Authentic Learning in CTE: An Exercise Physiology Project Launch Combines Content, Data, and Real Athletes


I have become a bit of a jack of all trades in the last four years, including becoming a career and technical education (CTE) teacher and now department chair. One of my goals this year was to increase my teachers’ capacity for innovative instruction and project-based learning (PBL). While some of my teachers need more traditional support for classroom management and instructional planning, I have several who are wading deep into the PBL waters. One such teacher is one of our health occupations teachers, Mr. S. Mr. S is teaching the third level class of the Healthcare Pathway named Exercise Physiology. The class can end in students achieving national certification as a personal trainer recognized anywhere and certifying them to work in any gym. The work is technical and heavy in vocabulary, jargon, and math, which can be off-putting for students no matter how engaged they are with going into the healthcare field. So Mr. S and I started planning a project that would authenticate the processes and jargon they were learning through application with very real clients–some of the school’s student athletes. Continue reading


Student-Produced Video on WBL: Applying Work Based Learning Skills to Authentic Products

The above video highlights what is possible when a student’s passion meets with his or her internship and the skills developed through Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes. The video was produced by a current intern in my WBL program who aspires to be a national broadcaster one day, while one of the students featured in the video is also one of my WBL students who aspires to be Chikfila store operator one day.

I’m proud of both. The video is a strong reminder of the opportunity WBL provides for students who are ready to take their skills and focus them in on a passion or pursuit. While I certainly did not get all my students to this point, I am thankful I could help support this endeavor.

Under-prepared? Distracted? Overwhelmed?: The Role of CTE and Internships as Laboratories for Work and Life


I feel acknowledging my blog’s sudden turn toward Career and Technical Education (CTE) and my state’s Work-Based Learning (WBL) program is important. I have a few ideas marinating for the blog concerning my more traditional focus on project-based learning and literacy, but for the next few posts, I am going to dive even further into reflecting on the role of students participating in CTE courses, internships, potential benefits, and what must be done for those benefits to materialize for more students. My first post on the subject was a few weeks ago. I lamented the challenges I saw my 11th and 12th grade students face to really prepare for an internship and the workforce. Today’s post has some similarities, but I now put the critical lens on myself and other CTE educators.

Why? Well as the title suggests, my WBL students this year are a combination of under-prepared, distracted, and overwhelmed. The first adjective is mine. I have to own my conjecture that my students are under-prepared based on my observations from the last month. I also own it because I am one of the reasons they appear unprepared. The second adjective society must own. I know I feel distracted. My phone distracts me; my email distracts me; television distracts me. But what my frontal lobe affords me that my students’ does not is impulse control. I can typically make a conscious effort to walk away from those distractions. My students, as a product of the world they inhabit (one they’ve had little say in shaping might I remind you), are distracted, but their distractions far outweigh mine as an adult. The last adjective belongs to them. They use this word to describe themselves. The reason I get most from my students to why they do not complete a task, communicate clearly, or avoid responsibility is they mention feeling overwhelmed.

So what’s the solution? We are. Educators are. I am. Continue reading

What Work-Based Learning Has Taught Me about the Classroom, Work, & the Spaces Between


In the state of Georgia, we have a work-release program for students aged 16 years or older coined Work-Based Learning (WBL). Essentially, if a WBL coordinator at a school uses the program well, WBL becomes a bridge for students from academics to the work force through meaningful internships. Most states have this sort of program and while I have learned more about it over the last three years, this is the first year I find myself in the coordinator position (along with a few other distinct roles). A coordinator is responsible for piles of data, including, yes, grades, attendance, applications, but also, inputting information into a state database, maintaining your own database, evaluations from various businesses, maintaining and developing a roster of businesses, sign-out sheets–the list really does go on and on. The amount of paperwork can certainly be justified. We’re talking about real work, real businesses, adolescents and adults working together for a common good. That all translates to a need for accountability from everyone involved.

In the opening weeks of this school year, my eyes have been opened to the challenges my upperclassmen face and the realities they face in the world waiting for them after high school. If you follow my blog, there is a good chance you know I am an advocate and proponent of using the classroom space as one where not only is content taught but soft/21st century skills are practiced as well. Hence, my strong belief in project-based learning (PBL) as a viable and important instructional method. The WBL program is meant to support growth in these areas as well. Really, before a student even qualifies for WBL at 16 the hope is they have taken at least one course in Career and Technology Education (CTE) where many of those skills are to be focused on continually. What has become apparent in the last few weeks is despite CTE, or even exposure to some PBL, many of WBL students really do lack the soft/21st century skills necessary for their success beyond the confines of high school. Continue reading

Teacher Innovation #3: “SCRUM It Up with Kanban with a Side of Trello”

Adobe Spark (3)

Post number 3 comes from another colleague and friend, Keith Phillips. Keith is part of my school’s CTE (Career & Technology Education) department and has run and developed our Audio/Visual & Film program for the last four years. Keith is one of my favorite teachers to collaborate with on various projects. He is basically fearless when it comes to trying out new tech and pedagogical approaches in his classroom. He’s a sponge for learning and when he catches fire for something in his classroom, the results are incredible for the kids. His post today introduces SCRUM, a project management protocol found within the Agile model of project design, which fortune 500 companies and various universities use. Keith uses SCRUM to run his many on-going projects and prepare his students for the project methodology they’ll likely see in their careers (A/V careers or otherwise). Finally, Keith dives into how he is transitioning to SCRUM online for his students using a program called Trello.

Previous Teacher Innovation Entries: Part 1 // Part 2

by Keith Phillips


If you came into the start of my class this past year you may have heard me say, “SCRUM it up!” and wonder why I was using a rugby term in my classroom.  For those that have never heard of SCRUM, it is an Agile framework for completing complex projects.  When working with SCRUM, the project leader or Scrum Master leads his group members            through a standing meeting.  In the SCRUM each member must answer three questions; What did I do yesterday?, What am I doing today?, and        Did I have any roadblocks?.  The Scrum Master keeps everyone on task and anything that isn’t relevant to the three questions gets placed into the “Parking Lot” for discussion at a later time.  This helps all group members to stay on task and limits the length of the meeting. Continue reading