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STUDENT PERSPECTIVES: WRITTEN BY BROCK BYARD

CTE: A Learning Experience

On the morning of December 12th, 2018, CTE students in the Criminal Justice and Health Occupations were exposed to two different activities to make students aware of some learning disorders and disabilities that they could encounter in their fields. There were two activities – the first being an online portion that got the students involved with learning disorders, and the second activity that took a more hands-on approach to seeing what it is like to have Alzheimer’s or dementia, with the goal being to get the students an understanding of how to handle situations that may arise in field that they would go into.

None of this would have been possible if not for Sandi Erickson and Jessica Heska. Both volunteered to come in and run these activities, which made it possible to have this experience.  Sandi Erickson, who works for Compassus Hospice, helped with the hands-on activities while Jessica Heska took students for a group talk on what their thoughts were of the activities.

The online activity was the first one that students did and would be the less challenging of the two.  Students went onto Understood.org to gain an understanding of reading, writing, attention, math and organization-related learning disorders.  Out of these five, most of the CTE students found the attention and organization disorders the worst and most frustrating. “The most frustrating thing I found to be was the organization disorder simulation,” said Breanna Whitaker, a Criminal Justice student. “You had to read the directions on the screen and follow them. You had to catch certain shapes, but some shapes would fall to fast so you couldn't get them. And the screen would turn red if you did something incorrectly. It quickly became frustrating because I couldn't do something so simple. I didn't enjoy it.”

The second activity was a more hands-on approach, with students getting to know what it is like to have Alzheimer's or dementia. To stimulate this, students put on various items such as gloves, headphones, glasses and studded insoles to give a real feeling to have these disorders. Another Criminal Justice student, Ashley Jernigan, was asked what she learned and also what thoughts she had after doing this. “I found the hands-on activity to be an eye-opening experience,” she said. “It changed my perspective on the way I view these disabilities, and now I understand their struggles have learned ways to help.”

The whole goal of these two activities was to get Criminal Justice and Health and Occupation CTE a more hands-on feeling to something that they could encounter in their fields. In every way, this achieved what was meant to teach the CTE students. An activity like this could help many other programs get a hands-on experience to do something that they could encounter in their work fields.