“A society that fails to value communality, our need to belong, is a society facing away from the essence of what it means to be human,” (Gabor Mate, Ph.D)
Crisis can bring about change and present opportunities in various ways. As our school districts navigated the pandemic, they were also faced with addressing other ongoing crises. Several deeply rooted systemic barriers to equity were magnified throughout the pandemic which led to urgency for action in schools across the nation.
As leaders and educators at Cuba Rushford Middle/High School focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the context of their school setting and community, one priority has been a mainstay; honoring student voice. Rather than making assumptions about equity and inclusion, leaders and educators utilized a survey to ask students their opinion, thoughts, and feelings on the matter. Survey data offered critical student insight on issues of DEI within the school community. Student input didn’t end there. Administrators, Dr. Katie Ralston and Chris Fee wanted to ensure that these critical conversations didn’t end by offering the survey, they created structures to allow these conversations to continue into the classroom. For three days in February, I was invited to join classroom teachers and facilitate restorative circles designed to discuss issues of DEI, while honoring student voice.
The concepts of DEI are embedded in restorative practices, which made the use of restorative circles a perfect tool to further address DEI at Cuba Rushford. The district has been working diligently over the past several years, and through a worldwide pandemic, to implement restorative practices district wide. One of the resources that the district has relied upon, was Kay Pranis’s book, “Circle Forward,” which provides several sample scripts for restorative circles. While spending the three consecutive days facilitating circles in various classrooms, I consulted the Circle Forward Module, “Difficult but Critical Conversations,” which provides several scripts related to DEI.
While working collaboratively with administrators in Cuba Rushford, it was promising to see that the focus on DEI and eradicating systemic barriers to equity included actions that support enhancing professional practice; building a school culture of care, and developing partnerships and relationships. As the district continues to empower students and explore DEI within their district and community, we plan to continue to work collaboratively in creating structures that support the underlying goal of achieving equity, honoring and celebrating diversity and maintain an inclusive environment.
By: Kathryn Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools
One of the common questions that arises when CA BOCES component schools inquire about the Model Schools Cooperative Service (CoSer) is, “How can you work with our school [through Model Schools]?” In short, our work through Model Schools focuses on effective educational technology integration. There are examples of what this might look like on CA BOCES Professional Development’s webpage as well as our regional professional development offerings catalog.
In practice, the on-demand professional development through Model Schools has always been one of the most enjoyable aspects of my work, and my most recent trip to Genesee-Valley Central School not only reaffirmed that but also served to summarize well what that on-demand work can look like:
In the second and third photographs, students in Mrs. Halley Kasperski’s class worked through a “low-tech” task facilitated by Mrs. Lindsay Simpson to best catch the mischievous (or perhaps misunderstood) leprechaun. While I have seen and utilized it many times before, the slide Lindsay used to help students work through the Engineering Design Process struck me a bit differently as I was reflecting on our work. Whether a Model Schools coordinator works with educators in your district to help facilitate lessons on coding, lessons using physical kits through the Learning Resources program CoSers, or lessons emphasizing computational thinking, nearly all of these lessons work through a similar process to the Engineering Design Process.
For example, when Lindsay’s lesson was finished, I worked with separate groups of students to explore the littleBits kits that GV has available for students in the Innovation Center. When students arrived, we opened our inquiry with a Notice/Wonder dialogue to ask questions and imagine specific outcomes using the resources available; then students planned and created using those kits to see if their imagined outcomes were plausible; and lastly, we concluded by suggesting possibilities for extending the learning and revisiting what had taken place.
So what does Model Schools work look like? It can look like a mess. It can look like excitement. It can look an awful lot like an inquiry process or the Engineering Design Process. Ultimately, it looks like it’s worth it.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Are your students struggling with their mathematical fluency? Are you looking for a highly engaging way to get your students to work on their mathematical fluency? Look no further than nerdlegame.com, a free platform where students can complete a Nerdle game and work on their mathematical fluency simultaneously. If you’re familiar with Wordle, you may notice that Nerdle is the math equivalent where instead of guessing the mystery 5-letter word, you are trying to guess the mystery 8-character math sentence.
Graham Fletcher defines mathematical fluency as a “students need to be accurate, efficient, and flexible in context”; “it is an outcome of meaningful problem-solving with purposeful practice.” Not only does mathematical fluency include a student's ability to be accurate and efficient, but it is also a measure of how flexible you are in your thinking. Many people think that mathematical fluency is simply about speed and accuracy with rote memorized facts, when it’s more important and powerful for students to know how to use these facts in context.
Take the following example from Linda Gojak, former NCTM President. At the beginning of the school year, I gave a class of third-grade students a sheet with 10 addition facts. Under each fact was the word “explain,” followed by a line. I asked one of the students the sum of the first fact, 8 + 9, and she immediately began to count on her fingers—certainly not the action of a student who is fluent with addition facts. Before she reached the sum I asked her, “What do you know that would help you find the sum of 8 and 9?” She thought for a brief time and replied, “Oh, it’s 17.” When I asked her how she had gotten that without counting, she looked at me and said, “I just took 1 off the 8 and gave it to the 9. That made it 7 + 10. That’s easy—it’s 17.”
One might argue that child was not fluent. I believe, however, that she demonstrated fluency and more. She was able to use her understanding of place value, addition, and the associative property to arrive at a correct response. She was efficient, accurate, and flexible in her thinking—all in a matter of seconds. What made the difference between her fumbling first attempt and her successful second one? It was being provided with the chance to stop and think about what she already knew and apply that understanding to 8 + 9.
This child wasn’t quick with blurting out the correct response but according to Linda Gojak, should still be considered mathematically fluent because “she was efficient, accurate, and flexible in her thinking.” This is the essence of the Nerdle game phenomenon. Students need to come up with the mystery math equation of the day utilizing any of the digits 0-9, =, and the four arithmetic operators +, -, *, and /.
How exactly can Nerdle game help students develop their mathematical fluency? Nerdle promotes mathematical fluency since it requires mathematically correct number sentences to be used. If what is entered is not mathematically correct, you will be required to fix it before submitting. As said before, any of the four arithmetic operators can be included in a Nerdle which requires students to be familiar with each, and it forces users to think flexibly about numbers to eventually determine what the mystery equation is. Another key benefit of using Nerdle with students is that it can be done individually or as a group, as a Do Now, Exit Ticket, or other quick formative assessment, depending on how you want to utilize the site in your classroom. It can also be useful for students from elementary age through high school.
Now, how do you actually play Nerdle? The ultimate objective is to guess the Nerdle in 6 tries or less. After each guess, the color of the tiles will change to show how close your guess was to the solution. In addition, here are the rest of the rule's users must abide by for the Classic Nerdle game.
From the initial Classic Nerdle game, there are now five game modes for users to try. These game modes are explained further below.
Classic Nerdle – The original Nerdle game. The aim of the game is to guess the Nerdle in six tries, by guessing the “word” that fills the eight tiles. After each guess, the color of the tiles will change to show how close your guess is to the right answer. A black tile signifies a number or operator that is not in the puzzle at all. A pink tile signifies a correct number or operator that is in an incorrect location. A green tile signifies a number or operator that is correct and in the correct location.
Mini Nerdle – The aim of the Mini Nerdle game is identical to that of Classic Nerdle only instead of eight tiles to guess, there are only six. A Mini Nerdle game could be beneficial for students who are not quite ready for the full Classic Nerdle game. As students build up their fluency skills, they could then begin to use the Classic Nerdle game.
Pro Nerdle – Is an amazing new gaming option that allows users to create their own Nerdle game to share with others. Additional operators including parentheses, exponents, decimals, and factorials are available and the user has full control over how many of the operators are enabled in their game. While Classic Nerdle is an eight-character puzzle with six guesses, Pro Nerdle can be up to sixteen characters with up to ten guesses. Once a Pro Nerdle is created, a share link is provided that can be sent to your students.
Speed Nerdle – This game mode has rules that are the same as the Classic Nerdle rules except you play against the clock and the first guess has been taken for you. But be careful, some rows have time penalties. 3,2,1….go!
Instant Nerdle – This game mode has rules that are the same as the Speed Nerdle rules except there are no time penalties. In addition, the first guess made includes all the operators and digits needed to complete the math sentence, but in the wrong order.
Each of the five game modes can be used to successfully help students increase their mathematical fluency in a fun and engaging manner. The Pro Nerdle game is an especially dynamite option that gives educators more control over the specific fluency skills they want their students to be practicing in the classroom.
If your students are struggling with their mathematical fluency skills, it may be time to try something new such as Nerdle. If you do use Nerdle, I would love to hear how it went! Give me a shout on Twitter @JTheRunningShu or email me at Justin_Shumaker@caboces.org to share or learn more about how Nerdle can be used effectively in the classroom.
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Professional Development
Teachers at Bolivar-Richburg are finding success with fun evidence-based practices in their classrooms. K-2 teachers are finding success with Heggerty Phonemic Awareness as well. This comes in addition to the core instruction from CKLA, which focuses on systemic reading instruction with introduction of sound patterns and structured to the "reading brain."
Interventionists are using Decodable texts and Heggerty Phonemic Awareness as well as Logic to supplement learning. Third-grade teachers have implemented Scholastic StoryWorks into their curriculum to supplement the NYS EL modules. This is all helping to build consistency and systematic practices for our early learners.
Much of this research has been around for the better part of 40 years. Thanks to organizations like The Reading League, which provides resources, online learning, podcasts, teacher training and even a new tv series called "Reading Buddies," we are now seeing the research in action. Started as a grassroots organization to inform teachers of the reading research, it's now working with chapters nationwide and even bringing in world-renowned psychologists, educators and reading gurus to its National Conference and regional trainings.
In sharing and embracing the research, the motto, "Know Better, Do Better' really rings true. Seeing this work in practice daily is not only empowering, but what's best for students to become gradel-level readers and writers.
Reference: www.the reading league.org.
By: Sarah Cartmill, CA BOCES Professional Development
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