In December the Board of Regents approved new Science Standards that will take effect in July of 2017. This means schools will need to coordinate their transition away from 1996 Science Standards into new standards so that students are prepared for assessments that will likely be implemented in three years.
It is predicted that new Science assessments will begin in 2020, three school years away. With this in mind, CA BOCES will begin transitioning Science Curriculum Kit titles so that students reach their assessment prepared. Title transition will take place over a three year period. The chart below outlines the planned transition.
All curriculum kit titles can be explored at our new website: www.advancingSTEM.com
Explore the new New York State Science Learning Standards: www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/mst/sci/nyssls.html
In an effort to continue CABOCES’ progressive advances with coding, we have been offering CodeMonkey as a way to teach computational thinking and core computer science concepts that will prepare our students for the careers of tomorrow.
CodeMonkey is an engaging online game that teaches real computer programming to children as young as nine. Through fun challenges, teachers can introduce basic computer science knowledge to students and better prepare them for the 21st century.
Computer programming might seem hopelessly complicated, but it is actually a lot like walking—you just have to take it one step at a time! Programming is just like giving instructions, and when using CodeMonkey, adults and students alike discover how people write commands in computer languages called code, and how code is broken down into step-by-step procedures called algorithms. Patience, attention to detail, and the ability to foresee different circumstances and outcomes can turn lines of text into useful programs and activities!
The CodeMonkey curriculum is built as a self-paced online game, where students advance through a progression of challenges. In each level, students write real code to program a monkey to catch all the bananas on the screen. Each solution is checked and graded automatically, and the students receive personalized instructions and hints that help them advance at a pace right for them.
Recently, the 5th and 6th grade students at Genesee Valley decided to help that monkey find those bananas! Class time was spent going through the program and teaching the nuances of CodeMonkey and then having the students begin their coding adventure at their own pace. Laughter, shouts of, “This is so fun!”, problem-solving, and even a bit of frustration were on display…all of which are part of learning.
As the students progress, they will being to understand computer programming language, covering topics such as objects, function calls, arguments, loops, variables, arrays, with 300 levels available total. To assist with this, CodeMonkey provides a unique curriculum that accompanies the teaching process step-by-step. Additionally, CodeMonkey provides a teacher’s dashboard where instructors can keep track of their students' progress in real time, as well as see the actual code they wrote. CodeMonkey also provides a cheatsheet so teachers will have the solutions to all challenges.
So what are you waiting for? Contact us and give CodeMonkey a try!
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CABOCES Learning Resources
Advancing STEM Challenges are designed to bring engineering and design to your classroom in a simple, easy-to-implement, challenge-based way. Modify our Advancing STEM Challenges for your classroom.
Check out this month's STEM Challenge.
This past November was an exciting month where teachers from Cuba-Rushford and CABOCES, Linda Botens and Justine Lombardi respectively, alongside Betsy Hardy, Staff Specialist for Distance Learning at CABOCES and this year’s presenter at iNACOL, delivered a gripping presentation about developing digital portfolios in the classroom. The room was filled to capacity and the audience was spilling out into the hallway to hear about the possibilities for using digital portfolios in the classroom.
In their presentation, “The Paper Extinction and the Rise of the ePortfolio,” Linda, Justine, and Betsy showed multiple examples of students’ work throughout the years that allowed students to show off their talents to prospective colleges and employers and explore new talents that some students might have otherwise been too shy to share.
Linda Botens shared one of her public speaking student’s forays into product endorsement and advertising. Normally, this student is shy, but when given the option to express herself on video, her dramatic personality had the opportunity to be shared with her teacher and peers.
Justine shared her uses of e-portfolios in her online Mythology and Folklore class and World Religions class that she teaches every year as elective options. In her classes, students share papers and projects, alongside art and presentations and have a way to group them all together and share with both teachers and peers. Justine also shared the uses of e-portfolios in the CTE classroom where students working on welding projects can photograph their talents and share them along with pictures of their earned certifications and share with their future employers.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Advancing STEM Challenges are designed to bring engineering and design to your classroom in a simple, easy-to-implement, challenge-based way. Modify our Advancing STEM Challenges for your classroom.
Did you know snowflakes generally are hexagonal structures because of the chemical bonding that occurs within the water as it freezes? or that each snowflake is unique? Do you know what kind of snowflake falls the fastest or slowest through the air? Your job is to find out this last question! The task is to design a prototype snowflake using paper and scissors. Once you've built your snowflake prototype, you can test it out by dropping it from different heights and using a stopwatch to time which design falls the fastest or slowest.
Your snowflake design does have some criteria and constraints. Every snowflake created has to be from the same origami template (see step-by-step instructions with pictures here: http://www.origamiway.com/how-to-make-paper-snowflakes.shtml). There has to be a 1cm border on the top and bottom that cannot be cut. At least three areas have to be cut out from the template. The snowflake should be dropped from the same height every time, held open with two hands, and held horizontal (flat) to the floor for fair trials. You and your group should try to design a snowflake following these guidelines that falls the fastest or slowest.
Hints and Tips for Success
"Breakout EDU games teach critical thinking, teamwork, complex problem solving, and can be used in all content areas."
Working on a team of about 15 people, students work to find clues and solve puzzles in an effort to “breakout” of a locked box during the 45-minute challenge. The clues came in many forms: digitally with QR codes and email, entangled in art, knotted ropes, videos, and some even hidden under black light. One clue leads to another and the excitement in the room is tangible as participants try to make sense of what information they uncover. And then, they beak out. Along the way, students learn about the history of communication.
Inspired by this though-provoking approach to teaching and learning, regional educators were introduced to the game-based learning approach at the second session of New Teacher Academy on December 1st.
Considering the application of BreakoutEDU in the classroom, teachers were excited about how well it promotes cooperative learning and students working together towards a common goal. Within the challenges, students can take roles that suit their learning styles. The most exciting part is that through the studying of clues and trying to figure out the puzzle, learning happens organically, without teacher led discussion.
BreakoutEDU is an excellent way to generate student interest and knowledge about a topic or to demonstrate and apply skills they’ve just learned in the classroom. There are hundreds of game options available across every content area.
Video on BreakoutEDU
For more information about BreakoutEDU, please visit their website. Want to see if your students can breakout? Contact Learning Resources today! CA BOCES has 5 BreakoutEDU kits available.
By: Sarah Wittmeyer and Shannon Dodson, CA BOCES Professional Development
Cattaraugus and Allegany County classrooms have reached an all-time high traveling virtually across the globe. Since the start of school 2,592 students have experienced opportunities to gain real world knowledge of various cultures from around the world. Historically, December Virtual Field Trips average 20 connections, but this year, Santa came to our region and brought our total to 103 trips in 3 weeks!
CA BOCES sends monthly trip highlights out to your Curriculum Coordinators, Tech Integrators, and Principals, so keep an eye out for these exciting opportunities. Some of these opportunities included National Distance Learning Week that was held November 7-11 in conjunction with the NYS Distance Learning Consortium. National DL Week allowed districts across the region to experience fee-based trips for free so that districts who had never seen a virtual field trip before could take part in this event. We expanded on these meaningful experiences at the NYS Middle School Association by showing districts how easy it was to connect to Ghana, Africa.
What better way to develop communication skills with students helping them to express their ideas culturally and academically through media sources. Students have opportunities to engage in collaborative discussions on curriculum topics, contrast cultural differences, and build language and logic to address details in directions. Below are some examples of content based trips:
Let CABOCES help you and your students take your next field trip virtually. All you need to do is click on the link below to see what’s on the calendar for upcoming trips:
Or to search for your own classroom topic, you can do a keyword search and see the hundreds of trips available by clicking on this link:
Or, to let us search for a trip for you! All you have to do is click on this link, and we will take of the rest. You will just need to fill out the request form and we will arrange to take your students around the world, into space, or even back in time!
If you would like to learn more about virtual learning experiences, please contact Carrie Oliver at 716-376-8270 or Betsy Hardy at 716-376-8281 for more information. The opportunities are endless.
By: Betsy Hardy, CA BOCES Learning Resources
3,853 Overdrive eBooks checked out
1657 resources shared through interlibrary loan
22 workshops to support professional development for school librarians
405 Library System deliveries each month
229 databases purchased managed
Filled 33 requests for 1 Foundation (American Museum of Natural History), 1 State Library (New Jersey), 2 major academic research libraries, 6 academic libraries, and 15 public libraries
Requests from 16 states to borrow library resources
2,592 miles of postal service to lend 1 book
National Distance Learning Week is just around the corner (November 7-11). The attached flyer highlights the offerings being brought to you by CA BOCES in partnership with the providers. This is a great opportunity for districts and teachers to give a virtual field trip a try at no charge to the district during DL week only. This event is supported in conjunction with the New York Distance Learning Consortium for Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES that participate in the Distance Learning CoSer. For additional information about Distance Learning Week call or email: Carrie Oliver—email@example.com /716-376-8270
2:00 p.m. November 7, 2016 (3rd - 5th grade): Make and Take with Polymers
Take an inside look at the properties surrounding polymers. What are they? What do they do? Where do we find them? Who uses them? This approach will feature a discussion of chemistry base properties of solids, liquids and gases, and then compare polymers to these chemical concepts. Do polymers defy the rules of chemistry? We will also look into why they are important and what careers are involved. We will also demonstrate labs that can be easily conducted at home.
