Auto Shop 2017

Questions to Consider
How can we build in multiple ways for students to demonstrate their skills and understanding?   What technology exists that allow students to manipulate and interact with content from our subject matters and, thus, enhance learning?  

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I never took auto in high school, but I know from visiting James Lane that the class has changed significantly in the past twenty years.  Yes, students still learn about the inner workings of automobiles, how to maintain them, and ways to repair them. However, today’s auto shop is the ultimate differentiated classroom.  In fact, auto shop has driven right into the 21st century.  Take, for example, the day I visited James Lane’s 5th period which is Auto 2, 3, and 4 in one class.  The students were working on Electude.com, an e-learning software that guides them through multiple modules.  The software is adaptive and allows for self-directed learning.  In fact, the same model is used for training professional automotive technicians worldwide and is nationally accredited.  Auto as a course is a transportation pathway so these students are obtaining real career preparation.  James walked me through the online system, demonstrating both the student and teacher views.  

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The software begins with formative assessments to determine the skill/knowledge level of the student.  As students work through the modules and courses, they quiz and then complete a summative assessment at the end.  James explained that all of the modules require active learning.  A typical module has students read a short text.  The short text may include definitions at a simple level, and math and science as the level of complexity increases.  The students can click on engine parts and watch animations.   By level four, however,  the students are at a university level and must study theories.  For example, James showed me one module involving Watt’s Law, another involving calculations students are learning in high level math classes.  In fact, students can even reach a point where they build their own circuits and then test them to see how they perform.

In addition to the e-learning system the students keep a portfolio of their work.  This includes all of the certificates they are awarded for learning about the basics of how an auto shop works, their safety certifications, Electude certificates, and work orders.  Additionally, students perform demonstrations and give presentations.  Each step along the way allows them to access more and more.  For example, a student may work up to actually physically working on vehicles and at the highest level, his/her own vehicle.  

Differentiation meets students where they are.  Through the self-adaptive e-learning system, the multiple methods of demonstrating knowledge, and the collaborative hands-on learning environment, James has created a well-oiled classroom machine!  

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Questions to Consider
How can we build in multiple ways for students to demonstrate their skills and understanding?   What technology exists that allow students to manipulate and interact with content from our subject matters and, thus, enhance learning?  

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