Washougal School District celebrated Career and Technical Education Month®, with a look at how our CTE teachers and programs continued to thrive during remote learning. WSD middle school students are a part of this opportunity with courses such as Design & Modeling, Medical Detectives, Flight & Space and Automation & Robotics.

Instructors are Katie Beaty and Greg Lewis at Jemtegaard and Lewis at Canyon Creek Middle School as well.

Washougal middle school students have begun the return to school buildings on February 18.  They are using the hybrid model, with half of the students attending Monday and Tuesday with the second half on Thursday and Friday.  All students learn online on Wednesday.

Like many teachers, making connections while teaching remotely was one of their biggest challenges.  “Design and Modeling is a semester-long class, so I had all new students to meet,” explained Beaty. “I greatly appreciate it when students have their cameras on.  It makes it feel more like a classroom.”

Making connections was a reason for Beaty to offer “Breakfast Bunch.”  “I noticed students were having a hard time waking up and being ready for their 10am Zoom, so I invited all of my students to a 15-minute Breakfast Bunch so they could get some motivation to wake up and have an opportunity to connect with their classmates.  Even though only a handful of students showed up, it was great seeing students dancing to random songs to wake up. I even had a student make scrambled eggs one morning.”

Another challenge is incorporating projects with limited materials available at home. Beaty felt one of her most successful at-home 21st Century Skills projects was the PB & J project.  Students use communication and collaboration skills to write out step-by-step instructions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Then in groups, they attempted to make each other’s sandwiches. What sounds rather simple, becomes more complex as steps were missed such as opening the peanut butter container or picking up a knife.

“It was the most student-to-student interaction I saw the entire semester,” said Beaty. “I had students tell me it was their favorite project.” Students learned that communicating effectively is the key to getting their desired results.

Beaty and Lewis have plenty of examples of students exceeding their expectations on assignments but feels that a lot of students stepped up in different ways.  “Some students had to take care of their younger siblings while learning from home,” Beaty said. “Others struggled with mental health issues.  Every student had to adapt to a completely different learning platform, learn new skills or make do with materials they had at home for projects.” For instance, a student had to learn how to reply to an email and another resorted to using mashed strawberries for jelly and substituted Nutella for the peanut butter to complete the PB & J project.

“Regardless of how their grades turned out, I am proud of our students,” said Beaty. “They have learned so much this year regarding critical 21st Century Skills such as time management, communication, perseverance and problem solving.”

WSD has a robust offering of project-based classes and programs which facilitate the teaching of relevant skills and knowledge for learning, career and life.  Learn more about them at https://www.washougal.k12.wa.us/cte/