March 2022

Ahhh, the birds are singing, the sun is shining off the 12 feet of snow…welcome to March in lower Canada!  Take some time to snowshoe in the woods, eat pancakes with maple syrup and soak up some vitamin D!

On to business…

Student success.  As teachers, it is what we want for our students, and we feel validated when the student finishes the competency and walks out of the exam with a smile on their face KNOWING they passed because they understand the material and what is expected of them.  That’s the holy grail for teachers and it is one of the best feelings.  It goes double for the students that have struggled and persevered through a competency to get to that point.  

But what about the students that struggle through a competency and fall behind?  Or worse, get to the exam and fail.  Or don’t show up.  What about when you are doing your best to help them out, but it doesn’t seem to be working and both of you are losing motivation?  What about students struggling with English as a new language at the same time that they are trying to learn about a trade?  What about when they don’t do their work and you suspect that they might struggle with reading and retaining information?

I think that we have all been there, and it doesn’t feel good.  We feel helpless as teachers, unprepared to support the student and if I am being honest, frustrated that the student isn’t ‘putting in the effort’ and giving up.  

It is a complex issue with many factors that affect how students overcome challenges and how teachers help them.  No one-stop solution shopping.  Daniela Garza, one of my colleagues at PROCEDE, has been working on a project to help out with just that.  Her work, called the literacy project, is a joint effort with both federal and provincial support to create a resource for vocational teachers and students to help with overcoming language difficulties.  She has made all kinds of resources, lesson plans, language practice,  accessibility tools explanations, and activity design tips available through a website.  I don’t want to single out specific resources because the website is for all vocational teachers who have students that are struggling, but click on the bullets below to find out more:

How fantastic is that?  Thanks, Daniela!  These are great!  Would you like to talk to her about something specific - a situation that you have, or to find out more about how she can help your department with some of the needs your students have for your trade?  You can drop her an email here!

Now, dear readers, I have something to ask of you.  Daniela would like some feedback about these resources:  how pertinent you find them, ease of access, how your students benefited.  Could you please take a few minutes to check out the website and offer up some friendly advice, constructive suggestions or thoughtful comments?  It would be greatly appreciated and help tailor the resource even more for you and your student’s needs!  Once you have looked at the site, please take 2 minutes to fill out this survey:

Literacy website comments & needs survey

Thank you very much - all feedback is welcomed and a great source for developing the tools that you need!

Happy reading!

📱👩‍🍳 Robin
Want to see how I made it?  Here is the how-to video!
41 minutes - but don't worry!  I created chapters so you can watch it in bits and pieces!
How to create an interactive, shareable student tracking tool using Google sheets or Microsoft Excel
It is really important for students to know how their learning is progressing,  and often we teachers are great at telling them, but we don’t leverage documenting and sharing this information to ensure student success. This tool is great for documenting student learning progress in a lab situation since it combines the details of a self-evaluation grid with an easy-access, easy-to-use, easy-to-share excel or sheets document. Tracking permits the teacher to see patterns and intervene early when a student needs support and encourages pro-activeness and responsibilization of learning from the student’s perspective.  By designing this tool with the goal of the learning and the expected performance as a start point and then using the information to create or adjust the learning activities, this is a great example of Understanding by Design (UbD) in action!

Would you like to see the tool?  Click on the button below!
Click here to see an example of a student tracking tool

Inviting industry professionals to train the students (and the teachers!) 36 min

Carlo Verado & Edward MacKay
ASP eVehicles

I had a great discussion with Carlo and Ted about how as teachers and mechanics, they have to deal with their trade changing so fast that it is hard to keep up - both with practical skills and industry knowledge.  So, what do you do when you have to teach students entry-level skills with a program of study that is out of date almost as soon as it was developed?  Many trades are in this predicament and with the support of their administration ( 📢 Shout out to Anna Maria Borsellino & Frank Furfaro - ✨ woop woop!) they invite industry training professionals to train the teachers and the students!  

Awesome, huh? 👍 

⬅️ Are you ready to listen to the interview?  Click on the beans!

Are you doing something in your class that your students respond well to?  I would love to hear about it!  Do you know of a teacher that is doing something cool that I could interview?  Either way, click here to email me!

Have you heard?!? 

This column is growing!  We get so many questions about technology and teaching that James and I are working on a newsletter that will focus just on tech 'n teaching!  Stay tuned for the first edition this April!

But of course, if you have a tech tool question and want to talk to them about it, don't wait around - drop them a line!  Click here to book an appointment with them on their website.

Digital Literacy in vocational education and upskilling in the trade

What are the essential skills of a worker, and what do these skills look like in a digital world?  What skills are static, and which ones evolve?  Which ones are obsolete, and which ones are new?  As I teach my trade, I wonder what emphasis I should be putting on which skills to better prepare the students for the trade.  Not the trade that I lived, but the one that they will live, and this one doesn’t exist yet.

We are tradespeople, so our skills are based on using our hands to make food, repair a computer, change a bandage, or install wiring.  Trades will always be about developing the motor skills to complete a task,  but to do this in today’s world is also about developing digital skills to grow in the trade.  Technical skills, optimization skills,  communication and collaboration skills.  Sure you can cook with a regular gas oven, but more and more sophisticated ovens with computer chips and an app interface are being used by cooks everywhere.  The cooking part doesn’t change, but the technical skills do.

