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VAT Checklist

food for thought

In yesterday’s post I introduced the topic of Value Added Teaching (VAT) as a way to enhance the image of your FACS program while also elevating the level of instruction you provide to your students.  I want to remind you that VAT is my own instructional technique that I developed over my teaching career.  You won’t find Value-Added Teaching in any education journal, and that’s because the practice really won’t work in most traditional classroom settings.  VAT is a perfect fit for FACS because our content areas relate to virtually all aspects of everyday life and the school curriculum.  It’s always been my contention that you can teach anything through FACS and that’s what Value-Added Teaching is all about.

So exactly what is Value-Added Teaching?  It’s simply intentionally looking for ways to enrich your lessons with elements that make the content interesting, relevant and related to the core academic curriculum.  To get you started thinking of ways to add value to your teaching, contemplate the following questions.  These questions will become second nature after you’ve practiced VAT for a while.

What are my districts goals and what can I add to this lesson to help in reaching one or more of those goals?

Too often we allow ourselves to assume that the responsibility of working toward the goals set by the school administration falls more heavily on the teachers in the core academic areas than on those of us who teach more specialized courses.  That assumption can be very detrimental to the image of FACS as a valuable component of the school curriculum.  We are first and foremost teachers working together to meet the needs of our students and our classroom instruction needs to reflect that attitude.  So if your school district has identified improving reading scores as a district-wide goal, you need to make sure that you are building a reading component into your FACS curriculum.

What core academic concepts can I incorporate into this lesson?

Once you begin to intentionally identify the core concepts that relate to any FACS lesson, you’ll find it’s easy to expand and build on those concepts.  I refer you to the list of activities related to baking Tollhouse Cookies that I shared in yesterday’s post.  Through that one basic activity that your students already love, you can share concepts and skills related to science, math, language arts and American history.  Not bad for one foods lab activity, is you ask me.  It’s really just a matter of identification and emphasis.  Many of these concepts can be shared conversationally so they don’t require more preparation on your part.  The story of Ruth Wakefield, for example, is just something I always shared with my students and they were fascinated by it.  They didn’t even realize that I was teaching them a mini-lesson in American history.

What techniques or instructional methods can I use to get my students attention and to make the lesson content more memorable?

I’ve never been afraid to do whatever it takes to get my point across in the classroom.  As I’ve already mentioned in a previous post, my students never knew quite what to expect when they came to my class.  One of my favorite unconventional teaching techniques was to use music in the classroom.  Music is very important to teenagers, so I often used music to introduce a lesson or to make a concept easier to remember.  Music is a great memory tool so incorporating it into the classroom can have very beneficial results.  I recently created the FACS Soundtrack, a collection of 400+ songs that have a connection to the FACS curriculum.  You can purchase and download the FACS Soundtrack from our website.  Another instructional technique that I found effective was to share current news stories that relate to FACS.  That practice added a lot of credibility to the content I was teaching.  Those are just a few ideas that worked for me.  I’m sure you have some teacher tricks that work well for you as well.  You should constantly be on the lookout for new and interesting ways to reach your students.

We’re going to be talking more about VAT in upcoming posts.  I just want to encourage you to begin to consider where you can add value to your lessons.  VAT can be very good for your students and very good for your program.  Don’t forget to make your school, administrators and community aware of your added effort.  We’ll talk more about how to do that in upcoming posts as well.

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Value-Added Teaching has been my passion for a very long time and I’ve created several resources that you might find useful in enhancing your FACS classroom instruction.  Check them out on the Fresh FACS website.  I also constantly share interesting facts and information that you can use in your classroom through Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.  I’d love to have you as one of my followers.