5 Ways to Integrate Active Learning into Your Lectures

By Diane Ross, M.Ed., Realityworks Senior Field Account Manager for NC, SC, VA, WV

A new buzzword in the education world is “active learning.” Across the country, colleges are adapting from the lecture model to active learning. Imagine your old college days, sitting in a sea of students and listening to the professor talk for one or two hours.  Were you able to stay awake? Kids these days say they cannot.

Perhaps today’s students have become accustomed to being entertained, but more importantly, maybe it is time to abandon that old “sage on the stage” model, even at the highest educational levels.

Active learning does encompass some of the older teaching strategies, such as “think, pair, share” and experiential learning. At Realityworks, we embraced active learning before it had a name. We researched how students learn and found that hands-on learning beat lectures any day.

We’re not saying that there is no longer any room for lectures. However, an active learning technique called PAUSE can help make lectures more impactful to today’s students.

Active learning strategy: Pausing in lecture

These strategies work towards inserting wait time in lectures for students to reflect on, discuss and apply the ideas that were just presented. They encourage students to engage actively in the lecture, rather than passively taking notes. These strategies also help students to realize what they do and don’t understand about the lecture.

Try this with your students by:

  1. Asking them not take notes as you work through a concept on the board. When you are done, give them five minutes to copy your notes down and discuss the concept with peers. This allows students to process the information and identify what they don’t understand.
  2. Pausing for six to ten seconds between asking a question and calling on a student to respond. Have students do a quick write-up about a concept just covered in lecture (e.g. their understanding, two questions they have about the concept as presented, what they would like to know more about, etc.). Optional: Collect the write-ups to help you better understand what they understood from the lecture, what questions they have and how best to keep them engaged.
  3. Conducting “turn and talks.” Ask peers to talk to each other about what they do and don’t understand and/or share with each other what they wrote down in their notes about a particular concept just covered in lecture. Encourage students to add to their notes from the discussion
  4. Having students apply their understanding of a concept just covered by working with a small group around a huddle board. Optional: Have a few groups share their work and elicit reactions and reviews from other students. Summarize findings and scientific normative explanations.
  5. Having students conduct “think-pair-shares,” polling them to keep their minds engaged in the topic and share their ideas with their peers for greater meaning-making opportunities.

I am grateful to work for a company that focuses directly on providing hands-on learning resources that support active learning. The curriculum we pair with these tools is full of resources and activities that help students to experience something before actually doing it.  Our research shows that when this type instruction is provided, the students’ learning occurs more quickly and at a deeper level.

How are you supporting active learning in your classroom? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Diane Ross holds a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from Marshall University in Huntington, WV. She has been with Realityworks since 2013, and has been instrumental in assisting educators with implementing educational solutions that make a difference in students’ lives.

The Growing Global Demand on Agriculture

There is a growing demand for food production across the globe. Current estimates are that the world population reached 7 billion in 2012 and there are projections that put the global population at 9.1 billion by 2050. This infographic contains astonishing statistics about the agriculture industry and the demands of both the U.S. and the global populations.

Learn more: Realityworks is now offering a line of innovative learning tools for the Agriculture classroom. Our webinar, Engaging Today’s Agriculture Students in Animal Science, explores using hands-on learning methods in the agriculture classroom. Watch it here.

Back to School with RealCare Baby

It’s Back to School time, which means it’s time to get RealCare Baby out of storage and ready for some new adventures! Here are some tips to get you started and back in the groove with your RealCare Baby program.

  1. Take the RealCare Program Health Assessment to learn how you can improve the health of your RealCare Program.
  2. Before deploying Baby each week, charge it overnight to ensure a full 7 day’s use.
  3. Number all accessories that come with each Baby to easily track parts.
  4. Review the many support resources available to you free on our website including:
  5. Give your students access to the RealCare Baby Guide app (available for iPhone and Android) so they can easily access “how-to” info, FAQs and video guides 24/7 to help them with their care experience.
  6. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube, for news, updates, free downloads, product support tips, etc.

For more back to school tips and tricks take a look at this video, which reviews Baby’s components, programming, report interpretation, curricula, product support resources and more.

5 Key Soft Skills

What are Soft Skills? Soft skills are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. Recent studies have found that employers think personality skills are just as important, if not more important, than hard skills.

This infographic discusses five key soft skills and why employers find them to be essential in today’s workplace. Download it today as a daily reminder for your students of the importance of developing these skills.

Learn More: In our recent webinar, Best Practices for Teaching Soft Skills, we share tips and best practices for teaching students the soft skills they’ll need for life beyond the classroom. Watch it here.

Take Notes by Hand for Deeper Processing

By Diane Ross, M.Ed., Realityworks Senior Field Account Manager for NC, SC, VA, WV

A young man who is close to me recently showed me his college report card, which indicated he had received an A in English. He was previously challenged in that subject, but has always excelled in math and science. I had warned him that without really good writing skills, his future as an engineer would suffer.

I asked him what was different this semester, and he told me that his teacher asked him to take notes by hand, rather than typing them on his computer. It turns out her advice to him is researched-based.

Researchers have found that taking notes on a computer results in “shallow processing.” This means that the student is not processing the information, but merely recording it. Handwriting, they say, allows the student to “listen, digest and summarize.”

Of course, by no means am I suggesting laptops be banned from schools. Many times, teachers use them as a tool to allow students to research information. Sometimes verbatim note-taking is appropriate, but for deep learning, the student needs time – the time it takes to write it down, to take in and retain the information.

Realityworks embraces this research and offers a “RealCare Baby Experience  Workbook” for students engaged in our RealCare Baby programs, as well a s a “My Life Workbook” for our Pregnancy Profile program.  This allows students to access all information inside the program, and to take notes, quizzes and essentially create a simple portfolio of learned activities.

Incorporating tools like workbooks into the classroom can help students reach that deeper level of understanding. As the study stated, “taking notes by hand forces the brain to engage in some heavy ‘mental lifting,'” and these efforts will foster comprehension and retention.

As we travel through the country this summer make sure to stop by and see us at the different conferences and conventions we’ll be at. We’d love to get your input and feedback!

Teacher Tip: Creative RealCare Baby Storage and More!

Lauren Williams currently teaches early elementary education courses, including a Parenting class, at McCracken County High School. With 19 years of teaching experience, she has a wealth of knowledge and practice working with different schools and programs. Lauren uses RealCare Baby® infant simulators in her Parenting classes and says she would recommend all teachers use the babies.

“The principle came to my room the first year I did these. He told me that a mother called him and told him it was the best project her daughter had ever completed while in high school. He’s very supportive of the program.”

Lauren spoke to us recently and shared some of her top tips and tricks for incorporating these products in your program:

“It is a wonderful site,” said Lauren. “I use the sign-up forms along with the parent permission forms.”

  • Give students more accountability over their Baby experience by using sign-up forms.

“I post sign-up forms at the beginning of the semester, and it is the student’s responsibility to write their name in for a weekend to bring a Baby home,” said Lauren.”

  • Send the Babies home for at least a 48-hour period.

“I do think it is best to do a 48-hour simulation on the weekend.  I will schedule some quiet times if a student cannot get out of work shift.  They do however have to make up the time at the end,” said Lauren. “If the simulation starts at 4 on a Friday, instead of turning off the Baby at 4 on Sunday, the time would be extended to compensate.”

  • Make the most of your students’ Baby experiences by using Baby’s software.

“I use the Infant Care Schedule Table to program active times.  I tell everyone that a 48-hour simulation will usually yield about 50 care opportunities,” said Lauren. “I look at the schedules to see when most of these care opportunities will occur and assign them appropriately.”

  • Have students download the Real Care Baby App for how-to information, FAQs, video guides for caring for Baby, safety precautions and stress management tips.

“ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT TOOLS THAT HAVE HELPED MY STUDENTS AND MY SANITY!!!  I insist that all students look at the app before they text me.  I have had so many students tell me and other students that the app helped them.”

