Promising Career-Technical Education Practices During COVID-19

Great Oaks Career Campuses

Instructors at Great Oaks have primarily been using Blackboard to post materials and Zoom to deliver face-to-face content. They have been able to use a combination of Zoom and Dino to view student screens during online tests. In order to provide students as much flexibility as possible, teachers put out a week’s worth of assignments at a time. Additionally, instructors are holding office hours for three hours per week, with at least one hour being face-to-face using Zoom. In order to engage students, one instructor discussed the process for a biomedical lab and the data that would have resulted. Students were then tasked with analyzing the data. Another instructor had students create and submit designs on TinkerCad, which will later be 3D printed by the instructor and sent to the students’ houses. Myrtis Smith, an engineering teacher, has also had students complete unique projects, such as to design a board game or to build a projectile device. Finally, Tim Allen, a Firefighting and Emergency Medical Service instructor, worked with his students to choose a convenient class time and develop reachable goals in order to minimize the impact of the transition to virtual learning. As a result, over 90% of his students show up for class each day via Zoom.

As far as work-based learning goes, the school has been working with the employers and the students and their families to determine how to move forward during this time. While some students have not been able to continue working, the district IT staff is working to provide students in certain programs, such as cosmetology, with laptops that have built-in wireless as well as to provide cloud-based mechanics. These will allow students to continue engaging with material despite limitations to traditional work-based learning experiences.

Finally, many of their Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) are holding virtual banquets, both live and pre-taped to recognize student achievements during these times. The IT staff also has checked-out laptops for students participating in virtual competitions.

For follow-up questions, please contact Harry Snyder.

Miami Valley Career Technology Center

Instructors at the Miami Valley CTC are using a variety of resources to connect with their students during this time: Blackboard, Zoom, Google and Microsoft. For students who lack internet access, teachers are printing out materials and having families pick them up at the school. Teachers are using many different methods to keep students engaged during this time. For example, Dr. Christa Nealeigh, a veterinary science instructor, sent her students a recording of an animal surgery that she performed at a vet clinic. Such an approach allows students to better connect with the materials than simply completing a written study guide. She also provided a bonus for those who could diagnose a radiograph. Other instructors and local vendors have also been providing online demonstrations for students to watch. Many of these demonstrations and lectures are uploaded to their in-house video and file repository (CTC tube) for students to watch.

Some of their students engaged in work-based learning have not been able to report to work due to small business closures, while many others in essential fields are working more hours than usual. They work closely with local companies to share job opportunities with instructors and students. Meanwhile, their seniors are working on fine-tuning their resumes and career passports. The staff at Miami Valley CTC recognize the increased stress that is being placed upon many students during this time. They provided families an email to submit FAQ questions and regularly communicate updates and resources, including mental health tips and supports.

Their CTSOs have also been able to transition to a virtual platform; many are hosting virtual banquets. For one virtual ceremony, they had students partake by running through a tunnel made by their family, a recreation of the traditional tunnel for the in-person ceremonies. Additionally, some BPA students were able to attend the virtual state competition.

Their professional development coordinator, Carrie Wiant, has been integral to supporting teachers as they transition to the online environment. Teachers first participated in mandatory e-learning webinars, which, among other things, guided them through using virtual platforms and creating online lesson plans. Teachers have taken advantage of the over-50 professional development opportunities that were offered, whose topics ranged from general e-learning tips to subject area collaboration sessions. Additionally, the district provided teachers with sample lesson plans and students with time management tools to help with the transition to online learning.

For general follow-up questions, please contact Rhonda Phillips. For professional development follow-up questions, please contact Carrie Wiant.

Penta Career Center

At Penta Career Center, teachers are utilizing Zoom to meet with their classes live and with individual students for one-on-one help. Some have found that pre-recording lessons has been more successful, as students can choose to watch them at their convenience. Although emulating the interactive experience that is integral to career technical-education has been a challenge, many teachers have found innovative ways to engage students. For example, in their cosmetology program, administration and instructors are working to distribute mannequins to students to practice with “actual” hair. Other teachers are doing demonstration videos, such as Amanda Valdez, a culinary arts teacher, who posts YouTube videos for her students of her making various recipes. Another teacher in this program, Kaylynne Shaller, shared the materials for her engaging virtual lab. Instructors in the Firefighting program recently had their students participate in a virtual training with Lieutenants from the Orlando Fire Department and the New York Fire Department, a unique opportunity that likely would not have occurred were it not for the virtual learning setting. Nicole Costello, a small animal care instructor, gave her students an assignment to go into nature and respond to the animal sights and sounds. This assignment not only allowed students to continue engaging with the course material but also safely disconnect from their computers and relax. These are only a few examples of the unique ways that teachers are engaging their students virtually during these unprecedented times.

Work-based learning during this period is challenging; while many students lost their jobs, others in essential fields are working more hours than ever before. Instructors communicate regularly with employers and students to document work progress. To prepare students for future work-based learning experiences, teachers are hosting virtual meetings and webinars to present on topics like resume writing and goal setting. Several have brought in industry guest speakers to speak on various employability skills. Upcoming job opportunities are regularly shared with students.

The various Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) are utilizing various methods to recognize the accomplishments of their talented students virtually. Several are hosting video banquets for their students. Students are also being personally recognized through yard signs. For the CTSOs who are holding elections this spring, they are conducting video interviews, submitting virtual speeches and participating in digital voting.

For follow-up questions, please contact Ryan Lee.

Ridgemont Local School District

Although Ridgemont is a comprehensive high school, the majority of the students are in the career-technical education program. Given their small size, the approach to teaching during this time has been largely individualized. The instructors are working with each student to determine the opportunities available to them and the best approach to attaining the necessary skills. For example, many of their agriculture students continue to have opportunities for hands-on learning at their family farms. Other students are learning how to change oil in cars or helping their families remodel their houses. While the instructors are also providing lectures during this time, they wanted to place an emphasis on allowing students to explore interests within their pathway. To monitor student learning during this time, they are conducting weekly check-ins as well as asking students to record the activities they are completing and the content standards they are learning.

Given the agriculture focus at Ridgemont, many students are able to continue to work during these times. Agriculture is an essential industry, and many are able to continue safely working on their family farms. This has allowed those students to continue gaining experience with, for example, landscaping and livestock. The student accomplishments during this time are posted on social media. For example, they recently highlighted one student who helped birth baby goats on her farm. Additionally, in lieu of a traditional recognition banquet, Ridgemont recognized its seniors over the course of a week in short videos. The district is also mailing out senior gifts as a way to honor them.

For follow-up questions, please contact Stephanie Jolliff.

Upper Valley Career Center

Classes at Upper Valley may look different these days, but their instructors are rising to the challenge. Mrs. Plozay, a cosmetology instructor, uses her home set-up to provide video demonstrations to her students. Early Childhood Education instructor, Natalee Heath, used Zoom to connect her students to preschool groups for a sing-alongs and story-time activities. John Kreitzer, a Landscape Management teacher, provided his students the opportunity to safely create a container garden from plants provided outside of the greenhouse. Finally, Cheryl Kies, a Food Science instructor, shared her engaging activity using TikTok, a popular form of social media among adolescents.

The students and staff at Upper Valley are also giving back to the community during these hard times. Nathan Sailor, an Agriculture teacher, posted story-time YouTube videos (1, 2). Vicki Kipker had 73 students partake in a Random Acts of Kindness challenge. These ranged from sewing medical masks to baking cookies to mowing for the elderly. Additionally, three teachers from the Medical Careers Academy and Veterinary Science fields collected and delivered PPE to the Upper Valley Medical Center. Another, Deb Luellen, a pre-engineering instructor, has been 3D-printing face shield PPE for medical professionals.

For follow-up questions, please contact Michelle Brunson.

Additional Resources

Approaches to Remote Learning for Career-Technical Education Guide

Last Modified: 6/1/2020 2:00:09 PM