“Tinkering is the way that real science happens in all its messy glory.” (Sylvia Martinez)
Are you looking for a way to help foster cooperative learning, problem solving, creative thinking, and student engagement in your classroom? Several PreK-1st grade teachers from Randolph and Cuba-Rushford school districts have been busy doing just that by incorporating engineering into their curriculum. Kudos to Tonya Thomas, Lisa Burris, DeAnne Gozdalski, and Melissa Grover for creating an authentic context for learning math and science and having students apply that knowledge to what they are learning in social studies and ELA as well!
Students need to learn how to fail in order to succeed and that it’s OK to not come up with a solution the first time you test out an idea. This can be difficult for both children and adults to learn, and the Engineering Design Process allows for students to be creative in their thinking and problem solving and to make multiple revisions to their work in order to be successful.
Lastly, I leave you with some thoughts to ponder over from Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager, Ph.D, who wrote the book Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom:
1. “Creating a learning environment that deliberately breaks this teacher-as-manager focus is difficult, yet necessary. It requires a new teacher mindset and also requires giving students explicit permission to do things differently.”
2. “When we allow children to experiment, take risks, and play with their own ideas, we give them permission to trust themselves.”
3. “Adopting a tinkering mindset in your classroom allows students to learn in their own style.”
4. “We teach children science and math so they can make the world a better place, not so they can pass tests.”
5. “It seems that to many people, tinkering connotes a messiness and unprofessionalism that doesn’t apply to “real” jobs in scientific fields. I believe just the opposite is true – tinkering is exactly how real science and engineering are done.”
By: Kristen Keenan, CA BOCES
Saturday, February 7, 2015 @ Portville Central School
The largest Scholastic Challenge Competition was held on Saturday, February 7 at Portville Central School. This annual event, sponsored by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES, hosted a record total of 49 teams who competed in a Junior Division and Senior Division, for grades 6-12.
Scholastic Challenge is a fast-paced contest that tests knowledge of academic trivia. Teams of three students measure their ability to recall details from a wide variety of topics.
Thirteen school districts participated in the double-elimination contest this year. This translates to more than 200 students and coaches. Throughout the day, several thousand questions were read aloud to these ambitious teams. All the teams represented their schools well, combining an impressive display of intelligence with camaraderie, graciousness and good sportsmanship that was admirable.
Competitors and coaches represented the following school districts:
Allegany-Limestone-1 team coached by Kathy Schaeper
Hinsdale Central-4 teams coached by Kate Jedrosko
Cuba-Rushford - 6 teams coached by John Butler
Ellicottville Central - 4 teams coached by Ann Chamberlain
Fillmore Central – 2 teams coached by Deb Woltag & Bill Kelley
Friendship Central - 1 team coached by Wade Pearsall
Genesee Valley - 6 teams coached by Rollie Duttweiler & Sara Donlon
Olean High- 2 teams coached by Carolyn Shields
Pioneer Central -5 teams coached by Sarah Wood & Jimmy Wood
Portville Central - 9 teams coached by Margaret Seib & Gene Rogers
Randolph Central- 1 team coached by Jennifer Bieniek
Wellsville Central - 3 teams coached by Diane Willard & Hope Gilfert
West Valley Central - 5 teams coached by Ryan Keem
There were two impressive teams who were undefeated going into the Finals in the auditorium. Congratulations to the Fillmore Green Junior team and the Pioneer Starfleet Academy Senior team!
The final matches were held on stage in the Portville auditorium. As usual, the finalists were challenged to answer questions on current events and local facts. The first and second place teams in each division were presented with plaques to recognize their achievements. All four of the Finalist teams have earned the honor of being invited to the 2015 National Academic Championship.
This event requires about 50 volunteers to make the day run smoothly. CABOCES Student Programs is grateful to everyone who donated their time and experience to provide a fun and educational day for the students in our area. Scholastic Challenge could not happen without their help!
Congratulations to all the teams and their proud coaches on a job well done. We look forward to seeing everyone back next year!
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES
Christy Crandall-Bean is the guidance counselor at Bolivar-Richburg and has expressed many times that she believes online learning provides opportunities and flexibility that students may not otherwise have in a typical classroom. She sat down and talked to me about the online program that has been going on for about 3 years. “We tend to use the online classes for credit recovery and to expand on electives and very particular courses that we don’t offer here if students have special interests and things like that.”
This year there are four students at Bolivar-Richburg taking classes through Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES and online providers, including FuelEd and Edgenuity. All four students have very different reasons for taking online classes. Meghan wanted to try out environmental science before committing to it as a major in college. After taking the course for a number of weeks, Meghan decided to make her course a half credit and go in a different direction for her educational plan, but the online class gave her the opportunity to try out her options. She was able to assess what she might encounter and make an informed decision about her future career plan.
Another student needed a credit recovery option and is taking her course online, getting the credit she needs by working on it during what would normally be a study hall. Dedicated teachers, both online and at her school, offer assistance with difficult material. Material that the student already understands is reviewed and if she passes a quiz, she doesn’t have to spend more time on material she already knows.
Two students are taking Creative Writing, a course that has been offered in the past at Bolivar-Richburg, but didn’t have enough student interest this year to offer it. The online option gave those students an opportunity to take the course anyway. Bella is taking Creative Writing because she wants to be a teacher. When I asked her to tell me about her course, she said, “it definitely helped me progress through my writing because it helps me self edit and make it more complete before I send it to other people.” Bella’s favorite thing about her course was peer review and interacting with other students. “They just helped by encouraging you of what you can do better and things you can change to help your writing. You get to comment on their stuff and you can kind of talk back and forth about writing that everyone gets to see.
Tim is taking Creative Writing because he enjoys writing on his own time. Through the course, he found ways to publish his work through Teen Ink, an online student journal. Tim has published numerous poems and short stories on Teen Ink and was proud to tell me that “Brown Colored Pit Bull” was voted 4th for a week in best realistic fiction by his peers.
I asked Christy Crandall-Bean if she had any concerns about online courses and she told me, “I guess my main concern is just when teachers are leery of it and fearful that it will impact day-to-day teaching. That’s not our intention; it’s really to open up more possibilities.” Christy went on to talk about her wishes for the online program. “In my dream world, I would love for each one of my students to have to take an online class before they graduate. Because then they get used to that netiquette and communicating with their teachers online appropriately and I think that just a huge piece as well, not just the content, but maneuvering all the software and everything.” Most importantly, the students like the courses they’re taking. When I asked Bella if she would take another online course, she said without hesitation, “Definitely.”
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES
Next school year, Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES will be hosting a Coding CLC. CLC stands for collaborative learning community and the idea is to have people share ideas around coding. Basically, teachers, or any school employee, interested in coding will come to a meeting and discuss how coding is and can be used in the classroom. There will also be direct explanations and content being facilitated by CA BOCES professional development staff. The content will center around computer programming, coding, video game creation and computer game design. If you are interested in participating in this CLC, coding and/or the Hour of Code week, please contact Laurie Sledge (814-376-8357 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by the year 2020, which is now 5 years away, there will be 1 million more well paying computing jobs than students to fill them. Pioneer is taking a great first step in preparing students. All students should have this opportunity.
By: Rick Weinberg, CA BOCES
Five educators in the Cattaraugus/Little Valley School District sat down on the morning of January 28th to learn more about Reading Eggs, a comprehensive, online supplemental literacy program for pre-K through 2nd grade readers. Reading Eggs is just one of many digital media resources available to our component school districts. Grounded in extensive educational research, the Reading Eggs program builds on and reinforces the five pillars of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
During the training, the teachers got the chance to work with the program from both their perspective and the students’. The teacher viewpoint allows them to set up classes and then add and manage students within that class. Once this is set up, Reading Eggs becomes a very student centered activity. The largely independent use of the resource by students means that it is easy to integrate it into the school day, as the children are able to make use of Reading Eggs during transitional points, such as morning work. The lessons are able to be completed in a relatively short time. Additionally, the rapidity of learning activities within the resource also works well with students who tend to experience difficulties with concentration and resilience when learning.
The potential for differentiation is considerable as the diagnostic placement assessment means that the children start at exactly the right point and can progress forwards from this point at a speed which is appropriate for their learning.
This world of interactive reading and writing activities helps set kids up with positive attitudes about reading and learning for life. That’s a tall order, we know, but we are passionately committed to delivering this to hatching readers everywhere.
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CA BOCES
Video of Josie Preston, Guidance Counselor at Genesee Valley Central School, reflects on the district's Summer Digital Credit Recovery Program.
Follow us on