All too often, teachers hear the words I can’t or I don’t know how, and are faced with the perils of students who just simply believe that they are incapable of success. The work of Carol Dweck on mindsets and the power we, in education, have to shift one’s own self-understanding is great, and in helping support students – and teachers – to grow overtime, the power of a positive mindset takes shape.
Dweck writes of the importance of giving students learning tasks that tell them they can be as smart as they want to be, providing students with meaningful schoolwork that promotes opportunities for challenge, for effort, for resilience, and that values improvement overtime. As she explains, those students with a growth mindset view challenging work as an opportunity to learn and grow, whereas those with a fixed mindset sacrifice important opportunities to learn, especially when such experiences require a risk of poor performance or admittance of some deficiencies. At Pioneer Central, teachers studying the growth mindset philosophy have taken it back to their classrooms, working with populations of students to promote continued effort over immediate success. The hallways of Arcade Elementary are draped with bulletin boards, student work, and posters that advocate for effort over being right 100% of the time.
A cohort of teachers, administrators, and curriculum coordinators recently explored the power of the growth mindset philosophy, discussing how to channel that understanding of mindset amongst their students and their teachers. As a part of their learning, the group discussed how to work toward fostering a growth mindset, from emphasizing challenge over success, to giving a sense of progress as a part of the learning space. The ultimate goal for many was on the promotion of long-term success. A growth mindset can help to promote a love of learning and resilience in the face of obstacles.
One of the most manageable ways to shift the I can’t mentality is through the power of praise. Many, be it students, be it teachers, or be it administrators, get caught in the rut of saying things such as good job, or nice work over and over again. While such anecdotes of praise are all well and good, the question lies as to whether or not they are truly specific enough to insight growth. Rather than being redundant with such common statements of praise, research suggests that educators use more specific, precise praise, which shifts one’s mindset from being overtly fixed, to one that promotes an effort toward growth. Growth comes from praise that incites effort and hard work on the part of the student or teacher. Anne Cater, curriculum coordinator at Belfast Central School, explains that the power of praise was one of the major takeaways for her staff: “Our teachers in attendance have worked to incorporate what they learned, praising for effort rather than for being correct.”
Teachers and administrators work to think of all the ways
they praise their students and their teachers.
Are they predominantly fixed or growth-oriented in their efforts to praise?
Regardless of the manner in which we work toward fostering a growth mindset, when we, as educators work to praise the learning process rather than ability, we are helping to outfit students and teachers with the values and tools that breed lifelong success.
By: Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES
The use of Apple Technologies in the classroom has become prevalent in schools throughout Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, and one such district that continues to extend its usage of such devices in the school setting is Cuba-Rushford Central School. The Rebels have been iUsers for several years, providing the technology to all classrooms PK-12. Most recently, students in kindergarten and first grade had the opportunity to work with the devices to extend their learning and explore practical uses of iPads in the elementary setting.
In Kindergarten, students worked to create their own All About Me books using the Story Creator application. Aside from working on their illustrative abilities, students also worked on their personal handwriting and typing skills, formulating their books overtime. Part of having such resources available is giving students the opportunity to create a product of some kind. Applications such as Story Creator give students the unique experience of building their own book, channeling opportunities to be creative, write, and share with others.
While some use iPads for the opportunity to create, others use it to practice essential skills in the various content areas. In first grade, the elementary Rebels have been working on fluency with their addition and subtraction facts. The ToDo Math application, which reinforces continual practice with mathematical concepts taught in grades PK-2, not only gives traditional fact fluency practice, but also allows students to build number sentences and use other critical components of the mathematical models embedded within the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. The first grade students worked on their understanding of addition and subtraction facts by rotating through a series of stations and activities from the ToDo Math application. With varied levels, the activities were differentiated based on student ability and allotted for continued practice with similar content in multiple modalities. Without iPads, the experience may have looked much different, but in thanks to the resource, students were able to reinforce understanding of a critical concept with repeated practice.
As technology makes its way into classrooms, teachers have come to learn and explore all the practical ways in which it can be used to promote student learning, opportunities for creation, and ultimately, student engagement and a positive learning environment of the 21st century. Just as the CRCS Rebels have modeled, iPads are a gateway to giving students another modality to learn with, and learn from.
By: Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES
Over the past three years, there have been several major changes to our public education system as part of the Regents Reform agenda. The first change was the decision from NYS to implement the Common Core Standards for English and Mathematics. These Standards are designed to help our students be better prepared for college and careers in the 21st Century. The Common Core Standards are rigorous and challenging to both students and teachers. As a result, they have forced every teacher of English and Mathematics to rethink and re-design their instruction and assessments.
Another change in the state is how school districts evaluate a teacher’s performance. For the first time in the state’s history, teachers are now accountable for how well students achieve on NYS assessments in grades 3-8, Regents exams and on local tests in other subject areas that are given to measure student growth. Teacher performance is coupled with an additional recommendation from the state to use data from additional assessments given periodically throughout the year to inform instruction. With all of these changes being put into place in a relatively short period of time, many parents as well as teachers have expressed concerns over the increase in the amount of testing that our students are now experiencing.
The State Education Department has responded to these concerns by funding an initiative to examine the number and types of tests that school districts are giving students and to learn about how to design high quality assessments. Thirteen school districts in the Cattaraugus-Allegany region have been awarded a nearly four hundred thousand dollar ‘Teaching is the Core’ grant from NYS Education Department. The primary purpose of this grant is to improve the quality of all classroom assessments, while also reducing the number of assessments that do not inform instruction. In addition, this grant can help districts identify and/or develop high-quality assessments already in use for instructional purposes that can simultaneously be used for teacher performance purposes.
For the past three months, the thirteen districts participating in this grant have been looking at their current classroom assessments to see if they have a strong alignment to the Standards. We are also looking to see how assessments are used to inform instruction – the way in which feedback is provided to students during the assessment process; the way in which teachers use the results of the assessments to inform their instructional decisions; and the degree to which assessment results are used to address the needs of diverse learners (including students with disabilities, English language learners, and gifted learners). We are analyzing the timing of classroom assessments – a balanced assessment system should include diagnostic, formative and summative assessments as well as pre/post measures to assess growth. We are also looking at the types of assessments we are giving – are they rigorous and authentic? Do they ask students to recall information, create a product, demonstrate their learning through a performance or explain their thinking processes? What we are discovering is that our current assessments are rarely modified to meet student needs and do not allow students various ways to access content and/or demonstrate their learning. And finally, we are questioning the reliability of our assessments – how do we know if teachers have the same vision for quality and agree while scoring student work?
Most of our work during these first few months of the grant focused on assessment audits – looking at assessment artifacts to see if we need to replace, revise or keep our current assessments. The primary purpose of this grant is to support districts in their efforts to improve the quality of all educational assessments, while also reducing the number of assessments that do not contribute to teaching and learning. In addition, this grant can help districts identify and/or develop high-quality assessments already in use for instructional or other curricular purposes that can simultaneously be used for Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) purposes.
As we proceed to phase two of the grant, districts will have multiple opportunities to learn about quality assessment design, how to develop performance-based tasks, designing assessments that increase rigor and authenticity, and learn protocols for looking at student work to provide meaningful feedback to students and their families. The districts involved in the grant include Allegany-Limestone, Andover, Cuba-Rushford, Genesee Valley, Hinsdale, Olean, Pioneer, Portville, Randolph Academy, Salamanca, Scio, Wellsville, and West Valley. For additional information and educational resources from NYSED, please visit the “Teaching is the Core Assessment Literacy Series” at http://www.engageny.org or contact Mary Morris, CA BOCES Staff Specialist and TITC Grant Coordinator.
By: Mary Morris, CA BOCES
We are excited to share offering descriptions of events that will be hosted by Instructional Support Services for the 2015-16 school year.
Link: 2015-16 Offerings
Please note, these offerings only represent regional work from the Division and tend to change often. Any offering listed can be presented in an on-site format by contacting session facilitators.
