The Challenge of Middle School Health Science Teachers
For middle school health science teachers, finding ways to meet standards while also making sure content is appropriate, relevant, and interesting for their students is a challenge.
Most health science textbooks are geared towards students in high school or even technical schools, so it’s a lot of work to adjust the content. Add to this the fact that in middle school electives courses, there is a wide range of student knowledge, ability, and learning styles and these teachers are in for a lot of work to prepare lessons.
In the School District of Palm Beach County, Marta Galvez teaches health science at Lake Worth Middle School, and had struggled with all of these issues.
As a Dwyer Award for Excellence in Education winner, and a Heroes in Medicine Award recipient, it’s clear that Marta’s goal is to provide the best for her students. But even for a teacher like Marta, there is only so much time in the day!
Luckily, Dr. Miguel Benavente the district’s Medical Specialist and Administrator has gone above and beyond to support the health science teachers across the district and solve their frustrations and challenges. Dr. Benavente decided to bring the HealthCenter21 eLearning curriculum to Palm Beach County to help make the teachers’ lives easier.
“It’s going to facilitate and make a teacher’s life easier. I got HealthCenter21 to help the teachers be better teachers and help them use their time more wisely.”
Since they began using HealthCenter21, Marta and the other instructors in Palm Beach County have had to worry less due to these benefits of eLearning curriculum:
- Less time spent planning lessons
- Differentiated instruction is easier
- Reinforcement and remediation are built in
- Student engagement and interest has increased
Less Time Spent Planning to Meet Florida Curriculum Frameworks
Middle school electives teachers are always looking for more time in the day, and aligning lessons to required standards can take up a big chunk of that time. Teachers have told us that it can take up to 10 hours to research and plan one lesson for the week! Even after lessons are created, it's back to the drawing board if standards change.
Because HealthCenter21 is created to help health science teachers meet their standards, there is a lot less prep work needed. Marta has found that the curriculum has most of what she needs to meet her required Florida curriculum frameworks.
“With HealthCenter21 you have pretty much what you need and the students like it. Going back to before we had it, I had to do more research using textbooks and the internet and find ways to provide more material.”
Differentiated Instruction Made Easier for Middle School Electives
As any elective teacher knows, differentiated instruction is crucial in helping students succeed in the classroom… but sometimes you just don’t have the time or energy to do that extra work! Because some of Marta’s students need more help understanding topics than others, she tries to help students one-on-one when possible.
“HealthCenter21 gives me a better opportunity to provide more variety and ideas to my students. With HealthCenter21 sometimes I divide my students into groups, and that allows individual students to ask me questions like: ‘Can you help me to understand this?’”
In addition, a number of Marta’s students expressed that with HealthCenter21, it helps meet their individual learning styles.
“What we don’t learn from our teacher’s PowerPoints, we can get from HealthCenter21. Some of us are visual learners, not verbal learners… so even if you are a verbal learner going on HealthCenter21 helps widen your horizon of what it means.” -- Student
Reinforcement and Remediation Help Students Succeed
“HealthCenter21 is great for reinforcement and remediation, which are extremely important. If a kid doesn’t pass the test, they can use the program for remediation.” -- Dr. Benavente
For students that are in the medical program at Lake Worth Middle School, they are on track to go to the high school program. To ensure these students are able to stay on that path and continue through the program, reinforcement and remediation are crucial. An advantage of eLearning for students is that they can access the curriculum anytime, anywhere to review the content and spend more time on topics they struggled with.
“If I don’t know something, or didn’t understand it fully, I have this site to go on and get a better understanding of it.” -- Student
Without HealthCenter21, Marta would need to find extra ways for her students to review lesson content in order to remediate when needed.
Increased Student Engagement, Interest, and Understanding
It can often be difficult to provide a relevant context of health care topics for middle school students. Among the other tasks you need to accomplish, reworking content to be relevant and interesting to that age of students takes too much time.
With eLearning curriculum like HealthCenter21, the interactive lessons and way the content is broken down fits perfectly for the students at Lake Worth Middle School. Marta has seen increased understanding of detailed topics with HealthCenter21. Dr. Benavente explained that one of the reasons is due to the way HealthCenter21 presents information:
“You have the content to support all of the things students need to know. And you’re integrating everything… It’s not taking anatomy and chemistry where nothing makes sense; with HealthCenter21 everything makes sense. Students are studying everything integrated. If you look at it that way from an instructional point of view, that integration is really how people learn faster and retain information better. It makes sense and they are connecting the dots. I think that’s the best way to learn and retain information, and it’s more effective."
Not only are students retaining information and understanding the health care topics better, but they are more interested in diving deeper to learn more!
“I have a lot of students that say ‘Ms. Galvez, I was doing HealthCenter21 and it’s interesting that they mention this and so and so…’ Things like that, when your students come to you about what they saw in HealthCenter21 and say ‘It was amazing, can we do more research on that?’”