I Can, We Will Make a Difference

FFA is out in full force and showing their best qualities and mission of “making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for Premier Leadership, Personal Growth, and Career Success through Agriculture Education.” Students and educators are showing how they not only care about great practices and programs, but also how important it is to have each student gain valuable experience and education.

I Can. We Will.

The FFA convention motto states “I Can. We Will.” and it is easy to see how this is being lived out. Each student has honed their craft, focused on their skill development and prepared tirelessly to show their abilities from parliamentary procedure to judging, flower design to persuasion speeches. It has been great to see so much hard work and their capacity to encourage one another. Win or lose, it is making the Ag community better, sharper and a more well-oiled machine.

Hands-On Collaboration

From the exhibit floor, it has been an honor to discuss best practices and learning styles of their classrooms and students with so many Agriculture educators. We enjoyed watching as the exhibit booth became a place for educational ideas. As one teacher was talking about how much they would use the Plant Science Kit, another started sharing ideas of a classroom activity using ‘smores to create the cell walls of a plant. The discussion got both educators more and more engaged and excited as they collaborated about how the best ideas come when they are looking for more engaging ways to bring learning to their students. As they moved over to look at the Animal Science products, they engaged more teachers talking about how the Ruminant Model could be used multiple times as their students learned about digestive systems and how getting a real ruminant from a butcher could enhance the real-life understanding.

Reality at Work

The engagement of teachers as they discussed how they best teach different topics brought the motto full circle. Not only are they looking to find more ways that they can, but they are also learning from each other, working together even when they are from states as far away as Ohio and Texas or Florida and Oregon. They are seeing and benefiting from the WE CAN. They are understanding that new hands-on learning models bring more in-depth learning to their students. Collaboration with their colleagues and other students brings about engagement, broadens their horizons and strengthens the bonds that make us all stronger. The FFA goals of Premier Leadership, Personal Growth and Career Success easily become a reality in this environment, reinforcing what we as a company know firsthand, that reality works!

Empathy in Geriatric Patient Care

Careers in geriatrics and gerontology are on the rise:

  • 4 of the top 6 occupations with most projected job growth through 2024 deal with geriatric care
  • Health occupations and social assistance industries are expected to have the fastest employment growth and add the most jobs through 2024
  • 5 million job openings will be available in the healthcare and social assistance sector from 2012 to 2022
  • Healthcare and social assistance industry careers are projected to increase 29 percent through 2022, compared to an average of 11 percent for all industries

Realityworks has developed the Geriatric Simulator and Geriatric Sensory Impairment Kit for instructors to help students to develop empathy for the geriatric population. Both include curriculum, addressing age-related sensory challenges and patient care skills.

Will today’s students be prepared to care for our growing elderly population? What does empathy in geriatric patient care look like?

The following infographic explores these ideas and more, and is a great resource for keeping the importance of empathy and sensitivity at the front of students’ minds in the classroom.

For another great resource on this topic, check out this recent webinar: How to Teach Geriatric Sensitivity to Students.

3 Reasons You Should Be Using Your ‘Lesson-At-A-Glance’ Curricula Feature

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

As a teacher, your lesson plan is your road map. It’s how you plan what your students need to learn and how you ensure that learning will be done effectively during class time. It’s your go-to resource yourself short on planning time or when you find yourself in sudden need of a substitute teacher.

We understand the importance of a good lesson plan. That’s why we developed a lesson template for every curriculum we offer (and we offer a lot – almost all of our hands-on learning aids for Career and Technical Education include curriculum).

Do you use RealCare Baby® to teach child development topics? Do you use our Food Safety Kit to teach culinary skills? Do you use our nursing training tools to address basic nursing skills? Each of those products includes a robust curriculum, and each lesson includes a Lesson-At-A-Glance feature.

Here are 3 reasons you should be using the Lesson-At-A-Glance feature of your curriculum.

1. Use it to save time. 
As a teacher, your time is invaluable. The Lesson-At-A-Glance is your quick-reference guide to each lesson. It tells you what will be covered, what materials you’ll need, how to prepare and how long each lesson will take to teach.

2. Use it to quickly prepare a substitute teacher. 
The Lesson-At-A-Glance feature lists the activities, required materials, preparation steps and teaching time for every lesson. Bookmark this feature for your next sub and they’ll know exactly what they need to do for every period.

3. Use it to customize your program. 
We know you’re picking and choosing from a variety of sources to make your lesson the best it can be. Use the Lesson-At-A-Glance feature to quickly skim the covered topics and required lesson materials, and hone in on the topics that will complement your plan the best.

Wondering if your product came with curriculum? Do you need to verify that a product you’re considering includes curriculum? Visit our website, or contact us for details. We’re happy to discuss your unique program and help you determine the best way to use your Realityworks curriculum.

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.