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CTSOs Engage Students: Discover Ag Under Water

“Career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) enhance student learning through contextual instruction, leadership and personal development, applied learning and real-world application.”

So defines the mission and purpose of nine CTSOs by the National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) (2018). Educators and invested stakeholders offer unique opportunities for students to develop the skills for success in careers of their choosing. CTSOs engage students in CTE via activities, programs and competitive events. Students gain experience in leadership roles at local, state and national levels as they network with their peers and potential future employers at events such as ACTE’s CareerTech VISION.

Over the next three weeks on PAGES, a Techniques blog, you will hear from the CTSOs themselves. Learn more about the work of these nine organizations as they enhance student learning to increase global competitiveness.

Let’s begin in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

National FFA Organization

To learn more about how CTSOs engage students in CTE, ACTE members can read the February 2019 issue of Techniques online today. And be sure to come back to PAGES each Monday, Wednesday and Friday through February, when we’ll feature a new CTSO.

REFERENCES
National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations. (2018a). About. Retrieved from http://www.ctsos.org/about-us/.
National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations. (2018b). CTSOs. Retrieved from http://www.ctsos.org/ctsos-2/.

Teaching Strategy: The Carousel

“I wish all students would participate in the discussion.”

If that sounds familiar, you might want to try this strategy.

The ability to engage students with hands-on learning activities has long been a strong advantage for career and technical educators. However, the excitement that students experience in the lab often does not follow into classroom learning. When an instructor announces, “Let’s head back to the classroom.,” the response is an audible groan from students. Their bodies slump. The students find lab activities more engaging than classroom instruction.

To fix this problem, leverage lab attributes that create engagement to design classroom lesson plans. Consider how:

  • Labs allow every student to be actively engaged (equity)
  • Labs allow for students to openly discuss ideas as needed
  • Labs allow for freedom of movement
  • The teacher serves the role of facilitator
  • There is a de-emphasis on grades (learning for the sake of learning)

Equity, Engagement and Productive Talk

Emphasize the power of speaking and listening between students — what is known as productive talk. Productive talk is speaking that leads to learning. It happens during conversations in which students do most of the talking, while teachers guide them to listen to each other, explain their thinking, question and challenge each other’s ideas, and revise their own opinions based on input from others.

Productive Talk Improves Literacy

When people participate actively in conversation, their brains sync, mirroring and anticipating the neural activity of the others in the conversation (Stephens, Silbert and Hasson, 2010). Engaging in conversation as we learn, rather than simply listening to new information, helps make this neural activity more likely. As we learn, our brains forge and strengthen new pathways through which information can travel.

The Strategy in Action

How long will it take?

20-30 minutes, depending upon how long you want to debrief students.

When should I use the Carousel teaching strategy?

As a pre-assessment or a review game of a broad, multifaceted topic. When you need to get everyone involved, instead of hearing from the same few students each time.

What’s the gist?

An extended, active version of Think-Pair-Share, the Carousel gets everyone moving around the room to write and discuss various topics.

How It Works

  1. Post 4–5 large sheets of paper around the room, with plenty of space between them. On each paper, write a different question or statement that can elicit a broad range of responses.
  2. Divide your students into 4–5 teams, and give each team a different colored marker. Each group begins at one of the posted questions.
  3. Set a timer for two minutes (or another amount of time). Instruct students as follows: “When I say go, you will have two minutes as a group to write as many intelligent points as you can on your board. When I call time, every group will take their marker and rotate to the left, just like a carousel.”
  4. When groups rotate, instruct students to read through what the other group(s) wrote. If a student or group disagrees with something written previously, they are encouraged to draw a line through the statement and respond. After that, students begin to post their own additional thoughts.
  5. Continue rotating until all groups have responded to every question. Then facilitate a class discussion. All it takes to get great conversation going is a couple of lines drawn through comments of another color.

Students encouraged to respond and defend their own words are more invested than if they were just listening to the arguments of others. By responding first in a group with short, written statements, students feel safe to critique and defend their own ideas and are more likely to discuss their ideas aloud afterward.

Example Prompts from an Automotive Classroom

  1. List everything you can think of that relates to Geometry (This is to connect to prior knowledge and emphasize the role of geometry involved with upcoming content on suspension and brake systems.)
  2. List everything you can connect to the concept: alignment.
  3. List every detail you know about wheel bearings. (This serves as an excellent pre-assessment tool, to gauge student knowledge on this topic.)
  4. How many ways can we connect tires to brakes? (This serves to launch the new learning and gives the instructor time to use what students already have told him to lead the discussion.)

Final Thoughts

Productive talk will flourish when your classroom culture promotes learning for its own sake. Decades of research, from 1933 onward, have made it clear that grades are often problematic (Kohn, 2011). Reliance on grades reduces students’ interest in the material, the quality of their thinking, and their intrinsic drive to take intellectual risks (Kohn, 2011). Risk-averse learners “downshift” their brains into a kind of survival mode, looking for the right answer instead of seeking understanding.

People do better creative work and engage more readily in learning when they know that what they’re doing is relevant beyond a quantitative assessment. When we use external rewards to motivate others, we may unintentionally undermine their intrinsic motivation (Pink, 2011) and risk extinguishing their love of learning. Especially in career pathways work, it is important for students to internalize and embrace the intrinsic value of the learning that could become their lives’ work. A class discussion will be more dynamic and productive when students, freed from a preoccupation with their own achievement, can take interest in the topic itself.

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 the Carousel and other innovative teaching strategies in your CTE classroom.

For more from Adams, find her at ACTE’s CareerTech VISION next week where she will be on site to sign her book, But I’m NOT a Reading Teacher! Adams will also deliver two educational program sessions: “The Technology Integrated CTE Classroom: Embedding 7 Future Survival Skills” on Friday, Nov. 30 and “Creating Equitable Access to IT Courses” on Saturday, Dec. 1 during the STEM is CTE Symposium.

REFERENCES
Kohn, A. (2011). The case against grades. Retrieved from http://alfiekohn.org/article/case-grades/.
Pink, D.H. (2011). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.
Stephens, G.J., Silber, L.J. & Hasson, U. (2010). Speaker-listener neural coupling underlies successful communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pcm/articles/PMC2922522/.

iTeachU: Building Upon National and State CTE Teacher Recruitment Efforts

For more than two decades we have heard alarms, warning of the shortage of secondary teachers in content areas such as agriculture education and family and consumer sciences… In response, national initiatives emerged to address the need to recruit teachers into these career and technical education (CTE) fields. The National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) (2018) began the Tagged to Teach Ag initiative in 2009 and turned a spotlight on the need to recruit and retain professionals in that space.

A Kansas-based campaign coined “Say Yes to FCS” was adopted in 2014 by the National Association of State Administrators of Family and Consumer Sciences (NASAFACS) (Randel & Spavone, 2016). The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) hosts online resources to fill the FCS teacher pipeline. These campaigns and others have heightened an awareness of the need for teachers in these fields of CTE.

Statewide CTE Teacher Recruitment Efforts

Capitalizing on the buzz created by the national Tagged to Teach Ag and Say Yes to FCS campaigns, statewide recruitment efforts are underway to recruit the next generation of CTE teachers in South Dakota.

Each year, South Dakota FFA members who plan to attend South Dakota State University (SDSU) to major in agricultural education are invited to participate in the event, which mirrors an athletic signing. The student, their agriculture teacher and SDSU faculty sit at a table and sign a framed letter of intent to teach agriculture.

South Dakota has undertaken additional statewide efforts to recruit family and consumer sciences teachers… In addition to the traditional means of recruiting, SDSU implemented iTeachU in 2011. The one-day, annual event on campus is a joint effort between the agricultural education and FCSE faculty in the department of teaching, learning and leadership, and introduces participants to a career in teaching while simultaneously providing a glimpse into college life.

Associated faculty take on the logistical roles of organizing and planning the iTeachU program, while current SDSU students facilitate the event. This joint effort between faculty and students with diverse interests is purposeful. At SDSU, several of the core education courses are cross-listed between these disciplines, and many students, pursuing degrees to become agriculture and/or FCS teachers, will attend classes taught by both faculty throughout their time as students. These shared classroom experiences help students recognize the CTE connection that agriculture and FCS share.

ACTE members can read the full article, “iTeachU: Building Upon National and State CTE Teacher Recruitment Efforts,” in the November/December issue of Techniques today. Watch your mailboxes for the print edition to appear this week!

Not a member? Join! ACTE is the largest national education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers.

EarSketch: Inspiring Persistence in Computing Through Music

“[EarSketch] teaches and sets us free. It’s like our own playground wherein we’re able to make whatever we want. We finished our projects,” said a young, female computer science student. “Yes, I consider myself a programmer.”

During a focus group, the student quoted expressed a changing perception of her interest in computer science and of herself as a programmer. This student exemplifies the significant improvement in both student engagement and content knowledge we have found to occur when students use EarSketch, a browser-based learning platform where they explore introductory programming through music remixing.

EarSketch engages students by enabling them to learn computing creatively through personal expression and music. Students learn elements of computing and mix music samples. They write Python or JavaScript code to algorithmically create music in popular genres including but not limited to trap, dubstep, hip-hop, rock and pop. Coding concepts (e.g., loops, lists, and user-defined functions) mix musical samples, beats and effects to develop tracks that students can access and modify anywhere with a broadband internet connection.

Curriculum and Teacher Materials

The EarSketch curriculum is aligned with the programming standards of the College Board’s advanced placement (AP) computer science principles (CSP) course, as well as a related (non-AP) computer science principles course that is standard for high school students in the state of Georgia. AP CSP was launched in the fall of 2016 with a goal to offer a rigorous introductory curriculum that would broaden participation in computer science. The course introduces students to the creative aspects of programming, abstractions, algorithms, large data sets, the internet, cybersecurity, and the impacts of computing across multiple domains (Astrachan et al., 2011).

Thirty-five CSP learning objectives are organized around seven big ideas and six computational thinking practices. Its curricular framework is broader than that of traditional computer science courses, with a focus on collaboration, analysis, communication, creativity and connections to other disciplines. In contrast to other introductory computing courses, CSP is language-agnostic. It does not mandate a specific programming language or problem domain: Students submit performance tasks created with a programming language and/or within an environment of their choice. This all facilitates the integration of EarSketch.

Computing teachers may be unfamiliar with this approach and the idea of teaching CSP within the domain of music. We have thus developed scaffolding and supports for teachers that include lesson plans, slides, worksheets, mini-tasks, rubrics and other teaching materials; face-to-face and online professional development; and an interactive community where teachers can ask questions, share materials and review additional training resources.

ACTE members can read the full article, “EarSketch: Inspiring Persistence in Computing Through Music,” in the October issue of Techniques today. Watch your mailboxes for the print edition to appear this week!

Not a member? Join! ACTE is the largest national education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers.

PAGES will feature excerpts from articles published in Techniques and wholly original content.

Launching PAGES, a Techniques blog

Hello, world! Welcome to PAGES, a Techniques blog.

Since joining the staff of ACTE in 2017, I have worked for this day. We’re live! PAGES will feature excerpts from articles in print and wholly original content (interviews, case studies, news items and more) based on the theme of each new issue. We’ll talk about topics trending in career and technical education (CTE). And we’ll highlight stories of educators and programs doing the work to ensure our students graduate college- and career-ready.

From PAGES it is my hope you will find increased value in Techniques online, expanded opportunities for engagement and even more stories of CTE success. Written for career and technical educators by career and technical educators, Techniques addresses the issues ACTE members care about most, providing input you can trust when making decisions for your classrooms, programs and school systems — in print and on the web.

Are you interested in writing for PAGES?

Let’s collaborate! View the 2018–19 Editorial Calendar and reach out via email to discuss your ideas. At conferences, in conversation with students and on the Expo floor at VISION, think of Techniques (and PAGES) often. Bring me your stories, because they are the stories that matter to CTE educators like you.

Check back next week for a preview of our celebration in San Antonio: ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2018.