Posts

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.

NEWS: Oklahoma CTE students selected as finalists in NASA’s App Development Challenge

Moore Norman Technology Center‘s programming & software development program was selected to attend a two-day virtual event experience, culminating NASA’s App Development Challenge (ADC).Teams will present their apps to NASA leadership during the event. And participants will have the chance to meet with industry leaders.

MNTC team members include seniors from Norman High School (NHS), Norman North High School (NNHS) and Moore High School (MHS):

  • Katrina Ashpaugh, NHS
  • Travis Bode, NNHS
  • Dylan Decoster, MHS
  • Julian Lautzenheiser, NNHS
  • Lauren Smith, MHS
  • Christian Zacher, NNHS

Oklahoma software development students selected by NASA for unique approach to wayfinding.

The NASA review team said MNTC’s app has a unique approach to the wayfinding visualization and in the illumination feature. They also appreciated the extra effort for accessibility for those with color blindness when using color data sets within the app. Additionally, NASA applauded Moore Norman’s work with online coding communities for beta testing and community outreach for app improvements.

Culminating event teams selected include:

  • Academies of Loudoun, Leesburg, Virginia
  • Bell Creek Academy High School, Riverview, Florida
  • Bishop O’Connell High School, Arlington, Virginia
  • Falcon Cove Middle School, Weston, Florida
  • McNeil High School, Austin, Texas
  • Middlesex County Academy, Edison, New Jersey
  • Moon Millers: Millburn High School, Millburn, New Jersey
  • Moore Norman Technology Center, Norman, Oklahoma
  • Team Equinox: Gilman School, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Whitney High School, Cerritos, California

What is the App Development Challenge?

NASA presents technical problems to middle and high school students, seeking contributions for future exploration missions. According to NASA STEM, “Students take part in the Artemis Generation endeavors to land American astronauts, including the first woman and the next man, on the Moon by 2024.

NASA Technical Advisor Dr. Bryan Welch said, “The capabilities and the apps varied across the teams. Every team brought a unique aspect to their app that we found to be creative, intuitive and useful. Myself, and several of my reviewers found it inspiring.

ADC engages students in CTE through real-world application.

For this particular ADC, students worked to develop an app that visualizes the South Pole region of the moon. It was developed in collaboration with NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (NASA SCAM) team.

NASA Education Specialist Jamie Semple said, “The SCAM team needed an app that will visualize the moon’s surface for future mission planning and training activities and must also contain a path for exploration and identify communication checkpoint links.”

Students from across the U.S. began work on their apps on Sept. 30 and submitted solution videos online by Nov. 18. And NASA may use one of their apps in the future.

MNTC Programming & Software Development Instructor Rachel Hurt said, “I am always in awe of what my students achieve when they pull together and work to succeed. As our group finished their interview with NASA’s leadership team, I knew that our work helping them sharpen their programming and soft skills was paying off.

“These high school seniors took the knowledge of programming they’ve learned and used it in a real-life scenario. I am extremely proud of these students, and I am extremely proud to be part of an organization that does so much to promote student success.”

“Our team felt honored and proud to be selected as one of the finalists for the NASA ADC,” said Lauren Smith, app team spokesperson. “The obstacles we faced being virtual this year granted us some unique opportunities to hone our skills in self-discipline, team communication and working in a virtual environment.”

Learn more about the NASA App Development Challenge.

-30-

Teaching Strategies: Certification Test Prep

For career and technical education (CTE) teachers, spring brings with it a focus on certification test preparation. This can be a daunting task. Consider how a teacher might approach supporting student review sessions. You might hear a teacher announce, “You have 45 minutes to study today. Use this time now to review your notes quietly.”

Is it effective? On the surface, it seems to be a good use of time. Students need to perform well. Time is needed for review. However… Students’ attention spans begin to slip around the 15 minute mark (Medina, 2014). Rather than becoming frustrated when students struggle with quiet review, get creative.

Here is an approach you can take: Structure meaningful test prep lessons in which students talk through questions and concepts and, as a result, engage in deeper thinking. Use the following strategies together to help students identify their knowledge gaps.

Socratic Circle

In a traditional Socratic circle, students are seated in a circle without the teacher. They are challenged with open-ended questions or hypothetical scenarios, and instructed to discuss. This exercise helps students to talk through scenarios and situations — to explore possibilities and think deeply — without constant acknowledgement from a teacher.

Early childhood education students were given the following instructions, “We have studied eight leading theorists this year. Discuss each person’s contribution to understanding and rank them by importance to preschool development.”

Students then learn to collaborate and struggle through awkward moments. According to Tony Wagner (2015), agility and adaptability are as important as collaboration and critical thinking for success in 21st century workplace. Engaging in conversation that is challenging, open for exploration but also outcome-based, will push students to construct deeper meaning for themselves.

Forced Agreement

When you want students to arrive at one correct answer, use the forced agreement strategy alongside your Socratic circle. Design this session to follow a think-pair-share lesson. Students are accountable to think on their own, and then they must “pair” together, with forced agreement, to “share” a single correct answer. With the full class group, expand on and discuss those areas where students disagreed.

Because our session was deliberately designed as test prep, students were given three difficult questions to answer. Students were instructed to answer individually and then deliberate together. When the table agreed to one response, and had a strong defense for that response, they signaled the instructor with a thumb in the air.

While each table of students collaborated, the instructor facilitated. More importantly, the instructor listened and checked for understanding, identifying which students grappled with difficult concepts.

The Strategy in Action

How long will it take?

20–30 minutes, depending on the number of students present

What’s the gist?

When your goal is to prime students for deeper retention of key concepts and theories, arrange students in a circle. Students engage in discussion about the question or scenario given. Students use constructive criticism to make judgments and come to sensible conclusions together. The teacher serves as only a facilitator. The goal is for the teacher to never intervene in the dialogue.

Add the forced agreement piece when you are moving toward a specific desired answer. This is a great tool to engage students in modeling and reflection.

Structuring Success for Your Students

Educators must be cognizant of how many students struggle with study and test prep skills. Given that certification testing covers a vast array of standards, terms, concepts and processes, structuring powerful study sessions is crucial.

By doing so, teachers avoid the habituation of routine studying and help students deepen their own understanding by engaging in continual productive talk themselves. Further, by focusing on strategies that are metacognitive in nature, students can identify the areas in which they are still weak.

Sandra Adams is a teacher and instructional coach with the Career Academy, Fort Wayne Community Schools. She co-wrote the ACTE-supported book But I’m NOT a Reading Teacher!: Literacy Strategies for Career and Technical Educators with Gwendolyn Leininger. Contact her to learn how you can implement theses certification test prep and other innovative teaching strategies in your CTE classroom.

REFERENCES
Medina, J. (2014). Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home and school (2nd ed.). Seattle, WA: Pear Press
Wagner, T. (2008). The global achievement gap: Why even our best schools don’t teach the new survival skills our children need — and what we can do about it. New York, NY: Basic Books.