For more information on about the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, click this link h p://www.perotmuseum.org/events-and-programs/school-programs/sciencecast-distance/learning/ index.html
10:00 a.m. November 8, 2016 (4th-7th): Bodyworks
What does a real heart look like? How does its function relate to our brain, muscles, bones and lungs? This pro- gram uses preserved human specimens, anatomical modes, and physical exam techniques to impress your students with their own insides. From cells to issues to organs, we overview human skeletal, muscular, nervous, pulmonary and cardiovascular systems, relating their functions to healthy behavioral and nutritional choices.
For more information on about the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, click this link h ps://www.cmnh.org/ivc
1:30 pm November 9, 2016 (PreK - 2): Cobwebs for Christmas
Are you ready to add some "bling" to your Christmas? This fun and interactive lesson will explore the tradition of adding tinsel to Christmas trees. The charming folktale Cobweb Christmas by Shirly Climo is set in Germany and focuses on some curious spiders paying a visit to Tante's tree. Incorporating Science, Language Arts, and Technology standards, students will discuss characteristics of arachnids using observation, compare and contrast different arachnids, and identify key elements of our story.
For more information on about the Muskingham Valley Educational Service Center, click this link https://www.mvesc.org/
9:00 am November 10, 2016 (K - 3): How to Make An Artist
Students are introduced to artists and their work through picture-book biographies. During this program which makes strong connections between language arts and visual art, students create art in the style of Frederic Reming- ton and Georgia O'Keeffe. The program is a great intro to a fine arts museum.
For more information about the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, click this link h p://www.cartermuseum.org/learn/distance-learning
1:00 pm November 10, 2016 (K - 8): All About Matter
Bubbles, eyedroppers, dry ice and liquid nitrogen are a part of an incredibly interactive program focusing on states and properties of matter.
For more information about the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, click this link h p://www.fwmuseum.org/distance-learning
Are you looking for resources and don’t know where to turn? Maybe you have some idea of what you are looking for and don’t have the time to cull through the myriad options available. At the CABOCES Learning Resources center in Allegany, we will have a training in January for the teachers in our two county area, highlighting all that our Staff Specialists here can do for you and your students.
Learning Resources has recently had an increase in the amount of resources being used by our component schools, but there are still so many things being underutilized. So as part of this training, the Staff Specialists went through each branch of Learning Resources and how they can assist with curriculum and content, utilization of online and digital support, as well as providing tangible resources to use in the physical classroom. The teachers who have gone through the training before have been amazed at the hundreds of thousands of resources available and how each department can either assist with or provide instruction on the various aspects of digital resources and technology, STEM, Library services, and distance learning.
Both STEM and the Digital Media program provide kits that can be used in the classroom to aid instruction and provide hands-on activities. Online resources accompany those kits, as well as accessing the SNAP system to find additional support. The Distance Learning branch has many components, including Moodle and Mahara, credit recovery, virtual field trips, collaborative classrooms, online learning, and Adobe Connect. Additionally, our Library Resources offers support to all 22 school libraries in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, implementation of the inter-library loan system, and provides online usage of Britannica and World Book.
If you are not utilizing any of these resources, only using some of them, or need to know more, come join us on January 12 at our Learning Resources center in Allegany, NY.
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CA BOCES
The November STEM Challenge: Turkey Cooker.
Advancing STEM Challenges are designed to bring engineering and design to your classroom in a simple, easy-to-implement, challenge-based way. Modify our Advancing STEM Challenges for your classroom. A new challenge will be posted monthly.
Post a photo of your students in action in our comment section or post a comment on how you modified the Challenge to work in your classroom.
Betsy Hardy, Distance Learning Coordinator for CA BOCES, was invited to present on a panel at a national conference last week alongside renowned author, Michael B. Horn. Michael B. Horn is the Co-Founder of Clayton Christensen Institute and author of Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. Betsy was asked to attend 2016 iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium as an expert on implementing blended learning programs. During the panel, Betsy was asked a number of questions on strategies for introducing online and credit recovery programs, utilizing online portfolios in the classroom, and cited many real life examples of ways that districts have been successful in the Cattaraugus-Allegany region, as well as how program implementation has to be based on district individuality and specific needs. Some of the recommendations she gave included having a team set up the program, having a specific teacher or aide with students at all times while students work on their classes, and setting up multiple in-depth professional development opportunities for teachers.
