When Microsoft originally announced that they were going to offer the Office 365 suite and its components free of charge to all schools who wanted access, it was seen as a “game-changing move” for education and learning in schools as we know it.
With the focus of today’s technology moving to cloud-based computing, storage, app access, and more, it made sense for Microsoft to offer these services to school districts to ensure that their software suites were still relevant and useful for students. Especially when factored in that competition in the education space has heated up between Google, Microsoft, and Apple, with all three offering enticing services to find their way into contracts with schools across the country.
This summer, school districts from Fillmore to Portville, and even administrators themselves, have been taking part in Office 365 Trainings offered by CABOCES. With a focus on what is Office 365, what features are included in the suite, what can be done with the programs, teachers and administrators have been upping their familiarity and comfortability in using the resources available to them in Office 365.
There were some topics that created more buzz than others, such as how to set-up and use ClassNotebook to run a blended or flipped classroom in various subject areas and grade spans. Seeing teachers experiment with creating classes, adding students and learning how to share documents and classroom resources with the push of a button to student computers is leading the charge this summer toward some classrooms becoming paperless! Sway, a presentation tool that creates its products as websites that automatically scale to fit different screen sizes was also a teacher favorite for combining elements of PowerPoint and website design into a friendly and easy-to-use format. Microsoft Forms, which allows for teachers to create surveys or quizzes online and quickly share them with students, access instant results, and provide data points that can be analyzed and diagnosed deeper to assess student progress on their learning of concepts was one that most teachers say they could see themselves using on a constant basis. With Fillmore and Portville students having 1-1 devices, the possibilities for enriching students’ learning are endless!
With everything around us moving toward cloud-based architecture, it only makes sense that our schools learn and adapt at the same time. Staying current for our students and using the resources in much the same way they do every day will allow us to stay relevant in education and keep the students with the best resources available to them at the touch of a button, mouse, or smartphone screen. With the move to Office 365, students will have the opportunity to have access to their files, and their programs, no matter where they may be with the devices they are already so capable of using every day.
By: Ryan McGinnis, CA BOCES Professional Development
Connecting College and Career Experiences for Second Grade Students: Exploring Robotics and Real-World Learning Opportunities at CABOCES
College and career readiness are words that ring through the minds of many, wondering how such learning experiences can be generated to cultivate a sense of the opportunities that exist beyond a traditional PK-12 education. For many, college and career readiness is a facet embedded in the NYS Common Core Learning Standards for ELA and Math and the Next Generation Science Standards. For others, exposure to college and career opportunities is much more than what is taught in a traditional setting; it’s about the experiences and the real-world application we can create for learners of all ages.
Laurie Bushnell and Tracey Keller’s second grade students recently visited the Career and Technical Education Center in Olean, NY to highlight some of the future educational opportunities that they may have, be it as a programmer of various robotics resources, as a cosmetologist, or even as a culinary artist. The experience was intended to give students a greater sense of the opportunities that exist in the real-world, as well as an understanding of the strategies and skills that can help one to be successful.
While fiddling with robots can seem like all fun and games, for the teachers and students alike, the experience was much more. The students were able to gain insight into how robots work, solve posed problems, experience challenge, and learn how these emotions lend themselves to the real-world. Some students felt frustration in trying to accomplish a task or goal, but through their perseverance, their commitment, and ultimately their inherent want to be successful, the students learned.
For Ms. Bushnell and Ms. Keller, giving students exposure to experiences outside the walls of East View Elementary in Olean, NY brings new light to the opportunities that await them in the future. Having students feel a little bit pampered by the cosmetology department and engaged by the prospect of making robots work reinforces the need for teachers of all students to provide learning experiences that enhance exposure to college, to career, and to challenge.
By: Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES Professional Development
If it not there already, coding will be coming to a school near you really soon! But why is there so much of a push for this?
Coding has many education implications: it is a way for students to design, create, and express themselves while solving problems, creating games, and having fun. Additionally, there are many opportunities in the area of computer science that students can consider when looking at careers. Website design, app creation, business management and many other fields have jobs that require some understanding of computer code.
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, career prep is just one facet.
The skills that come with computer programming/coding help kids develop new ways of thinking and foster problem-solving techniques that can have big repercussions in other areas. Computational thinking allows students to grasp concepts like order of operations and cause and effect. Much like following a recipe, coding is systematic and students can see that attention to detail and sequential thinking are necessary to create a workable code.
And then there’s the simple fact that coding is fun! Most kids play games already, so learning the code behind the games takes engagement to a whole new level.
So get ready! Coding isn’t the future….it is the present!
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CABOCES Learning Resources
While building contractors remodeled Fillmore School this summer, Fillmore teachers renovated their traditional classrooms to incorporate blended learning. Fillmore will be implementing 1:1 devices for their K-12 students, and the teachers are readily adapting their classes to incorporate technology into daily instruction.
The CA BOCES Learning Resources and Model Schools teams worked with Fillmore teachers at Tech Camp for three full-day workshops. Teachers were introduced to Nearpod’s mobile interactive presentation software, Socrative’s quick assessment tool, Moodle’s Learning Management System, iPad Apps for Elementary and High School, CA BOCES Library and Media resources, and much more.
Opening discussion each day with the Fillmore teachers included:
Wendy Clark, who built a Moodle course she named Phenomenal Fourth Grade Readers shared, “I can't wait to use all of the fantastic apps that we learned about in my guided reading lessons! When we get our iPads; I’ll be all ready to go thanks to our summer tech training days!”
Cristin Glasner, MS Science Teacher added, “I had an amazing experience this summer. I brought back a huge amount of new knowledge on new technology to use in my science class. I was especially excited to incorporate Nearpod, Moodle, WEO and Edge factor into my classroom. I am so excited about using this technology to engage my students in their STEM lessons, add in Brain breaks, and trying some flipped lessons. This technology helps me make my content more relevant to my students and draws them into the lesson. They have so much fun, ask great questions, and have a better retention of the content.”
Every teacher at Fillmore has developed a Moodle course filled with interactive items for students, including: Math modules to reinforce math concepts, STEM videos, Music exploration videos, Spanish glossaries, Art concepts, Reading surveys, English journals and forums, Quizlet flashcards, Geography maps, News feeds from historical, language, STEM and Arts sites, and much more!
Fillmore’s journey to a 1:1 classroom environment has proven to highlight some great new strategies and tools that teachers are embedding into their day. Placing technology into the hands of every student allows students access to continue learning beyond the typical school day. Shaping the future of blended learning and global citizenship within the newly remodeled walls of Fillmore Central School is on an exciting path to great success.
By: Betsy Hardy, Distance Learning Coordinator, CA BOCES Learning Resources
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
This spring, two classrooms at Cattaraugus-Little Valley have been communicating with two schools in London. Learning Resources at CA BOCES helped facilitate the connections between the two schools. The students were all very excited and eager to interact with each other.
Mrs. Christopher’s 3rd grade class connected with Mrs. Begum’s 4th grade class at Red Bridge Primary School on Tuesday, June 2nd and talked about a variety of topics. Mrs. Christopher’s students walked through slides in a PowerPoint that showcased different classrooms, teachers and activities that they have here at Cattaraugus-Little Valley. The students from London asked a variety of questions about the number of students, the school mascot and what students here did during the day. Mrs. Begum’s class in London taught the students at Cattaraugus Little Valley about landmarks in London, what their neighborhood around the school looked like, and shared information about their school. At Red Bridge Primary School there are 21 classes and a nursery. Each year the grade levels have three classes with about 30 students in each class.
Later in June Mrs. Urbanski’s 2nd grade class will also make a Polycom connection with another school in London. The teachers in London reached out and stated that they would like to continue connecting next fall.
