As our society becomes increasingly dependent on engineering and technology, it is more important than ever that everyone be aware of what engineers do and understand the uses and implications of the technologies they create. Yet few American citizens are technologically literate, largely because technology and engineering have not been taught in our schools (Pearson, 2004).
Children (and many adults) know shockingly little about technology and engineering. In fact, the vast majority believe the term “technology” refers only to electronics and computers and that engineering and science are basically the same (Lachapelle and Cunningham, 2007; Pearson and Young, 2002). To understand the human-made world in which we live, it is vital that we increase engineering and technological literacy among all people, even young children!
Children are born engineers—they are fascinated with designing their own creations, with taking things apart, and with figuring out how things work. In 2003, the Engineering is Elementary (EiE, www.mos.org/eie) project was initiated to take advantage of the natural curiosity of all children to cultivate their understanding and problem-solving in engineering and technology.
On January 29, the Pk-5 Whitesville Elementary teachers took part in a mini-workshop with Clay Nolan (CABOCES staff specialist for Learning Resources) about the new NYS science standards and how to incorporate engineering and hands on projects in the elementary classroom. Teachers were asked to design an earthquake-resistant building, integrating 21st century skills in a STEM activity.
The Activity; After watching Twig films about earthquakes, each group will invent an earthquake-resistant building and test the efficiency of the building according to certain criteria and constraints with the option of being reinvented. Students will also act as entrepreneurs by using job-readiness skills that enhance workplace productivity and career options based on what they learn from constructing the earthquake-resistant building. Finally, they will briefly engage with financial education and the economy in society by constructing a budget. The final activity was to reflect and collaborate their viewpoints and assess their peer’s presentation or writing.
The PK-5 teachers at the workshop reflected how engaging the activity was and how kids used various skills and content to complete the activity. Teachers noted that the students would be working and problem solving with their peers and learning the idea of trial and error, construction, mathematics, reflection and the idea that it may not work the first 5 times, but that is all part of the process of learning.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES and Whitesville Central School
If you walk into a kindergarten classroom during writer’s workshop at Hinsdale, you will see a classroom of 5-6 year olds talking and learning from one another about Polar Bears. Over the past month, kindergarteners have been learning about Polar Bears and the Artic habitat. The walls and the classroom is covered with Focus Charts titled; How Polar Bears Hunt?, How Polar Bears Survive in the Artic Region?, How Polar Bears stay warm?, and much more.
At the start of the school year, the students were introduced to the process of writing, six traits and what great author’s do. Students were given an opportunity to read authentic literature, practice writing, discuss literature and ideas with peers and their teacher and begin to tell their stories with journal writing.
In regard to primary writing, Duke, Hall, Purcell-Gates, and Tower (2006) state, “Students, we believe, need to read authentic literature and to engage in authentic writing” (p.344). Using authentic literature as an example, students will develop an understanding of the components of writing. This also helps students to understand the different purposes for reading and writing.
After the Christmas holiday, kindergarteners at Hinsdale move into more writing, writing centers, writing books, researching, and independence. The writer’s workshop structure in kindergarten is:
Mini-lesson (15 minutes)
During the mini-lessons in kindergarten writer’s workshop, students sit on the rug, and partake in a shared lesson, collaborate with peers, share ideas, watch the teacher ‘write’, unscramble sentences, work on grammar and much more. While visiting, students were engaged, excited and enjoyed sharing their knowledge about Polar Bears and the Artic Region. The kindergartener were using “fancy Nancy” words such as translucent, powerful and patiently.
Using writing centers in writer’s workshop, gives the classroom teacher an opportunity to meet with a small group of student’s and work on editing, writing, craft, grammar, spelling and ideas. This small group/centers gives the teacher an opportunity to “conference” and check in with students in a small setting and meet with individual students where they are at within the writing process. The writing centers give the students time to independently work on other skills within the writing genre. The other centers were various skills that support the research/informative writing about Polar Bears.
Writing with our youngest students in important for them to make purposeful connections to reading and writing. During our hour site visit at Hinsdale, we noticed our youngest students working independently, generating their own ideas, checking for errors, working with peers, staying on task, learning content and much more. If you would like to learn more about writer’s workshop or six traits, please don’t hesitate to contact Tessa Levitt or Anne Cator or visit a classroom of kindergarteners making it happen at Hinsdale Elementary School.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES and Whitesville Central School
The Scholastic Challenge Competition will be held this Saturday, February 6 at Portville Central School. This annual event, sponsored by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES, will host a total of 41 teams who will compete in a Junior Division and Senior Division, for grades 6-12.
Scholastic Challenge is a fast paced contest that tests knowledge of academic trivia. Teams of four students will measure their ability to recall details from a wide variety of topics.
Fourteen school districts will be participating in the double-elimination contest this year. This translates to about 250 students and coaches. Throughout the day, several thousand questions will be read aloud to these ambitious teams. Spectators are encouraged to watch the competitions. It’s exciting to see the students combine an impressive display of intelligence with camaraderie, graciousness and good sportsmanship.
The final matches will be held on stage in the Portville auditorium around 2:15-3:15 (these are approximate times). The first and second place teams in each division will be presented with plaques to recognize their achievements.
This event requires about 40 volunteers to make the day run smoothly. CABOCES Student Programs is grateful to everyone who donates their time and experience to provide a fun and educational day for the students in our area. Scholastic Challenge could not happen without their help!
The following school districts will be attending:
Hinsdale Central-2 teams coached by Kate Jedrosko
Cuba-Rushford - 4 teams coached by John Butler
Ellicottville Central - 3 teams coached by Ann Chamberlain
Fillmore Central – 2 teams coached by Deb Woltag & Bill Kelley
Franklinville Central - 3 teams coached by Shannon Wood
Friendship Central - 1 team coached by Wade Pearsall
Genesee Valley - 4 teams coached by Rollie Duttweiler & Sara Donlon
Olean High- 1 teams coached by Carolyn Shields
Pioneer Central -4 teams coached by Sarah Wood
Portville Central - 8 teams coached by Margaret Seib & Gene Rogers
Randolph Central-1 team coached by Jennifer Bieniek
Scio Central - 3 teams coached by Mary Zdrojewski
Wellsville Central - 2 teams coached by Diane Willard
West Valley Central - 3 teams coached by Ryan Keem
Follow us on