How (and Why) You Should Teach Health Science in Middle School
Middle school health science is exploding in popularity.
In the past, health science was only taught in high schools and career and technical centers (CTCs).
But the benefits of CTE have proven to be so effective that some schools are starting CTE — especially health science — as early as sixth grade.
So how do you take adult education material and teach it to adolescents?
The answers are six simple steps that’ll help your students succeed!
1. Plan a Syllabus with the Four Phases of Learning
The four phases of learning are some of the most reliable principles in the education world.
They’re based on scaffolding learning, which introduces students to broad concepts and “fills in the blanks” as a course progresses.
This learning style is named for construction scaffolding, where workers erect an outline of a structure before adding the supporting material that lets a building stand on its own.
The four phases work the same way. They focus on framing concepts before adding the supporting material.
The four phases are:
- Learn & Practice
Each of those phases has specific requirements.
The key is planning lessons that’ll fulfill each phase’s requirements before moving students onto the next phase.
To figure all that out, you need to take a more detailed look at each phase.
Phase 1. Explore
The explore phase gives students a broad, sweeping view of a concept.
Students learn terminology, hear new ideas, and discover how this concept builds off the last one they learned (or sets the foundation for others in the future).
Overall, this phase of learning may not take a lot of time, but it’s the essential first step to teaching new health science concepts.
Phase 2. Learn & Practice
The learn & practice phase takes concepts from the first phase and combines them with practical health care skills.
This shows students the application of what they just learned. By pairing information with hands-on skills work, students have a better chance of remembering the material than if they had just read or heard it.
By repeating this process, students ensure information makes the transition from their short-term memory to their long-term memory.
Phase 3. Reflect
The reflect phase encourages students to look back on what they absorbed in the last phase.
Reflection is important because people in general — especially students — rarely remember large chunks of information after just one lesson.
Commonly, this phase takes the form of review games at lower grade levels.
Phase 4. Reinforce
The reinforce stage evaluates a student’s overall knowledge of a topic.
Most of the time, reinforcement exercises are assessments like tests or exams. They may also take the form of small group projects, advanced problem-solving tasks, and more.
Regardless of their format, reinforcement activities let students apply everything they’ve learned over the last three phases and combine it in one place.
It also gives you — the teacher — a strong idea of where each student stands in their class knowledge.
If some students struggle, you can work with them (and a digital curriculum) to remediate the students who need a little extra time.
2. Differentiate Your Teaching Strategies
Differentiated instruction is quickly becoming a cornerstone of modern education.
In a nutshell, it means using a variety of teaching techniques in a classroom. This gives you the advantages of each style while minimizing each style’s disadvantages.
For example, jumping from a lecture to computer-guided coursework gives students the benefits of your expertise before an engaging, interactive lesson they use at their own pace.
Lecture and digital education aren’t the only two ways to differentiate your classroom, though.
In fact, there are several key strategies that help you improve student success.
By using at least two of these strategies in your classroom, you can help students learn in many ways.
Plus, no two students learn the same way. Teaching with multiple strategies increases the potential of every student to succeed in your classroom, regardless of how their brain is wired.
The more options they have, the more chances they have at success!
3. Regularly Assess Progress
Assessments are essential for the modern classroom.
But not every assessment has the same purpose.
In most situations, health science teachers can choose between formative and summative assessments.
Each assessment has its own uses and benefits, and your administration may have certain requirements for one or the other.
In health science classes, both assessment styles are crucial for student success.
Formative assessments are evaluations of how well students are learning in the classroom. They test how well someone is learning throughout a class.
So as students learn different concepts in a class, they recall recent information to make sure they remember it.
Formative assessments include both independent and group work. They’re also less formal, and you don’t have to grade formative assessments unless you’re required by your school.
As long as you have an idea for how well your student is learning the material, you’re using formative assessments correctly.
Summative assessments are evaluations of what someone has learned throughout a whole course.
