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Career and Technical Education (CTE) | Differentiated Instruction | Health Science | Teaching Strategies

How Differentiated Activities Boost Your Effectiveness with Diverse CTE Students

January 5th, 2016 | 3 min. read

Sarah Layton

Sarah Layton

Sarah is a contributing author to the AES blog. She is committed to helping instructors and students succeed both in and out of the classroom.

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Do you struggle to provide differentiated activities for your diverse CTE students? This can be extremely challenging and frustrating for a RN who is in their first year of CTE teaching. Have you ever thought: How do I handle the wide range of abilities without spending my family time and weekend developing activities?

You are not alone! Recently Barbara Coyle, a health occupations teacher from Delaware Valley High School in Milford, PA, shared, "I have a very, very diverse student body. I have kids with IEPs, with learning support, all the way up to students who take advance placement courses. The level at which they finish things and the depths at which they do things is very, very diverse."

One Teacher + Diverse CTE Students = CHALLENGES

How can one teacher accommodate students with such a variety of needs? This is a real issue, particularly for CTE teachers who are more likely than core curriculum teachers to have students with a wide range of abilities in one classroom at the same time.

To compound that issue, administrators have serious concerns about keeping teachers in these challenging positions and keeping them from burning out or throwing their hands up in frustration and desperation.

Administrators want to provide as much help as possible to first year teachers to make sure they are successful. How can they help teachers and limit their frustration with a diverse study body? How can they easily implement differentiated instruction?

Accommodating CTE Curriculum Resources

The answer could be found in finding the right combination of health science classroom resources. The right resources could allow you to easily implement differentiated activities to meet all of your students' needs.

How does Barbara Coyle provide differentiated activities? Along with other resources, Coyle uses HealthCenter21 as part of her CTE curriculum. How?

"I use it in one of two ways. I use it as a supplemental material for students who work quicker than others. It all depends on what we're doing. In some instances I have integrated with the book work so they would read the chapter, do their workbook, and then move to HealthCenter21 for more in-depth coverage of the material," she explains.

Differentiated Activities for Health Science

She goes on to describe how HealthCenter21 helps her provide differentiated activities for medical math.

"For medical math, I use HealthCenter21 as a grade. They move through that module at their own pace. They take every assessment in the module and that's their grade for math. I find that doing medical math that way works best because again, I have students who can go through the entire module in a day. They can finish it and not need anything else because they use their skills that come very naturally for them. Then for the students that need lecture and practice, then they get that from me," she says.

Differentiated CTE Curriculum Doesn't Have to Be Hard to Manage

Having a tool that works for differentiated CTE curriculum doesn't mean that it has to be complicated or difficult to manage.

For example, Coyle says, "The ease of checking in and see what's going on in HealthCenter21 is terrific, especially through medical math. If they are having trouble getting through, they run into a roadblock in a specific place, I can then go back and look at their answers in the quizzes and assessments and see exactly what it is that they're doing, exactly where, why the roadblock went up."

Instructional Strategies for Diverse Learners in One Resource

In addition to the self-paced modules, HealthCenter21 provides study guide worksheets for students that need the tactile activity of writing down key ideas and terms from the interactive presentations.

Lesson plans are provided, often with additional activity ideas that can be done as a class or individually off the computers.

Teacher PowerPoint presentations are available for teachers to present to the class before or after a module or unit. Or teachers can print the presentation notes to share with students that might need them.

In regards to assessment, teachers are able to set up HealthCenter21 to allow students to retake quizzes on their own. Teachers, of course, can always reset quizzes and tests at any time and can adjust student scores if needed.

Differentiated activities can be a huge stumbling block for CTE teachers, particularly those that are new to teaching. Teachers and administrators can make great strides towards accommodating diverse students with ease by making sure the right tools and resources are in place that can support these teachers and their students. Make sure your resources are more than a one-note song.

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