As tradespeople, we can be aware of the current digital skills needed in our trade, but we need to be aware that It isn’t about mastering the digital tool, but rather about what that tool permits you to do.   For example, a machinist (DEP 5723 machining techniques) working in the aerospace sector would be expected to have basic programming skills where they would recognize the importance of the skill but are limited as to what they can do with it, but high agility and efficiency skills, where they would be regarded as an expert.  Programming skills are pretty obviously digital, but how are agility and efficiency skills digital?  Well, that machinist is an expert at understanding tech specs and cutting the aluminum and riveting it together to make the fuselage.  They can do this with metal cutters and a riveter, but in order to do it efficiently, they must be an expert at reading and extrapolating information from digital technical drawings, cutting and riveting aluminum with machinery that is operated with software and ensuring the expected result.  No one wants a wing part that is a wee bit too small, or that took 10 times longer to produce than expected.  They are taking the knowledge that they have about working with metal and manipulating the digital world to ensure the outcome. They are not using the digital tool for the tools’ sake, but rather because it creates the possibility to improve on speed, accuracy, reliability, or result.

Ok, you say, but what does that mean for you as the teacher?  You have to ensure basic, entry-level skills.  The student never going to become efficient while at school - efficiency comes with repetition, and there is just too much to learn and not enough time at school - so who cares about digital literacy at this point?

Yes, this is true, but you need to expose them to the world that they will see.  They need to see the relationship between what they are learning in school and its place in the workforce.  So yes, digital literacy concerning efficacity is not the goal of the DEP, but the student should experience using these digital interfaces during their studies because the industry expects them to leverage digital literacy to become efficient in their trade.  If they need technical drawings and you give them printed copies, make some activities where they will also use industry software to analyze the drawings.  It’s ok if they aren’t proficient, but they have to be introduced to the idea that these skills are what they will have to develop in the workforce.

Digital literacy is expected in the workforce, but depending on the industry, the emphasis will be different.  As a vocational teacher, I have to keep abreast of how digital tools are changing the way a tradesperson executes their tasks.  The teacher doesn’t have to be proficient in these tools, but they have to see their place in the trade and expose the students to them.  This will place them on the right path to seeing that acquiring digital skills is a necessary part of their trade and part of the learning that will continue past finishing their program.
Aéro Montréal. Reports and Documents.
The Conference Board of Canada.  Bridging Generational Divides: Digital Skills in the Trades
ISTE areas of focus. ISTE Digital Citizenship in Education.
Québec Ministry of Education. Cadre de référence de la compétence numérique.

Comings & Goings

April 5, 2022  The next Voc Talk DIY workshop will be held online and in-person at VACC.  We will be creating a tracking tool using excel or sheets that you can use to keep abreast of student progress through a competency, and share it with them in a way that keeps them informed of how they are doing.  A great example of Understanding by Design (UbD) in action!  Click here to sign up to Look what I can do! UbD in vocational education with an interactive competency tracking tool. 
March 31, 2022  Do you teach mathematics in your trade?  Are some of your students struggling with simple math concepts, codification, and mathematical vocabulary?  Is English a challenge for your students?  Click here to check out this workshop from the guys over at AGE - they will present reading strategies in mathematics Nifty!

April 12 -14, 2022  Would you like to explore what innovative ways teachers around the province are integrating technology into learning environments?  Check out the 40th AQUOPS conference!  This year it is offered hybrid (online and in-person) and has some interesting presentations for vocational education.  How do you leverage a digital environment to teach math skills for vocational education? How can you record video using Powerpoint?   Here is one for the teacher - how to organize your computer!  Oh yes!

May 19, 2022  QACVE online conference  This year, QACVE will showcase all the great work that teachers did to quickly adapt to teaching online and highlight the good teaching practices and strategies. It will be a one-day mix of conferences, workshops and discussions.  Stay tuned for the program!

🎉🎤 Voc Talk Live 🎤🎉

11:00 - 16:00
Come on down and let’s have a chat about teaching!  What cool things are you doing?  What knots are you trying to work out?  What tech issues are you or your students having?  I would love to hear about it and help brainstorm some solutions!  Would you like your centre to host a Voc Talk live?  Drop me an email!

Link to join virtually:  Click here to join the meeting
Dates and locations:  Click here to see it in calendar format
  • March 29@ Laurier MacDonald (Jean Talon campus)
  • March 31@ Laurier MacDonald (Grand Prairie campus)
  • April 5@ VACC
  • April 7@ PEC
  • April 12@ Laurier MacDonald (Jean Talon campus)
  • April 14@ Laurier MacDonald (Grand Prairie campus)
  • April 19 - 21 - 26 🌴 voc talk café is on holiday! 🌴
  • April 28@ SHADD
  • May 3@ VACC
  • May 5@ PEC
Would you like to subscribe to the calendar with the dates, location and virtual link?  Click here!
That's all for this month.  If you have any comments, suggestions or points to discuss, please send me an email by clicking on the link below.  Better yet, come and see me at a Voc Talk Live session!

Have a great month,

📱👩‍🍳 Robin
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PROCEDE · 1925 Brookedale · Dorval, Quebec H9P 2Y7 · Canada

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