Thursday, March 31, 2011

Can Career and Technology Education Reduce the Cost of Dropping Out?

I saw a great graphic on Michael Smith's Principals Page Blog this morning that I wanted to share with you:

 I agree with the blog's author when he states that, "It's both sad and tragic. Students need to do better. Families need to do better. Schools need to do better. Our country needs to do better."

As I talk to more individuals and groups across the country, there is always a huge concern about dropout recovery. But what there isn't enough discussion about is the importance that should be placed upon career and technology education and the various programs that we offer.

We have our traditional CTE programs (i.e. Agricultural Education, Business and Information Technology Education, Family and Consumer Sciences Education, Health Careers Education, Marketing Education, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Technology Engineering, and Trade and Industrial Education), but we also have dropout recovery programs, a young offender/probationer project, school-to-work, skills centers, which are occupational training programs and related services for incarcerated adults and for juveniles in detention centers (academic education, occupational training, and life skills are integrated into one delivery system), and Tech Prep.

We also offer Business and Entrepreneurial Services and Business and Industry Development programs and a myriad of other programs to assist in the growth and development of business and industry. In other words, career and technology education is aimed at economic development, as is all forms of education, but CTE is more flexible and easily adapted to state and local industry needs.

But the bottom line, for me anyway, is that education boils down to the individual and CTE offers the best opportunity to capture and assist those "1 in 4 students" that drops out of high school. That has long been one of our goals as our mission statement says, "We prepare Oklahomans to succeed in the workplace, in education, and in life."

So can CTE really reduce the cost of dropping out? ABSOLUTELY!

But we need your help in spreading the word about CTE. Many people I meet seem to have a pre-conceived notion about what we do and I know for me, people are amazed when they find out about the wealth of services that we offer. It's my hope, that the more you help spread the word, the more likely that these "1 in 4" students will know the value of what we have to offer them. And their return is quite simply a better life for themselves and their family.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Automotive Assessments from the CareerTech Testing Center

I wanted to announce two new automotive assessments from the CareerTech Testing Center:

Engine Repair Technician and Manual Drive Train and Axles Technician.

These new online assessments are designed to evaluate students who are near the end of their studies in the areas of Automotive Service. As always, all of our assessments in automotive services, auto body, and medium/heavy duty truck are aligned with ASE/NATEF standards.

We now offer online assessments that cover all eight automotive service areas:

Brakes Technician
Electrical/Electronics Systems Technician
Engine Performance Technician
Heating & Air Conditioning Technician
Suspension & Steering Technician
Automatic Transmission/Transaxle Technician
Engine Repair Technician
Manual Drive Train and Axles Technician

(Click HERE for more information on our standards and assessments in Auto Body, Medium/Heavy Duty Truck, Heavy Equipment Maintenance, Motorcycle Repair, and Power Products)

Please contact the CareerTech Testing Center at 405.743.5412 to order these new assessments! As always, you can access these skills standards and others for FREE on our website.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

LiveBinders: A Great Resource for Sharing Information

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by all of the resources you find?

I feel this way more and more every day. There is so much information out there and so many people are wanting to share their ideas with you and I forget where I put what between this blog, various bookmarks, RSS feeds, etc. I also have friends that have created wikis to share their content with others and I have those to follow as well. Do you get these same headaches and the feeling that you are losing your memory to information overload?

A friend told me last night about a free site called LiveBinders that allow you to collect and organize your resources and then share them with others (publicly sharing your binder with anyone that visits the site is an option as well).

As the site states:
LiveBinders is dedicated to helping you empower others with the information you work hard to collect.

If you're like us, you've used 'creative' tactics to keep track of all your links either through email, word documents or endless lists in your browser bookmarks folder. It's hard to put a group of links together in any meaningful format. And sharing a group of URLs is cumbersome for everyone - the sender and the receiver. Have you ever looked through your bookmarks list and forgotten what they are all for?

We created LiveBinders so that you could do with digital information what you do with the papers on your desk - organize them into nice containers - like 3-ring binders on your shelf. With our online-binders you can also upload your documents and easily combine them with your links in a neat and organized way
We welcome you to create as many LiveBinders as you need to help organize the stuff you collect and share on the Web.
Check out the Civil War Biographies Binder as a great example (and take a look at the Animated Battles of the Civil War).

There is also a Collision Repair Binder that confirms my belief that this could be a great tool for career and technology educators.

Take a look and let us know if you have created any LiveBinders!

By the way, LiveBinders is offering a live demo on classroom uses on March 24th at 7:00 p.m. cst.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This Day: Taking a Snapshot at Today in History

For those of you that have followed this blog, you will know how much I like current events and history (Newseum, Mapeas, News Map).

I wanted to share a site that I just found entitled This Day. This website, created by Nikon, is an attractively designed look into historical events that happened in the past on the day you visit the site.

