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Career Clusters ™ Institute Series: Increases in U.S. Technical Competence

May 10th, 2012

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that will be shared at the upcoming Career Clusters ™ Institute. Guest bloggers are among teachers, faculty, researchers and other experts that will present at the national gathering in Washington, DC in June. The session highlighted below is a pre-session, which is scheduled for Sunday, June 17, 2012, 1 p.m.–3 p.m. Pre-sessions charge a separate fee; you can add a pre-session to your general registration as you complete the registration form online.

Dr. John C. Foster is first and foremost a dedicated leader and advocate for individuals preparing for the workforce. He currently serves as the President/CEO of NOCTI and its sister company The Whitener Group. These organizations provide technical performance assessment for career and technical, secondary, and post-secondary programs in 48 of the 50 states. They also provide career and technical teacher occupational competency testing for universities delivering teacher training. Lastly, these firms provide assessment development, delivery, and reporting help for private industry and associations.

As professionals in the field of workforce training, specifically technical skills training, we get bombarded by information from multiple sources telling us how better to prepare our workforce. Some employers will tell us, “just give me someone who comes to work on time and we’ll do the rest,” others expect our public education system to turn out journeymen upon high school graduation. Other voices even tell us to give up on technical training and concentrate all our public education dollars on English, math and science.

To make matters worse, we are often told that the job we are doing just isn’t good enough and they claim that the federal legislation that funds our community is ineffective legislation. Even the U.S. Education Secretary has said that Career and Technical Education (CTE) is only good at providing “islands of excellence”, insinuating that the bulk of our programs need a lot of work!

In February of 2012 and then again in March, NOCTI presented longitudinal technical assessment data that indicates that as a nation our technical competence IS increasing. It indicates that the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 IS having a positive effect, and it indicates that states are implementing instructional improvement programs based on real data from objective third-party evaluators!

The presentation will look at examples of national data, state data, and local data and the consistency of the patterns of improvement that our CTE community is making! CTE has a tremendous impact on our economy, our citizens, our educational system, our infrastructure, and our very way of life. Isn’t it about time you knew the truth?

Add this Pre-Session to your Institute experience now! If you have already registered for the National Career Clusters™ Institute, you can still sign up for Dr. Foster’s Pre-Session now. Call our office at 301-588-9630 for more information on how to sign up.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

Career Clusters ™ Institute Series: Sticky Learning Pre-Conference Workshop

May 1st, 2012

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that will be shared at the upcoming Career Clusters ™ Institute. Guest bloggers are among teachers, faculty, researchers and other experts that will present at the national gathering in Washington, DC in June.

Sandy Mittelsteadt is president of her own company, Zayn Consulting. Zayn Consulting is a company that specializes in connecting businesses to education. Before developing her company, Sandy was the Executive Director of the National Career Academy Coalition. She is also the co-author of The Career Academy Toolkit and Sticky Learning. Through the years, Sandy has taught at virtually every level—from preschoolers in Saudi Arabia to high-risk youth in Missouri.

Looking for ways to turn your classroom into a student-centered, active learning environment? Wanting to connect the academic concepts you teach to real-life experiences and opportunities your students understand and value?

All teachers have had their share of students who manage to memorize enough facts to pass a test and then walk out of the classroom with little retention of the concepts they just “learned.” Needless to say, these students are also clueless as to how this knowledge fits into the overall scheme of things in the real world. In days gone by, these students might have been chided for learning in such a way that knowledge “went in one ear and out the other.”

Sticky Learning, on the other hand, encourages learning that lasts for a lifetime. It introduces an innovative blend of several tried and true and educational strategies:

  • It’s integrated curriculum, but more…
  • It’s action-based inquiry, but more…
  • It’s discovery learning, but more…
  • It has real world application, but more…

Learn how to plan and implement integrated learning with action-based inquiry, discovery learning, and real world application. This presentation will give successful models suitable for individual, team, academic, and Career Technical Education (CTE) applications and supply examples how to actively engaged students in discovering knowledge and skills.

Sticky Learning prepares students for success in the real world. Although it will help students to be successful test-takers, its aim is to spark student curiosity and energize classrooms. There is a subtle, but powerful, shift from “what” students need to learn to “how” they acquire and apply knowledge. Quite simply, students learn how to learn. They come to understand “why” they benefit from broadening their horizons beyond classroom walls.

Sticky Learning is active, purposeful, contextual learning.

Attend Sandy’s Sticky Learning Pre-Session, and receive her book entitled, Sticky Learning. Sandy will walk you through the eleven chapters of this “Make It Real Planning Guide for Engaging Students in Project-Based Learning” and you will leave with at least one excellent generic project-based unit with an economic theme that you can immediately teach in your classroom. Sandy will also guide you to Web sites that contain quality project-based units.

Add this Pre-Session to your Institute experience now! If you have already registered for the National Career Clusters™ Institute, you can still sign up for Sandy’s Pre-Session. Find out more

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

Career Clusters ™ Institute Series: Professional Development for Data-Driven Program Improvement

April 25th, 2012

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that will be shared at the upcoming Career Clusters ™ Institute. Guest bloggers are among teachers, faculty, researchers and other experts that will present at the national gathering in Washington, DC in June.

As a Senior Consultant for NOCTI (formerly the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute), Dr. Sandra Pritz is involved with NOCTI’s partnership projects with the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education. She also coordinates the identification of integrated academics in assessments. Prior to NOCTI, Dr. Pritz taught college-level economics, mathematics, and English and spent almost 30 years at The Ohio State University Center on Education and Training for Employment, where she directed numerous projects based in CTE.


Debra Andrews is a Career and Technical Education specialist at the Maine Department of Education, working in the areas of comprehensive school review and technical standards and assessments implementation. Debra has worked as an educator in Maine for over twenty-five years, teaching third grade in Topsham; training teachers through the Professional Development Center at the University of Southern Maine; and administrating international education programs at Southern Maine Community College.

A key strategy in preparing college and career ready high school graduates is making effective use of the voluminous assessment data available to educators. NRCCTE researchers at NOCTI spent three years researching and pilot testing a professional development model that takes the confusion out of interpreting and using assessment data and helps teachers focus on the data connections between work and real-world student learning in order to create instructional improvement plans.

Career and Technical Educators Using Data-Driven Improvement (CTEDDI is the only evidence-based program designed to prepare both administrators and CTE teachers to use technical assessment data to continuously improve their programs. Educators analyze their own students’ data as they create both classroom- and student-level instructional improvement plans. This session will enable educators to learn about the program, but also to consider its features as they move forward with their plans to use data insightfully.

Delivered by knowledgeable in-state facilitators who also serve as ongoing coaches for teachers and administrators, CTEDDI also sustains valuable communities of practice through an online sharing center. At the Institute, Debra Andrews, CTEDDI administrative leader and facilitator for the state of Maine, will describe the characteristics of on-the-ground implementation at their sites. It is relevant that the following quotation is the tag line on e-mails she sends: “Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a solution.” (Maya Angelou)

To learn more about participating in CTEDDI, visit our website at www.nrccte.

Learn more about the characteristics of professional development that make data matter for both educators and students by attending Drs. Pritz and Andrew’s session at the Institute: Professional Development for Data-Driven Program Improvement.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

Career Clusters ™ Institute Series: Integration, More than Just a Word

April 12th, 2012

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that will be shared at the upcoming Career Clusters ™ Institute. Guest bloggers are among teachers, faculty, researchers and other experts that will present at the national gathering in Washington, DC in June.

Michael Carey

Michael Carey has been teaching in Business and Computer Technology areas since 1977 and is certified to teach grades K-12. Carey is a product of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) educational system and spent 14 years in parochial education in Wisconsin and, so far, an additional 21 years since in public education. Michael has been heavily involved in Career Technical Education (CTE) in Kansas since returning there in 1991.

My father, when he found out that I intended to enter into education for my career, gave me some advice. He informed me that his greatest learning experience, exclusive of serving in the army during the Korean War, took place in elementary school. Perhaps this was due to his formal educational experience having been completed at the end of the 8th grade. Nevertheless, he advised me to treat the courses and the material and the students that I would be teaching as if I were the only teacher in a one-room school house. He encouraged me to use modern technology, although I don’t believe he anticipated the multitude of tools available today, and to use modern pedagogy, a word that he first heard and learned by listening to lessons taught to the older kids in his one-room school house.

Somewhere in the not too distant past, education in America moved away from the one-room school house concept in which educators teach multiple subjects and consequently link learning across a range of topics from English to math. The approach consequently reinforced their teachings in the varied subject areas, and naturally providing a platform for integration across courses. Instead of following that model, educators began specializing in just one subject matter or curriculum. The unintended outcome of this evolution is teaching conducted in silos and learning without context.

We have all heard of and used the new “three R’s” of CTE. We strive to develop rigor, work hard to create relevance,” but somewhere along the line lost sight of the remaining aspect, relationships. Relationships revolve around integration and integration is more than just a word. Integration illustrates the understanding that an item of knowledge is related in some way to another item of knowledge, and can be applied in a range of subjects and circumstances.

Today, integration is a buzz word in education with a lot of emphasis and little application. In CTE courses in particular, we must embrace the concept of integration by designing comprehensive courses that meet core and CTE requirements.

Deb Hampton


Learn more about how you can successfully integrate core and CTE classes at the Career Clusters Institute during his session: Integration, More than Just a Word. He will be joined by Debbie Hampton, an English teacher at Central Heights High School in Richmond, Kansas. Hampton has spent 25 years in the teaching profession practicing at the middle, high school, and post secondary levels.l

Register for the Institute today!

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

Career Clusters™ Institute Series: Integrating Knowledge and Skill Statements into Curriculum, A College’s Story

April 5th, 2012

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that will be shared at the upcoming session: Integrating Knowledge and Skill Statements into Curriculum: A College’s Story at the Career Clusters™ Institute in June.

Becky Burton is currently the Director of Career Clusters™ and Director of Radiography at Amarillo College. As Director of Career Clusters, Mrs. Burton is leading the college in developing core curricula across Career Clusters™, collaborating with area secondary school districts to vertically align programs of study, and streamlining articulations for technical and academic dual credit.

Dr. Robin Nickel has 17 years experience working in postsecondary education and curriculum management including analyzing college needs, presenting practical solutions, and implementing institutional change. Nickel is Associate Director at Worldwide Instructional Design System, a curriculum-design software, training and consulting services company.

The Power of a Process

Adapting curriculum to local workforce needs requires a clear curriculum development process. What does this mean for frontline educators in colleges?

As educators are working to integrate academic, career, and technical instruction, curriculum design efforts are being examined and an efficient design process is needed. Ideally, this process should ease the burden on educators and help them organize, approve, and disseminate quality curriculum. An emphasis on curriculum relevancy is also part of the challenge, as educational offerings are to include competencies, problem-solving skills, work attitudes, general employability skills, and knowledge of the industry. Many business coalitions already work with educators to determine what skills and knowledge are needed in Career Technical Education (CTE).

A Consistent Approach to Curriculum Process A Must

Because curriculum should ideally be customized to local needs, the task to implement industry-defined skills or core abilities (critical thinking, responsibility, teamwork, etc.) – into a local course or program can:

  • seek industry input, incorporate findings into offerings
  • infuse Career Clusters, with their associated Knowledge and Skills, into curriculum
  • determine course outcomes and overlaps/gaps so informed decisions are made about dual enrollment agreements for high school and college course work
  • design assessments that target course and program outcomes
  • incorporate extended learning opportunities, such as job shadow experiences, mentor programs, internships, etc.
  • manage curriculum change

Clear course and program outcomes with associated performance standards and assessments – what is defined as curriculum – become the basis of learning in any environment. This curriculum should directly interface with learners, empower them, and it should be developed in a consistent, efficient manner that won’t duplicate efforts or dumb-down the quality.

Some college systems use a common curriculum design system to help ensure the externally-driven standards are being addressed and taught in their own local courses and programs. In several cases, the process simplifies articulation between secondary and post-secondary systems, ideally providing a general road map of what courses are offered at what institution and of those, what are offered for credit.

Learn about a successful example of a college — Amarillo College – that adopted a process and tool to implement Knowledge and Skill Statements into their curriculum and foster more consistency among programs. Attend Nickels’ and Burtons’ session: Integrating Knowledge and Skill Statements into Curriculum: A College’s Story at the Career Clusters™ Institute in June.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

Career Clusters™ Institute Series: Why Use Social Media Technologies in the CTE Classroom?

March 30th, 2012

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that will be shared at the upcoming Career Clusters ™ Institute. Guest bloggers are among teachers, faculty, researchers and other experts that will present at the national gathering in Washington, DC in June.

Kathy Belcher has served as Project Coordinator at the University of North Texas since 2008. She coordinates high school CTE curriculum and professional development resources for STEM and Manufacturing, federally funded by the Educational Excellence Career Grants. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas and holds professional teaching certifications in Art Education and General Elementary Education. Belcher serves as secretary for the Texas Technology and Engineering Education association.

Why use social media technologies in the CTE classroom? As a teacher, I will have to learn what the technologies are, how to use them, integrate them into my existing curriculum, make the case to my principal, add planning time to my already busy teaching schedule, and monitor their use.

Social media technologies can support active learning, social learning, and student publication, by providing environments and technologies that promote and foster these interactions (Ajjan, et al., citing Ferdig, 2007). Teachers who use social media technologies in the classroom encourage individual sharing, promote social interactivity, provide a virtual space where learning begun in the classroom can continue beyond the classroom walls, and inspire lifelong learning (Robbie, et al., 2008).
Research in the field reveals many positive student learning outcomes using social media technologies. Listed are some ideas on how to use such technologies to maximize those outcomes:

  • Create a collaborative Web site, or wiki to exchange ideas and information on a collaborative project by adding, removing, or editing site content.
  • Create a daily online journal blog to reflect on their progress; read, post comments and respond to each other’s blogs for peer-review; include images and links to web content; and express opinions.
  • Work collaboratively through social file sharing (DropBox, Google Documents, Moodle) creating shared folders and files to retrieve and edit documents in one location. And, create a forum for parents and others to view their work.
  • Meet virtually in one centralized location with numerous people to discuss and collaborate in real-time to achieve a common goal through social collaboration (Skype, Google+Hangout); and continue learning beyond the classroom walls.
  • Create a virtual identity and connect, network and interact with family, friends, classmates and teachers, creating and building relationships critical not only to personal success but also to professional success through social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Google+). Post homework assignments and deadlines for assignments or tests, or poll the classmates on relevant topics.
  • Share videos, photos, and personal publications through social creativity sharing (YouTube, Flickr, Writeboard) to develop as creative and innovative thinkers and leverage social creativity.

There are many benefits linked to students’ use of social media technologies in the CTE classroom: increased active and social learning; improved student-teacher relationships; positive experiences in and outside the classroom; and perhaps the one I like best is “Social media helps students learn how to collaborate and collaboration skills are viewed by educators as the “quintessential skill” for students in the 21st century” (Smith, 2010).

Learn more about how you can use social media technologies to support student learning by attending Kathy’s session at the National Career Clusters™ Institute. Attendees will leave with access to FREE curriculum and professional development resources made possible through the UNT/TEA Career Education Excellence Grants.

Register today.

References:
Robbie, D., & Zeeng, L. (2008). Engaging student social networks to motivate learning: Capturing, analyzing and critiquing the visual image. The International Journal of Learning, 15(3), 153-160.
Smith, N. (2010, May 4). Teachers embracing social media in the classroom. TechNewsDaily. Retrieved from http://www.technewsdaily.com/421-teachers-embracing-social-media-in-the-classroom.html
Teclehaimanot. B., & Hickman, T. (2011). Student-teacher interactions on Facebook: What students find appropriate. TechTrends, 55(3), pp. 19-30.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

Career Clusters™ Institute Series: STEM Education: An Award-Winning Model that Works for All Schools

March 20th, 2012

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that will be shared at the upcoming Career Clusters ™ Institute . Guest bloggers are among teachers, faculty, researchers and other experts that will present at the national gathering in Washington, DC in June.

Lead Presenter Greg Quam has been the Career and Technology Coordinator for the Platteville School District over the past 15 years. Quam serves on the Wisconsin Project Lead the Way State Leadership Team and is presently fulfilling the duties of chairperson, founder of the Platteville Project Lead the Way Rural School Consortium and co-founder of the Southwest Academy for 21st Century Excellence.

Quam


Regardless of where a student lives – be it in an urban city, suburban neighborhood or rural region – they will have to prepare for competitive, high-demand jobs. In rural areas, where schools can sometimes feel isolated, we must make significant efforts to deliver them access to important educational and training opportunities.

To address this issue, some rural districts in Wisconsin have collaborated to create the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Rural Initiative, a program in which five rural districts joined forces to provide CTE engineering courses that were thought to only be available in large districts. The initiative helped schools handle costs, teacher training and accessibility issues that a small rural district would not have been able to manage independently.

PLTW is nationally-recognized as a rigorous, project-focused program designed to prepare students in engineering. The program already had long established presence in rural areas of Wisconsin; however it was clear that plans to expand these offerings would be profoundly impacted by funding.

The Southwest Academy for 21st Century Excellence was formed through the collaborative efforts of the Platteville Project Lead the Way Rural School Consortium, CESA 3, and Southwest Wisconsin Technical College as a way to offer the higher level PLTW engineering courses to students who wanted to continue in the PLTW coursework. Students had access to courses that their home school were simply not able to provide.

The high schools involved in the consortium each teach two of the core level courses, but in rural schools due to small student enrollment, it was not fiscally possible to offer a higher-level class for a handful of students. However, with the Academy, students now are able to take these higher-level s engineering courses at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College on Wednesday evenings. The course is taught by the college’s engineering technology program instructor, and students are assisted with their projects by their district’s PLTW instructor and a mentor from the local business community. This model has proven very successful in delivering higher level engineering curriculum that may not otherwise be available in small, rural school districts.

Our engineering Academy began in the fall of 2009 with 12 students participating from three school districts. The Southwest Academy for 21st Century Excellence was selected as a national model PLTW program in 2010 for its success in promoting STEM education among small rural Wisconsin school districts. Participants will learn more about STEM and how all schools can use a consortium effort to provide quality implementation.

Learn more about how you can collaborate with schools and institutions, and leverage resources for your students by attending Greg’s presentation at the Institute. Register today.

Presenters include Greg, who will present with Julie Pluemer, Career Prep Specialist at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College in Fennimore, WI; and Mary Johannesen, Project Coordinator at the Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) #3 in Fennimore, WI.

Pluemer


Johannesen


Greg can be reached at [email protected]

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

Career Clusters™ Institute Series: Beyond Resumes and Cover Letters; Rigorous and Relevant Technical Writing

March 15th, 2012

This blog series provides readers with insight on the valuable content that will be shared at the upcoming Career Clusters ™ Institute. Guest bloggers are among teachers, faculty, researchers and other experts that will present at the national gathering in Washington, DC in June.

Carol Larkin (pictured) is both a Secondary and Post-Secondary English Instructor. She has been a teacher for more than 37 years, spending the last 15 years in Career Technical Education (CTE) as an applied English teacher.

More than 80 percent of high school students’ writing involves academic writing about literature. This is no longer adequate preparation for the workplace or college. Greater emphasis must be placed on training students on how to communicate in the growing technical world. Teachers and faculty also must learn about technical writing, its rigor and relevance to academic and CTE and gain ideas about how to implement such writing in the classroom.

The new Common Core State Standards Initiative has untethered writing from the English department and sent it across the CTE curriculum. Writing now takes on the role of a real world application for our students.

How do we integrate this real world writing into our technology courses? The answer: through an understanding of technical writing—its form, style, and function—and technical writing projects! In order to implement courses with this approach to writing, it is critical that academic and technical instructors collaborate and provide writing opportunities across the curriculum.

Why should technical writing be integrated into both academic and technical courses? Technical writing:

• Engages students in critical thinking and writing
• Prepares your students for college level writing
• Makes writing real and relevant to the student

The foundation of technical writing begins in English class with the study of form, style and function; students then apply what they learn about writing in their technical classes. As an applied English teacher, I work with the technology instructors. We plan projects that require progress reports, research, flyers, brochures, instruction manuals, presentations and much more. Our program has existed for over 20 years. On a yearly basis less than five percent of our students need writing remediation upon entering college.

This session provides you with three critical components to create rigorous writing assignments:

• Knowledge of how technical writing differs from academic writing
• Structure for the Academic and Tech teachers to create rigorous writing assignments

Real time projects combining technical class work with Language Arts writing. I have worked with colleagues across disciplines to develop and test a curriculum that instructs students both in the traditional language arts as well as technical writing. In today’s global economy and society, students studying all disciplines and entering all types of careers will need writing and communication skills to succeed.

Learn more about how you can provide valuable, real –world writing instruction for students by attending Carol’s session at the Institute: Beyond Resumes and Cover Letters; Rigorous and Relevant Technical Writing. Register today.

Carol can be reached at [email protected]

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

 

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