Teaching science today in the classroom can be time consuming. There may not be time to fit in all the components from a CA-BOCES science kit due to time constraints. Students might be missing out on the hands-on activities, important vocabulary, and science concepts each learning experience is geared for only because of time’s sake. Also when getting that buckhorn science kit and opening it for the first time, it can be a bit overwhelming with the supplies, manual, books, live animal coupons, and reading that is needed to prepare the kit.
Last week, a few teachers wanted to explore a few of the science kits offered by CA-BOCES. Teachers went through some of the experiences, examined and manipulated the supplies in the kit, debriefed themselves on the manuals, learned about additional resources that coincide with the kit, and discussed implementation plans in their classrooms.
Hinsdale third grade teachers, Lisa Morrow and Christine Goodling, were both surprised and intrigued by how many ELA skills were intertwined with the science kit, Life Cycles and Traits of Frogs. They noted that it could easily be used during their ELA block because students need to pull main ideas, details, conclusions, evidence, sequencing, and inferences from the texts all while learning science concepts. The teachers also commented how excited the students would be to engage with the topics and activities since they would have actual eggs, tadpoles, and frogs in their classrooms. After their new found knowledge of the science kit and realizing its ease of use, teachers left rejuvenated and excited to bring science back to the classroom knowing how much the students would gain from this experience.
The coding initiative has taken hold in many of our elementary classrooms throughout the Cattaraugus-Allegany region, through the use of Bee-Bots, iPad Apps for Education, programming course platform Zulama, Lego League, and many more. Many of our teachers are breaking away from the ‘shuttering’ that ensued from the mere utterance of the word “coding”. Coding, at its heart, is simply providing a set of directions that one must follow. It encourages critical thinking and problem solving skills in our students.
On March 16, Mrs. Hamer’s Kindergarten embarked on their first hands-on coding experience under the expertise of technology integrator Mark Carls. cooperative learning groups of 4-5 students, under Mark’s guidance, programmed our Bee’s to maneuver through the grid provided.
Mark was very enthusiastic when describing his work with our students commenting, “Some students grasped the concept of the bees right away and I was able to provide more complex pathways almost immediately, while some students needed more direct support with one step programming tasks. All in all, it was great! The kids were very engaged and enthusiastic about using the Bee’s. Every student wanted to touch them and in our small groups they were able to do just that.” Through this one activity, Mark was able to provide students with an enriching differentiated critical thinking task.
Mrs. Hamer’s Kindergarten class is eagerly awaiting Mark’s next visit when they will be applying their knowledge of coding with the tangible Bee-Bots to coding with the Bee-Bot App.
Through participation in Environmental Science programs with traveling teacher Barb Busack, Cuba-Rushford fourth grade students learned spiders are fascinating animals. On this day, they studied the parts of a spider, as well as how it hunts and digests its prey; soup anyone? They also studied the spiders’ amazing ability to make silk stronger than steel and style it into a variety of webs. Most importantly, they learned spiders are beneficial to our ecosystem, as they help control the insect population.
A competition was held to see which students could use their newly gained knowledge of spiders and their amazing lives to answer assessment questions and unscramble facts about spiders’ benefits to man. The first student who figured out the scrambled sentence won a spider web keychain.
The lesson concluded with the students making a pipe cleaner spider that can be hung outside. Hopefully a real spider will come along and use the framework to make a web, thus reducing the amount of unwanted insects in our yards and proving that spiders are beneficial!
By Barb Busack, CA BOCES
So you’re teaching a topic you’ve been teaching for 20 years and you need to breathe some life into the content. Where do you turn for timely, relevant and content specific material? SNAP!
Or maybe you’re a new teacher who needs manipulatives or leveled reader kits. Where can you get those? SNAP!
Science kits? SNAP! Hard copy media? SNAP! Professional Library materials? SNAP!
Through our Learning Resources program, we have thousands of resources available that can be used either instantaneously or ordered and delivered within days. There are many resources available online, but can you be sure of the authenticity? Here at Learning Resources, we zero in on educational media and technology that enhances your instruction.
With SNAP, we work with specific vendors who provide us with educationally sound and safe content: vendors such as Discovery Education, PBS Learning Media, TumbleBooks, TeachingBooks, BrainPOP, Learn360 and more. We also provide hands on instruction as well as technological assistance. Invite us to come into your classroom or building and we will work side by side with you and/or your students to align SNAP resources to your content. Look how much fun we had in Portville this month!
Is it easy to use? Extremely! It looks a lot like Amazon, or any other online shopping program. You can filter your choices and access streaming media right through your search. There is also a calendar that allows you to see when resources are next available. When you’re finished making selections for things to be delivered to your school, simply go to your “cart” and submit your order! What a SNAP!!!!
Let’s take a tour: www.snap.caboces.org
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CA BOCES
Local librarians were recently challenged to use Buncee to submit a photo story that showcased what his/her library program was doing. Mary Zdrojewski, K-12 librarian from Scio created "Beyond the Bookshelves".
Create your digital canvass with Buncee at www.edu.buncee.com .
Tenth graders from Andover, Belfast, Bolivar-Richburg, Cuba-Rushford, Fillmore, Portville, Scio, and Wellsville explored careers at Alfred State College. Over 40 businesses shared about careers in Allegany County. Student spent the day answering the question, "What's my next step?"
Engaging students today is all the more challenging. With students spending much of their time enveloped in a world of technology, from social media to video games, the ability to get students interested in content and curriculum being taught is difficult. Game-based learning provides teachers with an opportunity to consider ways to engage students in the content being taught, and empower students to channel their own individual creativity.
As children, we often loved to play games. Whether it was a simple card game on a rainy day, Red Rover with all the kids in the neighborhood during summer vacation, or a competitive game of Monopoly, games are very much a part of life – and of learning. Bringing games into the classroom instills a series of game-based principles, and provides an opportunity for direct interaction with content. Through engaging in the risk and reward of a game, or being immersed in a challenge-based experience, students are progressing through the game to fulfill a final goal or end result.
At a recent Genesee Valley professional development day, teachers explored the practice and principles behind game-based learning. Participants played games, created games, and discussed how games could be transferred back into the classroom.
Kristin Buchholz, high school art teacher, is no stranger to game-based learning. While she incorporates her own instructional games in the classroom, she also has her students design and build games to learn about the principles of art. However, this year, after exploring game-based learning, she hopes to have the students make games that reinforce curricular concepts she teaches in her art courses. Music teachers Tom Musingo and Alva Robbins created a game that has students work through their recognition of musical scales, all with the use of a 12-sided die.
In working with small groups or whole groups, games can help engage students in the content and curriculum. The start of game-based learning could come from the development of games by the teacher, but the true challenge is having students engage in the creation of games that can be used to support each other in learning key critical content. Rather than having students create games for the sake of creating games, challenge students to build games that would help them – or their peers – to learn the content they’ve been exploring. If students are struggling with math, consider how a deck of cards could help reinforce a skill being taught in math. The creativity of students can not only help to reinforce concepts, but also can help to build student ability to channel their own personal creativity. Games bring back that fondness of our childhood, but also can be a great instructional tool to engage students and reinstate that sense of “fun” in any classroom PK-12.
By: Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES
The Maker movement is on the rise in today’s schools. The movement, which is poised to transform learning throughan emphasis on creation and creativity, ties in closely with
the STEAM initiatives many are looking to employ in their instructional practices. One such resource that can get a makerspace off the ground is LittleBits, easy-to-use electronic building blocks that snap together to help students in their creation of various inventions. LittleBits
have made their way into Cattaraugus-Allegany schools and are beginning to take hold in makerspaces and classrooms alike.
At a recent training, districts participating in the Eisenhower Consortium were given the opportunity to explore LittleBits and their application in the classroom and school-wide makerspaces. Teachers learning about the technology were given a series of challenges and asked
to use the building blocks to create useful tools that could help provide a solution to the given problems.
Take for instance, the case where the power goes out. What would one do? Reach for a flashlight of course, but what if there were no flashlight to be found? Could LittleBits help provide a solution? Teachers engaged with the blocks and snapped them together to make a useable flashlight. With toilet paper tubes, some tape, and a series of inter-locking electronic blocks, the problem came to be resolved.
Some would argue that a makerspace takes away from the content and curriculum that needs to be taught, but with LittleBits, the connection is often seamless. For those teaching about the solar system, and the movement of planets, imagine making a scale of the solar system using the components of LittleBits. Teachers at a recent team training collaborated to build a model of the movement of the moon around the earth, creating a replication of the phases of the moon. In tinkering with the inter-locking blocks and using easily accessible materials, the model took shape.
Students thrive in environments that rekindle their desire to make meaningful contributions toward relevant issues, ideas, people and interests. LittleBits can open the doorway to inspiring that creativity and innovation we often seek in our students. Whether using LittleBits or other resources, makerspaces are here to stay, and considering how to incorporate such tools into the classroom can push students further, and inspire deep, meaningful learning experiences for all.
LittleBits are accessible through our Learning Resources department and can be checked out for use in the classroom today.
Contact Lauren Stuff for more questions or support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the end of the year districts are asked if they'd like to contribute money towards an Eisenhower fund where the money is pooled together for the following school year. When the new year starts up, these districts meet to discuss possible options to maximize these funds- called Eisenhower Funds. This year the participating schools decided on sending teachers to learn and receive either Hummingbird, littleBits kits or to learn about Project Based Learning. The photos above are from the littleBits training held at the Barn Teaching and Learning Center in Olean on Leap Day (February 29th) and were tweeted out using the hashtag #myCABOCES.
The reason for the importance of these days was to explore more about the “Maker Movement” where people look to ‘make’ something to help fix a problem, help others or just because they want to make something! The importance of Hummingbirds and littleBits in that process is because they offer students a chance to easily ‘make’ or build their own ideas. After exploring different projects like creating a doorknob, a flashlight and a bubble maker, these teachers looked at finding ways to incorporate littleBits into their classrooms and spaces they have back in their district. As with the Hummingbird training in January, all of the teachers left with creative ideas for their students. We at CABOCES Professional Development can’t wait to see and hear all the neat products that the students create.
By Mark Carls, CA BOCES
Did you get the chance to watch the sitcoms where Phil and Sheldon were able to be in two places at once? Did you know that students in the Cattaraugus Allegany County region can also be in two places at once and stay part of classroom instruction from home or the hospital?
As part of the CA BOCES Distance Learning Coser, two VGo robotic devices are available to reserve for situations where students can't be in school. The VGo robotic telepresence solution is currently helping two siblings from Cattaraugus Little Valley Central School stay connected to their teachers, classmates, and instruction. Emmalee and Patrick are two fun-loving middle school students who many times throughout the school year can't physically attend school due to illness. Instead, Emmalee and Patrick can drive the VGo to every class and receive the same instruction as their peers, and they can even socialize with friends going down the hall.
The VGos were purchased as part of a recent USDA RUS grant that CA BOCES Distance Learning coordinates to help students stay connected to their studies. In the past, schools had to deliver course material to the student's home, now the student comes to school and engages in the course material first hand. All the student needs at home or in the hospital is a laptop or iPad with Internet access.
What are the benefits for the students and the parents? There are many, but let's learn from Emmalee and Patrick's mother how the VGo has helped her children stay connected:
How do teachers benefit from the VGo? Mr. Kaleta, Middle School teacher at Cattaraugus Little Valley, shared the following:
As the Staff Specialist for Distance Learning, I had the opportunity to visit Cattaraugus Little Valley to see how the teachers and students were adapting to the VGo. I walked into Mr. Conner's History class where the VGo was in action, and there was Emmalee's face, all smiles sitting straight up in her hospital bed learning about Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay. There could be nothing greater than witnessing a smiling student benefit from Distance Learning technology! The VGo provides the ability for students to participate in class, collaborate with peers, and socialize as a typical middle school student would.
If you have a student who could benefit from the VGo, please contact CA BOCES Distance Learning at 716-376-8270, and we will deliver the VGo to your school for easy access!
By: Betsy Hardy, CA BOCES