Blended Learning Best Practices from Health Science Technology Teachers
What keeps you from trying new things in your CTE health science classroom? If you are like the many health science technology teachers that we encounter every day, then likely the reason has something to do with time and maintaining the status quo. We get it! Finding time to learn new things, let alone figure out how to implement them, is like searching for Bigfoot. And the status quo is one small comfort in the chaotic, unpredictable daily lives of health science technology teachers.
For new health science technology teachers, the challenges are that much more intimidating, particularly that first year. But unlike the elusive Bigfoot, you really can find some amazing, time-saving, easy-to-implement curriculum resources for health science.
Blended Learning Resources for Health Science
It turns out that the best resources are those that you can combine with more traditional teaching tactics. Health science technology teachers will need to spend some part of their time in front of the classroom. The key is to blend lecturing with other teaching styles to expose the students to content in multiple ways. The benefits of blended learning include long-term learning and knowledge and the ability to get and keep students engaged. HealthCenter21 is a digital curriculum that is an ideal blended learning resource option.
HealthCenter21 is ideal for a number of reasons. For students, it provides accurate, up-to-date health science curriculum and presents it in a way they likely aren't already getting in your classroom. For health science technology teachers, it is ideal for it's highly praised usability and the ability to get started within minutes. Yes, minutes!
Here are some stories from health science technology teachers that have found success using HealthCenter21 as part of their blended learning resources:
Kathy Regan, Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School
Kathy Regan teaches Health Technologies at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Marlboro, MA. The Health Technologies program at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School nearly tripled in enrollment several years ago. Although thrilled to have more students in the program, Kathy needed to find an economical and effective way to provide the content for the larger class sizes. And the content needed to be able to reach learners with varying strengths and weaknesses.
At about the same time, Kathy was made aware of HealthCenter21, which not only provided content, but also provided a means of gauging student understanding with online quizzes and tests. Kathy liked this idea as they already had more than enough computers to get started with the program.
Kathy began by utilizing the accompanying teacher presentations for lecture. She then took the HealthCenter21 teacher presentations, enhanced them, and catered them to the depth of coverage that she desired. After a lecture using an enhanced, customized teacher presentation, she assigns students the corresponding units and lessons in HealthCenter21 for remediation. Then students take the online quizzes provided in the program. Finally, when the topics are completed, Kathy has students take the online module test on an appointed day.
Barbara Coyle, Delaware Valley High School
Barbara Coyle teaches Health Occupations in the Career and Technology Education department at Delaware Valley High School in Milford, Pennsylvania. Barbara describes how she uses HealthCenter21 this way: “I use it in one of two ways. I use it as supplemental material for students who work quicker than others. I have a very, very diverse student body.”
Barbara also shares why differentiated instruction is so important for her classroom: “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. In some instances, I’ll use HealthCenter21 as a supplemental material for the quicker kids. 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 work book and then move to HealthCenter21 for a more in-depth coverage of it.”
Stephanie Avery, Father Patrick Mercredi High School
Stephanie Avery is part of the Science and Technology program at Father Patrick Mercredi High School in Alberta, Canada. Avery uses HealthCenter21 in a truly blended approach to teaching and learning. She mixes online learning using HealthCenter21 with workbooks and activities that she’s developed.
And there is lecture. With her students ranging in age from 15 to 18, Stephanie emphasizes, “I need to teach. Some of the more complex content requires more than just one touch with online learning.” So, blended learning is ideal for her courses. Students are learning in a variety of ways, including online, teacher-led lecture, clinicals, hands-on activities, and PowerPoints.
When students are assigned online work in HealthCenter21, Stephanie makes herself available to students. She walks around the classroom answering questions that come up. She’s a facilitator during these moments, or as she describes, “I’m still here, but they are doing the work.” And while she facilitates, she asks students questions, as well. If students struggle with concepts they’ve learned online, this allows Stephanie to see which material they can do solely online and what material she will need to go over with them in another way.
Patricia Smith, Fred P. Hamilton Career Center
To bring blended learning resources to her classroom, here's how Patricia Smith from Oconee County, SC does it:
During the first hour or so, Patricia likes to be able to do various things. She has frequent access to a computer lab where every student has access to a computer. That’s when she uses HealthCenter21. It’s usually incorporated into at least one day a week and sometimes more.
Patricia 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."
First Year Teacher Advice
First year health science technology teachers deserve a little extra help! That first year can be such a challenge. Here's some first year teacher advice from experienced health science technology teachers who were once in your shoes:
Patricia Smith, Fred P. Hamilton Career Center
When asked what advice she would give to a health science teacher who has outdated classroom materials and no time to create lesson plans and grade assessments, Patricia replied, “Beg your district for HealthCenter21!”
She added, “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.”
Another aspect of HealthCenter21 that Patricia 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,” Patricia says.
“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,” she adds.
LaWanda Prestage, Sweet Water High School
For LaWanda Prestage, the health science program at Sweet Water High School in Sweet Water, AL is in its infancy. She was looking for different types of activities and worksheets to use with her Foundations of Health Science and Emergency Services classes. She found that and more with HealthCenter21. And it turned out to be a great fit for LaWanda and her students.
The school’s program has no Emergency Services textbooks to speak of. And this was a course where the classic Diversified Health Occupations text wasn't going to be quite the right fit. So LaWanda was on the hunt for additional resources for her classroom when she found HealthCenter21
Incorporating a new resource into your classroom can be intimidating. LaWanda was in a situation where she was somewhat starting from scratch with her syllabus. To work HealthCenter21 into it, LaWanda looked at the health science lesson plans for the modules. When she found content that matched what she wanted to teach, she would include that lesson, unit, or module into the lesson plan. “Really, it hasn’t been that hard for me,” LaWanda said.
Joni Brand, Washington Network for Innovative Careers (WaNIC)
Joni Brand teaches a nursing assistant program at Washington Network for Innovative Careers, or WaNIC. Joni was starting from scratch just a few years ago. Although a 30-year veteran R.N., Joni is a self-described “novice” in regards to teaching. But Joni hit the ground running with HealthCenter21 to teach and prepare her students for their Nursing Assistant Certification Exam for the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program.
Some of the hurdles facing Joni included the newness of her curriculum, the age range of her students, and the challenge of several ESL students. When Joni took on the responsibility of teaching this course, HealthCenter21 had already been selected for her and her students. And for Joni, that was an answer to one of the many challenges she faced as a new health science technology teacher. In Joni's opinion, HealthCenter21 was “absolutely perfect” for her students.
In regards to preparing them for their Health Assistant Certification Exam, Joni quickly noticed that the assessment questions provided in the curriculum would perfectly prime her students for the types of questions asked on the exam. She describes how some of the multiple choice questions found in HealthCenter21 are “tricky” in a positive way. “You have to read all four answers and narrow it down. You have to think about which answer is the best. The exam questions are just like that,” she explains.
Additionally, Joni praises HealthCenter21 for allowing students to work at their own paces. For some students, that meant repeating the information several times. For others, it simply meant going through the content at a slower pace than others. Joni was flexible in allowing the students to work through the content until they knew it.
Career Tech Oklahoma Health Science Technology Teachers Share Their Stories
Our team had the opportunity to digitally “meet up” with part of the Kiamichi Technology Center’s health science staff. EMS Director, Gina Riggs, and teachers, Paige Shoup and Tasia Brand, shared with us the challenges and rewards of teaching health science. They also volunteered some excellent advice about blended learning and how to cope as a new teacher.
So if blended learning is the recommended course of action, what’s the best way to go about it?
Paige describes a typical unit of study this way, “We have three Health Career teachers and we all three have modules that students follow. The modules will combine a variety of learning methods. For example, they'll read a chapter in the DHO book, and then do the worksheet in DHO. Then they'll have to do a related module on HealthCenter21. Finally, they'll have to do hands-on projects.” She gave an example of a project for the safety part of the course. In this project, students might “go out with our safety officer and put out a fire. We just try to utilize all of our resources to give the learner a wide variety, so AES is just one part of each module that the student does.”
She added, “HealthCenter21 really inspired the variety of teaching tools that we could use in Health Careers. We had students using textbooks and workbooks. Then adding HealthCenter21 to that gave students a wider range of learning tools. I think HealthCenter21 was a fabulous addition.”
When asked what advice you would give to someone new to teaching, Tasia responded, “I would say that at the beginning it's very overwhelming, and I think a lot of our new teachers feel that. I would just say that they have to give it time for it to get better, so they can find their own way of doing it.”
Paige said, “You know we're in the process of getting ready to hire a new health career teacher here at our campus, and I've had to recently talk to people about it. I pretty much tell them what Tasia said. The first year is tough. But here at McAlester we're lucky because we're a three-teacher program. And so they're going to have a support team. But you have to give it time, and it's wonderful because you have your own area, your own classroom, and your own students. You can develop your curriculum to fit your students' needs, and that is very rewarding. Just like Suzy Ha told me one time (she was the one who introduced me to this job), if you help one student to succeed, then you've really done a lot for that one person. Not everybody is going to succeed. You can't expect a 100% success.”
For CTE directors one of the biggest challenges is turnover with health science technology teachers. Mentoring is a big part of helping new teachers become successful.
Paige said about this, “When I was new, I networked with other campuses, and I went to visit other health careers classrooms. That helped me immensely. I've found that all of the teachers in the KTC, in the whole district are willing to share their curriculum, share their ideas, and I've found that going to see how other people did it helped me to see how I wanted to do it.”
Learn more from the Kiamichi instructors here: Advice for a First-Year Health Science Technology Teacher
Health Science Technology Teachers Try New Things!
Whether new or experienced, all health science technology teachers need to try new resources. Health science curriculum changes rapidly. One of the best things about HealthCenter21 is that we are on the hunt for changes and updates to important health science education standards and procedures. As those items are updated, we update the curriculum and make those changes available to you. Even better? You don't have to download, install, or even make updates to get those changes. You and your students sign in and they are there for you!
If you are ready to try something new in your health science classroom, make sure it's going to be worth your time and effort. HealthCenter21 is easy-to-use and ridiculously easy to get started. And with a free trial, it's a great opportunity for health science technology teachers to try something new.