By: Mark Carls and Kristen Meiers, CA BOCES
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
Are you looking for creative ways to inspire your beginning readers? Maybe you have a struggling reader who needs a little bit of motivation to get through the frustration they are feeling. Reading Eggs is a wonderful online reading program geared at children ages 4-7. This program helps provide a dynamic online reading experience for your students to promote healthy reading and attitudes about reading.
Learning Resources has recently had an uptick in the amount of schools and students using this program. They find the challenges, positive reinforcements, and tangible “egg” rewards to be something very enjoyable. Reading Eggs starts the child off on a map where they must complete each level to advance to the next stepping stone – ultimately leading them through an entire level. It makes for easy mapping of a student’s progress and saves it where the student last left off. There is a placement test at the beginning of the program so your students don’t waste time on activities that are too easy for them, or get frustrated that it is too difficult.
For those who are very visual when it comes to learning, having the map helps them to stay focused on the goal. Reading Eggs is really easy to navigate, fun, and utilizes the many different approaches of teaching. For instance, when the game first starts out, a student is introduced to one letter – the letter M. After that, they learn to master the phonetic sound, identification, matching pictures to the letter, even showing how the letter is to be written through a number sequence. Because of the multiple approaches, students are also becoming better with spelling the words they are reading.
Reading Eggs is an exceptional early literacy program for children to learn how to read, strengthen reading skills, and master reading and comprehension. I would highly recommend giving this program a try if you have pre-readers, beginning readers, and struggling young readers.
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CA BOCES
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
Mr. Bernys and his 9th grade Cattaraugus-Little Valley English students just finished reading the Module text, Romeo and Juliet. The students in each section of his classes were grouped into sets of four students. Within these groups, the students filled the role of the Verona News Team broadcasting “live news” from various scenes in Romeo and Juliet. In these simulated news broadcasts, the students needed to compose a script and write lines for each participant. The students needed to base the scripts on the on Romeo and Juliet’s death, the fight in the streets between the Montagues and the Capulets, and the Capulet Ball. The students shared text-based information pertaining to the major events in the book. Each group’s presentation lasted about 5-7 minutes. It was great to see the students so excited about a classic text as well as how much they retained from the lessons. Mr. Bernys and I got to participate with the students for some of the skits.
The students had the opportunity to use the TV/Video production room which simulated a real news anchor experience. This very unique room at Cattaraugus Little Valley is a state of the art studio containing running cameras, camcorders, digital video switchers, microphones, sound mixers, green screen, Teleprompters, and lighting equipment. It also has graphic and editing computer work stations that are used to generate productions. Mr. Chris Maguda, teacher of a Broadcasting class at CLV, assisted with the audio/visual production along with the students. It is lessons like these that allow students to showcase what they have learned, increase student engagement and enjoyment.
By: Kristen Meier, CA BOCES and Cattaraugus-Little Valley
“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
On Thursday May 15, I entered Kirsten Grubes’s room at Cattaraugus Little Valley school. Ms. Grube had a substitute and since I was entering a kindergarten classroom we had to forgo any introductions and attempt to match the activity level of about 14 six year olds. I never did get the name of the substitute.
As a helper at one of the centers, I teach students the fundamentals of programming using the app called Kodable. At the kindergarten level, Kodable requires students to follow directions, which is good but even this can be a bit of a struggle with this age group. I know this because I am pretty sure Kyle was not supposed to march around the room, growling like a monster while gently banging his crayon box on top of his head. Oh well, we won’t tell Ms. Grube.
These students get so excited when they see me enter the room with iPads. I often hear “He’s here. He’s here,” upon entering. With Kodable students have to make their “Smeeborg,” which I call a fuzzball, move across the screen and eat coins. Grechen Huebner, co-founder of Kodable, describes the game like this, "Kids have to drag and drop symbols to get their fuzzy character to go through a maze so they learn about conditions, loops and functions and even debugging," The code is read in order and it does not execute until the student pushes the play button. If the student has the code correct, he or she gets all the coins, completes the maze and goes on to the next level. If the student is “off the mark” then the student is prompted with an “oops” and asked to try again. Students are learning a great deal of valuable skills
We have just been using the free Kodable app but there is a pay version, which is $6.99. It seems like, as of now, the free version is working just fine. It may be necessary for the pay app someday, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. For schools who want to buy the app and are part of Apple’s volume purchasing program (v.p.p.), if the school district buys 20 or more apps then they get them for half price. And now, with how the v.p.p. is set up, the school district owns the app and can deploy it to different iPads anywhere in the school, as long as they don’t use more than what was purchased.
Many of these students can’t tie their shoes yet so why are we teaching them to be computer programmers? "Ninety percent of schools just don't even teach it [coding or computer programming]. So if you're a parent and your school doesn't even offer this class, your kids aren't going to have the preparation they need for the 21st century," says Hadi Partovi, co-founder of the nonprofit Code.org. "Just like we teach how electricity works and biology basics, they should also know how the Internet works and how apps work. Schools need to add this to the curriculum." At Cattaraugus Little Valley we are taking some initial steps in adding these important computing skills into the curriculum.
By Rick Weinberg, CA BOCES
You may wonder what the phrase, “All Schools Day” means. Well, if you are a guidance counselor or principal in one of the Cattaraugus-Allegany school districts you will know immediately that this designates a collaborative day whereby schools can choose from hundreds of Distance Learning/video conference classes from all across New York State in which to enroll students for credit. Student enrollment across our region will vary from those with a niche interest for courses such as Game Design, Business Law, Hot Topics in Science, or Latin. Then to reach students requesting high level High School courses, they can take advantage of Physics or Mandarin. Then to broaden their depth of transcript, a wide variety of college credits from JCC, ASC, GCC, Syracuse University, SUNY Albany, are available in Psychology, English, U.S. History, and more. The course opportunities for students are endless.
At the All Schools Day, after a discussion of how Distance Learning can save teacher jobs, bring revenue to a district, and greatly expand elective and core offerings, the counselors explore the Regional Database of courses and have the opportunity to “claim” receiving or hosting of a course/connection. Working together, the counselors talk across the room and via videoconference to other school officials from across New York State. Classes and times are discussed...but we all know that before the start of school each year, many changes and minor tweaks will be made before satisfied students begin their semester-long or half-semester courses.
To see the full list of course offerings that are shared throughout NYS, go to: http://dlcourses.e2ccb.org and login in with UN: distance and PW: distance
By: Betsy Hardy, CABOCES Learning Resources
Jennifer Smith, Speech Therapist, Andover, collaborates with a very flexible 3rd grade teacher, Faye Shay, to login to the student publishing program, Voicethread, and integrate her custom-designed therapy for one particular student with the whole class of students.
Students practice vocabulary, spelling and creative writing during this lesson on the meaning and use of the word, exaggeration. Ms. Smith had a picture of “Pecos Bill” in the Old West projected on the screen in Voicethread and each student could choose his or her method of commenting on the picture (microphone or typing) and begin a story (an exaggeration) of how the “Andover Ponds” were formed. What Ms. Shay noticed was that the students who have very little to say in class, were very involved and lengthy in their explanations of how the ponds were formed – all based upon background knowledge from class and checked later for spelling and punctuation. Creative stories about the ponds and their formation were anywhere from Pecos Bill lassoing animals to push the dirt away to the digging of holes one after another with intervention from a magical being. Ms. Smith also had the students owning their own learning as she communicated to them and displayed on the big screen how their individual comments come to her in an email from Voicethread.
By: Maggie Jensen, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Heather Brubaker, teacher in Whitesville, prepares 9th, 10th and 11th grade general education students for Regents exams using the Promethean Board in the Resource Room. She self-assigns the public, Regents questions she chooses within Castle and projects them on the board for a whole class review of multiple choice or constructed response answers. Another way she uses Castle Learning is to put several students on computers with assignments she has selected while she works and assists others individually on paper worksheets she has printed from Castle. She finds this method of working on the computer keeps the students engaged and not distracted until she is freed up. The assignments Mrs. Brubaker sets up for those on the computers can be be assigned as “open” – giving the student two attempts at the correct answer and a hint before going to the next question. With immediate feedback for students, they are more likely to continue studying, make use of their time, and continue preparing for the exam.
By: Maggie Jensen, CA BOCES Learning Resources
A Friendship elementary teacher, Paul Braun (grade 3), incorporates BrainPop, Scholastic News, and National Geographic in one very active lesson on habitats.
Mr. Braun starts the period with a timed three-minute sprint for math fractions (a nice review). Additionally, he models this by actually doing the sprint on screen, starting just after the students begin. As they go over the answers together the kids shout out, “Yes”, to indicate they have the correct answer. Partially invigorated by the mild shouting, the students are immediately on their feet to do jumping jacks, sit-ups and other exercises for about two minutes with Mr. Braun and a student leading the routine.
It is obvious that this is no ordinary classroom. The student desks are facing each other and not the front of the room, although they can easily turn to see the Smartboard and the short BrainPop Jr. animated film about habitats – kicking off the main lesson for the day. The videos are based on the characters of Tim and Moby with questions following. Mr. Braun can print the worksheets from BrainPop or project the questions on the board. He told me later that he uses Brain Pop Jr. regularly and that the most useful activity available to him within the program, besides the video, is the vocabulary word wall activity. “It’s the best.”
Turning to Scholastic News, he passes out the magazine reader but then projects the Scholastic website for more close reading of text. The inter-active website reads the definitions of new vocabulary for the habitat lesson to the class - the definitions pop up with a click. Students write down the main ideas of the article after finding them in the text.
The final part of the day finds students being assigned an animal and habitat to research. Logging on to HP Minis in groups of two, The National Geographic site is accessed from Mr. Braun’s school webpage, full of links to the animal videos, and becomes the focus of their research. The research will spill over to the next day. The students happily leave the room looking forward to learning more about their animals tomorrow.
By Maggie Jensen, CA BOCES Learning Resources
As a teaching assistant for Scio Central School, Darla Rau has found success with K-4 students in the computer lab where she engages classes in practicing reading, math, and keyboarding on a variety of student learning programs.
Approximately four years ago Darla investigated “SuccessMaker” at the Rochester-based annual NYSCATE (The New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education) Conference and requested the purchasing of this data-oriented program from the Scio Central School administration. She works with teachers to track data on individual students for either remediation or higher level placements. Darla also uses many learning games for math and reading as well as basic typing and keyboarding skills, which she implements with early learners. Some of the resources (many free) which she uses are: Dance Mat Typing, Type to Learn 4, starfall.com, coolmathgames.com, sheppardsoftware.com primarygames.com and learninggamesforkids.com.
Darla finds that students really respond to “games” for learning and has recently expanded her offerings to include the animated, grade-appropriate, movie clips in the Teacher Toolkit of Study Island ( a web-based assessment program aligned to the common core standards). To access the animated videos, teacher videos, lesson plans and other classroom resources in Study Island just log in, click on “Teacher Toolkit” on the left-hand navigation bar and search by grade level, type of resource and subject.
By: Maggie Jensen, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Photos: NASA and Bolivar-Richburg Central School
What's out there in space? How do we get there? How do you live in space? These are some of the questions that were answered for Bolivar-Richburg Elementary students. Over 300 elementary students and teachers were invited to a Virtual Field Trip Showcase event that took place in their school on Friday, March 28, 2014. Each grade had the opportunity to have the world brought to their classroom through Distance Learning. Students sat patiently as Scientists, Firefighters, and Museum experts talked with the students about space, habitats, building communities, and fire safety.