How to Implement Blended Learning Curriculum in a CTE Program Blog Feature
Sarah Layton

By: Sarah Layton on March 22nd, 2016

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How to Implement Blended Learning Curriculum in a CTE Program

Blended Learning | Career and Technical Education (CTE) | Digital Curriculum | Teaching Strategies

Do you know how to implement blended learning curriculum into your CTE courses?

CTE teachers often talk to us about the struggle of keeping students engaged.

These same teachers are challenged by classrooms of students with a wide range of abilities and needs.

We've found that one way to address both of these challenges is by incorporating blended learning curriculum into daily lessons.

While blended learning curriculum provides a great solution, it also can require a lot of work from the teacher. 

But it can be done.

There are some great tools and resources out there to help alleviate the workload that can accompany blended learning curriculum. Here's one teacher's story:

How One Teacher Uses Blended Learning Curriculum

blended learning curriculum

Patricia Smith teaches health science at the Fred P. Hamilton Career Center in Oconee County, South Carolina. She teaches 10th through 12th grade students, all of which could possibly be in the same class. Smith sees her role as their teacher is to help them to explore health care careers and determine if they are actually really interested in it or not. And she does all of this using blended learning curriculum.

“We have a long class with a lot of kids…enter HealthCenter21!” Smith says. She loves the block schedule for teaching health science because she has the time to introduce something, maybe do a lab activity, and get finished with it all in the same day. 

“For example today, I was able to introduce the donning sterile gloves and taking an oral temperature so that we could incorporate all of that together not that you need sterile gloves to do that but I don’t waste anything so I just waited until we got ready to do temperature before I let them put on gloves. I just cannot see paying for sterile gloves for them to put on and take right back off and not do anything with them.”

Some Blended Learning Best Practices

During the first hour or so, Smith likes to be able to do various things, which supports her blended learning curriculum! She has frequent access to a computer lab in which everybody has access to a computer. That’s when she pulls out HealthCenter21. It’s usually incorporated into at least one class a week and sometimes more.

Smith explains,

“Some of the modules, I depend heavily upon HealthCenter21, and some of the modules are more like supplements for me. I find, because I’m also a virtual school teacher, that some students just learn better having that time with the computer where they can listen or they can read as much as they want, they could practice and go over the quizzes as much as they want.

I think that being able to use an online curriculum really is helping some students out there, and actually me sometimes.”

She goes on to share,

“I never teach the same way twice and that’s after 28 years! I have to weed out and rearrange things because they change. I feel like I’ve always been the type of teacher that pulls from so many different resources. 

Just trying to get something new and different and something that will spark some interest to keep my kids from dozing off in class.”

How Digital Curriculum Can Help CTE Teachers

Smith shares,

“I was thinking about some of the things that HealthCenter21 allows for. One thing is it allows for is no wasted days! We have enough wasted days. What happens when I get called to a meeting or I am just feeling under the weather but not bad enough to call in a substitute teacher?” 

She answers her own question with, 

“HealthCenter21 can help drive that lesson for the day, so that I don’t feel like it’s been wasted. Because trust me, after 28 years, I have called in some really bad lesson plans but now, I can just leave instructions for the substitute to have students go to the current module and do lessons one and two. It’s just very nice for that.”

Another aspect of HealthCenter21 that Smith appreciates is its ease-of-use. 

“HealthCenter21 works for even the novice teacher who is not computer savvy. And when I say novice, I’m talking about that 28-year veteran nurse who decides to come into teaching who may not be as familiar with using an online curriculum.

I think it’s pretty easy to maneuver in HealthCenter21. One thing that people just have to get over is that you can click on anything and you can always get out of it. It’s going to prompt you before you delete something. Getting past the fear factor and delving into a curriculum like this is probably the biggest thing holding inexperienced teachers back."

And students enjoy the digital curriculum, as well. Smith tells the story of a class of students that she’s had for a couple of years.

“By having them all year last year and all year this year, I know them really well...if they’re tired of something, they’re going to tell me about it, and they’re going to complain about it. Long story short, I did not get complaints about going to the computer lab.”

Smith even has students that work ahead. She’d assign one or two lessons and the students would end up doing quite a bit more than she assigned. 

“They took the lead on their own. That was fun. They just got in there and they started working and they enjoyed going with it."

Some Benefits of Blended Learning

The resources that you can use for blended learning curriculum have some great benefits beyond simply providing another method of learning. Smith points out that there are two groups of students that have particularly benefited from using HealthCenter21:

“My ESL students and some of my IEP students have reading disabilities. I have one student that will ask me for the headphones every time. He’s going to listen and then he knows that he can go home and do the same thing. He can finish up at home or finish up in his tutorial lab, and that’s a great thing. They can sign in from another classroom or at home to finish it up at their speed and with help if they need it. Just being able to listen to the audio is really good for both those groups of students.”

Advice to CTE Teachers

When asked what advice she would give to a health science teacher who has outdated classroom textbooks and materials and no time to create lesson plans and grade assessments, Smith replies,

“Beg your district for HealthCenter21!

Take time to go through the free trial. Just use one module and go through all the different supplementary materials that each module has. The handouts for example, just look at all of them and try to incorporate one module and see what you think.

Once you have one module that you’ve done and feel like you’ve done it well, then I think you can move on to effectively supplementing your own curriculum with parts of modules.”

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About 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.