Crio Delivers Active CTE Learning with an Impact

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My “why” has always been my animals. They are the reason I drag myself out of bed every morning before the sun comes up to feed, water, and check them over before heading to school. And once there, my “why” becomes my job as I share my passion for animals with young minds.

Because the material is so close to our hearts, Career and Technical Education teachers strive to convey our knowledge in unique ways. Many CTE courses are built around hands-on, experiential learning. At their core, these courses are meant to prepare students for a career in a specific industry. CTE courses have the reputation of being “fun,” “relaxed,” and “different.” However, as much fun as we have in a CTE classroom, some real work has to happen too!

What is the best way to deliver content to enhance learning? How do we make the instruction more engaging and (dare I say it?) entertaining for students? Hands-on activities are by far the best method for retention, but what about the essential background material? I’ve seen supportive edtech resources for core courses, such as English, math and history, but finding a program that is specific to animal science has been next to impossible. Crio is the first product I’ve found to give CTE instructors an advantage by customizing curriculum in a unique, interactive format.

Until this year, I had to rush through material in order to accommodate those labs that bring the subject matter to life for both students and teachers. Some semesters, I struggled to get through the lectures and couldn’t manage many hands-on opportunities. My classroom didn’t feel like an active learning environment, and my students suffered for it.

Crio changes all that. This free, innovative lesson-building tool is revolutionizing the way I engage students.

Crio allows educators to add videos, images, questions, and other interactive features to lessons -- like this CTE animal classification review.

For example, one of my favorite labs is Animal Identification, in which students practice ID techniques such as ear tagging, tattooing, and ear notching on orange peels and paper. By the end of the day, my room is littered in sticky orange pulp, and I always find a spare orange peel “ear” or two on the floor. But students exit understanding how to use ear tag pliers to attach a tag, how to read a complicated ear-notching system on a pig, and how to use tattoo pliers to press a numerical tattoo into an animal’s lip or ear. These are all real-life skills students will need to work in the animal industry. They may be working with orange peels in the classroom, but when presented with a live animal, they will have the confidence that comes from practice.

But the success of this lab depends on prerequisite knowledge. I can now share that critical information via a Crio lesson prior to class.

Using lessons created with Crio, students can work through the content at their own pace, instead of listening to lectures. No more “sit and get” where they scramble to write notes while I talk at them. No more putting half the class to sleep repeating relevant points for those students who need to hear them again; no more losing the other half trying to challenge the eager beavers.

When I develop lessons with Crio, students take charge of their own learning. They use various interactive elements to absorb and synthesize information while managing their own instructional time. No more boring, overwhelming, or time-consuming slideshows.

And because students can proceed through the basic material on their own, I’m free to incorporate more lab experiences where the real magic happens. By reducing lectures, I can devote several additional days each semester to hands-on activities. That translates to more opportunities for sharing my “why”— which is good for my students and good for me.

 

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About Author

Meredith Rakowski

Meredith Rakowski is an agriculture instructor at Clayton High School in Johnston County, NC. She holds a BS in Animal Science and an MS in Agricultural and Extension Education, both from North Carolina State University. In addition to teaching, she advises the Clayton High FFA Chapter, training competitive teams in agricultural industries for regional, state and national events. Outside of school, she and her husband David live on and operate a 35-acre farm with horses, goats, dogs, and cats.

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