  • Find ways to organize your supplies.

“I keep all of my supplies now in a little plastic 3 drawer cabinet beside the baby bed I brought from home.  I placed the baby bed in front of an electrical outlet where I plug them in.  The car seats are stacked by the bed.”

  • Have students help with your organization process for quick pick-ups and drop-offs.

“I have students turn in the babies with both diapers on.  One on top of the other and we put the sensor bracelet down in the diaper too.  This way, all the equipment needed is in one place. They get the doll, car seat, bottle and extra clothes quickly.”

Overall, Lauren says students take away a lot from this experience in her parenting class. Her students are really excited about the babies when they pick them up on Friday, but have a change of attitude by the time they bring them back to school on Monday.

“Having a baby to take care of is not just fun and games. It is difficult being the only person that can take care of the baby. It isn’t easy trying to calm a crying child if you do not know the reason for the cry. Taking care of a baby interferes with schedules but the baby has to come first.”

Do you have old versions of RealCare Baby in your current program? Take a look at our current RealCare Baby® Trade-In Promotion. For a limited time, you can trade in any of these discontinued simulators for credit towards the latest generation RealCare Baby 3, Shaken Baby, or Pregnancy Profile® Simulator.

Building a Stronger Workforce of the Future, One Ag Student at a Time

By Jamey McIntosh, RealCareer Product Manager for Realityworks, Inc.

When I think about the needs that we face in developing a workforce that will keep our country competitive, I think primarily of soft skills. In fact, I hear that concern from educators throughout the field of Career and Technical Education (CTE). Knowing how to act appropriately in a job setting, how to communicate effectively, and even how to search for a job are skills that many educators could say has become a lost art. (In fact, we as a company have heard repeated pleas for resources that help students develop soft skills; it’s why we created the RealCareer Employability Skills Program). We have seen an uptick in the need to teach these skills.

Despite consistently hearing how important soft skills are for today’s generation of students, one thing was also made clear to me on my recent trips to the Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators’ (WAAE) summer conference and the Calumet County Farm Days celebration: agricultural educators are getting it right. On my trip to Calumet County, I watched, impressed, as students politely greeted my family and me. Wearing dark blue t-shirts that proudly stated “Brillion FFA” on the front in neon yellow, these students looked me straight in the eye when I talked, greeted me with “yes, sir” (and “no, ma’am” to my wife). They confidently walked us around the barn, explaining the milking process, the importance of hard work and how different jobs were for different needs within agriculture, listening to our questions and answering politely. It was through the students of the Brillion district of the Wisconsin FFA Association that I saw the workforce of tomorrow being formed… and these polite, informed, hardworking and innovative students indicated that the future is bright.

However, this bright future is not something that just happens, despite what some might think. I’ve spent time with agricultural educators across the country as they consider the best ways to engage their students and implement interactive learning aids like our own animal and plant science models, and I’ve seen firsthand the hard work that is put into helping students develop both employability skills and technical, job-related skills. At the WAAE conference, I was surrounded by educators taking time out of their summer to learn about electrical wiring wall panel creation, forestry best practices and other career development practices.

When building our future workforce, we need to remember that hands-on learning and project-based learning are great educational tools. After all, the FFA motto includes “learning to do and doing to learn;” it is through this idea that hands-on learning becomes so important. Unlike other core educational classes, it is the hands-on training that gives CTE students a leg up when looking at future employment – it’s not just theory being taught; it is actual training and doing that prepares our students for the careers of tomorrow.

Give your students a daily reminder of the importance of agricultural education with this free classroom poster by Realityworks. Click here to download a printable copy for your own classroom.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the July 2017 edition of NAAE’s News & Views NewsletterClick here to view the article in its entirety.

 

12 Eye-Opening Stats About Health Care Careers

Today’s health care students are unique.

They’re tech-savvy. They have short attention spans. They love to learn, but they are not afraid to ask “why?” – why are you teaching them this task, why are they practicing that concept, why are they studying this topic?

One way to answer those questions is to show your health care students just how in-demand health care careers are. Doing so will give them a better understanding of why the skills they are learning are so important.

This infographic contains 12 eye-opening statistics about health care careers. Download it today to give your students a daily reminder of the career opportunities you are preparing them for.

Learn more: Our latest webinar, Educating Students on Patient Care with Hands-On Learning Method, explores key patient care and sensitivity topics and reviews new ways to engage health care students with hands-on learning methods. Watch it here.

Realityworks is On the Move!

Realityworks just finished taking part in a 12-week On the Move online challenge spanning April, May and June of 2017. Overall, eighty-four companies representing more than 85,000 employees participated in this challenge. Realityworks was designated as one of the top five most active companies in the Small Business category of the national On the Move Company Challenge! The On the Move Challenge, developed by the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA), partners with organizations around the country to incorporate more movement and improved cultures of well-being for employees.

Here is what some of our employees have said about the On the Move Challenge:

“Participating in Realityworks’ On the Move challenge was a fun, easy way to ensure I was getting regular exercise – nothing like a little friendly competition to stay motivated! Completing the weekly assessment modules took only a few minutes every week, and I was able to sync my activities with my Fitbit so logging move points was super easy as well. I’m very thankful to work at a company that works so hard to promote health and fitness, from standing desks to challenges like this!” -Emily Kuhn, Communications Specialist

“The On The Move Challenge was a great way to get conversations going with coworkers about health and fitness. It was fun to motivate each other to be more active and talk about ways we could do that. I’m looking forward to keeping those conversations going now that the challenge is over.” -Kati Stacy, Marketing Communications Coordinator

“I enjoyed the On The Move Challenge because it motivated me to stay active all the time, while providing a fun and easy to use interface to keep track of my progress!” -Alex Baca, Business Development Representative

When asked about why WELCOA creating the On the Move Initiative, Ryan Picarella, President of WELCOA responded, “On the Move was designed to build a culture for more movement into an organization. Traditional wellness program challenges do not zero in on culture change or connect employees with ‘whys’ for being active that matter to them—so we created something that did.” Realityworks shares this vision and is excited to have been a part of changing the conversation around physical activity to help employees live a thriving life of meaning and purpose.

To learn more about Realityworks and our company culture visit our website at: http://realityworks.com/about

Why I judged at the HOSA International Leadership Conference, and you should too!

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

Have you ever considered volunteering to be a judge at the HOSA International Leadership Conference (ILC) for the student competitions? I signed up to judge this year and am so glad I did!

This year 14,000 people attended the conference, of which 10,000 were students. 7,400 of these students participated in one of the student competitions. Hundreds of volunteer judges are needed each year at the HOSA ILC. I received an email invitation to consider being a judge since Realityworks was signed up to be a vendor at the Expo. I thought it would be an interesting new way to engage with the students and learn more about what they do, so I decided to sign-up.

During the sign-up process, I was able to choose a preferred category for judging. A month before the conference I received an email with information to read about the judging process along with a video to watch to help prepare me for the experience.

On the day of the competition the judges in our category attended an orientation dinner and more information was shared on exactly what to expect. Each room had two judges, a timer and a facilitator. We were prepared to judge for a 4-hour stint with no scheduled breaks. Each student in our category chose their own topics and did a 6-minute presentation on a lesson they prepared on a health-related topic. The score was based on the presentation and on the written portfolio that students prepared.

Over the course of the night we learned about safe sex, personal hygiene, dental health, how to safely dispose of medication for older adults, the importance of safety goggles, skin cancer and much more. The target audience for these educational initiatives ranged from 3 to 90.  It was obvious from the presentations that many hours and months of planning and preparation went into the student projects. In short, the experience was very positive.

I’d like to encourage anyone who has considered volunteering for judging at the HOSA ILC to give it a try. These students represent the best and brightest future health care workers. It’s rewarding to see the efforts of their hard work and creativity.