Have you seen students who struggle with the following...
● getting started on their work, even though directions were just explained
● turning in homework when it is completed and sitting in their book bag
● planning out their time appropriately for long term assignments
● Cramming materials in their desk or folder
These are tasks that require executive functioning skills. According to The National Center for Learning
Disabilities, “Executive function is a set of mental processes that helps us connect past experience with
present action. People use it to perform activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to and remembering details and managing time and space.” It is quite common to have a deficit in one or more of the following skill areas: time management, task initiation, planning/prioritizing, impulse control, organization, emotional control, flexibility, working memory, and self-monitoring.
These deficits can be heightened when a student has a disability or as a child progresses in school and academic demands become too grueling. Luckily there are many strategies that can help improve or eliminate deficits and set students up for long term success. The visual below shows an example of what a deficit in impulse control could look like in the classroom and strategies that could help eliminate those issues.
When determining which strategies to implement, it is important to personalize them to the needs of the
student. We all have strategies that work for us when tackling tasks. For example, many of us prefer a paper calendar to keep track of appointments or to-do’s while electronic calendars work better for others. You may prefer to take deep belly breaths to destress while others benefit from a quick walk. Students are no different and will need strategies personalized for them and to meet their unique needs. To find a strategy that works best for your student, begin by establishing a positive relationship, trying an approach that is age appropriate and seeking student feedback. In addition, strategies should be modeled, practiced and scaffolded by the adult until the student can be independent with the approach.
As we dive into the 2020-2021 school year and contemplate how to best support learning whether brick, click or hybrid, remember to give thoughts to how explicit instruction on personalized strategies can improve executive functioning skills and set your students up for a LIFETIME of success.
For additional information on Executive Function or to set up a zoom training for your staff, please reach out to Tessa Levitt or Jessica Rose.
By: Jessica Rose and Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
Very soon the leaves will begin to fall and classrooms will begin to hum with the sounds of four and five year olds engaged in imaginary play. Although our schedules may be different and the number of children in a classroom will vary, play is still a necessity. Whether we are face to face or working virtually, children show us time and again that play is the way they learn.
It is through play that children develop necessary social-emotional skills which are linked to improved behavior, higher academic performance and better attitudes about school.
Play is at the core of development and learning. The early learning standards articulate the learning progressions for all students. Those who work with young children are charged with the task to provide intentional, experiential, and joyful learning experiences where play is the vehicle to deliver curriculum.
If you are interested in learning how to use play as an instructional tool in your classroom contact Michelle Rickicki or Corey Wilson.
By: Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development
With Remote Learning plans factoring into many Districts’ plans for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, one of the platforms that many teachers in the CA region will be using is getting some long-awaited and powerful updates to enhance learning remotely this fall.
Microsoft has announced over 50 updates for its Microsoft Teams platform, both major and minor, that will make the product a much more enjoyable software application for remote learning. Some of the new features coming to Teams are introduced below.
Meeting with students and other teachers just became a more supercharged, with the addition of Large Gallery view, that enables seeing 49 participants on the screen at once, as well as Together Mode, which strips away the boxes behind the video participants and puts them into a virtual assembly hall to make them appear as if they are back in the classroom together.
Alongside these updates, more features such as extended meeting Attendance Reports (up to 24 hours after a meeting has concluded), the ability to “hard mute” participants so they cannot unmute themselves, breakout rooms for smaller discussion-based settings, the ability to share a new collaborative Whiteboard experience with text, pens, and sticky notes, a raise hand feature to signify wanting to talk, and more settings for students to be “participants” (ability to chat and share), “attendees” (view only), or “presenters” (ability to share screen) will be hitting teachers’ screens soon.
Teachers will also see updates in the Assignments tab across the top of the General channel in their Teams. This includes the ability to now have students see a thumbnail preview of attached websites prior to clicking on the link, the ability to attach up to 500mb worth of file attachments to Assignments, “Anonymous Grading” as an option where the students’ names are stripped from their work to focus solely on grading the work and reducing any “grading bias” that may exist, whether purposeful or not. There will also be the ability to set a default due time for all assignments in that class, so you won’t have to change it every time! There are also lots of new kid-friendly animations when they turn in their work that are new to the Fall 2020 update.
For more details on the Fall 2020 updates to Microsoft Teams, or for more information about when to expect more of the announced update features, please check out this article https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/education-blog/25-updates-for-microsoft-teams-for-education-for-back-to-school/ba-p/1554445
By: Ryan McGinnis, CA BOCES Model Schools
MORE THAN JUST A GAME
Not long ago, a handful of CA BOCES regional educators inquired about eSports at a Technology Coordinators & Integrators Forum (TCIF). The murmurs were subtle and few, but they were present nonetheless. Has anyone heard about eSports? A handful. Is anyone going to get involved? A few interested. What can CA BOCES do to help? We’ll look into it.
Not long after, the buzz grew louder and more frequent, and questions like, “What can CA BOCES do about eSports?” turned into, “What is CA BOCES going to do about eSports?” Consequently, our exploration hastened and narrowed in on some key players.
HSEL & PlayVS
If you search “high school eSports” in your favorite web browser, one of the first links (if not the very first) is High School Esports League | HSEL. (Smart business move.) According to HSEL’s website, the league includes participation from over 3,000 schools and 80,000 students. Similarly, it doesn’t take much searching or asking around before you find yourself on the site of PlayVS, a league that boasts of its presence in all 50 states, over 13,000 schools, and over 80,000 sign ups.
While there are a variety of leagues to join, HSEL and PlayVS are among the most popular. Each league provides organized eSports competition across the nation with regional divisions available and smaller subdivisions arriving in the near future, and both offer a variety of benefits such as technical support, resources for coaches, families, and students, and fully unlocked features through their game licensing.
However, it wasn’t until Rob Miller, former CA BOCES Model Schools coordinator and current Director of Educational Technology & Information Systems at Salamanca City School District, suggested we explore a different league altogether that we realized we were missing something bigger.
Ultimately, the work we do at CA BOCES is aimed at improving the student experience. When you attend professional development such as Don’t Ditch That Tech! (based on the book by Matt Miller), you will likely explore a variety of technologies, but the focus isn’t on the tech. The priority is using that technology, a means, to improve your instruction and assessment for the sake of students. When you explore the Advancing STEM curriculum and STEM kits, you will see numerous activities and projects around many topics, but the activities aren’t the focus. The emphasis is to improve STEM curriculum, instruction, and assessment for the sake of students. After only a brief meeting with NASEF, we learned that their mission was very much like ours.
North America Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF)
In our initial endeavors of exploring eSports, we were able to justify purchasing equipment through CSLO (ask your tech. director if you’re interested in what this means) since most equipment is multi-purposed, used in labs, STEM spaces, or for other high-capacity software such as CAD or video editors. But how could justify a stand alone gaming event? Thankfully, we don’t have to.
The key word making all the difference both in appearance and practice: scholastic. NASEF is not just an eSports league; it is so much more.
Because the mission at NASEF is “to provide opportunities for ALL students to acquire critical communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills needed to thrive in work and in life,” eSports is simply the platform where that mission takes place. A means to an end. Furthermore, through the principal support of the Samueli Foundation, NASEF offers middle school, high school, and CTE curriculum aligned with Common Core ELA, NGSS, ISTE, and SEL standards.
If we weren’t excited enough after our first meeting with NASEF, we grew even more interested when we learned of NASEF’s COVID-19 response via Minecraft and the 14 beyond the game challenges. With our many questions answered, multiple meetings conducted, and the proper paperwork signed, we are pleased to announce that CA BOCES is among the many NASEF affiliates!
Consequently, with the fantastic support of NASEF, CA BOCES will be hosting our first semi-annual scholastic eSports tournaments at the CA BOCES Olean Main Center, tentatively December 16, 2020 and March 31, 2021. For more information regarding registration for these events, please contact Jean Oliverio (Jean_Oliverio@caboces.org), coordinator for Student Programs. For more information regarding the scholastic eSports collaboration between CA BOCES and NASEF, take a glance at the announcement on the NASEF website or contact Mary Morris (Mary_Morris@caboces.org), Program Manager for Student Programs.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
As one school year ended in an undeniably different fashion than years prior, so too is a new one set to begin under circumstances far different than the traditional expectations and norm. As schools create plans and explore various options to accommodate and connect students in both the face-to-face and digital formats, there has been a tremendous focus of time and learning dedicated to the exploration of various platforms that can effectively promote connectivity and collaboration among both teachers and students. One of these platforms is Microsoft Teams.
While Microsoft Teams is not a new product, the awareness and familiarity has become relatively new to many in the educational world as a shift to remote learning became a reality. This application is meant to enhance teamwork through enriched collaboration and communication. It has the capability of video streaming, document collaboration and sharing, one-on-one and team chat, and more. Additionally, since it is part of Office 365 suite, integration already exists with other Office products making access to cloud storage and files simple for the user.
The CA BOCES staff worked through the school closure and throughout the summer to offer varied training opportunities to cater to the familiarity and expertise of those desiring to learn more and gain deeper understanding about this application. Teams training was based on three different levels of users; Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.
Differentiation of these specific workshop trainings brought all those involved, teachers and administrators, a deeper understanding of not only the functional components and the customizable aspects of the application, but also the safety and security features that are built in as well. Through these targeted workshops that were open for any teachers who desired to participate, and through training offered to district level groups of staff, CA BOCES trainers worked to increase the ability of those using Teams across the region focusing on ways to effectively collaborate and communicate with each other and with students in an online environment. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced user of Microsoft Teams, if you’re looking to increase your ability to help your Team, reach out to your Essential Partner at CA BOCES because we are here to support you!
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
With recent launches of rockets and a few more happening in July, it's time to blastoff this month with the STEM Challenge! Check out the Events Calendar at Kennedy Space Center for upcoming launches to watch them live or previous launches to prepare for builidng your own rocket to launch. Your challenge is to create and design a rocket and launch pad for blastoff. Adjust the rocket fuel and rocket design to see which provides the best blastoff. What size rocket will work best? What if the rocket had fins or other designs? Does the ratio of fuel ingredients matter? What about the ratio of fuel to the rocket size? What should the rocket launch pad be? The goal is create the best rocket you can and to experiment with all those questions!
Design some sort of launch pad first. The goal of the launch pad is to hold the bottle upside down in an upright position. Next, decide on a plastic bottle to use as your rocket and design your rocket. Finally, experiment with the ratio of your rocket fuel or baking soda and vinegar.
Your creation does have some criteria and constraints. Make sure safety is noted at all times. After the rocket is fueled, place it in the launch pad, and back away. Only launch rockets in a wide open spaces and from the designed launch pad. For launching, fill the bottle with the chosen vinegar ratio, pour the baking soda on a 4"x4" piece of paper towel, wrap up the baking soda with the paper towel, stuff it carefully into the spout of the bottle, cork the bottle, and turn it upside down into the launcher and move quickly out of the way. Prepare for blastoff!
Hints and Tips for Success
By: Clay Nolan, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Brain rules are twelve rules proposed by John Medina to help us understand how our brains work and how to use them as effectively as possible. Of the twelve brain rules, there are several that I want to explore in detail that could be used and implemented in the classroom.
Rule 1: Survival
Our survival instincts are what have helped humans evolve into the society we form today. Medina explains survival as the ability to solve problems, learn from mistakes and create alliances with other people. Thus, collaboration and group work are important for our survival. The classroom should not be any different. Teaching team work skills, active listening and developing social intelligence will not only create an environment of trust in the classroom, but also help the students lean on each other and survive the year together.
Rule 2: Exercise
Starting a class with a quick exercise is a way to refresh the brain. This can be as simple as moving our arms in swimming motions or performing deep breathing exercises. The aim is to get some oxygen to the brain. If there are two classes back to back, a break between them would be good too.
Rule 7: Memory
By recapping the material often, relating it to present day happenings or relevant day-to-day activities and tasks, students will remember more. Brains possess neuroplasticity which means that they are constantly evolving and the more we use them, the stronger they get.
Rule 9: Vision
Getting content across to students. does not have to be just about pages full of words. Expressing material in different ways using pictures, videos, and models allows the brain to make sense of things quickly and remember them better.
Rule 12: ExplorationSchools are a safe environment where students have the opportunity to experiment and evolve at their own pace. I want my classes to be an adventure where the students can each explore their interests to some extent and share their experiences. Inquiry-based learning is a great way to get students to do this.
If you want to learn more about Brain Rules by John Medina, check out his book. If you are interested in the 2 hour workshop with ideas around classroom implementation of the 12 brain rules by John Medina, reach out to Tessa Levitt or Jessica Rose at CABOCES.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
Uncertainty can be paralyzing, provoke fear and anxiety and result in many unanswered questions. Despite the overwhelming amount of uncertainty that abruptly entered the lives of educators (and so many others) due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, opportunities were seized, risks were taken, creativity and innovation arose and problems were solved. However, as soon as one challenge was tended to, a handful of new, complex challenges were waiting to be addressed.
One of the overarching themes of uncertainty that continued to come up in conversation amongst educators, was what returning to school would be like; the “when,” the “how,” the “if,” and the “what” were often discussed. From early on, most recognized that whatever the answer to the former questions, for better or worse, it would simply not be the same. Many educators also agreed that securing a sense of physical and psychological safety for all staff and students, would be critical, yet, would not be an easy task and could take several weeks or months to achieve.
The conversation around “re-entry” became a frequent, recurring one within the weekly remote PD session for school counselors, social workers and psychologists. The collective passion and emotion present in each conversation led the group to take action and create a guidance entitled “Social and Emotional Recommendations for a Healthy Re-Entry,” for school districts to reference as they navigate re-entry planning. Although there were a number of unanswered questions and remaining uncertainties, the group agreed upon critical considerations for a healthy re-entry. Margaret Wheatley once said, “It is possible to prepare for the future without knowing what it will be. The primary way to prepare for the unknown is to attend to the quality of our relationships, to how well we know and trust one another.”
If you are interested in learning more about actionable recommendations for meeting the SEL needs of staff and students and supporting a healthy re-entry, please consider joining us on August 3rd, for one of our summer PD opportunities, “Back to School: SEL Transition Conversation.”
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools
Teaching Physical Education Without the Gym. . . A Reflection from Portville Elementary School’s PE Teacher, Christina Matz
Field Day at Portville, like many schools, is a fun, engaging day not only to help close out the year but to give students ideas to stay active in the summer with their families. Obviously, due to the school shutdown, I had to modify Field Day, but I was not going to cancel it.
Throughout the shutdown, I was able to collaborate and share ideas with physical education teachers with whom I networked from around the country and around the world. I took advantage of the many CABOCES PE webinars and forums afforded to us, especially with learning the use of technology, which is a smooth segue to our Portville Virtual Field Day.
Before the shutdown, I had limited knowledge of Google slides, publishing to YouTube, or Facebook Live. But, I learned these skills to combine with my prior knowledge of physical education to create a Google slide with 23 Field Day events as well as 36 clickable images. The links led the students to YouTube videos of me and my family doing the various Field Day activities. I was also able to attach a scoresheet and a certificate to the Field Day slide post. Some of the activities were my own, while some were shared with me with other PE teachers from as far away as California and Australia.
One of the many challenges was how to come up with physical education activities to do without the aid of traditional equipment. To overcome this, I looked around our home for common household items present in most homes. For example, I used rolled-up socks and pillowcases, ladders, and spatulas. To help hype it up, I asked for elementary teachers and staff to send pictures of themselves with an encouraging sign for our students. Using a video editor, I put together a collage set to music for the students to enjoy.
The community response was overwhelming. On my PE Rockstar Facebook page, I asked for families to share pictures and/or videos of their children doing the activities. I had so many responses, it was hard to keep up with them all!
During the shutdown, community support and involvement is even more important than normal times and this was a great way to inspire passion and excitement for physical education.
So why did I do this? I did it to continue to interact with students but also to bring families together with physical activities designed for students, which the whole family could engage in. The passion I have for physical education is something I will always have but staying positive and learning new skills during our time at home will only enrich my teaching in the future.
I would not have been able to do this without the support of our Portville school and community, especially our elementary principal Lynn Corder, who is always supportive of my ideas for our Portville elementary PE program.
By: Christina Matz, Portville Elementary
Coordinated by: Anne Mitchell, CA BOCES Professional Development
Environmental Education is all about using the resources around us to understand how our world works. Beyond the in-classroom programs, the Environmental Education CoSer offers programs where students can use those resources to do many hands-on immersive educational experiences. Students can be expected to be surrounded by fresh sounding streams, cool thick forests, and calming lakes.
Science on Seneca and our Ecology Camp have been long standing, successful programs. We are excited to expand our outdoor learning experiences to offer the Audubon Community Nature Center (Jamestown), Buffalo Audubon (North Java), Reinstein Woods (Buffalo), and Allegany State Park.
Here are some programs that will get your students out of the classroom:
These programs, plus the in-classroom experiences, are offered through our Environmental Science CoSer! For more information on these programs or others available to you through Environmental Science please feel free to contact Lance Feuchter at (716) 376-8379 or email@example.com.
By: Lance Feuchter, CA BOCES Learning Resources
The Region 19 Odyssey of the Mind tournament was scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 14 at Allegany-Limestone Middle/High School. The ISS Student Programs team, along with 30 teams across the region, were packed and ready. On March 12, the announcement was made to cancel the tournament. For many of us, this was the first indicator that our lives were about to change dramatically.
The five remaining regional tournaments across New York state also canceled, as did the NY State Tournament. However, there are some worthwhile points to remember:
It is cathartic to reminisce, and it is also exciting to look ahead to next year. The 2020-2021 Problem Synopses have been released at https://www.odysseyofthemind.com/2021ltproblems/.
There is no doubt that the teams, coaches, and the Student Programs team will be ready to think creatively, solve problems, and adjust to new challenges that will be on the horizon. After all, that is what Odyssey of the Mind is all about.
Jean Oliverio, Student Programs
For me, blended learning has always been a necessity because it adds another element of creativity, provides otherwise unreachable resources, and promotes collaboration in education. It also allows for multiple kinds of learning environments to help differentiate instruction. Moving from brick-and-mortar classrooms and blended learning to solely online education was not where I thought I was heading when I set out to be a teacher years ago, but it has changed my perception of what learning looks like and also made me a more flexible and mindful curriculum designer. When I started, there were some undeniably frustrating days. How do I reach students? How do I keep them engaged? How do I know they are learning? As I progressed, I reminded myself, these are the questions every teacher must face every year no matter how the curriculum is presented. There are simply different ways of observing what is successful and who needs support. It is up to us as educators to develop a course design that encourages and provides resources to foster the best possible learning experience for every student no matter what way the curriculum is presented.
And then COVID-19 happened. Even though I am an online educator with my curriculum housed in Moodle, I still was not ready for this challenge. Although not a typical to an online teaching experience, I was used to meeting with my students whenever possible to check in, to see facial expressions, and make personal connections. That loss was palpable.
These changes have made it apparent how valuable it is for educators to be able to go seamlessly from an in-person to online to offline experience. Of course, few if any are there yet, but I think this needs to be part of our new-found educational literacy in the teaching world. The set-up is difficult, but the results are undeniably valuable now and even when we are back in classrooms.