As the site states:
This day, today;
it seems no different than any other,
but something historical is happening somewhere in the world.
Each day is a milestone in human history.
The site also offers an option of a screensaver and a desktop gadget. It also offers a nice background soundtrack (that can be turned off), and an automatic timeline that shifts backwards which transports you back in time to key events in history.

Try This Day.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The People We Meet

I have to say that the one thing that makes life interesting is people.

Are you ever amazed at who you meet?  I was at an ICE (Institute for Credentialing Excellence) Conference a few years ago and I observed a lady during a reception with several hundred people. Although she was alone and seemed somewhat introverted, she worked the room like a pro. She picked out individuals or small groups that contained no more than three or four people and she met them all. And yes, I met her because I was also one of those wallflowers standing there eating my hors d'oeuvres alone. I may be slow, but I did learn something that night. I learned to not only develop contacts, but to develop relationships. And yes, years later, we still share ideas with each other.

Although I'm still not at her level of expertise, I try and develop at least several contacts and one new relationship from each conference or meeting that I attend. By "relationship," I mean someone that has similar educational interests that can be a core member of my PLN (personal learning network).

For instance, last week I attended another SREB Educational Technology Cooperative meeting and I missed seeing a few friends, but I renewed a few acquaintences and met a few new people that I could add to my PLN. I truly enjoy conferences and it's invigorating to be presented with new ideas, but to be honest, the speakers only serve as facilitators of ideas. It's the people you sit next to, during the presentation or at dinner, etc. that take these ideas and begin the discussions. This is truly the benefit of attending any conference and this is what excites me about people. The ability to learn and share is what makes life fun.

There are so many intelligent, make that highly intelligent people in the world and that is why I'm thankful for social media. The people I meet at conferences are no longer just temporary contacts, but I now have the opportunity to create life long professional contacts.

The world is now a much smaller place because of technology and I truly enjoy sharing and receiving so much valuable information from people at any time or from any place in the world.

If you haven't created a PLN, please consider starting one today!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

30 of the Best Educational Tools for Auditory, Visual, and Kinesthetic Learners

I recently read an article on about different learning styles. As the article states, "Auditory learners learn by listening; visual learners learn by seeing; and kinesthetic learners learn by doing." Instructors must be aware of these styles and incorporate them into their instruction. The article offers a selection of free educational tools that can be used by auditory, visual or kinesthetic learners.

Educational Tools for Auditory Learners

Auditory learners tend to learn most effectively through listening. Lectures, oral presentations, music and background sounds are just a few of the things that help auditory learners comprehend and retain more info.
  • Free Audio Books - Audio books can help auditory learners enjoy books and get through their assigned reading. You can get a list of 25 places to find free audio books right here on our site.
  • Audacity - This easy-to-use audio editing software lets you record and edit audio. It is free to use and works across multiple platforms (Mac OS X, Windows, and GNU/LINUX.)
  • WavePad - This free sound editing software (for Windows or Mac) allows users to record and edit audio within minutes. Functions are a cinch to use and work with multiple formats.
Click HERE for the additional tools for auditory learners.

Educational Tools for Visual Learners

Visual learners tend to learn best through seeing. Pictures, diagrams, concept maps, symbolism, videos and other visual presentations are just a few of the things that work well in a visual learner's education toolbox.
  • MindMesiter - This mind mapping tool is great for people who want to be able to visualize what they're learning. MindMeister allows users to create, share and manage mind maps online and offline.
  • - is a flash-based brainstorming tool that allows users to chart out thoughts, story ideas and homework. The images that can be created though this free web app will help visual learners learn productively and efficiently.
  • Visuwords - This online graphically-based dictionary is great for visual learners who want to look up the meanings of various words and concepts. Visuwords connects concepts and words to encourage retention
Click HERE for the additional tools for visual learners.

Educational Tools for Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic learners almost always learn better by doing. Projects, labs, note-taking and other activities that allow participation and a hands-on approach are the best bets for kinesthetic learners.
  • Interactives - This site provides activities, strategies and other concepts that enhance learning skills. Interactives is aimed at grades 6 thru 12, but makes a good tool for kinesthetic learners of all ages.
  • Google SketchUp - This free drawing software from Google allows kinesthetic users to create, modify and share 3D models.
  • MynoteIT - Taking notes is a great way for kinesthetic learners to actively participate in what they are learning. MyNoteIT is a free web app that allows users to take, edit and share notes online.
Click HERE for the additional tools for kinesthetic learners.
Thanks to Debi Crabtree at the Hamilton County Virtual School for sharing this article!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

IDroo: An Online Educational Whiteboard

I wanted to introduce you to IDroo which is an online educational multiuser whiteboard that is free for non-commercial use. One of it's best features is that it can be used with Skype as well!

So what exactly does IDroo allow you to do that is different?
IDroo lets students (and instructors) instantly collaborate online.  Everything that is drawn or written on the whiteboard is visible to all participants in real-time.  IDroo supports an unlimited number of meeting participants, but one drawback for some is that it is only available in Windows.

IDroo features:
  • FREE for non-commercial use
  • Collaborative meetings with many participants (10 or even more)
  • Insert simple and complex mathematical equations
  • Draw and write your ideas
  • Express your mind through images
  • Take advantage of high quality calls over Skype
  • All drawings are easily editable vector graphics
  • Works with Wacom Bamboo, Wacom Intuos and other digital tablets
Who are using IDroo?
  • Schools, universities and private teachers for effective online tutoring
  • Businesses for productive brainstorming
  • Private users for interactive discussions
Possible educational uses for IDroo?
Collaboration with students from other schools, cities, states, or countries.
Classroom presentations from outside instructors or subject matter experts.
Online tutoring (individualized or as a "lab" for multiple students).
Project planning.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Looking for a Way to Study at Any Time or Place? Try StudyBoost

Study Boost is a web-based study tool that allows students to create a batch of study question and then quiz themselves at any place or time by using a standard SMS or IM application on their mobile device. In addition, using simple text phrases such as next or repeat allows the user to interact with the questions easily from their mobile device. Teachers can also create question sets for their students and all questions can be shared with a student's peers.

What a great way to complement instruction and increase retention. All by using a simple cell phone to study any subject, at any time or any place!

According to's site:
Students and teachers are always looking for ways to improve and increase retention of material learned when in class but more specifically out side of the classroom. Students live demanding lives that may include juggling the myriad of activities they engage in. For example they may study, play sports, hang out with friends, have part-time jobs, and try to make time for their personal and family life. This is where Studyboost comes in.

StudyBoost helps make studying easy and convenient for you by complimenting your studies using Instant Messaging, Text Messaging and more.

8 reasons to use StudyBoost

1. Study with Instant Messengers, SMS and more

The days of not having time to study are long gone. With StudyBoost, you can study on your mobile device or favorite social site using instant messaging, SMS and more. Now you can study anywhere and whenever you want.

2. Enhance your study routine

Use StudyBoost to compliment your current study techniques and make learning and retaining information easier. StudyBoost provides a web-based application to users with the ability to post, share and study material with friends and provides a unique value, by delivering materials via Instant Messaging platforms, SMS and more.

3. Study on the go

Take pop quizzes using web-based study cards to help test you on content on your time. If you only have limited time to study during your busy day, set up timing specifications for pop quizzes to prompt you with 1 question every hour or numerous questions through-out the day. You can even set a scheduled cram session right before an exam.

4. Upload your study notes and create batches with ease

Take your study notes from class and upload them to create a batch of study questions. You can upload your written notes from class using our manual question creator or upload your notes electronically from a file, whichever best fits your style.

5. Test your study skills

Once you have your batch of questions ready, use StudyBoost to quiz yourself with the material.

6. Share and study with your friends

Create a group to share or discuss question batches with your friends or classmates. Modify and improve batches created by other group members to fit your study needs.

7. Search for batches instantly

Search for batches created by friends, classmates or colleagues as well as within your school or company. You can also browse public batches created by other users to study or edit to tailor for your personal study needs.

8.  Is it free to use?

Take a look at StudyBoost and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Only 10 Free Resources for Education? Think Again!

I wanted to share a few of my favorite sites for learning with you. Enjoy!

WolframAlpha - a computational knowledge engine that introduces a fundamentally new way to get knowledge and answers - not by searching the web, but by doing dynamic computations based on a vast collection of built-in data, algorithms, and methods.

Academic Earth - Online courses from the world's top scholars.

Khan Academy - uses technology to educate the world. They have 2,100+ videos on YouTube covering everything from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations, calculus, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, history, finance, etc. They even offers reviews for the SAT and the GMAT tests.

FREE - or Federal Resources for Educational Excellence, is a U.S. Department of Education website that compiles free teacher resources available from dozens of federal agencies.

Curriki - A K-12 open curricula community that helps connect educators, parents, and students in the development of curriculum and other educational materials.

For Teachers - from the Library of Congress highlights ready-to-use classroom materials that are aligned with state standards.

The National Science Digital Library - is the Nation's online library for education and research in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics.

TED - Ideas worth spreading. Enough said!

The CareerTech Testing Center - creates competency tests and FREE online skills standards in 100+ career majors.

Top Cultural & Educational Video Sites - seriously...did you really think I could narrow my list to just 10???  Here is a link to a previous post that I made with 50 additional links to some great sites for learning.

Have fun learning!
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