The Science of Reading says that reading comprehension (RC) is the product of decoding (D) and language comprehension (LC), or RC = D x LC. Learning to read for understanding requires sounding out and recognizing words—decoding—but it also requires making meaning of the words and sentences we hear—encoding, and language comprehension.
In agreement with Science of Reading research, there are five main components that are fundamental to reading: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.
The Science of Reading research has shown that a child's brain needs to first know the different sounds in spoken language and then be able to connect these sounds to written letters and then blend the sounds to make words (decoding).
The Science of Reading is a vast, interdisciplinary body of scientifically based research about reading and issues related to reading and writing. This research has been conducted over the last five decades across the world, and it is derived from thousands of studies conducted in multiple languages.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
NYSED recently released Frequently Asked Questions Related to Investigations for the Elementary- and Intermediate-level Science Tests (nysed.gov). Feel free to read through this document at your convenience.
As we learn more from NYSED, experience these Investigations, and encounter new questions, feedback, and ideas from local teachers and administrators, our understanding may shift slightly, causing tweaks* to our recommendations. I assure you that our recommendations come from the most professional judgement and serious considerations - and seem to be very much in congruence with NYSED's objectives.
The remainder of this article will be notes on the NYSED FAQs based on questions I’ve received, conversations I’ve had with both teachers and school leaders, and based on specifics for the C-A region. Links are provided to CA BOCES-made documents*. Upcoming workshops, directly related to the Required Investigations are listed at the end.
*CA BOCES Grade Level Alignment
The Elementary Investigation, "Cloud in a Bottle", is aligned with Grade 3 standards. However, it may be found that this Investigation will be too complex, and the reading level too high, for Grade 3 students. Within the Grade 5 Advancing STEM kit, "Models of the Earth", students do an activity exploring cloud formation, as they model how Earth's spheres interact (hydrosphere, geosphere, and atmosphere). Following this unit would be a great opportunity to administer the "Cloud in a Bottle" Investigation to Grade 5 students, instead of in Grade 3.
In addition to the CA BOCES Record-Keeping document, it is important to keep the Student Answer Packets and Rubric for each Investigation for each student. Although none of these items will be sent to NYSED (they will all be kept within the school building), these documents would be a good formative assessment artifact for any teacher that will be working with that student as they progress towards their summative NYS Science Assessment. These documents should all be sent with a student that may transfer out of the school district as evidence of completion, but also to assist any future teachers and districts in identifying student proficiency and/or remediation needs. These documents may be kept electronically.
Districts may put all of the Student Answer Packets into one booklet to follow the student for 3 years. It would be wise to also add the Record sheet at the front or back of this booklet. By next fall, CA BOCES print shop should have a form that streamlines the ordering process for these booklets.
Purpose of the Investigations
The purpose of the NYS Required Science Investigations is to provide another mode of formative assessment in science. In the past teachers have not had a built-in opportunity to identify areas of weakness in science until the NYS summative assessments (such as the Grade 4 or Grade 8 Science Assessments). The Required Investigations now give teachers an opportunity to determine if their students are meeting some of the NYS Science Learning Standards that are not as easy to assess on a written exam. Differently than the old standards, the new science standards ask students to use the skills that scientists use. A skills-based activity is the best way to assess this, as opposed to a written exam. Even so, the logistics of standardizing such a task are complicated across a very diverse state, and so the culminating, summative assessment for science is still a written exam, that will include questions that lean into assessing the students' understanding of such science skills. In addition to providing teachers with vital information to student growth in science, the Required Investigations also provide us with an opportunity to better prepare our students for the summative assessment: We know that 15% of the NYS Grade 5 and Grade 8 Science Exams will be related to these Investigations. Within our locus of control is the knowledge to prepare our students for a portion of that exam.
NYSED continues to recommend that these Investigations are administered as a classroom activity by their teacher as the students are learning the related content. The Required Investigations are not a test, but a set of activities to assure student hands-on experience in science and allow formative assessment of science skills at multiple grade levels. Please make sure that students (and teachers and you!) do not take on undue angst over these activities! They should be fun as students get to be active in their learning and figuring out their own understanding of our natural world.
Modifying NYSED Investigations Documents
A common question from local teachers has been about modifying student documents: Modifications can definitely be made to benefit the student as long as the integrity of the question is not lost. If modifications are to be made to the Student Directions or Student Answer Packets, teachers may do this prior to printing these materials for students. Some examples of modifying the documents:
Scaffolding and Accommodations for Students
Another common question is how much scaffolding, assistance, and support can be provided during these Investigations: Teacher assistance is encouraged, welcomed, and totally allowed. If it is something that a teacher would normally do as they taught a typical science lesson, they are welcome to do so during the Investigations. Teachers must keep in mind that although it may appear the vocabulary used in these Investigations is above their students, the wording comes from the NYS Science Learning Standards and could appear on the Grade 5 Science Assessment. Teachers can define or replace words in the student documents but will want to make sure their students are learning those words for the long-term. Other assistance that has been mentioned and is allowed, as long as the students are still authentically doing the science themselves, and fulfilling the objectives of the Investigation (teachers should regularly refer to the Rubric to decide this):
Accelerated Middle School Students
NYSED notes that all middle school students, including accelerated science students, are expected to complete all four Intermediate Required Investigations. This note reinforces the importance that Intermediate students should be exposed to all of the Grades 6-8 NYS Science Learning Standards at some point during their middle school years. Districts have often struggled with how to provide the opportunity for students to accelerate in science.
Please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-376-8285) if you would like to discuss the best way for your district to do this. As food for thought, my professional opinion would be to wait until the students are in 9th or 10th grade to double-up on their Regents science courses. If these are students that plan to take AP science courses in the future, two Regents courses will be good training to prepare them for that workload, and they will still have the full foundation of the middle school science program to support them.
Resources and Time for Science
Finally, NYSED fully supports more resources being put towards science instruction. These Investigations must be allotted appropriate time for the students to fully engage in the science skills being assessed, in addition to science instruction beyond these Investigations to support good science learning. Supplies and equipment, including some consumable materials, are also necessary to complete these Investigations. Thank you for investing in the initial construction of CA BOCES kits for this purpose. A notification will be sent as soon as the kits are complete. If teachers want to administer an Investigation before this time, please use the attached "Teachers Materials Lists" to identify items you may need to borrow before our kits are released.
News about HS Science Assessments from NYSED
Free Summer STEM Opportunities for Students
Appalachian STEM Academy at Oak Ridge is a residential, hands-on learning experience for 7th-9th grade students, as well as high school teachers in STEM-related fields. In an indoor/outdoor research environment, students will engage in creative problem solving as they design models and conduct short-term research projects alongside internationally recognized scientists. The application deadline is February 10th.
National Youth Science Camp is a residential science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) program designed to honor and challenge 11th-12th grade students by providing them with opportunities to engage with STEAM professionals and participate in exciting outdoor activities. The application deadline is February 28th.
On our CA BOCES workshop calendar are Required Science Investigations sessions over the next few months (March 16, April 12, and July 12). Principals are encouraged to attend with their teacher teams. For the weekend warrior, there is also a workshop at Buffalo State on March 4.
To learn more about the new NYS P-12 Science Learning Standards, please join the session on March 1.
Please contact me (email@example.com or 716-376-8285) for work with Teacher-Administrator teams to come up with the best solution for Required Investigations implementation at your district.
By: Kelli Grabowski, CA BOCES Learning Resources
From the optional participation in field tests in 2016 to the implementation of Grades 5 and 8 required tests via CBT in the Spring of 2024, CA BOCES has been on the forefront of information gathering and dissemination regarding NYSED’s push toward 21st Century teaching, learning, and assessment. There have been a few bumps in the road, such as technical issues, fiscal resources, and COVID, but we’ve learned to navigate those obstacles and are ready to help our districts survive and thrive.
One of the tools we have been continuing to use and support as we work with teachers and students on building capacity for the CBT is Castle Learning. To be sure, Castle Learning has been around a LONG time! I hesitate to say it, but the year was 1990. It was the vision of two New York State teachers and a computer programmer who wanted to leverage technology to help students prepare for end-of-year testing. And here we are, 30-some years later using the same tool.
Castle Learning has adapted and grown over the years into a quality resource for both students and teachers, especially as we move in the direction of using technology for testing. I have some tips and tricks that will help teachers better utilize this resource. Having teachers go into the program with no guidance can be frustrating, to say the least. However, even Castle Learning “vets” can use these pointers as well.
Need to find questions on a particular standard that students struggle with? Use Keyword Search. Go in, click on the “standard” tab, and type in the standard.
Want to find old state tests or regents questions? Use Public Assignments.
Need to work on math facts or skills? Use Math Skills
How do you find passages from the NYS Sampler tests? Use Castle Reading Sets
If you need additional help, training, or just have a question, please reach out. Let’s make sure our students are prepared to conquer CBT!
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Have you ever walked out of a meeting or away from a lesson and thought that the conversation that was had could have been better or more focused? A colleague and I attended a Technology of Participation (ToP) Facilitation workshop in September that guided us to do just that! We walked away with the steps to help people reflect together on just about any subject. We were taught the use of a structure known as O.R.I.D (Objective, Reflective, Interpretive, Decisional) In this conversation structure, the facilitator has crafted questions that lead the participants to answer difficult questions or participate in conversations while also generating a decision for next steps or a future direction. The focused conversation starts by answering objective questions to get the facts and information about the goal of a meeting/lesson subject. Then they reflect on their personal reactions or the emotions felt during the meeting/lesson. Participants then interpret the significance, meaning, values, or implications that the meeting/lesson has impacted. Lastly, the participants resolve the goal of the meeting/lesson by determining a decision that will lead them to next steps, an action that can be taken, or a future direction. The O.R.I.D. conversation method can be used with any group that would like to focus their conversation on having a resolution or developing ideas to better their participants’ knowledge of meeting/lesson topics, including students.
Teachers at Cuba-Rushford Elementary School, participated in a training to lead difficult conversations with students. The teachers worked together to help each other create a structure for clear dialogue and reflection for their students in the classroom. Using the O.R.I.D. method teachers are encouraging all students to have a voice in a non-confrontational way. This leads to belonging in their classrooms and school.
If you feel like Focused Conversations may help administrators, teachers, and/or students in your district and would like further information, please contact me at Janelle_Freer@caboces.org.
By: Janelle Freer, CA BOCES Professional Development
Welcome to 2023, a brand-new year that grants us the opportunity to prioritize student engagement, learning, collaborating and exploration through technology. In this era, our students are practically being born with tablets, iPads, videos, games, and apps at their fingertips. Teaching students how to properly utilize technology can enhance learning and strengthen core skills like reading, writing, math, science, and more.
Before the winter break, I was able to work with students at Hinsdale Central School to strengthen these skills using technology. The first graders had been learning all about the “Gingerbread Man”, an elusive sugar creation that runs away to protect himself from being eaten. I utilized Breakoutedu.com, an awesome resource that is offered through CABOCES, to adapt a physical breakout box activity to help the first graders to “catch the Gingerbread Man”.
What is a breakout box? It is literally a metal box with a variety of different locks that need to be solved to be opened; there is a lock with a three-digit code, one with a four-digit code, one with letters to spell a word or phrase, a directional lock, and the final lock- a key. Students receive different “clues” of varying levels (you can choose how difficult you want it to be), and they solve the clues to find the correct code to open the lock. The students usually have a certain amount of time, and a limited number of hints, to solve all the clues and “breakout”, meaning that they have successfully completed the activity.
The Breakout EDU website offers a variety of different breakout style lessons for all age ranges. There are some that require a physical breakout box, which can be borrowed from the CABOCES Learning Resources Center. There are others that are completely digital, so you do not need to have the physical box and locks. Either way, this resource supplies you with a list of exactly what you will need to do to set up the lesson, and it will provide any materials that you may need to print out or organize.
The “Gingerbread Man” breakout activity required a physical box. We used four different locks and the students had to complete a series of activities to find the “codes” or the keys to the locks, so they could help to find the gingerbread man. Some of the activities required math skills (reading a graph), and others required reading skills (coloring the words that included long vowel sounds, short vowel sounds, etc.). To do the activity as a full class, I adapted the PowerPoint that Breakout EDU provides, and the students were able to follow along on the classroom Promethean board as we completed the “clues” to find the Gingerbread man.
The students were so thrilled to have received these “messages” from the Gingerbread man, and they were so proud of themselves every time they figured out a clue, shouting, “We did it!” When being asked if they thought we could figure out the next clue, a choral, “Yeah!” rang throughout the room.
When we finally figured out the last clue and found the remaining key to open the box, you could feel the suspense in the air. In both first-grade classrooms, we were successfully able to open the box to discover where the gingerbread man had been hiding! He was sneaky enough to get himself out, but he left a note and a candy cane treat for each student, telling them that they had done a great job following his clues. The students’ excited exclamations, with a few hugs peppered in, demonstrated just how proud of themselves they were to solve the clues and find the “Gingerbread Man”.
Is this something that could be achieved without the use of technology? I am sure there are ways, but I am grateful for the Breakout EDU resource because it made the planning and executing of this lesson so much easier.
If you are interested in learning more about Breakout EDU, or if you are interested in bringing in other types of technology into your classroom, including fun review games like Gimkit, interactive presentations like Nearpod, or coding technology like Puzzlets or Pyonkee, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can make an appointment. I would love to help!
By: Brooke Neamon, CA BOCES Model Schools
What a Cool Location to Host the Middle-School/High-School ELA CLC: CA BOCES Learning Resources, St. Bonaventure Campus Annex
Our host was Alex Freer, Digital Resources & Technology Coordinator. Not only did Alex provide meaningful, relevant digital-resource professional development, she was an amazing tour guide. Regional MS and HS ELA teachers enjoyed touring the Learning Resources Warehouse.
The supplies, the kits, the tools, and the books: everyone could have explored for hours. Alex also encouraged teachers to reach out with creative ideas for kits to support curriculum and instruction development as well as engage students.
Another highlight was the LR Professional Library; there are so many great books to support teachers’ professional growth, including texts that teachers can borrow as they pursue their advanced degrees.
In addition to the hands-on experience, Alex provided an in-depth, ELA teacher-focused tour of all the digital resources that are available. I know firsthand that teachers always want more time to explore because there are so many great resources that connect to NYS Learning Standards. The presentation included time. Teachers explored and planned, connecting digital resources to content. They were amazed by all that’s available and grateful for the gift of time AND for Rachelle Evans, Digital Resources Support Specialist, who made sure everyone had accounts and could access all the tools.
Jenna Tost and I would like to encourage teachers to visit CA BOCES Learning Resources, St. Bonaventure Campus Annex: they’ll likely be surprised and definitely amazed by all that’s there to support them as well as their students.
By: Anne Mitchell, CA BOCES Professional Development
On October 20th and October 24th, Gerald Daly visited us at CABOCES to teach us the Wellspring Resilience Technique.
The Wellspring Resilience Technique (WRT) is an innovative method for increasing long-term resilience (defined as the ability to bounce back from setbacks) for teachers and social workers who are working in high stress environments.
The heart of the WRT learning is to focus on: a) Helping participants to develop an appetite for resilience in their lives; b) Helping participants to identify the specific habits that they are prepared to commit to and incorporate into their day-to-day lives.
Gerald Daly has been a personal resilience facilitator for international humanitarian staff from 2012. At our workshop we met social workers, principals, counselors, and CABOCES staff developers coming together to learn and support each other through this resilience workshop. Each participant left the 2-day workshop with a “buddy” in which phone numbers were exchanged and 21-day check-ins were scheduled with each other. Everyone left feeling empowered and supported during this resilience training. Conversations have continued about another workshop soon to check-in with the current participants as well as inviting new educators looking to build their resilience during these more difficult times.
By: Kelli Spink, CA BOCES Professional Development
I have just discovered that my favorite phrase to hear in a classroom is, “I did it!” I heard that a lot while working with students in Ellicottville. As of November 2022, I am back at CABOCES as a tech integrator and one of the first schools to have me come in was Ellicottville. The first day I was scheduled to come in got snowed out, so I went in on for my first visit on December 1st. December 1st in Ellicottville was challenging. I had Shawne Hunt, Director of Technology, push out the app Pyonkee to all the student iPads I would be working with. Pyonkee is built from Scratch 1.4, a free program from MIT (scratch.mit.edu). Pyonkee works on iPads and is a whole lot more like regular Scratch than Scratch Junior.
I learned the hard way that Pyonkee was too hard for first and second graders. So, the next time I was in on December 7th, I asked Shawne to push out LightBot Hour, which is an app for students who are emerging readers and is one of the free “hour of code” apps. This was much more successful. First and second graders could work on their own and at their own pace. The teacher and I had to help with some basic reading, but the “learning game” was played independently. Eventually, what seems to happen in every classroom is a student saying, “I am on lesson 2-1.” Then another student says, "I am on lesson 1-7”. I always state to students in plain language that learning is not a race, and that we all learn at different rates of speed.
With the older students, third and fourth graders, we used Pyonkee successfully. Students experienced right angles (90 degrees was not familiar to students). Students programmed the iPad to draw a square and then learned to modify their code to draw a square using a repeat. Repeats are possible in all coding languages, so for third and fourth graders to learn this concept is important when moving forward with technology. Students were given the learning adventure of creating a hexagon, an octagon, a heptagon, a decagon, and a dodecagon (12 equal sides). Students were not given the “turn degrees” to these shapes and had to use trial and error to figure them out. As they did this, I said, “You are being computer scientist because using trial and error is what scientists use all the time.” I saw some students doing math on post-it-notes to try to figure out the angles.
Students and teachers had fun and learned a lot. Currently, we are building skills to help with math. After these foundational skills, I will be teaching students and teachers how to make their own video games. Don’t tell anyone, but there may be more math involved! If you are interested in having me come to your school or classroom to do some coding, or other ed tech things, please email me at email@example.com.
By: Rick Weinburg, CA BOCES Model Schools
Many people think that clouds form due to the process of the water cycle phase, evaporation. It is true that without evaporation, clouds would not exist. Evaporation is the process of liquid water turning into gaseous water, or water vapor. Without evaporation as a part of the water cycle, water would only cycle from liquid to solid, and would never make it off the ground.
Liquid water is relatively “sticky”, the molecules when water is in a liquid state are attracted to each other creating a lattice of water molecules. Think about how water can “stick” to the sides of a glass, your mirror during a shower, or itself when you’ve poured a glass of it too high, and it domes up above the edge of the glass (try it!).
When liquid water molecules have enough energy, some of them break away from the liquid water lattice. A single water molecule is less dense than our typical air molecules (nitrogen and oxygen) so it rises up through the air. That’s usually where water vapor hangs out, amid our air molecules. But we don’t see it.
Water molecules floating around alone are far too small to see. Even so, a common misconception exists that evaporation, liquid water becoming water vapor, creates clouds. But we can see clouds! And we can see liquid water. So at some point, the water vapor must turn back to liquid water, otherwise known as the process of condensation.
Remember that it takes water molecules with energy to break away to form water vapor, so the opposite needs to happen to water vapor molecules to slow down enough to allow their natural attraction to take hold. The temperatures further from the surface of Earth are colder due to less pressure (“thinner” air), so as water vapor rises in the air, it cools, or the molecules lose energy and slow down. In addition to sticking to each other, water molecules tend to need a surface to form onto. Our atmosphere is full of microscopic dust which provides a perfect surface for microscopic water molecules to cling to as they lose energy. The lattice formed between the clinging water and dust is our cloud!
So in a typical graphic that appears in many student textbooks, we can see the cause and effect that creates this cycle of cloud formation:
In a recent workshop, fifth grade teachers from Franklinville, Randolph Academy, West Valley, and Genesee Valley practiced an activity they do with their students in the Models of the Earth Advancing STEM Kit.
This activity helps students understand the conditions needed for a cloud to form. There are different scenarios represented by four combinations of water and air: (1) cold water/cold air; (2) cold water/warm air; (3) warm water/cold air; and (4) warm water/warm air. You can see in the picture that water droplets have formed on the top of one of the cups enclosing the land. What do you think is the combination that created this “cloud”? This activity goes along great with one of the third grade NYS Required Science Investigations: Cloud in a Bottle.
Another great activity to do with kids or by yourself is Cloud BINGO. This fun activity can help develop keen observation skills and practice prediction. Record the date and time when you see a type of cloud and record the weather going on at the time you see this cloud. You can make this a competition if you set a time frame, say three weeks, and whoever has seen the most clouds, wins!
Follow-up questions to a few weeks of cloud observations might be: What type of weather would you expect with thin, wispy clouds? What type of weather would you expect with thick, fluffy clouds? What type of weather would you expect with dark clouds? What did you find were the most common types of clouds? The least common? Are there any clouds that indicate bad weather or good weather is on the way? Are there any clouds that signify a storm is now over? Did you discover any other types of patterns?
By: Kelli Grabowski, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Did you know that our CABOCES communities of students have hundreds of elective course opportunities?? Electives that provide life skills, career descriptions, solidify interests, and build knowledge in areas of interest. Although there are many courses available, each year the providers that partner through CABOCES continue to build and supply new courses. Keep reading to check out a few of the new courses available through our partnered provider eDynamic.
3D Modeling 1a: Introduction
Heart valves, cars, cartoons, and buildings may not seem to have much in common, but they all share one spectacular attribute: all originated as a 3D model. 3D modeling has changed the way the world makes things, and in this course, you’ll learn the basics to begin creating in 3D! You’ll learn how different 3D models are built and how to practice using a variety of modeling methods. By the end of the course, you’ll walk away with a portfolio of your ingenious modeling ideas. 3D modeling is an essential part of the modern world and soon, you’ll be able to contribute yourself!
3D Modeling 1b: Set the Scene
Many buildings that are rendered in the real world first are constructed in a digital 3D world that depicts the aesthetics, environment, and conditions of what will come to be. In this course, you will be introduced to the tools and techniques needed to create works of 3D art. You will bring your objects to life with color, textures, lighting, and shadow all while simulating the movement of world around. Are you ready to bring beautiful objects to life in a 3D world? Let’s get started today!
Animation 1a: Introduction / Animation 1b: Animating. Your Creativity
Have you ever watched a cartoon or played a video game where the animation of characters captivated you so much you wanted to create your own? If so, it’s time to immerse yourself in the world of animation. Meet the industry players such as directors, animators, and 3D modelers. Develop your story by exploring design, the 12 principles of animation, creating a storyboard, and leveraging the tools of the trade. Let’s bring your story to life with animation!
It’s time to start animating like the pros! In this hands-on course, you’ll immediately start exploring the software Blender, your gateway to 3D modeling, computer animation, and postproduction procedures used in the film industry. Discover 3D modeling and animation of characters. Explore the basics of human anatomy and form to apply rigging, joints, and texture. Examine rendering and lighting effects and how to apply sound. And discover careers so you can start using your new skills right away.
Pathophysiology 1a: Introduction
It takes the mind of a detective to uncover the cause of disease, and this is where your investigative brain and desire to heal people comes in! In this course, you’ll build foundational knowledge needed to understand disease in all forms along with signs, symptoms, and prevention. You’ll learn how medical professionals arrive at the right diagnosis that leads to proper treatment and a successful outcome. You’ll also sharpen your sleuthing skills learning how to collect and work with data, develop, and test hypotheses, and design a study, and you’ll even research potential STEM careers! Grab your detective hat and get ready to explore the tiny world of pathogens.
Part 1b in the works!!
These courses are just a few of the many that are available. The courses available consist of a vast variety of contents and interest areas. Please allow us to provide you with any information, answer any questions or search for a specific type of course. Contact any of us in Distance Learning, we look forward to assisting through the process.
Here are the links to look through some of the available courses:
By: Lisa Scott, CA BOCES Learning Resources
School libraries, like public libraries, provide a collection of up-to-date resources that inform and entertain. Many school libraries are benefitting from renewed spaces that welcome students by providing seating that is relaxing and grouped for conversing, while offering individual spaces for pondering and completing homework.
The American Library Association (2022) defines libraries as a “venue for exploring questions that arise out of individual curiosity and personal interest”. Ask any reader why books are engaging and the answer will be related to that individual’s ability to find a connection with the characters or content (Allyn, 2015). I remember when a 10th grader, who didn’t read much, came to the library just to get out of study-hall. After talking about his interests, of which one was fishing, he happily left with a non-fiction book on trout fishing with high-quality photographs of tips and tricks. The library and its collection should be a place where all students, faculty and staff are welcomed and affirmed, thus supporting mental and emotional health.
In studying college students’ psychological distress, Levine et al. (2022) found that “recreational reading was associated with reduced psychological distress” and “seemed to buffer against the frustration of one’s basic psychological needs which led to improved mental health”. Another study found that recreational reading can “support readers to deal with the daily emotional challenges they experience affecting their psychological well-being” (Yulia et al., 2021). And it doesn’t take much time! Taking just 6 minutes a day to read can “reduce stress levels by up to 60% by reducing your heartbeat and muscle tension and changing your state of mind” and can be more effective than listening to music (“Making Reading”, 2022).
School recognizing the relationship between stress and mental health are making efforts to create stress-free and welcoming environments via the school library (“Relationship Between”, 2022). Below are some pictures of several districts who have changed up their libraries with color, comfortable seating, new flooring, and new shelving.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Allyn, P. (2015, March-April). For the love of reading: five methods to instill a lifetime of good habits. Reading Today, 32(5), 26+
American Library Association. (2022, June 27). Definition of a library. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from https://libguides.ala.org/library-definition.
Make reading a habit for better mental & emotional health. (2022, October 6). Business World, NA
Relationship between stress and emotional self-efficacy. (2022, August 10). Business World, NA.
S. L. Levine, S. Cherrier, A. C. Holding & R. Koestner. (2022). For the love of reading: Recreational reading reduces psychological distress in college students and autonomous motivation is the key, Journal of American College Health, 70:1, 158-164.
Yulia, A., Joshi, R. M., & Husin, N. A. (2021). Assessing the effects of books on psychological wellbeing in Malaysia. Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal, 19(1), 87+.
Back in 2019 the Rebel Robotics, coached by Shannon Albert, set out to compete in the FIRST Lego League Competition. The theme that year, City Shaper, required teams to identify a problem in the community and design a solution in the Innovation Project. Shannon recently reached out to share her team decided to turn the Innovation Project into an innovated reality.
Shannon shared, "the theme was to discover a public space in the community and come up with a way to improve it." The team wanted to figure out a way to update the playground in Chamberlain Park in Cuba, NY. The Rebel Robotics team decided to implement their plan. The Rebel Robotics team met with the town mayor and local Chamber of Commerce to share their idea.
Through school and community support, the team has raised over $100,000 in private donations to update the playground. Phase 1 of the project is complete with Phase 2 set for the Spring of 2023.
We congratulate the 2019 Rebel Robotics team for turning your great idea into an amazing community resource!
If you would like to learn more about the FIRST Lego League, contact Jean Oliverio at CA BOCES; firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-376-8323.
I’m fresh off the heels of attending this conference in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and have so many ideas floating around in my brain. Even though it is a relatively small conference, the information presented was so applicable to our schools and communities. I’m going to share just a brief window into my learning in hopes that it will trigger interest and, perhaps, an urge to learning more about the NREA (National Rural Education Association) and this conference in particular.
To be sure, some of the ideas floated are some that we are working on here at CA BOCES and in our communities. One is the concept of Place-Based Learning. Place-based learning engages students in their community, including their physical environment, local culture, history, or people. With place-based learning, students get to see the results of their work in their community. They build communication and inquiry skills, learn how to interact with any environment, and gain a better understanding of themselves, as well as their place in the world. Our Student Programs CoSer delves into this when they work with Exploratory Enrichment and Arts in Education. We also work with the Dream It, Do It program, connecting STEM and career opportunities in our region. But in many workshops we offer on our registration system, I can see that connection as well.
Another high-profile topic during the conference centered around teachers in rural districts. What are some strategies we can use to address rural teacher workforce challenges? What are the assets and challenges that exist in small communities and how would a rural responsive teacher education program better prepare teachers? How can school districts cultivate rural teacher resilience to prevent burnout?
These issues and more were the hot topics at this conference. All 50 states were represented, and the focus was squarely on rural schools and how services can be shared. And this focus warmed my BOCES heart! So many schools struggle to give teachers and students the tools and services needed to support learning and growth.
Our CA BOCES schools are not perfect. Each has its own challenges and battles. But just know that our Professional Development Team and our Learning Resources Team is here as an educational partner to equip and provide instruction and resources to mitigate that need.
This conference was educational in many ways. However, it only bolstered my belief that your CA BOCES is an Essential Partner!
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Math teachers across the region have been exploring Visible Learning for Mathematics: What Works Best to Optimize Student Learning written by John Hattie, Douglas Fisher, and Nancy Frey. This year’s K-5 Math CLC has focused on the benefits of using effect size research to identify best practices for optimizing student achievement in the classroom. Identifying the right approach at the right time can help design more intentional classroom experiences that hit the surface, deep, and transfer phases of learning.
We began this learning journey in June with Joseph Assof, a high school and community college mathematics teacher and the math department chair at Health Sciences High and Middle College in San Diego, CA. He is a member of the San Diego County Math Leaders Task Force, whose mission is to support every student in meeting the rigorous expectations of the Common Core. Joseph co-authored Teaching Mathematics in the Visible Learning Classroom, High School, Teaching Mathematics in the Visible Learning Classroom, Grades 6-8, and The Teacher Clarity Playbook, and his classroom is featured in a number of Visible Learning for Mathematics, Grades K-12 videos.
As we continued our learning journey into October 2022, we focused on chapters 1 and 2 from the Visible Learning for Mathematics: What Works Best to Optimize Student Learning text. This allowed participants to explore the role of clear learning intentions and success criteria as well as the kinds of rich mathematical tasks and mathematical discourse central to each phase of learning. Participants had an opportunity to practice writing learning intentions directly aligned to NYS Next Generation Math Learning Standards.
As we continue our K-5 Math Collaborative Learning Community (CLC) this year we will be shifting our focus from surface level learning to deep learning in December. We will focus on students making generalizations and connections between mathematical ideas and concepts. Participants will walk through different approaches and participate in exercises that promote deeper learning. In March, we will focus on transfer learning where we will discuss formative assessment, feedback, interventions, and how to support students in becoming observers and owners of their own learning.
It’s not too late to join us this year! Our next meetings are scheduled for Thursday, December 8th and Thursday, March 2nd. This is a great opportunity for teachers in the C-A region to learn, discuss and collaborate!
By: Jillian Putnam, CA BOCES Professional Development
New Teacher Academy is a CABOCES workshop and seminars to support and assist teachers who are either new to the profession or new to a district to become familiar with many of the various aspects of the profession. CA BOCES welcomed new teachers from around the region to the 2022-2023 New Teacher Academy. This year over thirty teachers will be participating in one of two different cohorts with sessions held throughout the year in both the Olean CTE center and the Belmont CTE center. The first session for the Catt. county cohort was held on September 21st, 2022 with eighteen teachers in attendance, and the Allegany county cohort was held September 22nd, 2022 with over twenty teachers in attendance.
The day was filled with meaningful activities to help teachers build a better understanding of what it means to be a new teacher, as well as helpful resources and ways to make connections with fellow colleagues. Collaboration, engagement, reflection on teaching standards, and exposure to various strategies and protocols to implement right away in the classroom were the focus of this first day.
There will be multiple more opportunities for these educators to not only continue to develop their teaching skill in the profession, but also to become aware of the various resources and support that CABOCES can provide to them and their districts. The next sessions will be held November 1st and 8th, and will focus on classroom management, lesson development & planning, and digital resources offered through CABOCES Learning Resources program.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Excitement is building in the CABOCES region as teams are forming and starting to prepare for the 2022-2023 CABOCES Student Competitions, sponsored through CoSer 506. Specifically, thirteen districts will participate in the 2022-2023 CABOCES VEX Robotics Qualifying Tournament Series. For the first time, teams will have 2 local qualifying tournament experiences. Twenty-six VEX Robotics teams from across Cattaraugus and Allegany counties will be attending the CABOCES VEX Robotics Qualifying Tournament at Belfast Central School on Wednesday, December 21st, 2022, and Cuba-Rushford Middle/High School on Wednesday, February 1st, 2023. Students will compete with and against teams from Belfast, Cattaraugus-Little Valley, Cuba-Rushford, Fillmore, Franklinville, Genesee Valley, Hinsdale, Pioneer, Portville, Randolph Academy, Salamanca, Wellsville, and Whitesville.
Each year, an exciting engineering challenge is presented to middle and high school students in the form of a game. The object of this year’s game, Spin Up (https://www.roboticseducation.org/teams/vex-robotics-competition/), is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by scoring discs in goals, owning rollers, and covering field tiles at the end of a two-minute match.
All teams can compete in both qualifying tournaments as well as Skills Challenges. Teams also have an opportunity to participate in a Team Interview and be judged on their Engineering Notebook. Teams who earn advancement will qualify to attend the Northern New York State Championship in Syracuse in March 2023.
To prepare for these tournaments, students work together to design, build and program a semiautonomous robot that can quickly and efficiently solve the specific challenges of the Spin Up game. Teams study electronics, programming, mechanical systems, animation, 3D CAD, computer-aided machining, web design, and materials fabrication. An equally important set of skills is learned through competition: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, project management, time management, and teamwork.
The CABOCES Qualifying Tournaments are two of a series of VEX Robotics Competitions taking place internationally throughout the year. VEX Competitions are the largest and fastest-growing competitive robotics program for middle and high schools globally. VEX Competitions represent over 24,000 teams from 61 countries that participate in more than 1,650 VEX Competition events worldwide. The competition season culminates each spring, with the VEX Robotics World Championship, an event for top qualifying teams from local, state, regional, and international VEX Robotics Competitions. More information about VEX Robotics is available at RoboticsEducation.org and RobotEvents.com.
About the REC Foundation
The Robotics Education & Competition Foundation manages the VEX Robotics Competition, which thousands of schools participate in around the world each year. REC states that one million students are reached worldwide through all the VEX robotics programs, classrooms, and competitions.
The REC Foundation seeks to increase student interest and involvement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by engaging students in hands-on, sustainable, and affordable curriculum-based robotics engineering programs across the United States and internationally. Its goal is to provide these programs with services, solutions, and a community that allows them to flourish in a way that fosters the technical and interpersonal skills necessary for students to succeed in the 21st Century. The REC Foundation develops partnerships with K-12 education, higher education, government, industry, and the non-profit community to achieve this work so that one day these programs will become accessible to all students and all schools in all communities.
To find out more about VEX Robotics in the CABOCES region, email email@example.com or call 716-376-8323.
Jean Oliverio, ISS Student Programs
On August 24, 2022, PreK and Kindergarten teachers came together across the region to participate in a workshop centered around CRSE, Play-Based Learning using the Media Kits, and Family Engagement/Involvement.
During this workshop, teachers began to understand the work around the Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education Framework in which a cultural view of learning and human development in which multiple expressions of diversity (e.g. race, social class, gender, language, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, ability, etc.) are recognized and regarded as assets for teaching and learning. Teachers shared the many ways they already acknowledge culture in their classrooms and began exploring new ideas and ways to build on that culture in their classroom and with other stakeholders in their districts.
Teachers also had the opportunity to explore the vast number of Media Kits that are available from CABOCES including SEL Kits, Fairy Tales, Dinosaurs, block building, Legos, community helpers, etc. Collaborative time between teachers and school districts allowed for sharing of ideas, lesson planning conversations, theme and holiday schedules, classroom management tips, and academic success strategies.
Finally, teachers participated in engaging discussions about family involvement and engagement in student education and learning. Participants shared goals for the upcoming school year which will be revisited when we meet again on November 8, 2022.
By: Kelli Spink, CA BOCES Professional Development
The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) recently released its 2021 Trend Report which highlights the future of the library field as it relates to political, economic, social, cultural and technological trends. One trend is the Impatient User.
Schools are utilizing ClassLink and other SSOs so students can avoid multiple log-ins. This convenience supports quick and easy access to a variety of tools, however, does not easily transfer when searching for reliable information. If students cannot quickly locate what they need, it’s expected they will try a new search in which fast results typically provide less reliable sources and information. . Another trend is data domination through artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence shapes what a user sees when they access services through a wi-fi connected device. Advertisements are targeted based on user interests and search history and creates a limited perspective. School librarians are poised to help fellow educators and students navigate these two trends with resources offered through Project Look Sharp.
Ithaca College’s Project Look Sharp offers free lessons on how to decode media messages. Media includes journal and news articles, news programs, and advertisements. Helpful charts guide students through questions that not only help analyze media that has been created, but also when students (and educators) are creating media for sharing. These charts can be accessed at https://www.projectlooksharp.org and can be used effectively when helping students navigate bullying and building resiliency.
Some categories for inquiry and reflection include:
- What do they want me to do, think or feel?
- Who is the target audience?
Helping students navigate the barrage of information requires more than basic information literacy skills. If you wish to know more about Project Look Sharp, please contact me at Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces.org.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Judith Hochman and Natalie Wexler, coauthors of The Writing Revolution, have joined together to provide educators with an evidence-based roadmap for teaching writing to all K-12 students. Popularly known as ‘The Hochman Method,’ which begins with teaching the basic building blocks for writing a sentence and progressively teaching students the framework for designing outlines, paragraphs, and compositions. This teaching structure is so empowering to students; if you can write a sentence, you can write anything. This method is transformative in teaching students to write, as students are introduced to each strategy utilizing the ‘I do, we do, you do’ gradual release model for direct explicit instruction. The strategies for this method of writing remain the same for all grades and content areas, as it is the content that drives the rigor of each strategy. This method is designed to equip students with the skills to become better readers, more effective when communicating in both writing and speaking, and to elevate student thinking.
Each strategy in the book begins with ‘the why’ as well as an overview of the benefits of teaching the strategy to students. When introducing the strategy for teaching basic conjunctions (because, but, & so) common language is established so students know what each conjunction word is telling the writer to do (because- explains/tells why something is true, but- shows change of direction, & so- tells us what happens as a result of something/ indicates cause and effect). Students complete each sentence using each conjunction in turn. Rather than regurgitating facts about a topic, students use the sentence stem to think deeply about the content being covered. It is the format that really matters in this method and strategy.
Let’s look at the ‘because, but, & so’ strategy in action. Often, we question students about a topic as follows: Why was Andrew Jackson a popular president? The Writing Revolution flips this question using the ‘because, but, so’ strategy in order to assess what students already know about Andrew Jackson. Using the gradual release model, the teacher would provide students with the sentence stem: ‘Andrew Jackson was a popular president____________.’ Students would see the sentence stem repeated three times using ‘because, but, so’ and using the gradual release model, would write three separate sentences.
Andrew Jackson was a popular president because _________________________________.
Andrew Jackson was a popular president, but _____________________________________.
Andrew Jackson was a popular president, so ______________________________________.
In teaching this strategy it would be made clear to students that they are creating three separate sentences as the conjunction dictates the end of their response. The sentence stem is repeated three times because we are looking for students to provide three separate sentences about Andrew Jackson. The possibilities for this strategy are endless as they can be easily translated into any content area and/or grade level.
It’s not too late to join us to revolutionize your writing activities! The Writing Revolution CLC Grades 2-8 met once this summer, however we have three more sessions throughout the school year. We will be gathering again via zoom from 3-4:30pm on the following dates: 10/13/22, 12/13/22, and 2/07/23. Please consider joining Sarah Cartmill, Tessa Levitt, and Jessica Schirrmacher-Smith by contacting your district professional development representative to register for our remaining sessions. We can’t wait to connect with you!
By: Jessica Schirrmacher-Smith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Once again, we’ve been adding to our warehouse shelves, helping to meet the needs of our students as they navigate the upcoming school years. We already had a few Osmo games on the shelves, but their popularity has prompted adding more.
Why use Osmos in the classroom?
Are your teachers using Osmos? If not, please reach out and we’ll make sure they are using this tool with their students.
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
On August 16th, regional World Language teachers came together over Zoom to discuss the NYS WL Standards as well as Unit planning and finding authentic resources in the target language. We shared experiences, lesson ideas and communication resources. Because of the great group discussions, we decided to make it an area Collaborative Learning Community and meet in person in the fall. Stay tuned for a September date at register.caboces.org.
By: Sarah Cartmill, CA BOCES Professional Development
Have you ever tried to change a habit? Was it easy or difficult? Have you ever wanted to become more effective in your professional and personal life with things that matter?
Olean City School District staff members have been participating in the work of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and have been loving his principles!
Teachers and administrators are invited to explore the work of Stephen Covey through the lens of his most popular work: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This one-day introductory course (or six zoom meeting sessions) will cover all 7 Habits in an abbreviated fashion to provide an overview of the effective practices that yield to private and public victories. All are welcome to learn for the first time or refresh yourself in becoming well acquainted with the 7 Habits.
Join us as we explore the work of Stephen Covey’s timeless principles of effectiveness. Please reach out to your district representative to register for one of our next sessions; please note there is a fee to cover the cost of the participant workbook.
One day offerings in-person at the Olean CTE center from 8:30-2:30pm: 10/26/22 and again on 2/8/23
Six zoom sessions from 3-4pm: 9/20, 9/21, 9/27, 9/28, 10/4, and 10/5 (Participants are requested to commit to all six of these 1-hour sessions.)
By: Michelle Rickicki and Jessica Schirrmacher-Smith, CA BOCES Professional Development
On Monday, August 8, Dr. Anita Archer joined the region via Zoom for a day of learning about the importance of vocabulary instruction in ALL grade levels and ALL content areas. She started the morning with this quote; “Words are all we have…for understanding new concepts, building background knowledge, expressing our ideas, and understanding narrative and informational texts.”
Dr. Archer shared the research around the importance of effective vocabulary instruction.
Dr. Archer shared the WHY behind Explicit Vocabulary Instruction. Direct vocabulary instruction has an impressive track record of improving students’ background knowledge and comprehension of academic content. The strategies Dr. Archer shared for improving adolescent literacy and vocabulary instruction are as follows:
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
Students are always excited to see and learn about the sky above us. There is so much mystery and captivating views while witnessing such a spectacle. Students at Delevan elementary had an opportunity to feel this excitement using the digital Starlab Planetarium.
Learners ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade were able to enter the “Starlab portal” and immerse themselves into an environment that is like no other. In the planetarium, students can see the Sun moving across the sky, eventually disappearing to allow the darkness to bring out the remarkable views. Here the students can see and identify stars, planets, comets, asteroids, satellites, meteorites and much more. In the Starlab, we can speed up time to allow us to observe the planets movement through space, watch the many stars shoot across the nighttime sky, see what earth looks like from space. The experiences are endless!
This is just one of the many opportunities that the Environmental Science program at CA BOCES has to offer! For more information on these programs, please feel free to visit CABOCES Environmental Science or contact Lance Feuchter at (716) 376-8379 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Lance Feuchter, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Just last week we hosted over a dozen fourth grade teachers for an Advancing STEM training. Now that the Elementary NYS Science Assessment has ended for 4th grade (moving to 5th grade in 2024), these teachers got busy learning about the new science standards (NYSSLS) and the CA BOCES Advancing STEM kits. Our Advancing STEM kits are inquiry-based science units that are aligned with the NYS Science Learning Standards.
Earlier in July, middle school teachers worked on learning the SEPUP Lab-Aids middle school science curriculum. One unique characteristic of this company is their dedication to embedding literacy strategies into the lessons. They make use of a Science Lab Notebook as students reflect, explain their understanding, revise their models and explanations, make predictions, prepare oral arguments, and take notes to guide their reading.
Especially true with the new science standards, students need opportunities to read, write, and talk like scientists do. Knowing how and when to use these skills is scientific literacy. The means to discovery and the acquisition of the knowledge, skills, and nature of science heavily relies on literacy skills like reading, writing, and talking. However, literacy skills should not be the end unto themselves. Students should have a purpose to reading as they learn literacy skills. “Literacy is a domain in search of content” according to Dr. Jacquey Barber, and “Science is a discipline in need of communication”. So literacy needs science and science needs literacy!
There has always been a question about how students best learn science and as literacy has been more and more emphasized over the past couple of decades, disciplines such as science have become progressively marginalized in elementary classrooms. Some educators insist students must be engaged in hands-on open-ended activities, whereas others have their students read about scientific ideas to gain an understanding of science concepts.
Based on a study by Dr. Barber, students who engaged in a combination of doing and talking, and reading and writing gained much more scientific knowledge than students who engaged in a strictly hands-on approach or students who engaged in a strictly reading and writing approach. Students involved in the do-talk-read-write approach were motivated to read as they investigated a scientific phenomenon. They were excited to discuss and write about their discoveries.
The NYSSLS are transformational. They include science literacy practices within the standards: Constructing explanations, engaging in argument from evidence, obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information are integral to the discipline of science. We are not born knowing how to do these skills, and so they must be explicitly taught so students understand how to figure out the phenomenon and communicate about it.
Instead of science being a marginalized subject, what if it provides a storyline for math and literacy? Science lessons should be framed with a scientific purpose where students are using science (literacy) skills to figure something out. This scientific purpose provides a common thread to link literacy skills (and math skills!). Our Advancing STEM kits already provide this storyline.
I’m hoping to work over this coming school year with elementary teachers of our region to integrate more literacy strategies into our kits so students are reading, writing, and talking like scientists as they investigate real-life phenomena. Stay tuned for collaboration opportunities that I would love to have your elementary teachers be a part of!
If you’re a podcast person, this: Summer '22 Rewind: The symbiotic relationship between literacy and science with Jacquey Barber (buzzsprout.com) expands on much of what you’ve read here and offers some other resources that I will be delving into as I work on this project!
By: Kelli Grabowski, CA BOCES Learning Resources
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