Businesses are looking to hire professional individuals with the ability to communicate effectively. Canyon Independent School District (CISD) Director of Secondary Programs Marc Hamil sees Career and Technical Education (CTE) as a way to provide students with both the technical and communication skills necessary to excel in their future careers.
“We have iCEV in the programs at both high schools now,” Hamil said. “What I respect about iCEV is that CTE is their niche and where their expertise is. In a lot of other companies, it is one aspect of a larger business.”
Hamil says he supports CTE because it offers kids the avenues to learn life skills, especially in the competitions and student organizations that run alongside classes. A portion of these are spearheaded by agricultural science teachers Jett Mason, Jeff Klose and D’Arcy Roberts.
“CTE does it better than anyone else,” Mason said. “The leadership training and opportunities offered through CTE student organizations is second to none and gives students the opportunity to hone their skills. It teaches basic, yet integral skills that aren’t specific to a certain job and span across any career they may choose, whether it be introducing themselves, interviewing skills and public speaking skills.”
Klose promotes the use of iCEV in the classroom as a way to give students a problem-based, hands-on way to learn the same material that they receive in their classrooms from a theoretical standpoint.
“Not every student plans to go to college,” Klose said. “iCEV gives them valuable insight into various careers they can explore if they don’t choose to pursue higher education.”
While it can provide building blocks for a student's transition into the workforce directly after high school, for those who wish to take the plunge into higher education, CTE can also lay a foundation for students to build on during their time at a trade school, two-year college or four-year university. They can then use the combination of higher education and the knowledge acquired in high school to thrive in the workplace.
“Career skills and training is a basis for why we use iCEV, and there is a growing need for skilled laborers in the United States, the global economy and the world,” Mason said. “CTE is providing those skilled students with hands-on experience and training in high school to prepare them for immediate entry into the workforce.
A part of CISD’s CTE program, Canyon High School’s Agriculture Science Program has seen success through the use of iCEV. The program, which encompasses 350 students, has used iCEV to train competition teams, facilitate classroom instruction and keep students on track during the mayhem of spring semester. Canyon High School Agricultural Science teachers have used iCEV since its inception and have utilized it to catapult Canyon Future Farmer’s of America’s (FFA) continued growth throughout the years. As a result, it is leading the state of Texas as one of the top performing FFA programs.
“I’ve seen my students utilize prior skills to grasp abstract concepts as the coursework becomes more advanced and rigorous,” Mason said. “They understand the theory behind the skill and are more likely to master that skill, but on the flip side, they actually learn and remember the theory behind it better.”
Canyon High School is one of two high schools that make up the Canyon Independent School District in Canyon, Texas. In the past three years, the Canyon FFA program has grown at warp speed; going from one agricultural science teacher, a 2,300 square ft. learning center and 67 enrolled students, only 13 of which were FFA members in 2013, to presently having three agricultural science teachers, a 14,000 square ft. learning center and 350 students enrolled in the program, all of which are FFA members.
“This year, with the new lesson plans, projects and activities that have been included in the welding course, I have utilized the curriculum in a holistic manner in the classroom,” said Canyon High School Agricultural Science teacher Jett Mason. “I really appreciate the relevance and rigor that the lesson plans have brought in addition to the projects and activities already being used in the classroom.”
With the rising use of technology in the classroom, the Canyon Agricultural Science Team has found iCEV to be helpful in covering a wide span of learning styles in the classroom. The traditional method of teaching often leaves students behind as they quickly become bored with traditional teaching styles and classroom structures.
“The lessons are self-paced, so it really accommodates students with different learning speeds,” Klose said. “Students that are gone a lot have the ability to do their work online, and that’s really beneficial. They can work on it from home if need be.”
iCEV helps students stay up to date on their coursework and gives them peace of mind because they don’t need to worry about falling behind in class due to their involvement in extracurricular activities like FFA. In addition, iCEV has revolutionized the use of technology in CTE classrooms, providing rigor and relevance to the Canyon program.
“It’s amazing in four years how far we’ve come in terms of using the technology resources we have,” Mason said. “Students expect to use technology in a way that will help them grasp and understand the concepts better, and iCEV plays an important role in implementing that digital aspect of learning in the classroom.”
Because it incorporates both audio and video, Mason says iCEV is the next best thing to actual hands-on activities and learning experiences.
“Students are able to see the activities firsthand through iCEV, and that really helps visual learners focus on the curriculum,” Mason said. “Before we go to the shop in a welding class, I can show them a clip on iCEV about a particular welding process so they know what to expect, what they need to replicate and what it needs to look like. Instead of starting from scratch, they have a good direction and idea of what the project or assignment is supposed to look like.”