Education Kits and Soft Skill Lessons Are a Perfect Match

Have you heard of the education kits that we offer? These great products offer out-of-the-box learning experiences for your students. Each one includes curriculum, interactive student activities and hands-on learning tools that will bring your lessons to life

How can these kits benefit your classroom?

  1. Hands-on tools quickly engage students and provide tactile learning
  2. Manipulatives give students a deeper understanding of complex concepts
  3. Students are able to interact and learn from one another
  4. Lesson plans are provided for easy implementation
  5. Activities and assessments integrate different learning methods to reach all students

Four of the kits we have available are for teaching topics related to plant science, welding, child care and food safety.

We have recently released a series of pathway-specific scenario cards to teach students those soft skills that are essential for entering today’s workforce. Right now you can get a free set of scenario cards with the purchase of one of four educational kits.

Research continues to tell us that across the country, businesses of all kinds are prioritizing soft skills like problem-solving, time management and work ethic over technical, job-related skills. Check out the webinar below for more great information and activities to help you incorporate these essential soft skills into your lesson planning.

10 Cool Tools CTE Educators Use to Engage Today’s Students

Today’s students are looking to learn classroom lessons in more unique ways than in the past. They crave information they can immediately connect to their future goals. They want to interact, experiment, learn from their mistakes, and practice.

At Realityworks, we develop products that enable CTE educators to do exactly that: give students hands-on learning opportunities that are relevant, authentic and highly engaging while teaching important career skills. We spoke with our customers to create a list of our 10 most popular training tools for Health Science, Family and Consumer Science, Agriculture and Welding classrooms.

10 Cool Tools CTE Educators Use to Engage Students are:

1. Blood Pressure Simulator

This tool, dubbed a finalist in the Ed Tech Cool Tools awards, is a one-of-a-kind training tool used to teach proper techniques for taking blood pressure.

2. guideWELD® VR welding simulator

Welding is one of the high-wage, high-demand careers we hear about in the workforce today. With this engaging and interactive simulator, students can learn basic techniques while exploring a potential career.  

3. Bovine Injection Simulator

Requested by ag instructors to teach fundamental skills for agriculture and vet tech students, this simulator gives students hands-on experience giving injections, applying ear tags and more, without leaving the classroom.

4. Geriatric Simulator

Key skills for all students entering healthcare careers include empathy and understanding of their patients. With this wearable tool, students can “walk in the shoes” of elderly patients and gain true insight into their aches, pains and other age-related challenges.

5. Child Care Center Design Kit

One of our newest products on the “cool tools” list, this interactive kit was created in partnership with a child care facility owner. It teaches students how to properly set up child care rooms for ideal learning environments.

6. Adult Nursing Manikin

Featuring over 20 basic care functions, this manikin is used in nursing and health occupations classrooms to give students realistic practice interacting with adult patients.

7. Electrical Wiring Kit

Safety is key in a classroom setting. With this kit, students to get hands-on wiring experience and quick assessments on job correctness while avoiding sparks and other electrical dangers.

8. Bovine Breeder™ artificial insemination simulator

This unique simulator has caught the attention of many ag education publications, as it enables students to learn and practice an in-demand skill right in the classroom.

9. RealCareer ™ Weld Defects Kit

Our most popular trade skills kit, this unique product teaches students what can go wrong during welding, how to identify improper welds and most importantly, how to fix these defects and prevent them from occurring on future welds.

10. RealCare™ Shaken Baby Simulator

While this product has been offered for several years, the lessons it teaches and the impacts it makes on students is incredible. We are proud that educators still consider our Shaken Baby Simulator a “cool tool,” as it provides unforgettable lessons on child abuse and prevention that can truly save lives.

Ready to learn more about these cool tools and others offered by Realityworks? Visit our website.

10 Ways to Use Our Portable Workstations in Your Classroom or Shop

The importance of storage space in CTE classrooms and shops cannot be understated. After all, the more organized you are, the better you can manage your classroom and keep your students safe, on task and productive. Yet teachers constantly tell us that they don’t have enough storage space in their classrooms – and much of the time, the storage solutions that are in place take up valuable work space.

That’s why we created our Portable Workstations. These sturdy carts feature locking wheels, three drawers (one of which locks), plus a rugged, grated worksurface that is tough and durable.

Roll this mobile welding workstation into any area of your classroom or workshop to:

  1. Store tools and Personal Protective Equipment
  2. Complete woodworking, metalworking or small engine repair projects
  3. Keep your favorite tools close at hand, and safely locked up when not in use
  4. Work with up to 500 pounds of materials
  5. Safely store gas cylinders for even the largest welders and projects
  6. Protect your equipment from slag and grinding dust
  7. Work on welding projects by incorporating the removable welding curtain that comes with the cart
  8. Demonstrate techniques and best practices from a point of view that all students can effectively observe
  9. Store projects and extra scraps
  10. Set up a portable welding workspace or learning station anywhere

Learn more about our Portable Workstation from the Realityworks team member who helped develop them, Mechanical Engineer Mike Zaborowski:

5 Takeaways from “Why VR Works: A Panel Discussion”

We recently hosted a panel discussion about why virtual reality welding works for today’s CTE students. Featuring Realityworks RealCareer Product Manager Jamey McIntosh, Realityworks Support Specialist and guideWELD® trainer Chris Potapenko and Arizona welding instructor Kenton Webb, the webinar featured candid conversations about how instructors across the country are implementing this technology into their programs and using it to engage students, foster skill development, boost confidence and save money.

Below are excerpts from the live presentation (watch the complete recording here).

1. It’s a great tool to use with beginning classes

“I’ve found it best to start off with my beginning level classes where a lot of those kids have never welded before so they don’t know the difference in between live and virtual. It’s definitely helped them as they’ve started off with something harder and then when they get out into the shop it’s a lot easier for them when it comes to the live application of it. It also helps them build their confidence. Sometimes welding equipment is terrifying to kids and they’re scared of the sparks and the heat and the fire.”
– Kenton Webb, Welding Instructor, Marana High School, AZ

“It’s a great tool and utility to bring in new students to get them started with the basics of welding. It eliminates some of the fear factors that go into getting them out on the real machine where they’re dealing with the heat, the sparks, the fumes. It’s a great resource to have in that safe classroom environment, it’s going to teach them all of the core functions of welding and give them that immediate feedback as well that they’re looking for.”
– Chris Potapenko, Realityworks Support Specialist and certified guideWELD® trainer

2. The guideWELD® VR welding simulator by Realityworks comes with WPS’s (Welding Procedure Specifications) and the ability to make your own WPS’s, to gear it towards your own curriculum.

“I’ve created 9 separate WPS’s that the students have to go through and hit at an 80% or higher before they can move on to the next WPS,” said Webb. “Once they’ve finished and hit that mark in the classroom then I also have the guideWELD Live and they go out and use those with the actual hands-on weld.”
– Kenton Webb, Welding Instructor, Marana High School, AZ

“Being able to create your own welds that your community might be doing. We have schools that say, ‘just down the road we have welding jobs open, I want my students to be able to get those welding jobs, and I want my students to be able to practice those kinds of welds.’ They can put into guideWELD VR the exact parameters that they need to do. It ties in that career interest.”
– Jamey McIntosh, Realityworks RealCareer Product Manager

3. Virtual welding can improve learning for students

“Because they do get immediate feedback and they can actually see what they’re doing wrong immediately as they’re going through the weld that definitely helps them. Even with my special education students, it gives them more feedback that they need and gets them more comfortable using it before they go out and use the real thing. It covers your basic work angles, travel angles, distance and all of that so when I’m using that terminology out in the shop it’s not going over their head because they’ve been introduced to it.”
– Kenton Webb, Welding Instructor, Marana High School, AZ

4. Virtual welding can save your program money, and guideWELD VR will help prove how much you are saving

“I was able to go and figure out, ok this is what I would pay for the steel, if I was doing these joints this is what it would cost per joint. So, I was able to see, each class by the time they were done with the 9 modules, and it counts every attempt that they do whether they pass it or fail it, so there were some of my classes that if they were out in the shop they would have burned through $800 worth of material and that’s not even including the gas and wire, nozzles and tips that they would have burned through learning how to do it on the live thing. It definitely helps educators justify the cost for it, in terms of down the road this is saving us money and for some of those programs that don’t have funding for unlimited metals and stuff like that it gives them a little more time to start them off in the class but then still not worry about running through all of their material before the end of the year.”
– Kenton Webb, Welding Instructor, Marana High School, AZ

5. Students love the gaming aspect of virtual welding

“With kids being more tech savvy and gamer savvy, they really do enjoy doing it because they are coming to school to play a game so you are getting a little bit more buy in and interest as well. Another thing I noticed is some of them will turn it into a competition where they see one kid get a 95 then the other kids are ‘oh I can do better’ and they are going back for more and trying to beat each other with a little competition.”
– Kenton Webb, Welding Instructor, Marana High School, AZ

These responses were extracted from our webinar, “Why VR Works: A Panel Discussion,” which can be found here or viewed below. This discussion was facilitated by Kenton Webb, welding instructor from Marana High School, Tucsun, AZ; Jamey McIntosh, product manager for Realityworks; and Chris Potapenko, technology support specialist for Realityworks.

3 Lessons We’ve Learned from Helping Instructors Implement Virtual Reality Welding Simulators

By Emily Kuhn, Realityworks Communications Specialist

We created the guideWELD® VR welding simulator to give instructors an inexpensive yet effective way to engage students in welding career exploration and train them on the fundamentals of welding. We know demand for skilled welders is growing, and tools like these help students develop the basic skills they need to succeed in related careers. Five years later, we’ve visited welding classrooms and shops from Arizona to Alaska, helping CTE instructors implement virtual reality welding simulators in their programs. Along the way, we’ve learned a few key lessons:

Competition works.

Students and instructors alike have shared the fun they’ve had trying to beat their peer’s scores on the guideWELD VR welding simulators, which assess users on their work angle, travel angle, speed, nozzle-to-plate distance and straightness, then provide a cumulative score.

Rodian Manjarres was a high school welding student at J. Harley Bonds Career Center in Greer, SC when we caught up with her at a National SkillsUSA competition. She told us of her own guideWELD VR use, “We were all trying to beat each other’s scores and kept taking more turns. Everyone was really excited about it.”

High school welding student Rodian Manjarres using guideWELD® VR welding simulator while practicing for her National SkillsUSA competition.

In fact, the simulators’ competitive aspect was a particular benefit to this female welder.

“I liked it a lot because I could beat the guys at it,” said Manjarres. “There are only a few of us that can get the gun to turn gold.”

Instructors have found that competition encourages students to continue enhancing their form and technique and build muscle memory. And the more students use this training tool, the more developed their welding technique becomes.

“Cool tools” can impact fundraising efforts.

We’ve spoken to several ingenious instructors who bring their guideWELD VR units to open houses and other community events. The simulators grab attendees’ attention, helps them understand what students are learning and help generate support for their classrooms.

Dan Leinen uses the simulators in his agriculture classes at Harlan Community High School in Harlan, IA. He told us of one event where letting a community member try the simulator directly impact that individual’s willingness to donate to his ag program.

An Iowa welding student uses the guideWELD VR welding simulator.

“This particular company owner had an FFA background but had never welded,” said Leinen. “He sat down and tried the simulator and almost instantly committed to donating funds.”

guideWELD VR is portable, and its virtual nature means there is no gas, ventilation or sparks to worry about. By showing the community what you’re doing in your classroom, they see what they could be supporting.

Technology is attractive.

Recruitment might be one of the most common ways we hear guideWELD VR being used. The tool’s video game-like environment appeals to today’s technology-driven students, and the lack of sparks calms common welding fears. And in regions where students aren’t coming from farms or other environments where welding is the norm, instructors enjoy having a safe way to introduce the skill to new users.

John Paulus uses the simulators in the Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Mobile Manufacturing Lab. The lab travels to various locations across Western Wisconsin to provide middle- and high-school students with manufacturing career exploration opportunities.

The CVTC Mobile Manufacturing Lab offers students the opportunity to receive hands-on, real-life training in manufacturing careers using tools like the guideWELD VR welding simulator.

“A lot of these kids have never touched a welder or turned a lathe in their life,” said Paulus. “We’re trying to get these kids excited about getting skilled and getting into manufacturing careers. This equipment is enhancing our ability to do that.”

Ready to learn more about the guideWELD VR welding simulator?

  • Get implementation tools and use ideas here.
  • Find out how you can save on guideWELD VR here.
  • Watch our free webinar, “Explore Welding Career Pathways with Hands-On Training Methods” here

5 Great Ways to Bring Soft Skills into the CTE Classroom

Soft skills, employability skills, people skills… however you refer to them, soft skills are critical to career success. Research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge.

So how can we ensure that skills are being taught in every CTE class?

Realityworks created its own program: the RealCareer™ Employability Skills Program. Through our research, talking with educators and confirming information with business owners, we found a lot of great ways to not only engage students in this topic but to help them carry these skills on in life.

We know that adding additional topics to your curriculum can be scary. We also know educators do not have a lot of time and sometimes are unsure how to start incorporating this topic into their program.

Use the 5 ideas below to incorporate soft skill development into your classroom without stress.

Keep in mind, these ideas could work for different CTE areas, including engineering, nursing, Family and Consumer Sciences, welding and business. The goal is to start addressing these skills in your classroom!

  1. Create Conversation Cards. Write a variety of conversation topics onto note cards: “Describe the last book you read,” “Discuss the previous assignment and how you handled the questions,” or “What do you want to do after high school?” Then take 5 minutes of each class to pair students up with one conversation card and have them discuss the topic. Use this activity to teach communication skills and show your students how to converse with their peers.

Great for: ANY PATHWAY!  Make your cards about topics in class or make them generic!

  1. Bring in guest speakers. Ask community members in your area of education to speak to the class on soft skills topics. Recommended questions include: “What soft skills are important to your profession?” “What soft skills have you used in the last week at work?” “How can working on soft skills get me a job?”

Great for: ANY PATHWAY!  Invite someone in that has a career your students might want someday.

  1. Take time to reflect. If you are working on specific soft skills, make sure you give students a few minutes at the end of class to write about what went well, what could be improved on and what they noticed. For example, if they are working in a group, they are developing the ability to work on a team. Have them reflect on what it is like working in a team. If they just presented on a topic to their classmates, have them reflect on how they felt presenting, what could have made the presentation go better and what they did right.

Great for: ANY PATHWAY!  Reflection time is working on critical thinking – one of the big soft skills needed in today’s workplace.

  1. Create responsibility in the classroom. This could mean:
    1. Having students use day planners to help with time management (encourage blocking time for homework)
    2. Having students take care of a plant for the semester – plant it, water it, feed it and care for it. While simple, this is great for responsibility!

Great for: ANY PATHWAY! No matter what class you teach, your students need to show up on time, prepared and ready to listen and participate in class. These are all soft skills.

  1. Get the RealCareer Employability Skills Program. This program is filled with activities that hit on the KEY soft skills needed to succeed. It includes a full curriculum, workbooks, scenario cards and presentation slides. This out-of-the-box program makes it SIMPLE to incorporate soft skills in ANY CTE pathway.

We have also recently added pathway/occupation-specific workplace scenario cards for Agriculture, Child Care, Culinary, Geriatrics, Nursing and Welding careers.

We’re also excited to be celebrating CTE month. Make sure you click here to download our free CTE infographic today!

5 Secrets to Engaging Today’s Generation Z Students

By Emily Kuhn, Realityworks Communications Specialist

Born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, Generation Z students have been occupying your classroom for 4-5 years already, and this year, they will make up 32 percent of the global population. You’ve probably noticed that there are some unique differences between today’s students and their Millennial predecessors, the oldest of whom have been in the workforce for more than a decade. Today’s students are even more tech-savvy; they can multi-task even faster and they have even shorter attention spans. Generation Z students read less than 20% of text; they think in 4D, not 3D; and they are used to immediate feedback. How do you engage learners who demand connection, who will disengage with the discussion if they don’t see the relevance, and who wish to not only hear about a topic, but see it, touch it and feel it?

Adapting your teaching methods to meet the needs of today’s Generation Z students and keep them engaged is not only vital to be an effective 21st Century educator, but can help transform your students’ education. We know that the standard classroom model, where an educator stands in front of the class and lectures, no longer works – at least, not all the time. In this post, we’ll share tips we’ve learned from educators across the globe that can help you grab, and keep, your students’ attention.

1: Avoid lengthy PowerPoint presentations. We know that avoiding PowerPoint altogether is impossible – there’s a time and a place for this presentation format. However, you can incorporate quizzes, activities and hands-on demonstrations every few slides to break up your students’ attention – and help keep it.

Get more PowerPoint tips in this blog by Concordia University – Portland.

2: Use multiple teaching modalities. Videos, online activities and group work are great additions to textbook work. The key here is variety, which will not only help keep the attention of your Generation Z students, but appeal to a variety of learning needs. 

Learn more about using video in the classroom in this Common Sense Education article.

3: Create an active learning environment by using innovative learning tools. Generation Z students’ desire for social, hands-on learning experiences make interactive simulators and models a vital part of 21st Century classrooms. Our simulators and models – which include resources for Welding & Trade Skills, Agriculture, FCS, Health Science, and Anatomy and Physiology – engage students with realistic details, removeable parts and, in the case of our simulators, truly immersive learning experiences.

See all the learning aids and resources we offer for Career & Technical Education here.

4: Remember that “why” is as important as “what.” Generation Z students need to know that what they’re learning is relevant. 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. Remember that 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.

Need more help teaching soft skills in your classroom? Our Employability Skills Program can help.

You’re already working hard to equip your students with technical and academic skills. By creating an interactive, hands-on learning environment where Generation Z students can engage in active learning opportunities, you’re setting them up for even greater success.

Realityworks Recognizes Arizona Welding Instructor with CTE Champion Award

We’re so excited to announce the recipient of our CTE Champion Award, Marana High School Welding Instructor Kenton Webb. Product manager Jamey McIntosh presented the award to Webb at the Association for Career & Technical Education’s CareerTech VISION 2018 Conference in San Antonio, Texas on November 30. The award recognizes the remarkable methods Webb has implemented to engage his welding students in viable career opportunities and help them develop in-demand job skills. Those methods include using the guideWELD® VR welding simulator and guideWELD® LIVE real welding guidance system.

“My ultimate goal is to help these kids get a successful career so they’re not walking away from high school with just a diploma – they’re walking away with a skill they can use,” said Webb. “I’m humbled by this award. It’s nice to get recognized for the work you put in.

About 250 students participate in Marana High School’s welding program annually, an increase of almost 200 students from when Webb began the program 10 years ago. In the last nine years, the program has come to be one of the premier high school welding shops in the state. First-year students use the guideWELD VR welding simulator to hone basic welding skills in a safe, virtual environment, then use the guideWELD LIVE real welding guidance system in the welding booth to understand proper welding techniques and master bad habits. Webb also challenges his students to identify and assess their own welds using the RealCareer™ Weld Defects Kit.

“What I saw and heard when I visited Kenton’s classroom made his passion for educating clear,” said McIntosh. “He knows that being able to help his students truly understand where an in-demand skill like welding could take them is key to engaging them in welding training.”

Realityworks’ CTE Champion award is awarded to educators in programs related to Welding & Trade Skills, Family & Consumer Sciences, Agriculture and Health Science. Learn more about Realityworks by visiting www.realityworks.com.

Sneak Peeks and Presentations Coming Your Way at VISION 2018

We’re getting excited to see everyone at  ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2018. This year we will be introducing new innovative learning tools as well as giving you a peek at products that will be coming in 2019. We’ve recently added new products to our Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Health Sciences pathways, including:

Bovine Breeder artificial insemination simulator with pregnancy palpation

Twin Pregnancy Model KitDiabetes Education Kit

Coming in 2019, Realityworks will be launching:

  • Bovine Injection
  • Child Care Center Design Kit
  • Cow Anatomy Flip Chart
  • Ostomy Trainer
  • New Anatomical models
  • and so much more!

Not only will we be giving attendees a sneak peek at new products, we will also be giving 6 presentations this year.

Make sure you stop by booth 723 and try out all of our interactive training tools for yourself!

Welding Implementation in the 21st Century

Skilled welders are more in demand than ever before. The American Welding Society estimates that by 2020 – just two years away – there will be a shortage of 290,000 professionals, including inspectors, engineers, welders and teachers.

For welding instructors and trainers, launching a new welding program, or reinventing a current one, can seem like a daunting task. There are a lot of questions to ask including what equipment will help students the most, and what curriculum is out there to help you get started.

We’ve used feedback from welding instructors across the country to develop the Welding Solutions Implementation Guide, which will help you to walk through all of these questions and more.

The four key areas that have been identified as key to the 21st Century Welding Classroom are:

1. Welding Simulation Lab

  • Explore careers, foundational learning, provide more arc time
  • A safe, cost-effective way to teach welding fundamentals

2. Live Welding Booths

  • Corrective guides, immediate feedback, classroom management
  • A one-of-a-kind solution for guidance inside the welding helmet during live welding

3. Visual Weld Inspection

  • Assessment and correction techniques, quality inspection
  • An instructional aid to teach weld defects and discontinuities

4. Destructive Weld Testing

  • Prepare for careers, self-assessment
  • Challenge students to test their own welds and determine what went wrong

By combining these four areas into a welding program, you can help set your students up for success. Click here for more information and to see the complete guide.