ACTE Techniques February 2012 : Page 52

Fea ture By Melanie D. Ryan, Nichole M. Tews, and Barton A. Washer Team-Teaching a Digital Senior Capstone Project in CTE (CTE) students are faced with the unique challenge of learning not only spe -cific content-related knowledge and skills, but also postsecondary preparation, 21st century technology, employability and self-marketing skills. Two staff members at Cass Career Center in Harrisonville, Missouri, have developed and implement-ed a senior capstone project that encom-passes these necessary skills and encour -ages lifelong learning. The project is implemented as a set of living documents housed in a 3-D digital portfolio that dis -plays student effort and achievement and meets high school graduation guidelines set forth by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MODESE). “AT CASS CAREER CENTER, IT WAS DETERMINED THAT A STUDENT-CENTERED SENIOR CAPSTONE PROJECT WOULD MORE EFFECtIVELY REINFORCE tHE HEALtH SCIENCES AND CORE ACADEMIC CONtENt, AS WELL AS MEEt RELAtED REQUIREMENtS FOR EACH.” S ECONDARY CAREER AND tECHNICAL EDUCAtION Why Develop a Senior Capstone Project? At Cass Career Center, it was determined that a student-centered senior capstone project would more effectively reinforce the health sciences and core academic content, as well as meet related require-ments for each. The project was con -ceptualized and developed by Melanie Ryan, health sciences instructor, and Nichole Tews, English IV instructor, to meet guidelines set forth by MODESE for students to earn integrated credit. Cass Career Center is approved to offer and award embedded core academic credit by MODESE (2007b), and students earn both CTE graduation credit and core academic credit by successfully complet -ing the CTE program. However, Cass Career Center uses an integrated credit model PHOTO By ISTOCK.COM in which students earn one credit for Eng -lish IV and one credit for Math IV over a two-year CTE course, as core academic courses are taught by secondary-certified English and math teachers (Tews, 2011) who are employed full-time by the career center. Cass Career Center is a shared-time center that integrates fourth-level English and math high school graduation credit into CTE (Tews, 2011). English IV and Math IV “integrated curriculums are taught simultaneously within CTE, creat -ing a rich academic and technical learn-ing environment that not only prepares students for college and their careers, but allows students to earn credit in high-level English and math” (Tews). Students begin working on this project as juniors, with expected completion prior to graduation their senior year. As a two-year project, students are able to refine and display their work over time as recommended by Gould (2008). Students complete their CTE program and graduate from high school with a tangible product they can use to obtain employment or to further their education (Henriksen, et al, 2008). Each instructor integrates and aligns Missouri state core academic content and process standards into the capstone proj-ect, thus incorporating numerous objec-tives into one integrated assignment that students create and edit over the course of the two-year health sciences program. Jarvis and Hartley (2005) suggest that developing portfolios allows students to demonstrate abilities, accomplishments, and knowledge of the steps necessary to achieve educational and career goals, and it serves as an opportunity for personal 52 Techniques Februar y 2012 www.acteonline.org

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