Cutting-edge technology is changing the way students are being taught traditional classes at North Clay Middle School.
Home Management classes
Formerly known as Home Economics, students are learning cooking among other things in Home Management classes.
The goal of the classes is to introduce them to managing a home by exposing students to a variety of skills. Areas covered include cooking, nutrition, sewing, money management, healthy habits, stain removal, sewing buttons and step aerobics. Projects from the class include making drawstring bags, pillows and boxer shorts, setting-up a small business and making low-fat alternatives to some of their favorite treats.
"We cover all of the traditional areas in a non-traditional way," teacher Sharon Koehler says.
In addition to traditional Home Ec. tools like an oven, microwave, washer and dryer the classroom has 28 computer stations with a variety of software programs that teach students interactively.
Home Management also strays from the conventional Home Ec. classes by incorporating more math and work skills.
Courses in home management are required for grades 6-8. The 6th graders spend six weeks in the class and the 7th and 8th take 12-week courses. Students spend seven days at each module. Fifteen to 18 activities are going on during a class period.
Koehler says teaching is an interesting challenge because so many things are happening; but it's a great experience for the kids.
On Discovery Days, 8th graders tour Clay County businesses. Koehler says all of the businesses have been wonderful. Students realize that some of the skills they've been learning in class will apply on the job someday. For example, sewing. Koehler says that even if the kids never sew again they learn how to use machinery, measuring, following directions, skills for metal working or other business and industry in Brazil.
Another class where computers are playing a big role in interactive learning is Industrial Technology.
Formerly known as Industrial Arts, Industrial Technology focuses on construction, manufacturing, communication and energy, power and transportation. The class has changed drastically over the years. Communications classes have been tossed in with 22 others that each have a coordinating computer module providing software to give kids a hands-on approach to learning.
Modules include applied physics, biotechnology, audio broadcasting, creative solutions, computer-aided drafting and design, ecology, digital manufacturing, engineering bridges, energy, power and mechanics, research and design, digital photography and landfills. Each module has a coordinating project like racing CO2 cars and cutting designs in Styrofoam® blocks.
The curriculum also serves as a refresher and application of what students have learned in their math and science classes.
Teacher John Russell said, "I think science teachers are a little jealous because what takes them seven days to teach we can do in one."
He also believes that the students are getting a chance to do things in middle school that normally wouldn't be taught until high school.
Russell says that Industrial Technology is teaching students things in their labs that they can do in the real world as well as preparing them to be comfortable on a computer.
A class that has been around for decades is still thriving at Northview High School.
Vocational Automechanics, taught by Tony Migliorini, is a two-year course offered to juniors and seniors. It prepares students to get a career in the automotive industry after high school. They can earn 12 credit hours towards an automotive degree at Ivy Tech.
Migliorini says that everything the class does is applied to math, science and history in a variety of areas and kids who may normally struggle with some of those subjects can start to see how information from their other classes apply to what they are learning in his.
"You can almost see the light bulb go on like, 'That's where I'm gonna use that'," he says.
The class is run like a dealership so it is like the students are on the job everyday performing tasks related to engine performance, rebuilding and tune-ups, brakes, computer controls, alignments and air conditioning on cars belonging to students or faculty members. They are also restoring a 1953 Chevy truck.
Traditional classes like Vocational Automechanics aren't the only kind of classes NHS has to offer. The Family and Consumer Science department has recently cooked up two new classes, Issues and Applications and Early Childhood Education and Services.
Issues and Applications is a community service web-based course open to juniors and seniors. Students enrolled in the class are required to do 48 hours of community service during the semester.
Teacher Dava Boor says students have chosen to volunteer at the hospital, Crisis Pregnancy Center, after school programs, The United Way, dance studios, the feline rescue center, Little Creek Special Equestrians and Toys for Tots, to name a few.
"They give but they also gain, which is a win-win situation for all of us. The student gains insight into the real world, feels good about himself and giving while gaining ample scholarship and application material," said Boor.
The community also benefits from the class because agencies and businesses get help they need while creating student interest in those fields. The result is a bright future.
Boor sees a compassion and growth in the students that she doesn't normally see in the typical classroom setting.
Early Child Education and Services is a new program for any student who is interested in a career in early childhood education or a related field.
The two-hour block course allows students to do course work three days a week and be on site the other two days. The students get to decide what level they want to work with and are scattered throughout area preschools. Boor says they will soon get to experience an elementary classroom and special services since many of the students haven't decided what level they want to work with yet.
"This course puts the student in the teacher role which is a big change for most, but one they really appreciate," Boor says.
Students earn high school credit and can earn nine Ivy Tech credits if they maintain 85 percent or higher in the course.
"These students will have an awesome start to providing excellent child care and preschool opportunities, but even if they change their minds, we have educated future parents as to the development and needs of their future children and I can't think of a better outcome than that," Boor said.