Teachers across the region have learned to embrace change in their classrooms, most recently with the adoption of the Common Core Learning Standards in both English Language Arts and Mathematics. As we know change is often met with frustration, exasperation and fear. I would be a liar if I said that the teacher in my success story didn’t feel all of those emotions and more.
Bill Connelly (Pioneer Central School District) is a veteran High School Math teacher. Last school year he embraced the challenge of adapting the Common Core Algebra II content. During monthly work sessions, Bill dove deeply into the module lessons to determine what content needed more foundational lessons and which content needed more lessons to solidify the concepts.
Not only did Bill work closely with the content, but he also embraced the use of technology in his classroom. In an effort to support his students in both the foundational concepts and the solidification of content, Bill added a technology piece to his classroom. Bill decided to record his daily lessons and post them to Youtube for students to use as they attempted their homework or if they were absent from class. As you can imagine, this was met with several technological set backs and some missed recordings early on. With perseverance and flexibility Bill eventually created a Youtube channel for his classroom. In addition to the audio recordings, Bill embraced the help of Khan Academy and its abundance of resources. Bill identified gaps in student needs based on formative assessments and assigned practice for them to fill the gaps and/or reinforce concepts.
This year, Bill is continuing to embrace change. He is still incorporating the technology from last year and of course improving its usefulness. In addition, he is dabbling in flipping his classroom and making full video recordings. Bill has continued to search for the best instructional resources to use with his students to tackle the Common Core Algebra 2 standards. As he embraces the changes in his instruction he continues to focus on what is best for students learning and understanding. Thank you Bill for embracing change!
By Karen Insley, CA BOCES Professional Development
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 Ten Broeck Academy in Franklinville, data has taken the driver’s seat to inform instruction. Last year, Principal Jennifer Cappelletti assembled a Data Leadership Team comprising of teachers from different content areas, as well as herself and Brendan Keiser, the BOCES Curriculum Coordinator, to develop a data-driven culture in her 7-12 building. To begin the cultural shift, the DLT started by creating a calendar for the year that included: three interim assessment testing periods and meeting dates for the DLT and for teachers to review their data. By creating a calendar for the year, the team committed to the initiative.
During the year, all teachers create and administer three interim assessments that are rigorous, aligned to the standards, and mirror the final assessment for the course, whether it is a state exam, Regents, or final exam. Teachers use eDoctrina and Castle Learning to link their assessment questions to their content standards. Both programs generate item-analysis reports with multiple data points, such as which questions students struggled with/mastered, the percentage of students struggling with/mastering a standard, and answer distribution for each question.
The DLT uses these reports to make initial observations of the data to help prepare for the data meetings with teachers. When the DLT meets with the teacher, the team works together to make observations, inferences about the data, and an action plan. Meeting as a team is essential, especially for the last task, because everyone can work together to share new ideas and practices to help target areas of weakness, instead of just making an action plan where you reteach the content in the same way. Together, the DLT makes SMART goals with the teacher (Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely) to best meet the needs of his/her students that he/she hopes to meet by the next interim assessment.
This process has been very successful. Jennifer Cappelletti shares, “Over the past two years, we have made using data effectively a main focus in the high school. With each data cycle we have evaluated the process and made adjustments to make the process more worthwhile. This year, we added cross-curricular teachers at the same grade level examining each other's data together. The result has been a better understanding of each other's curriculum and collaboration on reaching common goals.”
Finally, to strengthen the data-driven culture, the DLT has been involved in CA-BOCES’ Informed Teaching Series. The team participated in four sessions, doing a deep dive into Leaders of their Own Learning, a book that details how to create a culture of student-engaged assessment that puts students in the driver’s seat in self-assessing their progress. Upon completing the program, the DLT met and identified five best practices they want to implement into their school culture. Great work, Franklinville teachers!
By: Brendan Keiser, CA BOCES Professional Development
Learning new information was difficult for Melvin the Monster. Melvin’s friends and family showed him how they learn new things by using art, math, sports, music, and encouragement from each other.