One of the many remarkable insights that Betsy brought to the panel discussion, was her unique understanding of how rural districts utilize online and distance learning programs to help broaden the scope of student transcripts and give students unique opportunities to experience courses that otherwise would not be offered, as well as how online programs broaden student skillsets and exposure to a plethora of ideas and prospects. Betsy also noted the important role that credit recovery has played in the region, sometimes increasing graduation rates by as much as 10% in well-established programs with a dedicated aide for students working on their classes.
Betsy, alongside a renowned author, shared the noteworthy achievements and best practices that districts in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties have made as they move toward a blended environment, helping students obtain important 21st century skills. School districts should be proud that their implementation of blended practices has garnered national attention.
If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about blended learning opportunities and professional development, please reach out to Betsy Hardy, Justine Lombardi, or Christina McGee at (716) 376-8281.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES
For a full week in July, area teachers gathered at Houghton College to be a part of an up and coming program aimed at working in the field of digital literacy. We are blessed in this area to have so many great content area teachers. Throughout our workshops, we see interested, talented, and dedicated professionals striving to give of their best to their students.
To that end, CABOCES has partnered with Houghton College to provide professional development for teachers who wish to increase their knowledge of technology and digital literacy that will propel their learners through the 21st century. Led by Dr. David Bruce, Associate Professor of Learning and Instruction at UB and Dr. Sunshine Sullivan, Associate Professor of Education at Houghton College, Rural Voices, Rural Visions closely resembles City Voices, City Visions. This is a program based out of Buffalo State University that provides educators and students with digital video resources to augment classroom learning. In this area, though, the focus is on those in rural communities.
Rural Voices, Rural Visions stresses not simply the use of technology, but the transformational power of technology. We cannot simply use technology for technology’s sake; we need to use it in ways that impact learning and give students another tool in their toolbox. Dr. Sullivan is hopeful that Rural Voices, Rural Visions will “provide a peek into the world of professional learning communities around digital literacies in a rural context, a gap in educational research and practice”.
Through Rural Voices, Rural Visions, the goal is to have teachers teach composition using varied modalities, not simply using essays or papers to reflect knowledge of content. For example, how can we use film to supplement classroom learning? According to Dr. Bruce, “When we discuss compositional issues such as audience, point of view, transitions, specific details, etc., the video theme provides a useful framework for discussion. This is especially crucial if the coursework involves print compositions. For those students who struggle to get their ideas on paper, I have found it to be helpful to refer back to their videos as a reference point.”
What a great opportunity we have in our region to work with such dedicated educators! Please contact me if you are interested in finding out more about Rural Voices, Rural Visions. We’d love to have your expertise!
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CA BOCES
For the past few times I’ve been meeting with teachers, I’ve been introducing them to STEM Challenges. These challenges have the participants work together to solve a problem I pose. Sometimes the problem has a fictional story attached to it or connects to the real world, but all of the challenges have the teachers working as engineers to find a solution.
Once the problem is introduced, I tell them the criteria and constraints that go along with the challenge. For example, there might be a time limit, only certain materials available or limits on the amount of material to be used, requirements that need met, etc. Participants get to ask questions about the challenge, imagine their ideas, plan it out with team members, create their solution, test it out, and then improve upon it, which is known as the Engineering Design Process.
So far, participants I’ve worked with have designed packages to keep a glass ornament safe, earthquake resistant buildings, towers made out of index cards and a foot of tape to hold a stuffed animal, boats to save the gingerbread man, windmill blades to lift a cup of washers, sails to catch the wind, Trojan horse carts to roll down a ramp, and built cup towers using only a rubber band and strings.
Through all of these challenges, I noticed the participants were engrossed with the challenge and trying to do their best to solve the problem. When their design wasn’t working, they were very eager to go back to the drawing table and figure it out how to make it work. When they were successful, it was a great scene to watch. Participants were high-fiving, cheering each other on, applauding one another, jumping up and down, and making sounds of joy and excitement. After the challenge, I posed to them that if this is how you are feeling, can you imagine how excited your students would be doing the same thing?
Was it “Chutes and Ladders”? “Battleship”, perhaps? How about “Chess” or “Uno”? Everyone had a favorite game growing up. What was yours? Maybe “Super Mario Brothers”? Go ahead, take a minute and think about it. Name that game you spent hours on, strategizing about, and maybe even cajoling others to play with you. Got it? Great! I knew you had one.
For many children, adolescents, and even teachers, playing a game, especially a videogame, is a preferred pastime. Something about a game keeps players engaged as they try over and over again to accomplish a skill, complete a task, or advance to a next level. The challenge can be all-consuming as players spend considerable amounts of time gaming, even seeming to lose consciousness of the world outside the game. Why do games merit such attention? It may be because games meet students in Lev Vygotsky's (1978) Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The difference between what a learner can do without help and what he/she can do with help, the ZPD exists between what is known and unknown, where classroom teachers attempt to meet their students with new knowledge, and new learning occurs. It is the instructional sweet spot.
Games intuitively capture a player’s attention at his/her ZPD, as initial rounds capitalize on a player’s prior abilities and skills, and each additional level forces him/her to learn a new skill or acquire new knowledge to be successful. Despite the glazed-over eyes and tears of frustration that can accompany a string of losses, the player returns again and again, each time with a little more understanding of the key to mastery.
But how is it that games feed a player’s engagement despite multiple unsuccessful attempts? Bruner Wood (1976) expanded on Vygotsky's work to suggest that supports, or scaffolding, within the ZPD can be removed as soon as skills become automatic. Wood referred to scaffolds as, “Those elements of the task that are initially beyond the learner’s capacity, thus permitting him to concentrate upon and complete only those elements that are within his range of competence” (1976, p.90). One element of successful learning is the ability of the teacher to engage students in the content long enough to provide the scaffolds and supports needed for students to succeed in the ZPD.
To achieve engagement, games captivate players emotionally, enticing them with the quest to be played. Game designers hone in on a player’s desire to succeed or win by building the sense the player can triumph through fair play. This embedded emotional element mesmerizes players and leads to deep engagement and the acquisition of skills and content, and tickles the player’s intrinsic desire to succeed. The strong emotional connections of games further enhance a sense of engagement with their task. Fear, surprise, disgust, pride, triumph, and wonder all act as engagement keys for game play (Farber, 2015). “Designers can customise an experience best suited to unlock certain feelings” (Farber, 2015, p.60), making even stronger connections to the game and creating a commitment by the player to continue.
Both Vygotsky and Wood describe recognizable parallels to players that self-select games in their ZPD. Gamers learn rules using peers as supports, play, and soon--without help--experience gratification as they play, and even lose. As players develop, they select games requiring a variety of skills or, as skills become automatic, games that are more challenging. Games players find too easy or too hard lie outside the ZPD and lack the keys to engagement, causing players to become passive or give up. Ralph Koster, author of A Theory of Fun for Game Design, points out, “The definition of a good game is therefore one that teaches everything it has to offer before the player stops playing” (2013, p.46). Koster asserts both the educational and entertainment value of games by writing, “Basically, all games are edutainment” (2013, p.47).
Games, almost in any form, are so good at engagement, maintaining attention, and advancing a skill that they also make terrific teaching tools and have led to the game-based learning philosophy. “Game based learning describes an approach to teaching, where students explore relevant aspects of games in a learning context designed by teachers. Teachers and students collaborate in order to add depth and perspective to the experience of playing the game” (EdTech Team, 2013).
Through game-based learning, teachers pair the benefits of games with learning in their classrooms. Andrew Garvery, a middle-level English teacher at Randolph Central School and professed “gamer”, is one teacher using the blended game design curriculum Zulama to bring the engagement of game design to his students. Andrew’s students are answering the questions, “What is a game? Why do we play them? Is a game a representation of society? How is society represented in a game?” (Garvey, 2016). His students are not using a traditional educational games approach to master vocabulary or key components of content, rather games are the engaging content in his class. Students in Andrew’s classroom are, by design, becoming game designers.
Games, through many of the strategies highlighted below and built within Zulama’s curriculum, become everyday pedagogical tools in the learning process.
Whether your favorite game is Monopoly, Minecraft or Mancala, when you are gaming, you are a student and learning is happening. Almost magically, the game has placed you in your Zone of Proximal Development and, chances are, you can’t get enough, even when you’re losing. Incorporating game-based learning strategies to instructional design can bring the magic of the game to the heart of learning in any classroom.
EdTechReview, Editorial Team. (2013, April 23). What is GBL (Game-Based Learning)? Retrieved February 25, 2016, from http://edtechreview.in/dictionary/298-what-is-game-based-learning
Entertainment Software Association. More Than 150 Million Americans Play Video Games - The Entertainment Software Association. Retrieved March 11, 2016, from http://www.theesa.com/article/150-million-americans-play-video-games/
Farber, M. (2015). Gamify your classroom: A field guide to game-based learning. NY, NY: Peter Lang.
Garvey, A. (2016, March 10). Zulama Webinar [Online interview].
Koster, R. (2013). Theory of Fun for Game Design. O'Reilly Media.
Vaillancourt, Beverly. (2014). Zulama: Game Design, Game Principles, and Emotional Design Elements. Used with permission.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Wood, D., Bruner, J., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Child Psychology and Child Psychiatry, 17, 89−100.
By: Tim Cox, CA BOCES Instructional Support Services
At Whitesville CSD on Tuesday, May 10, teachers were exposed to various STEM related products and activities. Teachers explored, Little Bits, Coding Apps on the I pad, online resources through their SNAP account and a Global Design Squad activity entitled; Seismic Shake-Up with staff specialists from CABOCES. Over the past several years, STEM/STEAM has become increasingly important within the school curriculum. Research has stated, that STEM education is important for our students to be competitive in the workforce. According to the National Department of Education:
The United States has developed as a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers, and innovators. In a world that’s becoming increasingly complex, where success is driven not only by what you know, but by what you can do with what you know, it’s more important than ever for our youth to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information. These are the types of skills that students learn by studying science, technology, engineering, and math—subjects collectively known as STEM.
One activity explored with Karen Insley of CABOCES was the Seismic Shake-Up! In this activity, students/teachers think about the need for earthquake resistant structures around the world, and determine what it takes to make a structure that is strong enough to withstand an earthquake. Through collaboration, design, problem solving, testing and researching; students learn and explore what it takes a to design and build a structure that can withstand an earthquake.
A second activity the teachers dove into was Coding with Clay Nolan from Learning Resources at CABOCES. Coding is one of the hot phrases of today and is important for ALL students to be exposed to programming as early as kindergarten. According to Eric Missio of the National Parent/Teacher organization states:
Coding (also called programming or developing) is telling a computer, app, phone or website what you want it to do. Some educators and experts are calling it the ‘new literacy’--a subject so important that every child needs to know the basics to excel in our rapidly changing world. Four- and five-year-olds can learn the foundations of coding and computer commands before they can even write and spell words. Older kids can learn to code through classes, mentors and online tutorials (see below for learn-to-code resources for all ages).
Learning to code prepares kids for the world we live in today. There are tons of jobs and occupations that use code directly, like web designers, software developers and robotics engineers, and even more where knowing how to code is a huge asset—jobs in manufacturing, nanotechnology or information sciences. However, for most kid-coding advocates, reasons for learning to code run much deeper than career prep.
Clay’s session started with the basics of human coding and advanced to applying this basic knowledge to a coding app or coding program on the ipad. The teachers began to make a code for other teams to follow in order to build a tower out of cups. The basic concepts of human code allows teachers and students to practice and understand the language of a coding program better. After the towers were built by following the developed codes, teachers explored two coding apps: Hopscotch and Code.org.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
Teaching science today in the classroom can be time consuming. There may not be time to fit in all the components from a CA-BOCES science kit due to time constraints. Students might be missing out on the hands-on activities, important vocabulary, and science concepts each learning experience is geared for only because of time’s sake. Also when getting that buckhorn science kit and opening it for the first time, it can be a bit overwhelming with the supplies, manual, books, live animal coupons, and reading that is needed to prepare the kit.
Last week, a few teachers wanted to explore a few of the science kits offered by CA-BOCES. Teachers went through some of the experiences, examined and manipulated the supplies in the kit, debriefed themselves on the manuals, learned about additional resources that coincide with the kit, and discussed implementation plans in their classrooms.
Hinsdale third grade teachers, Lisa Morrow and Christine Goodling, were both surprised and intrigued by how many ELA skills were intertwined with the science kit, Life Cycles and Traits of Frogs. They noted that it could easily be used during their ELA block because students need to pull main ideas, details, conclusions, evidence, sequencing, and inferences from the texts all while learning science concepts. The teachers also commented how excited the students would be to engage with the topics and activities since they would have actual eggs, tadpoles, and frogs in their classrooms. After their new found knowledge of the science kit and realizing its ease of use, teachers left rejuvenated and excited to bring science back to the classroom knowing how much the students would gain from this experience.
The coding initiative has taken hold in many of our elementary classrooms throughout the Cattaraugus-Allegany region, through the use of Bee-Bots, iPad Apps for Education, programming course platform Zulama, Lego League, and many more. Many of our teachers are breaking away from the ‘shuttering’ that ensued from the mere utterance of the word “coding”. Coding, at its heart, is simply providing a set of directions that one must follow. It encourages critical thinking and problem solving skills in our students.
On March 16, Mrs. Hamer’s Kindergarten embarked on their first hands-on coding experience under the expertise of technology integrator Mark Carls. cooperative learning groups of 4-5 students, under Mark’s guidance, programmed our Bee’s to maneuver through the grid provided.
Mark was very enthusiastic when describing his work with our students commenting, “Some students grasped the concept of the bees right away and I was able to provide more complex pathways almost immediately, while some students needed more direct support with one step programming tasks. All in all, it was great! The kids were very engaged and enthusiastic about using the Bee’s. Every student wanted to touch them and in our small groups they were able to do just that.” Through this one activity, Mark was able to provide students with an enriching differentiated critical thinking task.
Mrs. Hamer’s Kindergarten class is eagerly awaiting Mark’s next visit when they will be applying their knowledge of coding with the tangible Bee-Bots to coding with the Bee-Bot App.
Through participation in Environmental Science programs with traveling teacher Barb Busack, Cuba-Rushford fourth grade students learned spiders are fascinating animals. On this day, they studied the parts of a spider, as well as how it hunts and digests its prey; soup anyone? They also studied the spiders’ amazing ability to make silk stronger than steel and style it into a variety of webs. Most importantly, they learned spiders are beneficial to our ecosystem, as they help control the insect population.
A competition was held to see which students could use their newly gained knowledge of spiders and their amazing lives to answer assessment questions and unscramble facts about spiders’ benefits to man. The first student who figured out the scrambled sentence won a spider web keychain.
The lesson concluded with the students making a pipe cleaner spider that can be hung outside. Hopefully a real spider will come along and use the framework to make a web, thus reducing the amount of unwanted insects in our yards and proving that spiders are beneficial!
By Barb Busack, CA BOCES
So you’re teaching a topic you’ve been teaching for 20 years and you need to breathe some life into the content. Where do you turn for timely, relevant and content specific material? SNAP!
Or maybe you’re a new teacher who needs manipulatives or leveled reader kits. Where can you get those? SNAP!
Science kits? SNAP! Hard copy media? SNAP! Professional Library materials? SNAP!
Through our Learning Resources program, we have thousands of resources available that can be used either instantaneously or ordered and delivered within days. There are many resources available online, but can you be sure of the authenticity? Here at Learning Resources, we zero in on educational media and technology that enhances your instruction.
With SNAP, we work with specific vendors who provide us with educationally sound and safe content: vendors such as Discovery Education, PBS Learning Media, TumbleBooks, TeachingBooks, BrainPOP, Learn360 and more. We also provide hands on instruction as well as technological assistance. Invite us to come into your classroom or building and we will work side by side with you and/or your students to align SNAP resources to your content. Look how much fun we had in Portville this month!
Is it easy to use? Extremely! It looks a lot like Amazon, or any other online shopping program. You can filter your choices and access streaming media right through your search. There is also a calendar that allows you to see when resources are next available. When you’re finished making selections for things to be delivered to your school, simply go to your “cart” and submit your order! What a SNAP!!!!
Let’s take a tour: www.snap.caboces.org
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CA BOCES
Local librarians were recently challenged to use Buncee to submit a photo story that showcased what his/her library program was doing. Mary Zdrojewski, K-12 librarian from Scio created "Beyond the Bookshelves".
Create your digital canvass with Buncee at www.edu.buncee.com .
Did you get the chance to watch the sitcoms where Phil and Sheldon were able to be in two places at once? Did you know that students in the Cattaraugus Allegany County region can also be in two places at once and stay part of classroom instruction from home or the hospital?
As part of the CA BOCES Distance Learning Coser, two VGo robotic devices are available to reserve for situations where students can't be in school. The VGo robotic telepresence solution is currently helping two siblings from Cattaraugus Little Valley Central School stay connected to their teachers, classmates, and instruction. Emmalee and Patrick are two fun-loving middle school students who many times throughout the school year can't physically attend school due to illness. Instead, Emmalee and Patrick can drive the VGo to every class and receive the same instruction as their peers, and they can even socialize with friends going down the hall.
The VGos were purchased as part of a recent USDA RUS grant that CA BOCES Distance Learning coordinates to help students stay connected to their studies. In the past, schools had to deliver course material to the student's home, now the student comes to school and engages in the course material first hand. All the student needs at home or in the hospital is a laptop or iPad with Internet access.
What are the benefits for the students and the parents? There are many, but let's learn from Emmalee and Patrick's mother how the VGo has helped her children stay connected:
How do teachers benefit from the VGo? Mr. Kaleta, Middle School teacher at Cattaraugus Little Valley, shared the following:
As the Staff Specialist for Distance Learning, I had the opportunity to visit Cattaraugus Little Valley to see how the teachers and students were adapting to the VGo. I walked into Mr. Conner's History class where the VGo was in action, and there was Emmalee's face, all smiles sitting straight up in her hospital bed learning about Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay. There could be nothing greater than witnessing a smiling student benefit from Distance Learning technology! The VGo provides the ability for students to participate in class, collaborate with peers, and socialize as a typical middle school student would.
If you have a student who could benefit from the VGo, please contact CA BOCES Distance Learning at 716-376-8270, and we will deliver the VGo to your school for easy access!
By: Betsy Hardy, CA BOCES
As our society becomes increasingly dependent on engineering and technology, it is more important than ever that everyone be aware of what engineers do and understand the uses and implications of the technologies they create. Yet few American citizens are technologically literate, largely because technology and engineering have not been taught in our schools (Pearson, 2004).
Children (and many adults) know shockingly little about technology and engineering. In fact, the vast majority believe the term “technology” refers only to electronics and computers and that engineering and science are basically the same (Lachapelle and Cunningham, 2007; Pearson and Young, 2002). To understand the human-made world in which we live, it is vital that we increase engineering and technological literacy among all people, even young children!
Children are born engineers—they are fascinated with designing their own creations, with taking things apart, and with figuring out how things work. In 2003, the Engineering is Elementary (EiE, www.mos.org/eie) project was initiated to take advantage of the natural curiosity of all children to cultivate their understanding and problem-solving in engineering and technology.
On January 29, the Pk-5 Whitesville Elementary teachers took part in a mini-workshop with Clay Nolan (CABOCES staff specialist for Learning Resources) about the new NYS science standards and how to incorporate engineering and hands on projects in the elementary classroom. Teachers were asked to design an earthquake-resistant building, integrating 21st century skills in a STEM activity.
The Activity; After watching Twig films about earthquakes, each group will invent an earthquake-resistant building and test the efficiency of the building according to certain criteria and constraints with the option of being reinvented. Students will also act as entrepreneurs by using job-readiness skills that enhance workplace productivity and career options based on what they learn from constructing the earthquake-resistant building. Finally, they will briefly engage with financial education and the economy in society by constructing a budget. The final activity was to reflect and collaborate their viewpoints and assess their peer’s presentation or writing.
The PK-5 teachers at the workshop reflected how engaging the activity was and how kids used various skills and content to complete the activity. Teachers noted that the students would be working and problem solving with their peers and learning the idea of trial and error, construction, mathematics, reflection and the idea that it may not work the first 5 times, but that is all part of the process of learning.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES and Whitesville Central School
Students benefit from an author visit in many ways. Not only does it bring a real person’s voice and face as the creator behind a story, but an author is able to share where ideas originate from, the research process, the writing process, and essentially let students know that they too can take part in the creative process of writing.
Wellsville’s seventhth grade ELA teacher, Amy Hunt, and school librarian, Shannon Whiteside, brought Newbery Award winning author Linda Sue Park to approximately 100 students via video conference on Friday, January 22nd. Through the Arts in Education COSER 403, author visits are affordable whether in person or online.
Hunt’s seventh graders recently read Park’s A Long Walk to Water which is based on the true story of a Sudanese boy’s experience with war and a refugee camp who eventually found solace in the Rochester, NY area. Filled with adventure and hardship, A Long Walk to Water introduces readers to one boy’s personal struggle to survive and the reality that water is a precious commodity. Not only do readers experience empathy as they read this book but experience the main character’s success when he returns to Sudan as an adult to help establish water wells for remote villages.
After Park shared her writing process, nine students were able to ask questions. One student asked, “What interested you in writing?” Park’s response was, “to see a white rectangle covered with black squiggly lines and realize how those squiggles can make someone laugh, cry, or be inspired is such power. What power to make people feel!”
When asked how difficult it was to include the details in her book, Park shared that she had re-written the story seventeen times. With a giggle, she told students, “I like to play video games so I think of writing like leveling up”.
Interested in bring an author to your school? Contact your school librarian or Mary Morris at Mary_Morris@caboces.org to learn more about Arts in Education.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES School Library Coordinator