Setting up our classrooms to be both online and in person, having that flexibility, is important for students who are at home because they are on medical leave, for parents wanting to check in, for collaboration with colleagues, students, and parents, and for having a supply of back-up resources ready for every situation. It’s valuable for substitute teachers. It’s valuable for teachers in the moment who need to differentiate instruction. Here are some scenarios. Did Johnny fail a test on algebra? I have a tutorial for that. Did Anika struggle with synonyms? I have an interactive video for that. Today, I need to have individual meetings with my students, but I want anyone not meeting with me to work on another assignment. There’s a simple solution because there are projects, readings, and activities ready to go in their online course. As it happens, this online course also hosts audio files, transcripts, and has printable and downloadable materials so that students without internet can take materials home on their school provided device or to their personal computer. Do I need my student to catch up on a lesson, unit, or semester they need to retake? Well, I have a credit recovery options available. Are a few students way ahead? That’s great because I can open a section in my online course that has extra resources, so the student remains engaged. I can do all of this because I already have my collection of tools, resources, curriculum, and my course designed in an online space where students and parents can go to seek guidance, examples, and choose the next step in their educational experience.
Many educators have gradually started this process well before now and have some online space set aside with supplementary materials, lesson plan outlines, and activities. but most of us were not ready to teach everything this way. And for classes like welding and physical education, there may not be experiences that compare with hands-on education until we get advanced virtual reality capabilities, but there are still detailed and complementary online curriculums that can reinforce previous or prepare for future educational experiences. The good thing is that we have a lot of tools to make online education a wonderful addition to our classrooms, even if we don’t yet have the infrastructure.
I work in distance learning at CA BOCES, so I know that through Learning Resources, it’s possible to find content for all types of classes – core, electives, AP, honors, CTE, and credit recovery. This is an invaluable tool chest because educators are juggling so much right now. We don’t have time to transfer all of our content into an online compatible form, try to reach all of our students at home, learn new technologies on the fly, continue to teach regular classes, prepare new material, and learn how to set up a course immediately all while keeping up with our own families. We have all tried and as successful as possible, but if you’re like me there is always more that’s possible and always a way to improve. If your district belongs to the DL COSER, CA BOCES might be able to help provide pre-made curriculum and as educators, we can supplement with our own material until we have time to create our own online classes.
I’ve found that the curriculum is excellent. It was created by education experts and is updated regularly to make sure that it’s current. Further, it includes resources that would take teachers months to gather. When I’ve used it, I’ve kept what I like, and added my own materials based on my expertise. Maybe as a teacher, I know that I have a better assessment or direct instruction, or my co-teacher has personal experiences that are invaluable to the learning experience, so I add those into my course. Maybe it’s clear that you know exactly how to engage your students, so you replace or add to the provider’s content with your own short videos. There are so many options and what I’ve learned using online content is that I don’t have to do everything. I can rely on my strengths, my knowledge of students and their lives, and my ability to tailor the best educational experience for students and I don’t have sacrifice parts when something unexpected happens. And to add to that, I can reach out to specialists at CA BOCES and get wonderful professional development on how to work in Moodle or another online platform, to help me make changes to my courses, to implement new digital resources, and to be ready in this interconnected and blended world. That is truly a blessing during this time of change and unpredictability.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
We are always looking for ways to improve our Moodle instance and this spring has been no different. We have added two features that will provide additional support for our students and out teachers. ReadSpeaker and DocReader are both available for student support. Intelliboard offers data reports that will support teachers as they monitor student engagement with the course content. You will find more information about each in the paragraphs below.
ReadSpeaker is a block that will appear on each page of your course. You may need to change the Appearance of your course if you don’t see any blocks. Clean is a good option if you need to make a change. Contact Karen Insley or Carrie Oliver if you need any help with changing the appearance.
The DocReader icon will appear automatically to the right of any document you have in your course. This will read any document, allow students to highlight text and make notes from the highlighted text and much more.
Here are the links to the playlists and the downloadable package.
Intelliboard will appear as the Instructor Dashboard on the left hand side of the teacher’s screen, near where your courses are listed. When you select the Instructor Dashboard you will see a visual representation of student interaction and engagement. There are also reports that you can select from for each of your courses. The resources below will give you further guidance on what is available and how to access it as a valuable resource for you.
Please contact us if you have any questions or would like some training!
By: Karen Insley, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Teachers looking to help students in grades K-12 develop and strengthen social-emotional skills can use a curated collection of picture books chosen specifically for engaging students. High school and middle school students enjoy being read to and picture books will add a twist and bring new meaning to a classic story. For younger students, pictures provide deeper meaning and help identify emotions. In just 15 minutes, you can have students internalizing what it means to be kind, thoughtful, or compassionate to name just a few character traits. This guide will help you ask questions for facilitating enriching discussions for students in all grades. Most titles can be found in your school library but many are available in OverDrive, which is perfect for using with Zoom. Just download the ebook onto your personal device, share your screen (be sure to check the box to share computer sound), and you are ready to read. To avoid copyright infringement, do not record and/or share on a public platform.
If you have further questions about library resources or library related questions, please contact Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces.org
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
The students in Mrs. Sortore’s Forensics class at Friendship Central School have been busy searching for clues! Two different crime scenes were created in the school area, and two teams were chosen to investigate each crime. The class consists of 21 students that are a mixture of seniors and sophomores this year. Each group included a Facilitator, Lab Technicians, Crime Scene Investigators, Photo Analysts, Crime Scene Sketch Artist, Blood and Fingerprint Analysts. The teams used their prior knowledge of Forensic Science to gather and analyze the clues. One of the critical tools to analyze hair collected from the scenes was the Amscope Digital Microscope from CABOCES. This scope allowed the students to measure the medulla to compare hair from the scene and hair collected from suspects. Without this technology our student’s ability to narrow down the suspects would have been severely hampered leading to a possible incorrect assumption. The ability to measure and view the hair at this level was a key component to solving the crime. It was inspiring to watch this group of students work together to piece together the clues. The students worked tirelessly gathering clues, piecing together evidence, and solving critical pieces between the separate scenes.
By: Mark Carls, CA BOCES Professional Development
Did you know that teaching is the 2nd highest profession that struggles with mental health? As we find ourselves in the midst of remote learning and isolation from students, colleagues, family, and friends this current situation only MAGNIFIES this struggle. As teachers we often work to build and address the mental health of others, but we tend to neglect self. We need to be sure to monitor our own personal mental health and recognize when there are dangers to our personal mental health. In doing so, you will be able to provide for self-care.
Our current work situation is more challenging to all aspects of our current life. Working and living with others who may also be stressed, can test our patience and push us to our limits, causing us to act in ways that are not our normal behaviors. Practicing Self-Care is an important activity that will help you to cognitively, physically and emotionally ‘bounce back’ each day over the long term and can help you avoid falling into the pitfalls of acting out.
We can improve our mental health through self-care by knowing the warning signs and how to identify mental health concerns, understanding how to implement self-care strategies, and identify ways to engage in positive aspects of mental health and self-care. Self-care can have many different forms, but the easiest way to implement self-care is by engaging in activities and practices that give you energy, lower your stress and contribute to your well being. Some examples of self-care are exercising regularly, eating well and fostering positive relationships. Self-care activities will be different for everyone and participating in activities regularly before a time of crisis will work to improve your mental health and well being.
As individuals we need to notice when our stress is manageable, and our physical and emotional wellbeing is enhanced. Make a commitment to your health and wellbeing for today and into the future you by identifying and implementing aspects of self-care. This will create positive habits in your life that can make self-care become a routine that positively impacts your mental health.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Q: What do you get when you connect over 80 students, 23 teachers and administrators, 24 CABOCES ISS staff members, who are miles apart, each safely in their own homes, across 2 counties?
A: The first ever regional Virtual Scholastic Challenge
On May 1st, twenty teams from twelve area school districts got together, virtually, using Zoom.
42 matches took place over the course of the day, with nearly 1000 questions read aloud. Teams, made up of 3-4 students each, mastered using an online buzzer system that created fast paced and exciting matches. The students combined an impressive display of intelligence and good sportsmanship as the match facilitators measured their ability to recall facts from a wide variety of topics. There was an exciting energy throughout the day, as summed up by ISS Digital Resources & Technology Coordinator, Alex Freer, one of the match readers, who said, “What a joy to be a part of today!”
Shannon Wood, Franklinville Central School’s coach added, “Please extend our thanks to all of the BOCES staff that participated in pulling off the VSC! It was really a great change of pace for the kids! They look forward to this and you accomplished the new format very smoothly! Thank you for all of your hard work!”
Scholastic Challenge is an annual event hosted by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES. The regional competition that tests students’ knowledge of academic trivia and current events is typically held as a face-to-face tournament.
Thank you to the 12 school districts that participated:
CABOCES applauds all the students and coaches who were willing and enthusiastic to try something unknown. Everyone learned together, overcame challenges, enjoyed the camaraderie, while having fun. Students, coaches, and match facilitators practiced and prepared for the new format and rules by participating in virtual scrimmages for 3 weeks prior to the May 1st competition.
As Tim Cox, Assistant Superintendent for ISS said, “It’s events like this that really bring our region together…especially now.”
Jean Oliverio, ISS Student Programs
With the pause created by the Covid 19 pandemic, the Learning Resources department is, now more than ever, responsive to our districts needs.
By: Alex Free, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Are you stuck at home and looking for something fun, easy, and science to do? I’m a big fan of Rube Goldberg machines and think this might be something to tie fun, easy, and science all together!
What is a Rube Goldberg machine though? Let’s start with Rube Goldberg, himself. He was an American Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor, and his work is a classic example of the melding of art and science. Goldberg began his career as an engineer, and later became a cartoonist who drew elaborate illustrations of contraptions made up of pulleys, cups, birds, balloons, and watering cans that were designed to solve a simple task such as opening a window or setting an alarm clock. Interestingly, Goldberg only drew the pictures, and never built any of his inventions. However, these pictures have since served as inspiration for makers and builders who want the challenge of making wild inventions to solve everyday problems.
So, that is your challenge for today. Can you build a Rube Goldberg machine to solve a simple problem? Maybe you want to turn on a fan, pour a glass of water, knock over an item, catch something, turn on a light, pop a balloon, ring a bell etc.! The possibilities are endless.
For this challenge, there is no criteria or constraints. Use your creativity, ideas, thinking, and materials to create your own contraption!
Hints and Tips for Success
By: Clay Nolan, CA BOCES Learning Resources
When I took this photo, I had no idea that school would be closed and the world would be suffering a pandemic. My thoughts were centered on capturing the vision of growing leaders that Friendship Central School strives to achieve. The district believes that each person involved in the school has unique gifts and talents. Teachers, students, staff members and the school community have many opportunities to use their talents and grow into the person they are meant to become. In my mind, that’s the mission of education and it happens by becoming a lifelong learner.
Throughout this pandemic, I have had the unique opportunity to watch teachers transform their teaching from a face to face environment where daily interactions with students are the norm to a virtual and remote world. The challenges of living in a rural area where internet and cell service are often labeled “unstable” or “not available” can be overwhelming. However, future leaders saw this an opportunity for growth.
At Friendship Central School, teachers model a life of caring for others and giving of self to better the world. They demonstrate this value on a daily basis evidenced in classroom communities. Students are taught to give a little piece of their heart each day because it brings joy to self and others. Now, in the uncertainty of a crisis, Lindsey Weaver, Kindergarten teacher at Friendship, continues to model selfless service by growing her knowledge and sharing it with others.
In the district, Lindsey was instrumental in showing teachers the possibilities available when moving to an online platform. Leadership is about being brave and taking risks when faced with a challenge. Friendship Central School allows each member the opportunity to take a risk by creating a safe environment where risk-taking is valued. Lindsey’s willingness to be vulnerable during a crisis gave many other teachers the courage to try new ways of communicating with students and families. In just a few short weeks, Lindsey presented ideas to the Cattaraugus-Allegany region as well as in specific local districts. She has inspired joy and creativity between teachers, students, and families.
Even though we are in unprecedented times, Friendship Central School is still truly a place where its members are invited to learn and grow. All it takes is the courage to move in that direction.
By: Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development
"Far too many students come to school with small vocabularies. This is a big deal: the size of a child's vocabulary is an accurate predictor of academic achievement and even upward mobility over the course of a lifetime (Hirsch, 2013)." - 101 Strategies to make Academic Vocabulary Stick.
March left districts tackling unprecedented times as they worked to transition from classroom environments to creating work packets and delivering instruction online. As teachers navigate this unknown territory, this article means to highlight three ways to incorporate vocabulary instruction utilizing the video conferencing tool Zoom. While determining which vocabulary to focus on keep in mind the following information, according to the New York State Education Department principles of effective vocabulary instruction include:
In 101 Strategies to Make Academic Vocabulary Stick, Sprenger speaks to the three stages of the Memory Process. The stages include Encoding, Storage and Retrieval. Encoding is the first stage of building long term memory and the author notes that vocabulary instruction at this stage is meant to pique the students interest, motivate and engage them. Here are three strategies (adapted from 101 Strategies to make Academic Vocabulary Stick) that focus on the Encoding process and can be incorporated within a Zoom session.
● Story Impressions
○ This is a pre-reading activity meant to spark curiosity. This will make reading the upcoming content more meaningful and help students with comprehension.
○ Choose keywords from a story or chapter, keeping them in the same order in which they appear.
○ Provide the list visually (word doc, whiteboard, etc.) for students by sharing your screen during a zoom lesson.
○ Go over brief definitions/descriptions and then either whole group, small group (breakout sessions) or individually have students use the words in a made-up story with a beginning, middle and end.
● Word Up
○ This strategy helps students hone in on their listening skills and highlight important vocabulary.
○ Zoom participants would be placed in Gallery View, so everyone could be seen at the same time (think Brady Bunch).
○ Identify 1-2 words you would like students to write separately on a piece of paper or an index card.
○ While you are reading aloud, whenever the students hear the appropriate word they would lift the paper or index card.
● Word Expert Cards
○ Before beginning new content, create a vocabulary list, including the page number where each word appears or online resources for them to access.
○ Divide your class so that there are 3-4 students in a group.
○ Give each group 2-3 vocabulary words. Students in each group are responsible for learning those words and then teaching them to the other groups.
○ Using the breakout group feature, have students with the same words discuss the best student created definition, its part of speech, the sentence from the text where it appears, illustration, and a made-up sentence by the group.
○ Move from group to group to check on accuracy. Then switch breakout groups and have those ‘word experts’ teach their words to other members of the class that had different words.
