Can you feel it? Winter break is fastly approaching. For many, this break is a time of a much needed and well-deserved rest. For others, winter break, like the several other breaks from school, is a time that causes stress because school is the safest home they know. The differences between these two feelings remind us of the importance of cultivating the social and emotional well-being in addition to fostering academic growth in public education.
In addition to the social and emotional well-being of students, the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) has also recognized the importance of mental health education. Proposed in January of 2018, the continuum of well-being for mental health literacy was formally adopted by the Board of Regents in May of 2018. The NYSED Mental Health webpage nicely reminds us “research has shown that the quality of the school climate may be the single most predictive factor in any school’s capacity to promote student achievement. When young people are educated about mental health, the likelihood increases they will be able to effectively recognize signs and symptoms in themselves and others and will know where to turn for help. Health education that respects the importance of mental health, as well as the challenges of mental illness, will help young people and their families and communities feel more comfortable seeking help, improve academic performance and, most importantly, even save lives.” Some school districts have gotten creative in their approach to positively improve their culture and climate.
I recently walked into Cuba-Rushford Central School’s Middle/High School building and was delighted to see Lupo, pictured above, a 15-week old, male Bouvier des Flandres; the Bouvier des Flandres breed is loyal, gentle, and hypoallergenic, typically living 10 to 12 years growing upwards of 100 pounds. As I watched Lupo, he brought smiles to nearly all who passed him by, and he received welcoming embraces from both students and adults. Naturally, like most, I needed to learn more about Lupo’s role at CRCS.
Whose dog is Lupo? Lupo belongs to Chris Cappelletti, and is, ultimately, his responsibility throughout the day. However, Chris let me know that both getting Lupo into CRCS and taking care of him throughout the day wouldn’t be possible without the encouragement and assistance of the CRCS faculty and administration, particularly Nicole Williams and Sally Kus.
Why is Lupo at CRCS? Several events took place that allowed for Lupo to be welcomed at CRCS. After many weeks of researching the benefits of a therapy dog, the idea was presented to CRCS superintendent, Carlos Gildemeister. Then, after discussing the idea and the research, Carlos gave his full support knowing that the benefits of a therapy dog far outweigh the costs.
Who takes care of Lupo at night? Lupo belongs to Chris. This means that Chris is responsible for taking care of Lupo before and after school. Furthermore, Chris is responsible for having Lupo trained as a therapy dog; this means Lupo needs to pass a temperament test, complete obedience school, and undergo therapy dog training, each with an associated fee. The big goal for Lupo, once he completes all of his training, is for him to pass the American Kennel Club (AKC) Therapy Dog Test.
Has Lupo made an impact in his first 15 weeks at CRCS? “I’ve seen a huge difference!” Chris told me. “I’ve seen more smiling faces, more communication with children and adults, and increased empathy. Students worry if Lupo has eaten enough, and regularly ask to take him on walks so Lupo can go to the bathroom outside.” Nicole added “that socially he has created a bridge for students that normally would not hang out or speak to each other. For instance, two girls in particular that do not hang out, quickly and without any awkwardness, started talking while they were petting Lupo.”
What else do I need to know if I wanted get a therapy dog in my school district? In short, you need research, support, and commitment; research to identify which type of dog will be the suitable, support from administration and the dog’s owner, and a commitment both financially and mentally to the lifestyle of raising a therapy dog.
Prior to researching which type of dog would be purchased, Chris, Nicole, and Sally explored what the research showed regarding the benefits of having a therapy dog. Then, with a plan and the research to support it, Chris, Nicole and Sally received approval from their administration after several discussions. Lastly, perhaps the most challenging aspect of owning a therapy dog, each member of this small team must be committed to not only caring for this support animal, but they must also be committed to doing so consistently.
Do the benefits outweigh the costs? For the sake of clarity, there are several costs associated with owning a therapy dog. Not only does someone need to pay for the dog itself, its food, shelter, training, etc., but there are also physical and emotional costs such as training the animal early in the morning and throughout the day until the evening hours, caring for the animal in addition to normal expectations at home and at work, and determining whether the animal truly is having a meaningful impact.
For some, these costs constitute burdens that are far too great, and for others the benefits far outweigh the costs. Based on the few days I have seen Lupo in action, I would argue he his performing his duties well. Based on the several weeks Lupo has been at CRCS, Lupo’s caretakers would also argue that Lupo is worth the cost. More time may be required for a concrete measure of Lupo’s impact, but perhaps time has already shown just how valuable this dog can be.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Last year, Mark Beckwith and Sarah Wittmeyer collaborated on a project to create an online database of every test question that has been assessed on the 3-8 ELA and Math state assessments in the last few years. This database, the NYS Assessment Item Notebook, allows teachers to easily click a standard that has been assessed, which in turn generates a list of every released question that is connected to that standard. The Notebook is tremendously helpful because it contains all of this public information in one place, rather than having to open a myriad of PDFs.
Districts in our region have been using this tool in numerous ways. At Cuba-Rushford, middle school ELA teachers have been analyzing the question stems to notice patterns in how standards are being assessed. For example, teachers noted that many questions reference specific paragraphs, such as “How do paragraphs 3 and 4 contribute to the story?” By mirroring their own questions to students in this format, students will be more familiar with the structure of the state exam. Additionally, analyzing question stems can uncover vocabulary that students may need to help them succeed. For example, if students don’t understand what is meant by “contribute”, they may struggle right at the beginning of attempting to answer the question.
In Fillmore, middle school ELA teachers have created a mid-year benchmark assessment using the Assessment Item Notebook. Teachers reviewed their data to determine standards that are commonly assessed. Then they selected two passages and ten multiple choice questions to assess students with in January. The benefit to using these questions is that it will give them an indication of how students will perform against the rigor of the state assessment. Also, because they know which questions are connected to which standards, data analysis is easier and can offer areas for them to focus on before the state assessments.
If your district would like support in using the NYS Assessment Items Notebook to guide data analysis and instruction, please reach out to our team!
By: Brendan Keiser, CA BOCES Professional Development
Imagine, if you can, a world where teachers are given choice in their professional development, where they lead their own research and collaborate with others to hone their craft. You wouldn’t have to imagine too much if you are familiar with the Collaborative Research and Development Professional Development instituted by the administrative team at the Wellsville Secondary School of Mary Ellen O’Connell (Secondary Principal), Jason Mank (Assistant Principal) and Rick Bull (Assistant Principal).
After some initial planning and collaboration by the administrative team, Mary Ellen contacted me with the idea and from there we created a Moodle course on Poverty around Poor Students, Rich Teaching by Eric Jensen, a FlipGrid component (thanks to Mark Beckwith for this idea and support) for reflection and as an instructional classroom tool. The team’s vision was to create opportunities for teachers to select to collaborate with others in their building around their four main initiatives for the year poverty, assessment, PBL and positive relationships with students and families.
Teachers may be researching and collaborating around something they saw at a BOCES workshop, or a conference or that they read about and want to dig into deeper. Mary Ellen created the opportunity for that research to happen for them by replacing three faculty meetings with three hours of collaborative research and development with a requirement to use FlipGrid to share their learning and reflect on their practice. Teachers have four checkpoints (30-60 second videos) along the way where they get to share their learning and how they apply new knowledge their classroom practice.
To date, the administrative team has seen an increase in general collaboration among colleagues, an increase in FlipGrid use as an instructional tool by teachers in their classrooms and a deeper dive by teachers into areas of interest based on instruction or content. Mary Ellen stated “The engagement and interaction on FlipGrid has been unbelievable! We have only completed two of the four “checkpoints” and already my faculty has accumulated 3,500 views and over 21 hours of time online learning from each other’s research. It is clear they enjoy learning from each other’s experiences and research. I’m also very sure they love not attending traditional faculty meetings and they are having fun with the flipGrid format.”
If you had a chance to read the ASCD Educational Leadership journal When Teachers Lead their Own Learning in November 2018 you can note some of the same elements (choice, flexibility, personalization) from those articles in the work that the administrative team from the Wellsville Secondary School has created for their building. Change can be good!
By: Karen Insley, CA BOCES Learning Resources
On October 18th, school librarians honed instructional strategies in recognizing news bias, gained insight into what influences human reasoning, and left with ideas and activities for student instruction when collaborating with teachers or teaching information literacy. Two great tools that facilitate the teaching of news bias and is provided to all CA BOCES’ districts are Newsbank’s Access World News and America’s Historical Newspapers.
With links to primary sources, students can explore global perspectives and differing viewpoints on important issues and events. Articles from newspapers, magazines, and other news media can be easily cited, saved, emailed, or printed. Access World News provides current information from over 200 countries including Spanish languages sources, and everyday a list of about 12 headlines in news from countries around the world include activities that tie into common core standards. A monthly list of hot topics in the news provide suggested search terms and critical questions to guide students in effecting searching. Topics such as Business and Economics, Health, Literature, Performing and Fine Arts, Politics and Government, STEM, and Technology are linked to primary news sources relevant to what students are learning in the classroom.
America’s Historical Newspapers makes collaboration across disciplines amazingly easy! Organized by eras from the late 1600’s to 2000, primary sources are divided within each era by the following topics: Government, Military & Political Events; Social & Cultural Issues; and Discoveries, Inventions & Firsts. While students are learning about the Civil War in social studies, the art teacher can introduce the Impressionist Movement with news and reviews on artists and their work. Complementing the Vietnam War are links to primary news sources on music: Bob Dylan & folk music; Beatles and British music; literature: Maya Angelou, Steven King, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ken Kesey; PE/Health: DDT banned, Bobby Riggs vs. Billy Jean King, first Super Bowl; Technology: Pong; moon landing. Students can become more engaged with an era when provided with topics that appeal to their interests.
Students can learn perspective through original newspapers printed during the Civil War (north versus south) and Westward Expansion (east coast versus west coast/American Indians).
Please contact me at Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces for personalized training in your district.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES School Library System Coordinator
New York State Education Law now requires schools to begin providing instruction in mental health, leaving many with questions. Districts in our region are interpreting the specifics of the law in different ways. Change can be scary, overwhelming and very stressful. It is also the perfect opportunity for growth. Together, our region will effectively navigate the new law, utilize accessible resources to support the process, assess current practice and create meaningful changes.
The concept of mental health as an integral part of health
Unfortunately, the word mental health often has a negative connotation. There is a stigma attached to the word, causing a cloud around the topic itself. However, mental health, just like physical health is a part of each and every one of us. We teach students about physical health and promote physical wellness, therefore, we must teach students about mental health and promote mental wellness in an equal fashion. Above all else, when interpreting the new law, it is critical to note that it is not intended to be a deficit model. Instruction should not solely focus on mental illness or include learning objectives that teach students to diagnose or treat mental illness.
Whole school, multi-tiered approach
Students are impacted significantly, in a positive way, when there is a holistic approach. While the requirements speak to integration of mental health instruction into the health curriculum, schools are strongly encouraged to promote a whole school, whole child, multi-tiered approach to mental health. Collectively, the districts and respective schools within our region have strong practices in place that support the holistic approach to mental wellness. For example, schools are building capacity in restorative practices, promoting trauma sensitive schools and classrooms, organizing family resource/support centers, expanding community partnerships that offer education and supports to students, staff and families.
Community partnerships are essential to the development of a comprehensive, school-based mental wellness approach. The purpose of school-community partnerships vary, however, often allow outside professionals to educate students, staff and parents, provide imperative services that the school simply cannot and refer students to necessary resources or services in the community. Research has found the importance of community partnerships in relation to improving school outcomes for students and increasing family engagement at school.
Resources for School Districts
Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES will be offering a professional development opportunity on December 10th to address many of the questions and differing perspectives. The offering is entitled “Mental Health Literacy Forum,” and will be held in Olean at the Main Center. Other educational resources include the following;
In September, several members of the CA BOCES ISS team had the opportunity to attend the Staff/Curriculum Development Network conference with Larry Ainsworth, educational expert on standards and formative assessment. It was an intensive day of exploring curriculum development through prioritizing standards. Members of the team worked with other Curriculum Coordinators from across the state in Math, Science, ELA, and Social Studies to examine the standards, learning how to prioritize, and the implications such work has on curriculum and assessment.
Because each discipline has dozens of standards, Larry Ainsworth argues that to develop curriculum, prioritizing the standards is a critical step in the process. Throughout the work we did, Larry made sure to say that just because some standards are prioritized, it does not mean the other standards do not matter. We worked with an analogy of a fence, seeing prioritized standards as posts and supporting standards as rails. Seeing standards in this light can help teachers determine what to elevate in instruction, and what standards are foundational to building other skills.
In his book, Rigorous Curriculum Design, criteria is established for looking at each standard to determine whether it should be prioritized. There are four lenses to examine each standard through: Readiness, Endurance, Leverage, and External Exams. Readiness represents how the standard prepares students for next level learning. Endurance of a standard determines whether it’s a concept or skill that lasts over time. Leverage of a standard means that it has interdisciplinary connections. Finally, standards should be looked at through how they are assessed on external exams.
Due to the size of the group and the multiple different disciplines we were working with, we examined the standards through for readiness, endurance, and leverage. In small groups, teams reviewed standards at a particular grade level through the lenses, trying to establish a list of standards that should be prioritized. The conversations were fantastic and allowed for in-depth discussion on not only the standard, but the implementation of the standard in the classroom.
Because of the depth of analysis of the standards, Brendan Keiser and Sarah Wittmeyer facilitated the prioritization process with the Middle School/High School English Language Arts CLC in October. Teachers were divided by grade level bands, and in small groups looked at the standards through the first three lenses.
After the standards were reviewed through those lenses, we added in the data from the 6-8 ELA State Tests and the English Regents Exam regarding the most frequently assessed standards. This allowed for another layer and added in-depth discussion on what standards should be prioritized.
The purpose of the activity with the CLC was not to give teachers a list of standards to prioritize in their curriculum, but rather to give teachers a protocol by which to examine the standards. The process included discussions on unpacking the language, understanding what the standard looks like in the classroom, and the importance of the standard at the particular grade level. Teachers walked away with the ability to replicate the process in district, but also a more comprehensive understanding of the Next Generation English Language Arts Standards.
By: Sarah Wittmeyer, CA BOCES Professional Development
Check out this month's Advancing STEM Challenge!
Now You See Me...Now You Don't
Advancing STEM Challenges are designed to bring engineering and design to your classroom in a simple, easy-to-implement, challenge-based way. Modify our Advancing STEM Challenges for your classroom. A new challenge will be posted monthly.
Ms. Pelligrino’s 7th and 8yh grade students are bringing literature to life by creating virtual reality reenactments of their favorite scenes. Virtual Reality is a 3d generated image or video that makes users feel like they are actually inside that environment. Users can view virtual reality through the use of head mounted viewers (Google™ Cardboard).
For this lesson the students chose a scene from a book they are reading or recently read. The students chose a part of the book that they wanted to share with other people. After choosing the scene the students examines the visual elements in the story, the character’s interactions with the environment and the critical elements. After noting these the students got to work creating their virtual worlds.
We used a free website called cospace.io. The students got a quick tutorial in the software and quickly created. The students were able to build the scene and use computer code to create interactions. Dialogue for the characters was created using thought bubbles.
Creating Virtual and Augmented Reality could be easy for students. Here are a couple free resources teachers and students and teachers could use to create content:
By: Rob Miller, CA BOCES Professional Development
What would your ideal classroom look like? Sound like? Is it a place where there are minimal distractions, students are respectfully collaborating and engaged with each other, sharing ideas, and learning is taking place? Have you ever seen a classroom where students respect each other and their teacher, positively comment on and support each other’s opinions, are eager to learn, motivated, determined to do their best, and excited to try new things? Does this classroom even exist?
It does! Though it’s not easy and requires a lot of work on the teacher’s part. If the commitment is made and the plan is meticulously carried through, this could be your classroom. Many teachers say that they don’t have the time to establish this sort of classroom. It’s easy to see why, with so many things expected of teachers including curriculum to cover, tests to prepare for, and required extracurricular activities.
However, in order for student learning to be optimal, effective classroom management is a must! In spite of the time commitment, research overwhelmingly shows that teachers that invest in their classroom management techniques have fewer discipline issues and increased learning occurs. Don’t worry about losing a little time at the beginning of the school year since with effective classroom management practices in place, you will get that time back plus some throughout the rest of the school year! Effective classroom management is a TIME SAVER not a time killer.
Wait, didn’t John Hattie’s meta-analysis research in Visible Learning state that classroom management has an effective size of 0.35? If you are unfamiliar with Hattie’s work, the primary basis is that teacher practices with an effective size over 0.40 are the ones that have the most positive influence on student learning. So why is classroom management so important then?
Successful classroom management practices are the foundation leading to more effective student learning. These practices lead to better classroom discussions, higher self-efficacy and effort amongst students, more time on task, and more. Research continually proves that classroom management leads to a more effective classroom experience for students.
The classroom described in the opening of this article may seem far-fetched but it is completely attainable. It is also never too late to try and implement in your classroom. Start today if you haven’t established a classroom you are happy with. Furthermore, if you would like to hear more about the research behind successful classroom management practices and how to obtain a similar classroom yourself, consider joining Patty Rhinehart and myself in an upcoming workshop on the topic. No dates have been confirmed yet but stay tuned, they are coming! In the meantime, here are some quick DO’s and DON’Ts of successful classroom management practices to tide you over.
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Professional Development
It is my belief that students do well when they can, not simply when they want to. Furthermore, students learn best when their physical, mental and emotional needs are met. This type of scenario is ideal for schools, but it is not the reality. What does it look like when a student’s needs are not met? Avoidance, distraction, disengagement, defiance, disrespect, aggression, truancy, anger and the list goes on. Educators have seen the impact of unmet student needs within their classrooms and report, that the impact is greater than ever.
The rural landscape of the Cattaraugus-Allegany Region presents a unique set of barriers that increase the complexity of existing systemic barriers for school districts, educators, students, families and communities when it comes to ensuring that all students have access to necessary resources. Despite the pressure, barriers and growing scope of student needs, is it possible to create conditions that enable every child to succeed?
Not only is it possible to create such conditions, it is necessary. This school year, with the help of 17 of our component school districts, Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES has begun the work of building the brand new Community Schools CoSer within their Instructional Support Services Division. The community schools strategy, is an exceptional, evidence-based school improvement tool that enables schools to create supportive conditions for students by sustaining an integrated focus on student support services, expanded learning opportunities, family and community engagement and collaborative leadership.
Each community school is unique and defined based upon needs and assets specific to the respective local context and community. Therefore, the Community Schools CoSer will also be unique as it grows and develops to fit the needs within the local context of our rural, regional area. In an effort to influence the region in a meaningful way, we are working collaboratively to complete a thorough assessment of needs and assets, at the district level, as well as at the regional level.
Simultaneously, while working directly with school leaders within each district, there have been ongoing opportunities to meet directly with community partners that provide supports and services to students and families. The Community Schools CoSer hosted the first Service Showcase in September, bringing community partners and school leaders together to learn about specific services available to districts. School leaders were provided more information about school based dental care, substance abuse prevention curriculum and a mentoring program. As a result, six additional districts have school-based dental services available to students and four additional districts have begun preparing to implement a mentoring program for students.
Students do well when they can. Period. Through continued collaborative work and problem solving, our region can provide all students with equitable access to resources that allow them to exceed our highest expectations.
By: Kathryn Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools
On October 19th, 2018, Cuba-Rushford staff welcomed Mollie Lapi, behavioral specialist from C-A BOCES. Mollie presented the staff with an overview of brain research on trauma, how the brain works after a student experiences a traumatic event, and trauma informed interventions A brief overview of the biology of the brain and how it reacts to trauma was addressed. “This “fight or flight” response is a natural response to stress”, she said. Mollie also addressed Adverse Childhood Experiences, also known as A.C.E.S. (Adverse Childhood Experiences) can dramatically affect the quality of health and wellness. Trauma is toxic to the body, and we can do something about it.
Mollie, then talked about strategies to help support the students. She said, “Educators can make a difference; believe your students can grow, change, and succeed? The common denominator could be YOU! Help promote resiliency within your classroom.” Mollie also talked about the “sweet spot”, which means being able to provide emotional nurturance and still expect our students to perform and own, but not judge, their shortcomings. It is a PROCESS. There has to be a balance between availability and accountability with the students.
The staff was also challenged to make sure to take care of themselves. Mollie stated, “it is so important for the adults working with any students to make sure to manage their own stress. Health, and wellness are not to be forgotten, especially to help regulate the body and mind.” The morning was filled with fantastic learning, and the staff was thankful for Mollie’s presentation.
By: Kathleen Agnello, CA BOCES Professional Development
This month’s spotlight as we dig a little deeper into the resources we have available to our component school districts in our warehouse is…..our Real Care Baby Simulators!
RealCare Baby® 3 (formerly known as Baby Think It Over® or BTIO®) is the world’s most advanced infant simulator. Educators around the world use this unique learning aid to add meaning and accountability to teach early childhood, parenting, infant health lessons and sex education. This smart baby uses wireless programming to track and report on caregiver behaviors, including care events, mishandling actions, time in a car seat and clothing changes. Baby includes four sets of curriculum and activities to help instructors create learning experiences that are relevant and career-driven.
The RealCare curriculum sections are:
Basic Infant Care – covers child safety, emergency procedures, child abuse prevention, and infant/toddler development.
Life Skills and Healthy Choices for Middle School Students - an abstinence-plus, comprehensive curriculum focused on sexual education and pregnancy prevention for youth 12-14 years of age.
Parenting: A Guide to Parenting Skills for Life – focuses on the stages of child development, parenting styles/impact, the costs involved in raising a child, and much more.
Healthy Choices: Relationships, Sexuality, and Family Planning – an abstinence-based, comprehensive curriculum focusing on teen pregnancy prevention. It covers relationships, self-esteem, refusal skills, adolescent health, and reproductive issues, among many other topics.
All sections are aligned to the National FACS standards and include Crosswalk documents.
So what are you waiting for? Take a look at our warehouse and give our RealCare Babies a try!
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
The distance learning team at CA BOCES, including Christina McGee, Justine Lombardi, and Karen Insley, have been busy traveling all over the region getting students enrolled in credit accrual and credit recovery courses. Students have a chance to increase the breadth of their transcripts, develop interests, try out vocational fields, and develop skillsets that can’t be offered within their districts. Further, if students are on medical leave or injured, they can keep up with their curriculum, and even with gym classes, in an online setting. Students also have opportunities to recover lessons, units, quarters, and semesters through the CA BOCES credit recovery program, meaning that students can catch up before they need further interventions. The CA BOCES team offers courses through seven different providers, including courses taught by our own teachers, Christina McGee and Justine Lombardi.
The most popular courses this year are Sociology, Health, Forensic Science, Marine Science, Physical Education, Spanish, Careers in Criminal Justice, English 10, Introduction to Military Careers, Physics, and Psychology. Students are also learning about astronomy, sports marketing, digital art, 3D Modeling and animation, world religions, mythology and folklore, social problems facing the world, and many other notable studies.
For more information please contact Distance Learning at 716-376-8270.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
As Pre-kindergarten-2nd grade teachers start the 2018-19 School Year they took a moment to focus on the importance of learning through play and movement. 66 educators from across the Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES Region attended a professional development opportunity with Lisa Murphy, M.Ed., an Early Childhood Specialist. Lisa Murphy has been involved in early childhood education for over 20 years, teaching and learning with young children. She is the founder and CEO of Ooey Gooey, Inc., and is a nationally recognized presenter and keynote speaker. Lisa’s topics for the workshop sessions included:
What if Today Was Their Only Day? (Keynote)
In this motivational keynote address Lisa shared the powerful story of her first day of school. Through active and engaging storytelling Lisa brought participants back to her first day, taking you on a grand tour of Miss Mary’s Nursery School. And, in the style she has become famous for, she shared many observations, lessons and anecdotes about how early childhood has changed along the way. Lisa shared the sights sounds and smells of the place where, at the young age of three, she decided to become a teacher and identified the how, and why, that one day solidified her decision to become an educator. This inspiring keynote encouraged participants to get back in touch with their personal how and why.
Identifying and Creating Child Centered Environments
This session provided an in-depth exploration of the 9 points within the framework of Lisa Murphy’s approach to working with children. Via interactive lecture, true-to-life examples, anecdotes and her signature “learning and laughing” style, this session presented what it really means to be a hands-on, play-based, child-centered program. Lisa stated that “Environments that encourage play are environments that are preparing children for kindergarten, future elementary school academics, and a love of life long learning. This foundation then supports the house of higher learning.” Educators must create, move, sing, discuss, observe, read and play with children through daily interactions.
The Importance of Early Experiences: How play IS Kindergarten Readiness!
During this session Lisa identified the seven things we need to do with children each day. These seven things make up the foundation that supports the house of higher learning. There is nothing wrong with the “academic” expectations within this house: reading, writing, math… the trouble is that many early childhood educators are being pressured to build a house where there is no foundation. Lisa stated, “And you do not need to be an architect to know that if you build where there is no foundation, the house will come crashing down!” Playing is “getting them ready” and through an investigation of each of the “seven things,” Lisa showed us how.
Lisa concluded the workshop with encouraging educators across the region to create a 10-day challenge for themselves. She encouraged educators to identify a workshop takeaway after 10 days that they are still thinking about and use that as their baby step for creating engaging experiences in the classroom!
By: Jillian Putnam, CA BOCES Professional Development
Deselecting books, also referred to as weeding, is necessary for maintaining a school’s library collection of resources. The process of deselecting includes removing damaged, outdated, or books no longer relevant to the curriculum. Prior to deciding what should be removed from the library, librarians often use Titlewise by Follett to analyze the collection’s strengths and weaknesses based on industry standards. For example, a book on computers with a copyright date of 2000 will likely be outdated, (perhaps not if the focus is on the historical aspect), and books on robotics, forensics, and artificial intelligence may be recommended for strengthening the sciences.
When recently asked to help a librarian ‘weed’ the elementary library, I found a book on New York City with a copyright date of 1998. Although it appeared to be in new condition, the Twin Towers were pictured, and Governor Pataki has since been replaced. Some other examples of weeded books include The Lincoln Library of Sports Champions featuring Terry Bradshaw, Peggy Fleming, and other popular athletes at the time this text was printed; and The Chinese in America with a copyright date of 1959.
When a library has not been ‘weeded’ for many years, the process can be overwhelming. Making room for new materials offers an additional opportunity to make the library attractive and inviting. Similar to marketing strategies used by retailers, displaying products often piques the interests of those who may be visiting for another purpose.
Research studies have shown college students prefer to read materials in print rather than in electronic format (Baron, 2016; Foasberg, 2014; Mizrachi, 2015), and a large percentage of students ages 4-15 enjoy reading print books (Kleeman, 2016). Although the popularity of Amazon Kindle and Apple’s iPhone beginning in 2007 made reading books electronically convenient, print publishers have remained constant for the past ten years ( Mcilroy, 2017). Balancing the library collection with print and electronic resources is a necessary duty that not all librarians have time to do.
Schools needing assistance with the deselection process may contact the school library system coordinator: Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces.org
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Baron, N. (2015). Words onscreen: The fate of reading in a digital world. New York, NY: Oxford University Press,
Foasberg, N. (2014). Student reading practices in print and electronic media. College & Research Libraries, 75(5), 705-723.
Kleeman, D. (2016). Books and reading are powerful with kids, but content discovery is challenging. Publishing Research Quarterly, 32(1), 38-43.
Mizrachi, D. (2015). Undergraduates' academic reading format preferences and behaviors. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41(3) 301-311
Mcilroy, T. (2017). Startups within the U.S. book publishing industry. Publishing Research Quarterly, 33(1), 1-9.
Check out this month's Advancing STEM Challenge!
Advancing STEM Challenges are designed to bring engineering and design to your classroom in a simple, easy-to-implement, challenge-based way. Modify our Advancing STEM Challenges for your classroom. A new challenge will be posted monthly.
A truly successful schooling experience for students starts with a healthy and supportive school climate. Above all else, when students know they are cared for, they can truly focus on their educational experience and learning all that they can. Two staff developers and over thirty teachers and administrators from around the region took it upon themselves to collaborate and discuss ways to make positive changes to their school climates to better the learning experience of our students!
In late spring, Tessa Levitt and I had an idea to do a professional book study around a book we were both highly interested in ourselves, Lead with Culture, from author and Principal Jay Billy. This book is one of the Dave Burgess Publishing Company’s titles, made famous from the Like A Pirate series of books. We discussed different methods for how we wanted to approach this book study, and we both knew we wanted to try something “unconventional” in the sense of our current professional development opportunities.
We eventually decided that with it being summer and all, we wanted any participation to be completely voluntary from those interested in the book study. We also wanted to harness the power of the summer, and conduct the book study from an online platform, where participants wouldn’t need to physically be all in the same place to share ideas, discuss topics, and raise their questions to one another. In the end, we created a Facebook group, #BOCESLeads Summer Book Study, and anyone that expressed interest in participating in the book study was invited to join the group.
We met in person once, at the beginning of the book study, to distribute copies of the book to the participants, and to outline the dates and the layout of the Facebook page itself: We would meet online, from 8:00-9:00 on the Facebook page, Tessa and I would post questions from a few chapters at a time, and they could respond and share ideas and questions with one another, with Tessa and I there to help moderate and facilitate discussions.
The support and discussion from the participants were highly overwhelming! The amount of ideas shared and questions posited to one another were powerful, and really made this an interesting and unique experience for professional growth. The response from the participants was also noteworthy, as they liked being able to chime in from wherever they were at the time, and if they missed the discussion window, they could still go to the Facebook page and comment or discuss between the arranged question-posting days. The flexibility and freedom were lauded from those who took part!
Once the book was completed, we were excited to commence upon the final aspect of the book study: a live chat hosted on Zoom with author Jay Billy! Participants were able to take part in an online discussion forum with Jay himself, who answered their questions, shared advice, and helped spur more creative ideas for those who were able to join in. The session was also recorded and posted on the Facebook group page for those who were unable to make the meeting, so they could view it at a later time.
Overall, this experience was a phenomenal new approach to combating some logistical issues that we all experience: wanting to take part in something, but time and location not cooperating to allow it to happen. The discussion was rich and powerful, and multiple great ideas were shared and collaborated upon throughout the course of studying this excellent book. One of the most impactful results from this book study? The request to keep the discussion going over the course of this school year through the online group page and with regularly scheduled meet-ups for those that can attend, bringing that flexibility and freedom even further into the process. We look forward to continue documenting the journey of the region in regards to building and supporting the students of our schools through a positive and caring school climate and culture. When all else fails, lead with culture!
By: Ryan McGinnis, CA BOCES Professional Development
What if instead of going to math class, English class, or science class, students went to school? Would they be able to say things like “I don’t like math” if they were unable to differentiate between math class and history class? While this idea may seem like an impossibility, a team of 8th grade teachers at Genesee Valley Central School hopes to make this vision a reality.
On paper, Mark Levine, Kelley McGinnis, and Donna Slawson can be identified as a technology, English, and history teacher, respectively, but in reality, innovator, risk-taker, and enthusiast would be more appropriate. This team of 8th grade teachers, in conjunction with Chris Gyr and Lindsay Simpson, technology integrators at GVCS, has implemented an interdisciplinary teaching and learning model, referred to as STEAM 8, with a focus on increased student learning by reevaluating time and relevance.
Buying Back Time
Possibly the most important concern for educators, time structures were re-examined. Hypothetically, if all 8th grade students, for instance, have either 1st period technology, 2nd period ELA, or 3rd period history, do they all need, say, 40 minutes of each period? What about the students who need 10 minutes for a quiz and others 20 and others still 40? How can we effectively ensure all students are productively and continually meeting learning targets at all times? With their new learning model, the teachers at GVCS decided to embrace these challenges.
By eliminating the “I have 40 minutes to teach ____” barrier, teachers recognized they now have 120 minutes to teach everything for the three content areas. Now, the students’ learning needs drive how time is allocated. For example, the 15 minute science lesson just allowed 25 more minutes to have a more meaningful, in-depth round-table discussion of the Battle of Gettysburg. Another option is to redistribute time as shown in the weekly schedule below in which students were teamed in group A, B, or C.
Why Do I Need This?
Beyond better use of time, STEAM 8 teachers have built greater connections between and stronger relevance in the curricula. For example, the first unit of instruction of the year for this team of teachers covers the Civil War. Consequently, Mr. Levine, Ms. McGinnis, and Mrs. Slawson use the Civil War as a means of meeting all learning targets. This approach as allowed students to review the Civil War holistically while simultaneously learning how to research, write, solve algebraic problems, and so much more; and although STEAM 8 isn’t comprised of your typical “STEM” teachers, they are undoubtedly addressing each strand of STEAM education.
Pine Grove Middle School
STEAM 8 is, in part, a product of the work with GVCS and Jason Fahy, middle school science teacher at Pine Grove Middle School. Jason was able to experience, first-hand, how changing both the physical environment and the instructional approach can heavily impact student learning. However, one glaring difference worth noting between East Syracuse Minoa Central School District and Genesee Valley Central School District is the focus on physical environment. ESMCSD was able to vastly change the manner in which learning took place due to its extensive structural changes; GVCS has made similar instructional changes while making minimal changes to the physical building.
Do not underestimate the importance of this difference. Often times we allow ourselves to get discouraged in thinking “I don’t have enough space,” or “we don’t have the right technology to do that.” Yes, GVCS did repurpose some of its space and has updated that environment, but as any successful educator can attest, good pedagogy supersedes good stuff.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
This is what creativity and problem-solving looks like at Seneca/Salamanca Odyssey of the Mind
This is an exciting season for supporters of New York Odyssey of the Mind. This year marks NYSOMA’s 40th anniversary. The inaugural NY State Tournament was held in Binghamton, New York in 1979. The 2019 NY State Tournament, in Binghamton, will be a celebration of 40 years of creative problem solving.
Region 19 is starting the festivities early by launching a 40 in 40th Campaign, meaning that the goal this season is to host 40 teams at the Regional Tournament on March 2, 2019 at Wellsville Middle/High School. To celebrate NYSOMA’s 40th anniversary, Region 19 will party like it’s 1979 all season long with extra incentives and fun activities.
Opportunities for support and training will be offered to all teams and coaches, as well as additional experiences like buddy teams and Spontaneous Zoom practices. Training sessions can be scheduled “virtually” and in person at school districts.
Do you know of a school district that:
This IS the year to make it happen. Regional Odyssey experts will provide the help needed to meet the school districts’ goals and ensure an unforgettable experience for Region 19’s creative minds.
For more information about Odyssey of the Mind, visit odysseyofthemind.com and nysoma.org.
For more information about getting involved in Odyssey of the Mind in Region 19, email or call email@example.com or 716-376-8323.
For more information about partying like it’s 1979, you’ll have to show up at Wellsville Middle/High School on Saturday, March 2, 2019 and see for yourself.
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES Student Programs
Simply put, trauma is toxic to the brain as well as the body and learning. There has been vast amount of research conducted on the brain and its function over the last 30 years. In the midst of extreme stress our bodies are forced to respond in a state of heightened alert. When children are exposed to stress, the brain shifts from development to stress response, this can have a lasting effect on LEARNING!
The brain need 9 things to be HEALTHY FOR LEARNING and GROWING!
Based on Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom by Kristin Souers and Pete Hall
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Coordinator for Professional Development
On August 14th, ELA teachers from the region connected to the Globe Theatre in London to learn and explore the play Macbeth with the guidance of a Shakespearean actor. The teachers spent approximately three hours with the actor as they explored ideas to help bring Macbeth to students in their classrooms in new or different ways. Plans are in the works for another connection with the Globe Theatre. Stay tuned for more details!
Constitution Day is September 17th. Check out these resources for grade level appropriate content.
International Dot Day will happen near September 15th. The day is based on the book, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. You can find more information about the international events here: www.thedotclub.com and follow email blasts from our Distance Learning Team.
How can we connect your students to the world around them?
By: Karen Insley, CA BOCES Coordinator for Distance Learning
Seventh graders at Randolph Central School were given a unique opportunity to participate in a year end activity that combined the activity of geocaching with the mind puzzles of a BreakoutEDU! Geocaching requires participants to use a hand-held GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) device to follow specific coordinates to an exact location. A BreakoutEDU activity has participants solve a number of clues to unlock several different types of locks as they work to open a box. Seventh grade teacher Erin McLure used combinations of these two different activities to prepare an afternoon of fun to close the year out.
Students were brought to Weeden Park where they were divided into groups of four different colors, and then separated again into smaller groups of five students. Each group was given a hand-held GPS, a writing utensil, and a clue sheet. They were given a set of coordinates and then worked together to enter them into the GPS and work their way to the destination. Once they found the cache, then needed to solve a riddle and figure out their next clue. Various thought provoking prompts were collected by Mrs. McClure from her other seventh grade colleagues to be given to the students. The grade level team also assisted in supervision and carrying out the activity.
Once all the clues and riddles had been solved, and a final Mathematical problem completed, the answer enabled the students to receive a ‘cool’ prize that was a welcome relief from the war summer day. This unique experience was a tremendous way to combine elements of different activities that students had experienced throughout the year in a memorable activity that was enjoyed by all.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
This month’s spotlight as we dig a little deeper into the resources we have available to our component school districts in our warehouse is…..our Leveled Reader Kits!
Bring science to life with these engaging, colorful science readers! Elementary students will be able to understand new scientific content with the help of easy-to-read informational text, vibrant images, and examples of scientific practices. Each reader in this kit includes instructions for a fun science activity and related practice problems to provide additional support and a hands-on learning experience. Support STEM education with these 5E lessons that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and incorporate writing to increase overall comprehension and concept development.
Science Reader Kits include:
So what are you waiting for? Take a look at our warehouse and give Leveled Readers a try!
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources