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Alternative Energy Education - The Workstation Approach

Kevin English, Teacher, Career and Technical Education, Peoria High School, Raymond S. Kellis High School, Peoria Unified School District, Peoria, AZ
Posted on Monday 19th October 2009

When you look back at your time in school depending upon your age, you have a vision of the classes that you attended. Many of these classes were the typical sit on your backside in a desk and listen to the teacher approach, take a few notes, take a test, then move to the next subject. Plug and Chug as one of my colleagues calls it!

Today, the teachers who follow that format often get their lunches handed to them by their students. Today’s students need to have a hands-on, get in and learn it approach. They are great information gatherers, they need the teachers to answer the tough questions, not hand them a work sheet. They need to see it, hear it, feel it and touch it to understand the content. Students want to be the problem solvers.

Education today also requires a technical knowledge that is unprecedented. Teachers are required to know more about everything! As I look at my classroom and laboratory and the demands my students have, I realize that I need to have a multifaceted approach. One of the answers I have found is the Workstation approach. Workstations for the various content areas are built, curriculum is written, tools and equipment are set with the station. The students work their way through the curriculum at a self pace. They turn in required work, I check the stations to see if they have met the expectations and done the tasks correctly.

The Workstation approach is becoming popular among instructors who see that they can teach many topics at once, have students actively engaged, increase their student achievement with well thought out curriculum and be able to facilitate many students at a time.

The Workstation approach is only a component of a great classroom, teachers still need to have great classroom management, participation in student leadership organizations, work-based learning partnerships and many other facets. A workstation is not a replacement to a teacher but a tool to make learning more realistic and relevant.

Imagine your classroom with a solar installation workstation, a wind turbine workstation, a solar hot water panel installation workstation, a weatherization workstation. Can you begin to imagine the possibilities for learning that can take place?

You can build these stations and write the curriculum or you can look to some vendors that are doing excellent work to help meet this need. At the ACTE National Convention in Nashville this November check out the vendors you will see some excellent examples.

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