This is the formal, more traditional system of student evaluation that requires them to get a grade.
The most common formats for this assessment style are major tests and exams — especially those for health science certifications.
These assessments also tend to be more stressful since they may be pass-fail only instead of offering varying degrees of success.
Depending on how students do with summative assessments, they may also require your expertise for the next step.
4. Plan for Remediation Opportunities
Remediation is a constant challenge in health science. It’s extra work that requires your time after class or during free periods, and every student gets stuck somewhere different with the coursework.
Either way, it requires sacrifice on your part just to get students up to speed. But it’s the best way to help every student succeed in your class.
If you don’t plan for remediation, it’ll catch you by surprise.
When you do plan for it, you can streamline it and make it as painless as possible.
Specifically, you can plan for remediation in six major ways.
Erika Greene of Meadowcreek High School made remediation easier with a digital curriculum, which helped her with all six of the items above.
Erika lost a lot of her personal time to private remediation. Extra hours, extra stress, extra planning — it just wasn’t working for her.
When she introduced a digital curriculum to her classroom — HealthCenter21, in this case — all of that disappeared.
Erika could help students without losing her own time. Students could catch up at home. They could go to a computer lab.
Overall, Erika didn’t need to personally manage every part of the remediation process anymore.
Instead, students could remediate themselves.
Still, Erika stays actively involved in all of her students’ education. After all, she’s the teacher.
Combined with a digital curriculum, she’s now an expert with high-performing students.
5. Prep Extra Work for Fast Learners
While every class has students who need remediation, they also have students who work ahead.
That’s why it’s so important to prepare extra material for students to learn after they work through your standard coursework.
Without prepping extra work, you risk losing good students to boredom once they’re done with your course layout.
That almost certainly means they’ll become disruptive, and that’ll make it harder for you to teach others.
It’ll be especially bad for students trying to remediate themselves.
So how do you make “extra” work for middle school health science students?
You have a lot of options at your disposal, especially if you use a digital curriculum like HealthCenter21:
- Add career readiness material
- Let students help others with material
- Let students choose the material they want to learn next
Regardless of your choice, prepping additional student work requires you to trust your students.
After all, they won’t need your input or guidance the same way as a student who’s fallen behind.
They need to be self-motivated and focused – otherwise, there’s always the temptation to goof off.
Without any extra work planned, that temptation is almost always too much to resist.
But when you give students something extra to do, there’s a good chance they’ll be focused and productive, even after they’ve worked through your class material.
6. Lay the Foundation for Future Health Science Certifications
Certifications are the most important accomplishments for health science students, but most of them don’t apply to middle school students.
Still, it’s important to tell middle school students about health science certifications.
After all, some of your students will become health professionals, and they’ll need a certification to do that.
With that in mind, you can introduce your students to any certifications that you think they should know, especially National Healthcareer Association (NHA) certifications:
- Medical assistant (CMA)
- Phlebotomy technician (CPT)
- Medical administrative assistant (CMAA)
- EKG technician (CET)
- Electronic health record specialist (CEHRS)
- Pharmacy technician (CPhT)
- Billing and coding specialist (CBCS)
- Patient care technician / assistant (CPCT/A)
Individual states also have certifications issued by the state government. Depending on where you teach, you may have different information you need to give your students.
Regardless, prepping your students for future certifications will help them contextualize their future in health science.
Even better, it’ll give them a head start in their future careers.
All of this sounds like a lot of work, though. Can any one teacher actually lay out a class like this that’ll work for middle school students?
The answer is yes — and they use HealthCenter21 to do it.
Start Teaching Middle School Health Science with Digital Curriculum
It’s never been easier to accomplish all seven of these requirements.
Thanks to digital curriculum systems like HealthCenter21, you can plan, teach, and assess all in one software program.
With automatic grading, student tracking, and a huge range of customization options, HealthCenter21 is practically guaranteed to work in your classroom.
Want to check it out for yourself?
Watch this quick demo video for HealthCenter21!