What Works Career Choices
Go with What Works: Career Choices & the 10-yearPlan - Classroom Ideas

Using the Classroom to Teach Workplace Skills

English teacher Linda Neef of Pardeeville High School in Pardeeville, Wisconsin, helps her 9th grade students learn valuable workplace skills through teaching methods that both complement and supplement the Career Choices curriculum. Taking a cue from classical cooperative learning, for example, Neef's students work in groups which change every few weeks to impress upon the students the need to be able to work with many different kinds of people and to demonstrate that they can learn to do so.

Students are graded individually on Neef's weekly vocabulary tests but, if everyone in a group scores 85 or higher, additional points are awarded. The message is clear. Everybody wins when everyone is encouraged to excel. Groups are also given a certain amount of flexibility. Neef assigns weekly goals and due dates, but students decide among themselves how they will go about getting the job done. The work environment can also be changed to make it more pleasant or efficient: Background music can be played, the class might decide to work outdoors on a nice day, and the furniture (trapezoid tables and chairs, not desks) can be regularly moved around to meet the needs of the moment.

This year Neef will begin issuing "work orders"-forms indicating what needs to be accomplished. Once a group feels it has met these goals, another group will be called in to validate their achievements. Neef will make "spot checks," acting the role of a supervisor. The Pardeeville High School program, an exemplary model of cooperative learning, shows the flexibility of Career Choices in accomplishing the program goals of workplace skill acquisition.

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