business partners, students interact through remote Interview Week

Welcome to our new series, COVID-19 Innovations. Here, we chronicle the innovative ways that career and technical educators continue to engage students as lifelong learners and prepare them for rewarding careers, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the 2020–21 school year.

The past year has presented significant challenges as well as inspiring examples of CTE programs and partners collaborating to provide students with meaningful interactions with their peers and industry leaders.

Virtual Enterprises International (VEI) partners with secondary schools to deliver a school-based global business simulation that enables students to develop business, professional, technology and financial literacy skills for future success through hands-on entrepreneurial experience. This allows students to learn business by doing business and to test drive potential careers.

Expand access.

In spring 2020, VEI shifted its in-person learning experiences to online platforms. Students expanded their networks, engaging more actively with other student-run businesses across their state and in mentorship with business professionals in other states. In addition, more students are participating in virtual events because certain barriers to entry are eliminated. This particularly benefits VEI students attending schools in under-resourced communities.

This technological shift also helped expand the hiring process for leadership of student-run businesses. Normally, the teacher is solely responsible for hiring decisions. In 2020–21, VEI facilitated a virtual Interview Week, during which business professionals participated in 15-minute interviews with prospective candidates. The interviewers shared their feedback with the instructor to help them make a final decision.

Develop transferable skills.

The interview presented a real-world learning experience for students and a venue for demonstrating their leadership skills. Students received immediate feedback from business professionals about their strengths and growth areas in interviewing. Some of the business partners who facilitated interviews were former VEI students, providing students with role models to emulate.

Participants, both students and industry professionals, offered comments about their experience, which is being used to refine next year’s program. Overall, learners and business partners have shared how meaningful it was for them to engage in conversation with one another.

Do you have a COVID-19 innovation to share?

ACTE wants to hear about the innovative ways you are coping with the impact of the pandemic on CTE and career development. Please fill out this short form, and you could be featured in this series. For additional ideas on remote, blended and socially distanced in-person learning for CTE, check out ACTE’s comprehensive guide High-quality CTE: Planning for a COVID-19-impacted School Year and CTE distance learning lesson plan resources.

Professional Prep Academy offers virtual internships during and after the pandemic

In a time when in-person internships aren’t possible, virtual internships provide valuable, real-world experience from the safety of home.

The Professional Prep Academy (PPA), developed by Socratic Arts, offers a wide range of virtual internships to help students discover a career passion and learn life skills. Work-based learning forms the cornerstone of a quality career and technical education (CTE) program. And it’s too valuable to lose in the wake of COVID-19.

Virtual internships present realistic, mentored, learn-by-doing experiences that can be delivered 100% online or on a hybrid basis. And they are turnkey, meaning they require minimal school effort during the pandemic crisis. Virtual internships eliminate:

  • Recruiting and training employers for internships
  • Finding student transportation to and from work sites
  • Students potentially putting themselves at risk in face-to-face work situations
  • Students missing out due to socioeconomic hardships

Our story-centered approach makes the difference.

PPA virtual internships use a story-centered approach to learning that immerses students in real-life situations. They complete real work, on real deliverables, that have real impact. Students get to work alongside real professionals and get a taste of what their job actually entails.

Students play a central role working individually, or on a team, to achieve meaningful objectives over a series of tasks. Learners are expected to produce the same work product that professionals produce. Students are trained and assessed in vital 21st century employability skills:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative problem-solving
  • Scientific reasoning
  • Self-directed learning
  • Research
  • Common workplace behaviors and values

PPA’s story-centered approach has been used successfully for more than 20 years, with more than 100,000 students at world-class universities, the U.S. government, and Fortune 100 companies around the world. Discover what a PPA virtual internship looks like.

What sets our internships apart?

  • Developed with extensive input from industry subject-matter experts
  • A rich and engaging story that mirrors real-world, work situations
  • Detailed employer information such as company policies and unspoken cultural factors important for students learning
  • A wide range of in-depth learning resources.
  • Expert mentors available to help, advise, and give feedback
  • Competency-based approach where mentors coach students until they master the knowledge and skills required by the current task before proceeding to the next

Skills training for in-demand careers

PPA offers virtual internships in five high-paying, high-demand career areas. By completing multiple programs in a related field, students can amass an impressive portfolio of work to showcase during job interviews.

Virtual internships include:

Cybersecurity

  • Insider Threat
  • Exploit a Website
  • Malicious Network Traffic
  • Remote Intrusion Attempt

 Data Analytics

  • Intro to Data Analytics: Machine Learning & Sentiment Analysis
  • Machine Learning with Python

Entrepreneurship

  • Business Idea Workshop
  • Product/Service Definition
  • Think Like an Investor
  • Business Essentials
  • Write a Business Plan

Health Sciences

  • Internal Medicine
  • Forensic Detective
  • Mystery Diagnosis Case

Software Development

  • Intro to Website Development
  • Intro to JavaScript
  • Mobile Web App Development
  • Java 1
  • Java 2

PPA program requirements

PPA virtual internships involve solving complex problems, and it is for this reason that block schedules with class sessions of 80–90 minutes are required to allow for meaningful learning.

Students must have:

  • A total of 15 hours available per week, in and out of school
  • A minimum of 2.5 megabytes per second internet bandwidth — downloading and uploading — at school and home to support online video learning resources and Zoom meetings

About Socratic Arts

Socratic Arts has been a pioneer in learning since 1989. Led by artificial intelligence expert and visionary Dr. Roger Schank, Socratic Arts’ team of experienced instructional design and facilitation experts develop and deliver performance-improvement solutions to Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and post-secondary schools. Learn more.

DEAR LINDA: What is asynchronous learning in CTE?

There are many times in the life of a teacher when we are filled with fear, doubt and confusion. Literally, that would be the title of my first year as a teacher. And now, in 2020, we all feel that uncertainty renewed as we navigate a new normal in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The all new Dear Linda column on PAGES, a Techniques blog has been in planning stages since fall 2019 but there seems no better time than now to launch. Dear Linda is a space for career and technical educators, where they can feel supported and encouraged to ask questions, seek answers and uncover valuable resources, now and going forward.

Dear Linda,

My school district provided guidance that we should teach using asynchronous learning. What does that mean for a career and technical education (CTE) course? –A Teacher from Connecticut

Hello and thank you, Connecticut, for your question.

This is a great question. I, too, felt overwhelmed by the word “asynchronous” when I first heard it and so what did I do? A search! Google defines the term:

Asynchronous learning is the idea that students learn the same material at different times and locations. Asynchronous learning is also called location independent learning, and is opposite to synchronous learning where students learn at the same time by activities such as attending a lecture or laboratory.

After reading this, I took a moment and really thought about the CTE classroom; I realized that we have been asynchronous for years.

Think about your own classroom.

You provide the content through slides and demonstrations; then students are offered time to work on their skills independently. The key word there is independently. CTE students are resilient and able to adapt to a variety of situations. Why? We prepare them for the ever-changing workforce.

Now, in the midst of the current COVID-19 crisis, the only major difference is, your content will be delivered via a platform such as Google Classroom.

What exactly does asynchronous learning look like?

    • Content can be delivered (whether review or new, district depending) via Google Slides. You can use Google Meet to review the slides live or you might record them and publish in your classroom. There is value added for students as they listen to you point out the key elements of the lesson.
    • Questions can be answered during Google Meet live sessions or during virtual office hours I have also been scheduling check-in times where students can come just to talk like they used to in my brick and mortar classroom.
    • Skill videos can be uploaded from a variety of resources or if you have materials at home, you can simulate. In the video below you can see how I have modified a partial bed bath for my nurse aide students using a baby doll.
  • Attendance can be taken using a Google Form, which transfers to a Google Sheet. Another idea is to set up an expectation for “roll call” using your system’s chat feature, where students simply comment “here” when they enter. If you are doing a Google Meet, there is an add-on feature that tracks attendance automatically.

Keep in mind

Many students will benefit from the added flexibility of an asynchronous learning environment; they can enter your classroom day or night to view and complete the assignments.

Try not to stress. Keep things simple. Remind yourself as you remind your students… We are all learning together. Focus on keeping your virtual classroom environment, safe, loving and a place where your students feel comfortable coming to talk and learn. Let them always know how much you care!

Be safe and thank you again for this wonderful question.

Linda Romano

 

Send us your questions and Linda will have the answers. Questions for Dear Linda can be emailed to techniques@acteonline.org.

Linda Romano is vice president of ACTE’s Health Science Education Division and a health science/nurse aide educator for Newburgh Enlarged City School District, where she has been a CTE teacher since 2006. In 2018, Romano was named ACTE’s Teacher of the Year. She also serves as president of the New York Health Science Educator Association.

Romano is an active registered nurse and serves in several volunteer capacities for her state of New York and within the local Newburgh Community/ Newburgh Armory Unity Center. In addition to mentoring new teachers, Linda Romano developed and leads a program called Scholars in Scrubs, which provides education, health and wellness, and opportunities for young people (pre-K to high school) and their parents/grandparents.