Fostering Geriatric Sensitivity through Age Simulation

By Kati Stacy

Miranda Kessler, RN-BSN, is the Health Occupations Instructor at Nicholas County Career and Technical Center in West Virginia where she teaches 11th and 12th grade students. The program includes health science courses with the goal of the students obtaining their West Virginia State Nursing Assistant Certification at the end of the two-year program.

“We are in a very poor county with approximately 1000 students in grades 10-12,” said Kessler. “We have seven feeder schools from three counties. Our area is very poor and jobs are incredibly limited. Some students will leave to go to college, but statistics show that the majority of our students won’t leave. It is so important that we reach these students and teach them a skill that can be used to take care of themselves and their families.”

When looking for a product to begin teaching geriatric sensitivity, Kessler chose the RealCare™ Geriatric Simulator by Realityworks because she felt the included components were a great value for the money. Designed for secondary and post-secondary education programs, the Geriatric Simulator allows users to experience a variety of age-related physical challenges.

“When I told my principal about the simulator after seeing literature on it at a conference and he saw how excited I was to use and implement it into my program, he bought in immediately and ordered it for me with no hesitation,” she said. “When the simulator came, he was so excited about it, he was actually the first person to try it! He was amazed by how it changed his normal routine activities and made everything feel much
more physically demanding.”

Kessler thought her students could really get good use out of the Geriatric Simulator and learn from the experience of wearing it.

“I wanted to be able to teach my students to be more understanding and empathetic with the aging process once we made it into our clinical rotation at the local nursing home,” reflected Kessler. “I wanted them to understand why the residents moved so slowly and I wanted them to learn to be patient and kind while working with them.”

Students in Kessler’s class are introduced to the Geriatric Simulator during their unit on growth and development and the aging process. During note taking time, they dress in the suit, which includes a weight vest (adjustable, one-size-fits-most), ankle weights, wrist weights. elbow restraints, knee restraints, gloves and a cervical collar. They also wear the glasses to impair their vision while note taking to see how it inhibits them.

“Initially, the reaction is, “This can’t be that bad,” or they laugh and giggle while gettingdressed in the simulator,” said Kessler. “After wearing the suit for the recommended 20-30 minutes though, their feelings generally start to change.”

Kessler said she sees the students becoming tired and their actions becoming slower and more purposeful throughout that time.

“Many of the students say that they didn’t realize it would be so fatiguing,” she said. “I’ve never had a student complain after wearing the simulator though; I’ve always only had positive comments.”

“After wearing the suit,” Kessler continued, “I try to have a one-on-one conversation with each student and discuss the experience. How did you feel before and after? How did your body respond? How did your breathing change? What did you find most challenging? What did you do in an attempt to compensate for your deficits?”

Kessler currently has one Geriatric Simulator that her classes have been using since September, but she said if her enrollment continues to grow she may look into purchasing another if funding becomes available. She is also looking into adding Realityworks’ new Geriatric Sensory Impairment Kit to her program through a grant she is writing. The kit features wearable components which provide users with age-related sensory changes to help with understanding common aging changes including: hearing impairment, geriatric arthritis and geriatric tremor.

“It is so important to get these kids to understand the pains and aches that our elderly generation feel every day, so that they can provide better care for our aging population,” reflected Kessler. “Even more than the physical aspect of aging, the mental and emotional status must be considered. These students can learn so much from the generation that we are now caring for – they can gain valuable life experience if they just slow down and listen and most importantly, respect the geriatric population.”

5 Ways to Engage Today’s Agriculture Students

By Emily Kuhn

You may have noticed that there are some unique differences between the Generation Z students that sit in your agriculture classroom today and the millennials you previously taught. Today’s students are even more tech-savvy, can multi-task even faster and, if you can believe it, have an even shorter attention span than their predecessors. They read less than 20% of text; think in 4D, not 3D; and are used to immediate feedback.[1]

The standard classroom model where an educator stands in front of the class and lectures simply doesn’t work for these students. Generation Z students want to be successful – in fact, the desire to change the world is a hallmark of this generation – but they will disengage with the discussion if they don’t feel connected or if they don’t see the relevance.

Did I mention that Generation Z students are used to immediate feedback? Current technology has made them used to finding out anything, anytime, anywhere – the world is literally at their fingertips. Today’s agriculture students don’t just want to hear about a topic, they want to see it, touch it and feel it.

How do you engage today’s students in agriculture education?

1. Replace lengthy PowerPoint presentations with brief presentations that incorporate polls, activities and hands-on demonstrations every few slides.

2. Use videos, online activities and group work in addition to the textbook. By varying their focus, you’ll help keep it.

3. Use hands-on learning aids like our new Animal Models and Plant Science Models. These larger-than-life models can be taken apart and put back together as students explore each animal’s internal and external anatomy.

4. Don’t forget that “Why” is as important as “What.” As one of my colleagues recently informed me, Generation Z students need to know that what they’re learning is relevant, and by answering the “Why” question with evidence-based reasoning before teaching the “How,” you’ll assure them that the concept you’re about to teach applies to real life.

5. Incorporate soft skill development whenever possible. Your students will come to you with a varying degree of these skills, but you know all employers will look for them. Collaborative work helps build communication skills, assignment tweaks and activity changes help build flexibility, open-ended questions help build problem-solving skills and reflection activities help build critical thinking skills. (Our Employability Skills Program can help, too.)

With nearly 60,000 high-skilled agriculture and related job openings expected annually in the U.S. over the next five years, it’s more important than ever to ensure that today’s agriculture students are engaged. By creating an interactive, hands-on learning environment where they can engage in active learning opportunities, you’re setting your students up for success.

[1] https://growingleaders.com/blog/six-defining-characteristics-of-generation-z/

The Impact of the RealCare™ Drug-Affected Baby

by Diane Ross, M.Ed., Senior Field Account Manager with Realityworks

As I work with teachers throughout the year, one of the most poignant moments of my career is showing teachers the RealCare™ Drug-Affected Baby. Realityworks has been carrying the Drug-Affected Baby as a part of our RealCare™ Infant Health Trio (Shaken Baby, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Baby and Drug-Affected Baby) for several years. This past year we added a new unit in the curriculum that covers Methamphetamine, which makes this product more relevant than ever before.

We’ve all seen the news stories of young parents, passed out in their cars, using meth, while their young children are present. Children are losing their parents in an alarming rate in our country overall to drug abuse.

Recently, my college coach, who is now the Executive Director of the School of Medicine at Marshall University, my alma mater, posted a news story created by a classmate about the increased drug problem in Huntington, WV. After watching the news story, I saw the parallels to our own curriculum concerning drug affected babies and their families.

I am convinced that every student, whether in West Virginia or any state, should see this video. It is not a dramatization, but reflects real lives, real people affected by heroin, meth and any other drug. Watching what this small town has had to do to combat the rising drug rate, as well as the rising number of infants born ‘drug addicted’ is alarming.

I challenge you, as a teacher, to spend a class period watching this video and discussing it with students. Many students will become child care givers and even more will become parents. Education is power. I think this lesson will be one of the most important. I welcome your comments and would like to get your feedback on how students have reacted and some of the conversations you have with your students. I’d like to share the comments in this forum, as well as in sessions you may attend or lead during your conferences and meetings.

As a teacher, you may underestimate your influence on society. I look forward to hearing your stories on how you continue to positively impact your students’ lives.

We would love to hear from you – please leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

Diane Ross, M.Ed. is a Senior Field Account Manager with Realityworks. She graduated from Marshall University with a degree in Broadcasting, then returned for a Master’s in Secondary Education.

Realityworks announces new experiential learning tool for Career and Technical Education

Realityworks, Inc. announces a new product for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs: the RealCareer™ Electrical Wiring Kit. Featuring practice components, curriculum and a unique assessment piece, the kit provides CTE instructors with a safer, more efficient way to teach electrical wiring basics and prepare students for in-demand jobs.

Electrical Wiring and Assessment

In addition to a desktop-size wall panel and activities that students can use to practice basic wiring, the Electrical Wiring Kit features a one-of-a-kind Assessment Kit that enables instructors to safely test for errors. The Assessment Kit not only eliminates the creation of potentially dangerous electrical situations, but allows instructors to see why problems have occurred and how to fix them without dismantling the project or creating unsafe sparks. By improving classroom safety and offering more practice and assessment opportunities, the kit will help instructors prepare even more students for a career path that is expected to grow almost 15% in the next decade.

“Instructors need a safer, easier way to assess their students while teaching basic wiring skills, and that’s why we created this product,” said Realityworks President & CEO Timm Boettcher. “By including a specialized Assessment Kit that uses a safe, battery-powered electrical source, we’re giving instructors a safer, more effective way to evaluate their students and prepare them for growing careers – and we couldn’t do it without the talent of local individuals.”

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The Electrical Wiring Kit joins a growing line of hands-on training tools designed to help CTE instructors equip students with targeted, industry-specific skills. It is manufactured entirely in Eau Claire, WI, with the Assessment Kit created by Realityworks employees and the portable Wall Panel created by employees of the L.E. Phillips Career Development Center, which provides employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities or disadvantages. It will be on display with Realityworks’ other experiential learning tools to over 5,000 education and industry representatives at the Association for Career & Technical Education’s CareerTech VISION 2016 Conference in Las Vegas December 1 & 2, as well as at other CTE conferences across the country through the rest of the year.

To learn more about the Electrical Wiring Kit and Realityworks’ RealCareer product line, visit www.realityworks.com or call 800-262-3806.

Engage 21st Century business students with online simulations

By Emily Kuhn, Realityworks Marketing Automation Specialist

“Tell me and I forget; teach me and I may remember; involve me and I will learn.” We’ve all heard this famous line by Confucius, a Chinese teacher and philosopher, and many educators agree: We learn best by doing. After all, it takes practice – and lots of it – to learn a new skill, and lectures and textbooks don’t alone don’t give students the chance to truly understand a topic by putting it into practice.

Furthermore, learners today are used to engaging with technology. Just look at social media, gaming, cell phones, and so on; students have technology in their hands 24/7.

That’s why experiential learning tools like online simulations are so powerful. With interactive, technology-based tools like these, students put the foundational knowledge they have been taught into practice. What’s more, these tools appeal to the learning styles of 21st Century students, who react positively to and engage with simulations easily because they’re used to video gaming technology.

One such experiential learning tool is our RealCareer® Business Education Simulation Suite. Made up of three different business education simulations – one for business management, one for finance and one for entrepreneurship – these simulations enable students to run online businesses virtually, making decisions and seeing the immediate impact those decisions have on the business’ bottom line.

In our latest half-hour webinar, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager Denise Bodart joins RealCareer Product Manager Jamey McIntosh to discuss what makes these simulations such effective teaching tools, explore the games themselves and discuss the included curriculum. Click here to watch the webinar.

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Want to learn more? You can try each of these simulations for free for 30 days. Click here for details.

 

3 Reasons Career & Technical Education Programs Benefit from Experiential Education

By Janelle Krause, Realityworks Public Relations & Events Specialist

A recent eSchool News article noted that Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are shedding their stigma of being for students who lack ambition and becoming known for what they really are: opportunities for students to receive hands-on career training and academic education in demanding, high-quality courses. Part of this hands-on training comes from experiential learning, one of the hallmarks of CTE programs. Below, we explore three reasons why CTE programs and communities benefit from experiential education.

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Experiential learning has many benefits. Click to view our complete experiential learning infographic to learn more.

Reason 1: Experiential education promotes positive attitudes towards learning.

10 of 14 students who have been taught using the experiential education method express significantly more positive general attitudes towards their learning experiences. The logic is simple: people tend to do more of the activities they enjoy than the activities they do not enjoy. If we can get students to enjoy school and learning more, just think how much more they may learn. Additionally, we might then be able to reverse the trend of students becoming less engaged as they progress through their K-12 educational years.

Reason 2: Experiential education provides true-to-life experience that enhances career exploration.

Who hasn’t heard a small child say, “I want to be a (insert profession here) when I grow up?” More often than not, we see that idea change over the course a child’s life. Students can learn about careers through slideshows and lectures, but a greater connection is formed when they receive hands-on career experience. This hands-on experience not only prepares them for the technical aspects of future careers, but gives them a better understanding of what career area they may enjoy or excel in. Since the major focus of CTE is preparing youth for future careers, giving them real-life experience through experiential education could not be a better fit.

Reason 3: Experiential education helps create more engaged members of the workforce.

A Gallup poll of student support and experiential learning found that students who participated in work-based activities like experiential education, where lessons learned in the classroom were then experienced in a hands-on career setting, were up to two times more likely to be engaged later in life at work.

By establishing positive attitudes towards education, providing hands-on career experience and helping create more engaged members of the workforce, experiential education and CTE programs are helping create a stronger workforce – a workforce that, in time, will be better able to compete globally and fill the high-skill STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers that are anticipated to be in demand in just a few years.

Can you think of any benefits of experiential learning to add to this list? Share your feedback in the comments! The more we collaborate, the more we can break the stigma of CTE programs.

Experiential Learning: The Secret to a Successful Classroom

Experiential learning is a term that people outside the field of career and technical education (CTE) may have heard, but not given much consideration to. What is experiential learning, where did it come from and why are so many CTE educators successfully adopting its ideas?

Let’s begin by stating what experiential learning is not. It is not a middle school class memorizing slides about vegetation stages. It is not a high school architecture team watching a movie about bridge construction. It is not a group of child care career students reading a textbook about parenting. It is not sitting on the sidelines and watching.

Experiential learning is getting your hands dirty and engaging with a subject, becoming active and creating meaning from an experience. It is a middle school class growing a garden, a high school architecture team building a bridge out of Popsicle sticks or an early childhood education class interacting with infant simulators to learn parenting and child care career skills.Albert_Einsteinwquote

For a deeper understanding of experiential learning, let’s start at the beginning. The idea originated from American educational theorist David Kolb. With influence from theorists John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, and Jean Piaget, David published in 1984 a fundamental presentation of holistic learning that accounted for how perception, emotions and environment affected a learner. Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory consisted of four stages that can occur once or repeatedly, but are always followed in order:

  • Concrete Experience, where the learner actively experiences a lesson.
  • Reflective Observation, where the learner looks back on that experience.
  • Abstract Hypotheses, where the learner considers the concepts they just observed.
  • Active Testing, where the learner tests their observations.

This experiential learning theory suggests that because learning is a personal act to fulfil one’s potential, the learner must take an active part in their experience. Learning is student-centered and personalized.

Research shows that a more personalized learning experience helps students turn everyday lessons into memorable experiences. In fact, the National Training Laboratories reports that we retain 75 percent of what we learn by doing and only five percent when just listening.

This concept is successfully being used in CTE classrooms, where rigorous academics are combined with hands-on career experience.The average high school graduation rate for CTE students, as reported by the Association for Career and Technical Education, is 90.18 percent, compared to an average national graduation rate of 74.9 percent. The idea and structure of experiential learning first seamlessly into these hands-on classrooms, where teachers are preparing youth for future careers.

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Could experiential learning be the link to this higher graduation? If so, how can we implement it more fully into our classrooms? Share your thoughts in the comments below!