○ This will take planning ahead to determine the best breakout groups and movement by the teacher throughout the groups to encourage participation and on-task behavior.
Let's work together to help increase our students' vocabulary and ultimately have a positive impact on 'academic achievement and upward mobility over the course of a lifetime.'
For additional vocabulary strategies or questions, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
By: Jessica Rose, CA BOCES Professional Development
Hallmark 4 of Advanced Literacies Instruction: Academic Vocabulary and Langauge
Sprenger, M. (2017) 101 Strategies to make Academic Vocabulary Stick. ASCD
Leaders play a critical role in the implementation of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in schools. As a reminder, there are 5 competencies of SEL, they are as follows; self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and decision making. Several leaders from around the region gathered on March 10th to spend the day with Dr. Maurice Elias of Rutgers University to learn about just how significant their role is in the task of prioritizing and expanding SEL in our area schools.
Although SEL has been an educational priority for decades, attention to such learning has increased a great deal recently. Why? One reason is the mounting scientific evidence that proposes that SEL skills play a vital role in success in school and life beyond school, including one’s ability to understand and manage their emotions. Throughout the day, school leaders reflected on the significant impact that mental health and trauma have had on their students, families and communities, as well as the urgent need for SEL within the context of the school day. Additionally, interpersonal skills are in high demand from businesses around the world. Employers want people that are able to communicate and interact well with others.
So what do school leaders need for effective SEL leadership? First and foremost, they themselves must possess or improve upon their own SEL skills and SEL leadership skills. In the words of Dr. Elias, “The future of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Social Emotional Character Development (SECD) depends more than ever on the quality of leadership within schools and school districts, both generally and as focused on SEL/SECD.” Additionally, a clear vision, an understanding of the interrelationship between school climate and SEL, a current climate assessment, the ability to manage improvement/change initiatives and finally, the ability to inspire.
Despite all of the learning that took place around the leadership role of comprehensive SEL implementation in early March, our leaders collectively realized that while we have many strengths in this area, we have work to do. No improvement initiative is simple, it cannot be remedied with a “quick fix,” it takes time and persistence. Some of the actionable goals for leaders that are vital, include, infrastructure development, school identity clarification integration, climate/culture/skills assessments, promotion of student voice, connection to existing mandates and making connections with schools/districts that are “walking the walk.”
We look forward to facilitating meaningful, collaborative experiences that center around SEL Leadership and Implementation to continue the necessary steps towards improvement. Together, we must guarantee that students are in a positive school climate and will systemically learn social-emotional competencies and character virtues essential for life, this cannot be optional.
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools
What do you see in this picture?
A leaf? What happens when we get closer?
3rd Grade students at Salamanca Prospect were able to get a closer look to a assortment of natural items. Acting like scientists, the students given a tool (Jewelers Loupe) and were presented with the task of trying to discover the different and natural ways things form. Students generated conversations as to how this could hurt or benefit that natural item. In the process of investigating and exploring, students uncovered that this work is being done in the real world by scientists and researchers and it’s called Biomimicry.
In the process, students were able to appreciate how nature has an extraordinarily effective way of surviving and functioning. Scientist are trying to harness that understanding to put it to use on our design and production of materials, structures, and systems.
Looking at our leaf, scientists have uncovered in their research that the way a leaf is constructed, can make fluid or electricity may flow much more effectively through a system. Can you think about how this can be used in a manmade system?
This is just one of the many Environmental Science programs that CA BOCES has to offer! For more information on this program or others available to you through Environmental Science please feel free to contact Lance Feuchter at (716) 376-8379 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Lance Feuchter, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Wow! That’s about all I can say.
Our ISS team has been working around the clock to be “part of the solution” as our districts work to provide home instruction to students. We quickly realized we could help our region prepare for home instruction by doing what we do best, providing online professional development to regional educators.
Over the past eight days, we have convened job-alike educators in online sessions (viz Zoom technology) to share how districts will provide home instruction, to learn new methods and technology tools, and to serve as a "support group" for teachers who are, like their students, trying to make sense of what is happening in our world.
Our first sessions were packed with teachers working from home. And each day since, attendance has grown. So far, 2,641 participants have signed into sessions!
Working online has been so very rewarding. Our facilitators “passed the mic” to almost every teacher to build community with a large groups of strangers. It has been amazing to see our region at kitchen tables and in living rooms trying to take a step forward…and, as you know, any step forward right now feels so good. We have heard time after time the resolve that teachers have to attempt to connect with their students and to continue their learning. It has been so inspiring.
Our support will continue through this journey with new sessions starting on Tuesday (3/31). Contact your local administrator for our session schedule and connection information.
By: Tim Cox, CA BOCES ISS
Teachers and students in the Cattaraugus and Allegany County region have all-access to many high-quality online resources. Check out our guide. All resources can be accessed at http://resources.caboces.org Contact anyone on our team for username and password assistance.
All Access Content Includes: