One of the highlights for students in any Career & Technical Education (CTE) program is the major project that compiles elements learned over the course of the program. Students develop a project that illustrates what they have learned and then present the findings to an authentic audience. Students write papers, develop PowerPoint presentations and create poster boards, depending on the audience.
For the past several years, Kelley Shader’s Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) students have gone on the road and presented their major projects to elementary students in their home districts. It is a “full circle” experience for high school seniors to develop and present to first grade students and in some cases, teachers they had many years ago.
On one such trip, high school seniors from Averill Park CSD visited the first-grade classes of Mrs. Pugliese, Mrs. Wunsch and Mrs. Marshall at Miller Hill/Sand Lake Elementary, where they offered fun, age appropriate and highly interactive lessons to all three classes.
Micayla Slattery taught eager first graders about hand washing, complete with individual opportunities to wash “glitter germs” away, using just water or adding soap.
“I couldn’t believe how excited each student was with washing the glitter germs away. They really understood the lesson and that made me feel like I did a good job teaching it,” Slattery says.
Stephanie Mangene offered the students a look at how the brain works. She presented a short video clip of a brain dancing and singing about all the different things the brain does. The first graders got a chance to dance along at the end of Stephanie’s presentation. To illustrate how different parts of the brain work and the things you do to listen and recall information, Stephanie engaged the kids in energetic rounds of “Simon Says.”
“It was so fun to see that a simple game like Simon Says really connected the dots for the students about listening and memory. It showed me the importance of getting the kids involved in what they were learning about,” says Mangene.
Nancy Mainville presented a lesson on nutrition and the five food groups. She chose to have the kids play “food group bingo” and it was a hit.
“I couldn’t believe it – they loved it. Walking around and helping the kids draw food items and fill their bingo cards was a perfect way to learn,” Mainville says.
The first-grade teachers were very impressed with the CNA students’ poise, confidence and willingness to work one on one with students during the learning process.
The CNA students all shared that actually teaching skills they know to an authentic audience, not just their teacher or classmates, really helps solidify their own learning.
“Doing this really showed me that I know my stuff. Having young kids ‘get it’ really helps me ‘get it,’” said Mangene at the end of the morning, surrounded by first grade kids dancing and moving to the “Brain Song.”
Shader agrees these presentations confirm that she is providing her students a complete education.
“There is no better way to show I’ve taught them well than to see them go out and independently teach others and don’t need me there. This is teaching and learning at its finest. I am so proud of these students.”