REGISTRATION - District Administration may contact Laurie Sledge (716-376-8357 firstname.lastname@example.org) for general information and registration. Teachers may contact their Curriculum Coordinator or Administrator for registration, as individual teacher registrations are not permitted.
SUBSTITUTE AND TEACHER STIPEND REIMBURSEMENT – Most sessions listed below are eligible for reimbursement of substitute and teacher stipend costs.
SESSION COSTS – All sessions listed are included within COSER costs unless otherwise stated.
Our Calendar of Events provides the most current events and is accurate of all cancellations and changes.
Fourth grade students from Bolivar/Richburg unpacked capsules representing the Earth’s Eras. The students used clues to place the contents of their time capsules along the Earth’s time line. Once the time line was completed they followed the path of an iron molecule from volcanoes in the pre-Cambrian era to trilobites to T-Rex to mastodons and into the present.
By: Barb Busack, CA BOCES Environmental Education
Teachers attend workshops with Bona’s students
By Kellen Quicgley
Physical education teachers from across Cattaraugus and Allegany counties gathered at St. Bonaventure University on Monday, March 16, for a day of active workshop sessions hosted by the university.
One of the primary goals was to create a professional network and community for all physical educators across the two counties, event organizer Bonnie Smith said.
But unlike other forums, these workshops focused on incorporating physical education into all aspects of the school system by reaching and teaching every student.
Physical Education teachers from kindergarten through twelfth grade attended workshops with Bonaventure students on topics ranging from embracing the future of education to helping kids become more active today.
“We want to make sure it’s a mix of discussing theory and getting up and moving around,” Smith said.
Many of the educators who participated had attended previous forums.
Forum numbers have been consistent at 50 to 60 attendees each time, according to Smith.
A self-defense and fitness workshop for the middle and high school teachers presented by Barry Broughton of AKT Combatives Academy, took place in the Sandra A. and William L. Richter Center that afternoon.
“We want to inspire the kids to move more through cardio workouts and self-defense classes,” Maria Brooks an Olean high school physical educator, said. “Adapting the PE classes into a new curriculum is important for the kids and school overall.”
Meanwhile, education majors Micaela Young, Sarah Meister and Alexis Mulvehill presented a workshop to the elementary teachers with Allison Barnes, an adjunct professor.
Smith said one of the goals was to have the teachers go both ways, between teachers and Bonaventure students.
“Students can teach teachers, too. It’s a nice collaboration between students and staff. You never have to stop learning,” Smith said.
The lessons from the students related to different concepts that connect physical education to the classroom, including math in nutrition, history lessons and yoga.
“We showed the teachers different tools they can use in gym class by reinforcing what kids are learning,” Young said.
Barnes agreed and said adding movement can help the kids learn better.
“The lessons can flow better by integrating them into activities where they get up and move around,” Barnes said.
The majority of schools in the two counties are small, rural schools, whose physical education teachers feel isolated and disconnected from their peers in other districts, Smith said. They have few opportunities to network or collaborate between districts outside of coaching and often feel frustrated by professional growth opportunities within their districts.
In addition to networking, Smith said they want to provide quality learning opportunities for the teachers in the areas of curriculum, assessment and instruction.
She received continuous feedback from the participants on the workshops throughout the day and planned to use it in future sessions for maximum opportunity and growth.
“Our goals for future forums include workshops on nutrition and healthy eating,” Smith said. “We’ll keep some of the same ones while including evolving session ideas.”
A federal grant given to the Portville and Cattaraugus-Little Valley districts made the previous three years’ forums possible.
Additionally, Olean and Hinsdale’s school districts were recently awarded a three-year grant by Carol White PEP Grants starting this year.
The schools have allocated funds toward continuing the forum for the duration of their grant.
“Working and sharing with each other has made a huge difference for the physical educators,” Smith said. “We are fortunate to see lots of highly effective teaching happening for the kids in these districts. And it’s been a wonderful collaboration with BOCES and the Bonaventure students and staff.”