Puppetmasters David and Amy, also known as Up In Arms, combined a cast of 10 friendly, colorful monsters, humor and original songs from rock, to classical, jazz, pop, and Broadway standards to teach Melvin and the young audience about learning styles and self confidence.
Almost 2000 students (PreK- 2nd graders) from schools across Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties learned valuable lessons for school and life. Genesee Valley, Cattaraugus-Little Valley and Arcade Elementary opened their auditoriums to host these performances. Monster Intelligence marked the sixth and final performance of the school year contracted by BOCES. BOCES Arts-In-Education helps schools enrich the lives of their students by providing opportunities to experience the performing arts. TheatreWorks USA is a professional acting company based out of New York City. It is America’s largest and most prolific professional theatre for young audiences. For more information about bringing TheatreWorks shows to your area, contact Student Programs at 716-376-8284.
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES Student Programs
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 .
Tenth graders from Andover, Belfast, Bolivar-Richburg, Cuba-Rushford, Fillmore, Portville, Scio, and Wellsville explored careers at Alfred State College. Over 40 businesses shared about careers in Allegany County. Student spent the day answering the question, "What's my next step?"
Engaging students today is all the more challenging. With students spending much of their time enveloped in a world of technology, from social media to video games, the ability to get students interested in content and curriculum being taught is difficult. Game-based learning provides teachers with an opportunity to consider ways to engage students in the content being taught, and empower students to channel their own individual creativity.
As children, we often loved to play games. Whether it was a simple card game on a rainy day, Red Rover with all the kids in the neighborhood during summer vacation, or a competitive game of Monopoly, games are very much a part of life – and of learning. Bringing games into the classroom instills a series of game-based principles, and provides an opportunity for direct interaction with content. Through engaging in the risk and reward of a game, or being immersed in a challenge-based experience, students are progressing through the game to fulfill a final goal or end result.
At a recent Genesee Valley professional development day, teachers explored the practice and principles behind game-based learning. Participants played games, created games, and discussed how games could be transferred back into the classroom.
Kristin Buchholz, high school art teacher, is no stranger to game-based learning. While she incorporates her own instructional games in the classroom, she also has her students design and build games to learn about the principles of art. However, this year, after exploring game-based learning, she hopes to have the students make games that reinforce curricular concepts she teaches in her art courses. Music teachers Tom Musingo and Alva Robbins created a game that has students work through their recognition of musical scales, all with the use of a 12-sided die.
In working with small groups or whole groups, games can help engage students in the content and curriculum. The start of game-based learning could come from the development of games by the teacher, but the true challenge is having students engage in the creation of games that can be used to support each other in learning key critical content. Rather than having students create games for the sake of creating games, challenge students to build games that would help them – or their peers – to learn the content they’ve been exploring. If students are struggling with math, consider how a deck of cards could help reinforce a skill being taught in math. The creativity of students can not only help to reinforce concepts, but also can help to build student ability to channel their own personal creativity. Games bring back that fondness of our childhood, but also can be a great instructional tool to engage students and reinstate that sense of “fun” in any classroom PK-12.
By: Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES
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 email@example.com.
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
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
The Regional Odyssey of the Mind Competition will be held on Saturday, March 12th @ Allegany-Limestone Middle/High School.
Volunteers & Judges make the whole day happen and we need your help!
If you are new to Odyssey of the Mind or have judged in the past we would love to have you join us for this exciting, creative problem-solving competition! I have attached a brief problem synopsis for you to review and to help you decide what problem you would be interested in judging. We also need judges for the Spontaneous Problem if you are interested.
To register - please click on the link below and fill out the information. It will generate an email confirmation back to you to ensure you have registered correctly.
Please feel free to contact Jean Oliverio, Regional Director @ (716) 376-8323, by email @ firstname.lastname@example.org or myself if you have any questions.
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
If you walk into a kindergarten classroom during writer’s workshop at Hinsdale, you will see a classroom of 5-6 year olds talking and learning from one another about Polar Bears. Over the past month, kindergarteners have been learning about Polar Bears and the Artic habitat. The walls and the classroom is covered with Focus Charts titled; How Polar Bears Hunt?, How Polar Bears Survive in the Artic Region?, How Polar Bears stay warm?, and much more.
At the start of the school year, the students were introduced to the process of writing, six traits and what great author’s do. Students were given an opportunity to read authentic literature, practice writing, discuss literature and ideas with peers and their teacher and begin to tell their stories with journal writing.
In regard to primary writing, Duke, Hall, Purcell-Gates, and Tower (2006) state, “Students, we believe, need to read authentic literature and to engage in authentic writing” (p.344). Using authentic literature as an example, students will develop an understanding of the components of writing. This also helps students to understand the different purposes for reading and writing.
After the Christmas holiday, kindergarteners at Hinsdale move into more writing, writing centers, writing books, researching, and independence. The writer’s workshop structure in kindergarten is:
Mini-lesson (15 minutes)
During the mini-lessons in kindergarten writer’s workshop, students sit on the rug, and partake in a shared lesson, collaborate with peers, share ideas, watch the teacher ‘write’, unscramble sentences, work on grammar and much more. While visiting, students were engaged, excited and enjoyed sharing their knowledge about Polar Bears and the Artic Region. The kindergartener were using “fancy Nancy” words such as translucent, powerful and patiently.
Using writing centers in writer’s workshop, gives the classroom teacher an opportunity to meet with a small group of student’s and work on editing, writing, craft, grammar, spelling and ideas. This small group/centers gives the teacher an opportunity to “conference” and check in with students in a small setting and meet with individual students where they are at within the writing process. The writing centers give the students time to independently work on other skills within the writing genre. The other centers were various skills that support the research/informative writing about Polar Bears.
Writing with our youngest students in important for them to make purposeful connections to reading and writing. During our hour site visit at Hinsdale, we noticed our youngest students working independently, generating their own ideas, checking for errors, working with peers, staying on task, learning content and much more. If you would like to learn more about writer’s workshop or six traits, please don’t hesitate to contact Tessa Levitt or Anne Cator or visit a classroom of kindergarteners making it happen at Hinsdale Elementary School.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES and Whitesville Central School
The Scholastic Challenge Competition will be held this Saturday, February 6 at Portville Central School. This annual event, sponsored by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES, will host a total of 41 teams who will compete in a Junior Division and Senior Division, for grades 6-12.
Scholastic Challenge is a fast paced contest that tests knowledge of academic trivia. Teams of four students will measure their ability to recall details from a wide variety of topics.
Fourteen school districts will be participating in the double-elimination contest this year. This translates to about 250 students and coaches. Throughout the day, several thousand questions will be read aloud to these ambitious teams. Spectators are encouraged to watch the competitions. It’s exciting to see the students combine an impressive display of intelligence with camaraderie, graciousness and good sportsmanship.
The final matches will be held on stage in the Portville auditorium around 2:15-3:15 (these are approximate times). The first and second place teams in each division will be presented with plaques to recognize their achievements.
This event requires about 40 volunteers to make the day run smoothly. CABOCES Student Programs is grateful to everyone who donates their time and experience to provide a fun and educational day for the students in our area. Scholastic Challenge could not happen without their help!
The following school districts will be attending:
Hinsdale Central-2 teams coached by Kate Jedrosko
Cuba-Rushford - 4 teams coached by John Butler
Ellicottville Central - 3 teams coached by Ann Chamberlain
Fillmore Central – 2 teams coached by Deb Woltag & Bill Kelley
Franklinville Central - 3 teams coached by Shannon Wood
Friendship Central - 1 team coached by Wade Pearsall
Genesee Valley - 4 teams coached by Rollie Duttweiler & Sara Donlon
Olean High- 1 teams coached by Carolyn Shields
Pioneer Central -4 teams coached by Sarah Wood
Portville Central - 8 teams coached by Margaret Seib & Gene Rogers
Randolph Central-1 team coached by Jennifer Bieniek
Scio Central - 3 teams coached by Mary Zdrojewski
Wellsville Central - 2 teams coached by Diane Willard
West Valley Central - 3 teams coached by Ryan Keem