With a new year upon us, what insights and best practices have we gained from our teaching during the pandemic as well as before the pandemic? What can we bring into this year that will enliven the career and technical education (CTE) classroom? Julie Williams, a health science teacher from Oak Creek High School, states simply, "More interaction."
Ms. Williams emphasizes the value that experiences in technology, project-based learning, and career-based learning can bring to the CTE classroom. Let’s explore each strategy a little more in this “interactive” recipe for engaging learners in CTE.
The Value of Technology. Using simulation software and meeting platforms for guest speakers are game-changers for stimulating student interest. Students can explore practical skills together through interactive software applications and models, such as patient simulators. In addition, guest speakers who might otherwise be unable to present in class, such as a podiatrist or a commercial pilot, can quickly plug into an online meeting platform. In both of these examples, the technology makes learning interactions not only possible, but also exciting. Those tools can bring a lift to any CTE classroom.
The Value of Project-Based Learning (PBL). PBL is a natural fit for the CTE classroom. It fosters authentic and individualized instruction through real-world learning experiences. PBL gives students the opportunity to test their interest and passion on a particular topic within their chosen career pathway. Even more, it’s a perfect vehicle for increased social interactions, which develop students’ teamwork, problem-solving, communication, and social-emotional learning skills. And let's not forget the benefits for teachers. PBL instruction opens doors of collaboration and learning between CTE and non-CTE subject-area teachers. Now that's a huge value for implementing project-based learning!
The Value of Career-Based Learning Experiences (CBLEs). We all know CBLEs are important to career development, but the pandemic taught us that learning is less restrictive and more fun when it happens outside of the school building. Both teachers and students benefit tremendously from the learning that takes place on field trips to industry workplaces and the community. The interactions and connections ignite passion, inspire new goals, and renew the love for teaching and learning.
No "Enlivening Your CTE Classroom" recipe would be complete without a secret ingredient. What do you get when you combine technology, project-based learning, and career-based learning experiences with a supportive group of administrators, families, and community members? CTE teachers and students who thrive!
—submitted by Christina Patrin, Health Science Education Consultant, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction