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.
The Maker movement is on the rise in today’s schools. The movement, which is poised to transform learning throughan emphasis on creation and creativity, ties in closely with
the STEAM initiatives many are looking to employ in their instructional practices. One such resource that can get a makerspace off the ground is LittleBits, easy-to-use electronic building blocks that snap together to help students in their creation of various inventions. LittleBits
have made their way into Cattaraugus-Allegany schools and are beginning to take hold in makerspaces and classrooms alike.
At a recent training, districts participating in the Eisenhower Consortium were given the opportunity to explore LittleBits and their application in the classroom and school-wide makerspaces. Teachers learning about the technology were given a series of challenges and asked
to use the building blocks to create useful tools that could help provide a solution to the given problems.
Take for instance, the case where the power goes out. What would one do? Reach for a flashlight of course, but what if there were no flashlight to be found? Could LittleBits help provide a solution? Teachers engaged with the blocks and snapped them together to make a useable flashlight. With toilet paper tubes, some tape, and a series of inter-locking electronic blocks, the problem came to be resolved.
Some would argue that a makerspace takes away from the content and curriculum that needs to be taught, but with LittleBits, the connection is often seamless. For those teaching about the solar system, and the movement of planets, imagine making a scale of the solar system using the components of LittleBits. Teachers at a recent team training collaborated to build a model of the movement of the moon around the earth, creating a replication of the phases of the moon. In tinkering with the inter-locking blocks and using easily accessible materials, the model took shape.
Students thrive in environments that rekindle their desire to make meaningful contributions toward relevant issues, ideas, people and interests. LittleBits can open the doorway to inspiring that creativity and innovation we often seek in our students. Whether using LittleBits or other resources, makerspaces are here to stay, and considering how to incorporate such tools into the classroom can push students further, and inspire deep, meaningful learning experiences for all.
LittleBits are accessible through our Learning Resources department and can be checked out for use in the classroom today.
Contact Lauren Stuff for more questions or support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the end of the year districts are asked if they'd like to contribute money towards an Eisenhower fund where the money is pooled together for the following school year. When the new year starts up, these districts meet to discuss possible options to maximize these funds- called Eisenhower Funds. This year the participating schools decided on sending teachers to learn and receive either Hummingbird, littleBits kits or to learn about Project Based Learning. The photos above are from the littleBits training held at the Barn Teaching and Learning Center in Olean on Leap Day (February 29th) and were tweeted out using the hashtag #myCABOCES.
The reason for the importance of these days was to explore more about the “Maker Movement” where people look to ‘make’ something to help fix a problem, help others or just because they want to make something! The importance of Hummingbirds and littleBits in that process is because they offer students a chance to easily ‘make’ or build their own ideas. After exploring different projects like creating a doorknob, a flashlight and a bubble maker, these teachers looked at finding ways to incorporate littleBits into their classrooms and spaces they have back in their district. As with the Hummingbird training in January, all of the teachers left with creative ideas for their students. We at CABOCES Professional Development can’t wait to see and hear all the neat products that the students create.
By Mark Carls, CA BOCES
On November 18, 2015 I was one of the first people to witness Kaylyn not having to write her name on a piece of schoolwork using her teeth. This day brought goose bumps to all the educators who were in the room. This piece of software was a game changer for Kaylyn. She was now able to do more work [lg2] independently. If you think about it, that’s really what we want from all of our students. We want them to grow up and be lifelong learners, contributing members to society and independent.
A special thank you goes out to Marcie Richmond, Olean’s Special Education Director, Amy Buckner, Kaylyn’s Support Aide and all of Olean’s Tech Department.
Kaylyn is a special girl and not because she can’t use her arms and legs. She is special because of her resilience, her stick-to-itiveness, and her ability to persevere. Kaylan is just like every other girl and that’s the way it should be. If she wants to dot her “I’s” with a heart or pass a note to another student in class when she should be paying attention, we as educators should do everything in our power to make that happen. I’m so glad to have met Kaylyn and extremely thrilled to call her my friend.
By: Rick Weinberg, CABOCES Professional Development
After school on Thursday afternoons, Pioneer Middle School LMC is the place to be. It is here that anywhere from 20-25 students in grades 5-8 gather for Maker Club under the guidance of librarian Maria Muhlbauer and teacher Gio LoBianco. The idea for a library makerspace is one that had been brewing for a couple years, and in November of this school year, Ms. Muhlbauer and Mr. LoBianco officially began recreating a section of the library into Pioneer’s own makerspace.
The concept of a makerspace is really quite simple: designate an area where students can gather to create, invent, learn, and teach others about something they are good at doing. This idea complements the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives currently underway at Pioneer, and the space allows students to work with computer programming, robotics, crafts, drawing, origami, etc. According to the Middle School Library blog, accessible at pioneermiddlelibrary.blogspot.com, the space is stocked with a wide variety of materials, including Raspberry Pi programming kids, solar robotic kits, mousebots, spinbots, squishy circuits, Makey Makey kits. District employees and community members generously donated craft supplies such as duct tape, origami paper, Legos, and more to help get the Maker Club up and running this year.
Maker Club officially kicked off with its first meeting on January 8 with 18 students attending. After an introduction to the concept and goals of Maker Club and talk of acceptable and unacceptable activities during the meeting times, students got busy creating with Legos, crafting with duct tape, weaving with plastic bands, and coding with programs such as Scratch. More recently, students have been participating in a “Robot Finch Loan Program” through BirdBrain Technologies, where students learn how to program the finches.
Looking ahead to next year, Ms. Muhlbauer, Mr. LoBianco, and teacher Ms. Brenda McKenzie applied for and were awarded a grant worth approximately $2,600 from National Grid to further support STEM initiatives at schools within the Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES region. Grant money will fund the purchase of Dash & Dot robotics kits and iPads for programming them. The app will allow students to sharpen their creative and critical thinking skills while using concepts and information learned in class to help them find solutions to complex problems.
New students are always welcome at Maker Club and can attend one, many, or all meetings. This is a great opportunity for students to explore activities that are of interest to them, all while learning lifelong skills and maybe – just maybe – sparking an interest that will lead them to a fulfilling career someday!
By: Amy Windus, CA BOCES and Pioneer Central School
Q: What do you get when you combine one Makey Makey kit, an innovative media specialist, and a dynamic music teacher with a 6th grade class?
A: Sweet, sweet music!
Karen Cawley, media specialist for Bolivar-Richburg was awarded a grant earlier this year from the CA Teacher Center. Included in the grant were ten Makey Makey kits. Along with attending CA BOCES Educating STEM series, Cawley had an idea. What if we brought in a non-traditional class to collaborate? This is when she decided to approach Jen Berg, Music teacher for Bolivar-Richburg, in using the Makey Makey kits. Together they wrote a unit that was STEAM based.
After studying Gregorian chants and musical theory and composition including note reading, Berg and her 6th grade music class wrote their own musical compositions. Next, they built their own instruments out of everyday “found” materials. Students found themselves deeply engaged in creating and executing their music using web based applications. These projects and materials are also offered to study halls in the media center for all students to explore and create. The object is to put as many materials into as many students’ hands as possible!
Cawley stated that for the future we are looking at now collaborating with our ELA, and science teachers. Walking away from the Educating STEM series with hummingbird kits and other resources is an integral part to successful implementation within our building. The creation of a STEM club is also not out of the question for next year.
By: Jen Pangborn, CA BOCES and Bolivar-Richburg Central School
Wellsville first year Spanish teacher Mr. James Neely had a desire to incorporating social media into a project for Spring break. After discussing Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. and the pros and cons of using Social Media in the class, it was determined that using the actual sites for his project could lead to cyber bullying or other inappropriate situations. Instead he worked along with the Technology Integration Coach to create a project that mimics Social Media. The result was a Spapchat style video created by students to share what they did over spring break.
Snapchat is a photo messaging application developed by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown, then Stanford University students. Using the application, users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. These sent photographs and videos are known as "Snaps". Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps (as of April 2014, the range is from 1 to 10 seconds), after which they will be hidden from the recipient's device and deleted from Snapchat's servers.
Their assignment over break was to take video and/or photos of the things they did during their vacation. When they returned from break students transferred their video/photos to their iPad, and students in the 3 classes were then introduced to about 15 apps. Here are a few:
Shake Ur Life
Technology Integration coach Kate Green then worked with the classes for the next couple of days with adding, editing, and changing their vacation into a presentable product. The assignment was to then write a minimum of 15 word Spanish caption for each of their video/photos. The teacher supported the students in their translations and gave some class time for a couple of days. Students shared the final videos to the teacher and class presentations will follow.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES and Wellsville Central School
The use of Apple Technologies in the classroom has become prevalent in schools throughout Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, and one such district that continues to extend its usage of such devices in the school setting is Cuba-Rushford Central School. The Rebels have been iUsers for several years, providing the technology to all classrooms PK-12. Most recently, students in kindergarten and first grade had the opportunity to work with the devices to extend their learning and explore practical uses of iPads in the elementary setting.
In Kindergarten, students worked to create their own All About Me books using the Story Creator application. Aside from working on their illustrative abilities, students also worked on their personal handwriting and typing skills, formulating their books overtime. Part of having such resources available is giving students the opportunity to create a product of some kind. Applications such as Story Creator give students the unique experience of building their own book, channeling opportunities to be creative, write, and share with others.
While some use iPads for the opportunity to create, others use it to practice essential skills in the various content areas. In first grade, the elementary Rebels have been working on fluency with their addition and subtraction facts. The ToDo Math application, which reinforces continual practice with mathematical concepts taught in grades PK-2, not only gives traditional fact fluency practice, but also allows students to build number sentences and use other critical components of the mathematical models embedded within the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. The first grade students worked on their understanding of addition and subtraction facts by rotating through a series of stations and activities from the ToDo Math application. With varied levels, the activities were differentiated based on student ability and allotted for continued practice with similar content in multiple modalities. Without iPads, the experience may have looked much different, but in thanks to the resource, students were able to reinforce understanding of a critical concept with repeated practice.
As technology makes its way into classrooms, teachers have come to learn and explore all the practical ways in which it can be used to promote student learning, opportunities for creation, and ultimately, student engagement and a positive learning environment of the 21st century. Just as the CRCS Rebels have modeled, iPads are a gateway to giving students another modality to learn with, and learn from.
By: Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES
Next school year, Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES will be hosting a Coding CLC. CLC stands for collaborative learning community and the idea is to have people share ideas around coding. Basically, teachers, or any school employee, interested in coding will come to a meeting and discuss how coding is and can be used in the classroom. There will also be direct explanations and content being facilitated by CA BOCES professional development staff. The content will center around computer programming, coding, video game creation and computer game design. If you are interested in participating in this CLC, coding and/or the Hour of Code week, please contact Laurie Sledge (814-376-8357 or email@example.com)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by the year 2020, which is now 5 years away, there will be 1 million more well paying computing jobs than students to fill them. Pioneer is taking a great first step in preparing students. All students should have this opportunity.
By: Rick Weinberg, CA BOCES
“Wow. Mr. W. look what I did,” said Evan. “Oh yeah...Look at what level I’m on,” said Julia. Evan and Julia think they are playing a game. In some ways they are playing a game. The game teaches Evan and Julia, and students like them in Ms. Grube’s class, some basic ideas. The students learn the concepts of repeating, functions, if: then statements and looping. These concepts have to do with logic and they also are foundational skills for computer programming.
By the year 2020, statistics say that in America we will have 1 million more computing jobs than students to fill them. The fascinating thing is that the year 2020 is only 6 years away. All of the students in Kirsten Grube’s class just love working on the iPads. They are very engaged. Students work in centers and spend about 15 to 20 minutes a day learning to be young computer programmers.
Computers are everywhere and that makes some people want to avoid them. I just don’t think you can avoid computers any more. Businesses involving agriculture, automobiles, manufacturing, healthcare and entertainment, just about every thing somehow involves computers. Avoiding computers is about as equivalent to not using a school book or a pencil and paper. More and more jobs are requiring graduating students to know how to use computers as a tool to complete work. To a bit of a lesser degree, right now, not only will students need to know how computers function, students will have to be the ones who engineer the computers to be a better tool for others.
Some of us, in my generation, took computer programming, around the 1980s, in high school. Some of us took to it and some of us did not. In many cases in high school, back in the 80s, students where just thrown into BASIC computer programming. Many of us had a bad experience with programming because we did not learn some of the necessary foundational skills to programming. What happened to many students in the 80s was the equivalent of being thrown into the language class Spanish 4 without having Spanish 1, Spanish 2 or Spanish 3.
That is not what is happening in Cattaraugus Little Valley. Some students, from an early age are learning how to make a computerized robot make a square on a computer screen. Some students are learning that if they don’t want to write out code over and over again, code that does the same thing, then they can use a loop. I have no doubt, that one day, we will hear about Evan or Julia, or some other student, who has helped to put people on Mars, contributed to cars that drive themselves or invented a micro controlled nanoparticle that cures cancer.
By: Rick Weinberg, CA BOCES
Technology in Education: Extending Professional Development Experiences for District Representatives at the Annual NYSCATE Conference
When we think of technology in education, many make mention of SMART Boards and iPads, but technology in education has taken on new forms. At this year’s annual NYSCATE conference, a statewide consortium dedicated to the exploration of technology resources and innovation in tech-focused classrooms, several of our component schools were able to see the new wave of technology that could become a part of today’s 21st century classrooms.
As a part of the Eisenhower Consortium, several districts elected to send representatives to the annual conference to engage in and learn more about the innovation and inquiry that can stem from the infusion of tech tools in the classroom. Teachers, technology integrators, and other district personnel from Genesee Valley, Cuba Rushford, Pioneer, and West Valley became immersed in a world of technology and the innovation that can stem from a vast array of resources.
NYSCATE, which offers a self-directed conference experience, highlighted sessions on coding in the classroom, iPad implementation in a 1:1 environment, and Chromebooks in educational settings K-12. The theme of this year’s annual event was ReThink, ReImagine, ReCreate, inspiring educators to think beyond the scope of a traditional educational setting and reimagine the ways in which we deliver a high-quality educational experience to all.
Jason Latimer, who served as one of the all-inspiring keynote speakers at the 2014 event, incited participants to think about the power of a question as the gateway to transforming the educational system we offer to today’s 21st century learners. Latimer, who believes that knowledge is built upon the questions we ask, encouraged conference attendees to use questions to drive their classroom and use questions to drive the way in which technology is used in education. “The illusion of knowledge is what causes you to stop asking questions.” Latimer’s words resonated in the minds of many as the conference took hold. His ideals seemed to inspire the sense of wonder that comes with how we shift the mindset of modern-day education. “The world was not shaped by its answers; it was shaped by its questions.”
Anne Cater, staff specialist for Professional Development with CABOCES and curriculum coordinator for both Belfast Central School and Genesee Valley Central, spoke to her own personal NYSCATE experience. “I felt like a kid in a candy store, learning about all the great innovations that can help our students learn. Today’s students are much attune to the role technology plays in society, so in bringing innovations in technology to the classroom, we can help to not only prepare students for the future, but inspire them to ask questions and think beyond the everyday curricula.”
NYSCATE 2015 may be a year away, but all are encouraged to attend this unique conference experience. For more information about the organization, please visit http://www.nyscate.org/. Until next year, consider how technology can serve as a force of innovation to drive questioning and inspire teachers and students to ReThink, ReImagine, and ReCreate.
By: Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES