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.

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.

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.

Student Workbooks as an Effective Instructional Resource

Educators have debated the effectiveness of worksheets, handouts and workbooks for years.  Similar to technology use in the classroom, efficacy all depends on how they are used.  Here are a few nuggets to contemplate from a review of literature on the subject:

  • Graphic organizers help learners to understand tasks by nurturing active participation, decrease dependency on rote learning and memorization, tap into learners’ prior knowledge, and show association between concepts to build new understanding (Kirylo & Millet, 2000).
  • Worksheets help students to construct knowledge, help to assess students and get feedback, are used as supplemental material to textbooks in authentic lessons, and build scaffolding for  some teaching strategies (Demircioglu & Kaymakci, 2011).
  • Using Multiple Intelligences learning theory, teachers should vary instruction and assessment strategy because all students do not learn and exhibit learning the same way (Smith 2002, 2008) Howard Gardner and Multiple Intelligences.

We are happy to announce two new student workbooks now available as supplemental resources to the RealCare Baby Simulation Experience and the Pregnancy Profile Simulation.

The RealCare Baby Experience Workbook includes all handouts needed for the simulation experience. Rather than photocopying dozens of pages, it is all ready for use in this handy workbook. Graphic organizers, rubrics and quizzes are included. Students will also complete journal and self-assessment exercises to reflect on their learning.  The completed workbook is a great addition to student portfolios for highlighting this project.

The My Life Student Workbook is a companion product to the Pregnancy Profile simulation experience. Rather than photocopying and assembling these workbooks in class, you can use that valuable time to teach the key objectives. Many of the handouts involve setting goals, reflecting on what a teen pregnancy would do to those goals and journal on a wide variety of questions relating to the impact of an unplanned pregnancy. These exercises strengthen student writing and research skills. The completed workbook provides a meaningful take-home manual that students can keep and refer to.

Follow this link to learn more about these effective student workbooks and how you can use them in your program.

Incorporate Infant Toy Safety Into Your Family & Consumer Sciences Classroom This Season

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

In the next few weeks, children around the globe will be gifted with toys of all shapes and sizes. Since December is also Safe Toys & Gifts Awareness Month, a lesson on the importance of selecting safe and age-appropriate toys for infants and children might benefit your parenting, child care career or child development class. Keep reading to learn more about this awareness month and to download two free toy safety handouts.

ToySafety

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an estimated 251,800 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2014. Of those toy-related injuries, an estimated 84,400 (34 percent) happened to children younger than 5 years of age.

Infant and child safety is an important part of the curriculum that accompanies RealCare® Baby. Our Basic Infant Care curriculum includes two lessons that touch on various aspects of toy safety. Lesson 1.2, Infant and Toddler Development, includes a robust activity on identifying age-appropriate and safe toys for infants and toddlers of various stages. Lesson 3.4, Safety, First Aid and Infant Health, includes information specific to Riding Toy Safety. Students are even given a lengthy stack of flashcards with toys on them, which they must identify as safe and appropriate, and unsafe and inappropriate.

  • Click here for your own free Toys & Toy Safety download.
  • Click here for your own Riding Toy Safety download.

Celebrate this special month by integrating these free resources into your child development lessons this month. Together, we can make this season even safer for the infants and young children in our lives now and in the future.

For more information about this organization and tips for purchasing safe toys, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

How are you incorporating infant and child toy safety into your FCS program? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Recognize National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month 2015 in Your Classroom

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

When conducting lessons on pregnancy and pregnancy prevention, students need to consider the short- and long-term consequences of having babies and recognize the responsibilities associated with being pregnant and having a newborn. May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, and a great opportunity to discuss these important topics in your classroom. Here are a few ideas for recognizing this month in your classroom.

Teen Pregnancy

  • Have students to research and familiarize themselves with the resources available in their community for pregnant teens. They could create a Pinterest board of their findings to present to the class.
  • Have students keep a journal of one whole day and night of activities, taking photos and even recording video journal entries. The next day, ask students how being pregnant would affect their daily routines. Have them look at their daily activities and highlight what they would probably have to dramatically change or what would be impossible to do. Break students into small groups for discussion on the implications of being a parent and what would change if they were teen parents today. If you have the Pregnancy Profile Simulator, this would also be a good time to have students try it on and feel what it is like to be a pregnant teen.
  • Are you using RealCare Baby in your program? If so, consider taking the Caregiver Journal Handout online by creating a Facebook Group for your class and having students post their journal entries to the Facebook wall for all to read and discuss afterwards in class. You could also incorporate video journal entries here.

TwoGirlsWithBabiesSmiling-500wide

Birth Control

  • Discussion of birth control methods is an important part of educational efforts. You may be able to get free handouts or pamphlets from your state Department of Health, Maternal and Child Health Services or local public health agency. Integrate Pinterest into this activity to engage your students by creating a template board for each student or small group, then have them pin their findings to the board for further discussion.
  • Consider distributing RealCare Babies to students in class. Program the simulators to cry randomly, requiring the students to cope with the crying infants while trying to take notes and listen. Conclude all of this with a discussion of the difficulty of being a student and a teen parent at the same time

College vs. Full-Time Employment

  • Show videos about teen parents discussing their desire to further their education but having to work full-time jobs instead. Create a YouTube channel and playlist for the videos you find relating to teen parents speaking about the impact that a pregnancy has had on their life goals. Have class discussions about how this would make you feel, and what this would do to you mentally.
  • Look at jobs that you can get without a college degree and wages from those jobs versus jobs that can be attained with college degrees, and those wages. Discuss life aspirations versus life necessities.
  • Have students take a piece of paper and write down the top 10 goals that they have for their life. Break students into small groups. Each student should present their list to the group and the group should identify how they think each goal would be impacted if they would get pregnant now.

For more information and ideas on National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, visit the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy website.

Babies are for Hugging, not Shaking: Why Realityworks’ Shaken Baby Simulator is my Favorite

By Stacy Knudson, Realityworks Account Services Representative 

How many people get to work with babies all day long without ever having to change a diaper? How many of those infant heads flash with red lights?

Relaityworks‘ Account Services Team has the privilege of being involved with many life-changing, generally adorable simulators. However, the Baby I favor most happens to be a bit bizarre-looking: our RealCare™ Shaken Baby Simulator.

ShakenBabySimLab-600wide

The Shaken Baby simulator’s clear head makes it easy to see the devastating brain damage that occurs after just a few seconds of shaking an infant.

At first glance, people often chuckle and say, “Why is that Baby’s head flashing?” or “Is that Baby from outer space?” Viewers are then informed that the lights depict brain damage, and that damage is a direct result of shaking. Interest is solemnly piqued.

With a stand-out, hands-on simulator starring the show, a demonstration becomes astounding. It may even be slightly disturbing to some. But anybody within viewing distance gets the best take-away ever: an image forever etched in their mind.

The mental image may make all the difference in that moment. Have you ever experienced the moment I’m talking about? You’re desperately exhausted; the baby just keeps fussing but you’re even too tired to cry; you’re four hours past your wit’s end; the baby is of course oblivious to anybody besides him/herself; you’re exasperated, lonely and frustrated AND YOU JUST WANT IT TO STOP!

At that point, there are a few routes to take. You may opt to remove yourself from the situation until you feel calm and rational again.

Or, you may jolt the child quiet.

Most people, thankfully, would choose the former. However, all too often, caregivers choose the quick fix, with disastrous results.

Perhaps if the caregiver had a powerful mental image to call upon, even if he/she was already educated on SBS, he or she may be better equipped to make the difficult, but safe, choice at 2:14 a.m.

That is precisely why our Shaken Baby Simulator is my favorite. The mental image of the “Baby with the flashing head” may be just enough to make somebody stop and think… and it might mean the difference between “danger” and “safety.”

National Child Abuse Prevention Month begins in April. For resources, information and ideas to recognize this important month in your classroom or office next month, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Welfare website here.

Highlights from the RealCare Curriculum: Breastfeeding versus Formula Feeding

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

In addition to offering powerful experiential learning products, RealityworksRealCare product line also offers effective, standards-based curriculum. This blog series highlights various activities, lessons and free downloads from the curriculum to help educators make the most of their tools.

For this post, we’re focusing on lesson 2.4 from our Basic Infant Care curriculum, which uses RealCare Baby in many of the lessons to provide hands-on, in-class practice on basic caregiving skills. This lesson, Holding and Feeding, gives participants practice picking up, holding and carrying an infant so that the infant feels safe and secure. Techniques and information about holding and feeding an infant are provided. The lesson concludes with a discussion activity about the pros and cons of breastfeeding versus formula feeding, which you can download for free below.

RCB3-2014-GirlOnSteps

The “Holding and Feeding” lesson included in our Basic Infant Care curriculum gives students hands-on practice picking up, holding, carrying and feeding infants.

The small group activity is a great way to end a lesson on feeding an infant. Participants will use critical thinking skills to compare, contrast or debate the pros and cons of both breastfeeding and formula feeding an infant. This will help them apply the content that they learned earlier in the lesson.

Activity Instructions:

  1. Divide participants into groups of four and give each participant a copy of the Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding
  2. Have each participant within the group fill in one quadrant, then share their ideas with each other to complete all quadrants, contributing additional ideas as they see fit.
  3. Ask for volunteers to share their ideas.
  4. Display the answer key slides and see how the answers on the slides compare to the small group student answers.

Download our free breastfeeding versus formula feeding activity here and the answer key slides here to conduct this activity in your own classroom.

Highlights from the RealCare Curriculum: Practicing Refusal Skills Through Group Dialogue

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

In addition to offering powerful experiential learning products, RealityworksRealCare product line also offers effective, standards-based curriculum. In this blog series, we highlight various activities, lessons and free downloads from each product’s curriculum to help ensure that our product users are making the most of their tools.

For this post, we’re focusing on lesson 1.4 from our Healthy Choices: Relationship, Sexuality and Family Planning curriculum, which focuses on communication in relationships. Just like any skill, you need to actively practice communication to become proficient, and the free activity highlighted below was designed to help students acquire the refusal and communication skills needed to respond to sexual pressure.

GirlsWithRealCareBabies-400wide

Like any skill, you need to actively practice communication to become proficient, and our Healthy Choices curriculum includes lessons that help students practice refusal and communication skills.

Before commencing with this activity in your classroom, be sure to explain to your students that while they may be motivated to abstain from sex, it can be difficult to follow through with the decision without practice negotiating for abstinence. This activity provides an opportunity to start developing the vocabulary and skills needed to communicate with their partner about abstaining from risky sexual behavior.

Download the Lines and Responses – Refusal Skills handout here, then follow these steps:

LinesAndResponses-400wide

Responding to Lines Activity

  1. Divide the class into groups of 3-4 people.
  2. Have each group assign a group recorder.
  3. Explain that each group will be given a sheet of paper that features a short scenario about two people trying to negotiate a potential sexual situation. Each group is to read the scenario together, then work together to create the next line in the dialogue. When that line has been added, the group is to pass their sheet to the next group. Each group will create the following dialogue line until the original sheet returns to each group.
  4. Distribute one Lines and Responses sheet to each group, then give groups a few minutes to develop their dialog responses and pass their sheets along.
  5. When all sheets have gone around the room and are back with the original group, have two members of each group read the dialog aloud.
  6. Conduct a class discussion around each group’s dialogue and their opinions of each person’s response to sexual pres­sure.

Be sure to review the additional scenarios included in the curriculum to provide your students with additional practice, or encourage them to make up their own scenarios.

How do you engage your students in such an important discussion topic? We’d love to hear your ideas. Share them with us in the comments!