We just finished the month of April, which is sometimes known as Earth Month since Earth Day has been celebrated on April 22nd each year since 1970. Arbor Day is also the last Friday in April, when we are reminded to plant trees. But May is when we really start to reap the benefits of Earth’s springtime! After a relatively cold April (with a couple of warm days to tease us), May is a time we can really start to rub our winter-weary eyes and stretch our legs as we venture outside to see things come alive. May begins with a lime-green undertone to all the brown-grey branches and ends in a full explosion of leaves in our faces! Somewhere in between the tiny buds on the trees burst open to reveal the trees’ means of reproduction – their flowers. There is always a hint scientific truth to weather cliches, such as “April showers bring May flowers!” Many Native American cultures call the full moon of May “the Flower Moon”, very simply because of the obvious occurrences in nature during this time of year.
This year’s May full moon is on May 15th. As a bonus, this Flower Moon will undergo a total eclipse! An eclipse of the moon (lunar eclipse) happens when the Earth blocks the Sun’s light rays from reaching the moon. We can actually watch the shadow of the Earth cross the moon! To see this one, it will need to be a clear night on May 15th. The eclipse begins at 9:30pm that night and reaches totality (when Earth’s shadow completely covers the moon) around 11:30pm. You will know totality has occurred when the moon appears to turn a reddish hue. This is due to the Sun’s light rays refracting through Earth’s atmosphere, essentially bending around Earth’s surface to reach the moon. Let’s hope for a cloudless mid-May!
To get in the spirit of May, a fun activity is to make seed bombs. They are super easy, can become a springtime tradition, and are a fun gift! An added bonus to this Earth-friendly activity is that you can use paper scraps from a past craft activity, that would otherwise be thrown away.
You will need:
To make seed bombs:
You can make this springtime activity into an experiment. For each of the following options, see which variable makes the plants grow best. Keep track of the plant growth over time by measuring and taking observations down on a data table.
CA BOCES Advancing STEM Kits help elementary students understand our natural world. In Kindergarten, Grade 2, and Grade 5 students learn about what it takes for plants to grow, while students in Grade 1 and Grade 5 discover patterns of our moon. For more information about Advancing STEM Kits, check out our website, or contact me anytime!
Notice: The deadline is fast-approaching for an institute for teachers that are determined to implement the new science standards effectively. This is a chance to build NYSSLS-aligned assessments and integrate them into their classroom. There is an associated stipend as well as CTLE. The application process will be competitive and the deadline to apply is May 15th. Please share this opportunity with elementary teachers and secondary science teachers: Building and validating NGSS/NYSSLS Classroom Assessments
By: Kelli Grabowski, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Reading aloud to students leaves an impression for life-long reading and motivation for creative thinking. There are endless opportunities to foster creativity, problem-solving, questioning, and critical thinking skills through reading aloud to students. Interest, creativity, and visionary thinking became the focal points of the school wide read aloud with the book The Wild Robot by Peter Brown.
Throughout the month of March, Friendship Central School engaged students in a district wide reading of the novel, The Wild Robot in search of the answer to the question, “Can a robot learn to survive in the wilderness?” Students listened to the school administrators, Judy May (superintendent), Chris Cornwell (K-12 principal), and Paul Gilbert (assistant principal) as they eloquently demonstrated fluent reading to the district. Teachers, students, staff, cleaning personnel, and assistants participated as well. This experience exposed students to the real-world problems of communication, learning to get along with others, respect, and empathy for all.
Research shows that reading aloud helps students wrestle with complex ideas in a safe environment. Through literature, children begin to see themselves, other cultures, and communities. They explore classic and universal concepts such as relationships with families and friends that help children understand the social fabric of the world in which they live. (Gold, Gibson; nd). Elementary students at Friendship CSD exemplified this learning through projects. Several students, in partnership with their families, analyzed the main character by creating robots from loose parts. Other students understood the story from the perspective of the setting and created replicas of their mental images of the story setting.
Along with the adventure through story, middle school students participated in a career exploration. As a result of reading this novel, students showed an interest in robotics and how robots are changing the world. A representative from Keyence, Christopher Rickicki, presented careers in robotics and answered questions about automation in factories. Several students were inspired to learn more about technology and coding languages through this presentation.
Many conversations, activities, and fun learning experiences happen when we read aloud to students. If you are interested in learning more about engaging in a district-wide read aloud, you can request information at www.readtothem.org
By, Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development
Over the past few years, the New York State Education Department has been developing new Regents exams for High School Social Studies in both Grade 10 Global History and Geography and Grade 11 U.S. History and Government. These new exams are designed to reflect the shifts in instruction that were identified in the 2014 released Field Guide for Social Studies and assess students according to the practices identified in the Social Studies Framework for K-12 instruction. The first of these new Framework exams was offered in 2019 in Global II, while the US History exam was supposed to be offered for the first time in June 2020. As a result of shutdowns and cancellations this exam was never given. However, come June this brand-new assessment will be administered for the first time.
This new exam design has 28 MC questions that are attached to a stimulus, a Part II Stimulus Based Short Essay task where students will write 2 responses to 4 documents, and Part 3 will be a 6 document Civic Literacy DBQ Essay. The purpose of this new Regents exam is to align assessment to the content, skills, and practices of the Framework.
One of the most noticeable changes in the exam will be regarding Part II. Replacing the Part II Thematic essay, the Framework exam Part II has two stimulus-based essay responses. These will require students to both analyze and make connections between sets of provided documents and discuss the context surrounding these documents.
While many teachers are uncertain regarding this new exam, they are also optimistic as they reflect on how the Global II exam was both fair and challenging and are hopeful this exam will be the same as well.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Teaching post-pandemic brings challenges that we’ve never faced before. However, some challenges from pre-pandemic remain. How do we meet the task of teaching in a mixed-ability classroom? A typical class has a range from students who struggle in grasping new concepts, to those who are way ahead of their classmates from the onset, and those who fall somewhere in between.
To be sure, there are a range of effective strategies that can help all students succeed. Our math team at CABOCES does a tremendous job in educating our teachers about what works and what resources help. Additionally, we’ve added math intervention kits to the warehouse shelves to compliment the work that Graham Fletcher has done in our area.
But I want to circle back to a resource we’ve had for years that is a research-based, highly engaging, and self-paced solution for mixed-ability K-3 math classrooms. It makes math fun, interactive, and personalized for young learners. The program? Mathseeds.
Mathseeds is a technology-based classroom tool that offers a powerful way to differentiate learning while teaching elementary math. Combine that with a good story and interest is ignited in young minds. Incorporating story problems into classroom lessons allows students to see how certain math concepts can apply to real life. Story problems are also a good way to help students understand how to use math in everyday life and see the relevance of math.
Mathseeds provides colorful end-of-lesson books as part of its online program. Many of these are designed so students read the problem, work through it independently, and then turn to the next page to see the solution.
Are your teachers using Mathseeds? If not, please reach out and we’ll make sure they are using this valuable math tool with their students.
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Today’s changing society has promoted classrooms that have become faced with questions about COVID 19, current events, political viewpoints, and students wondering where they fit in within the new norms of society. As educators, we have a large responsibility to respond to the changes in society, along with differences in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and teach students not only to become college and career ready, but also civic ready.
You may be wondering, “what is civic ready?” Civic ready students are those who are alert, thoughtful, engaged, and inquisitive members of society. Developing classrooms that invite opportunities for change, and ways to create civic ready students, will assist in an overall investment to help better our society. As educators, we can assist in developing all students to learn how to become civic-minded students by teaching them to seek knowledge from multiple sources, reminding them to be alert to self-identity and bias, and teach them to be critical and engaged consumers and producers of media.
The Civically Engaged Classroom by Mary Ehrenworth, Pablo Wolfe, and Marc Todd, recently published in 2021, proposes vast, meaningful strategies for reading, writing, and speaking for change. This text will be of assistance in creating classrooms designed as spaces where truth is practiced, exposed, accepted, challenged, embraced, or even resisted.
Students already have a voice, and the work of The Civically Engaged Classroom, is to provide educators with new ways to work with teaching students to use their voices with confidence and power. The classroom can be a place for all students to experience what it means to live in community with others, while also challenging them to overcome differences.
At Pioneer Middle School, Art Teachers, Mr. Daggett and Mr. Necci are allowing students to use their voice in their Social Issue Poster Project. Displayed around the school are posters that encapsulate student emotion, passion, and engagement around a social issue. Students are encouraged to think about a social issue that is passionate to them, and the examples that are displayed around the school are powerful.
Think about the goal of creating civic ready students...
to create alert, thoughtful, engaged, inquisitive, and active citizens of society
Educators, this can be challenging. This is going to be an ongoing process for ourselves and for our students, however, this will allow for student awareness. Change will come if critical conversations are occurring in classrooms, and if we as educators are equipped to use critical lenses to sift through the abundant information and data that our students consume from their own devices. As we can see from these student posters, students powerfully “voiced” their opinions through these posters when given the opportunity to meaningfully and appropriately do so.
This book provides an ample number of resources for you to use in your classroom, and a vast array of eye-opening ways that we can ensure that all voices in our schools are heard.
Here are some examples of available resources within the text.
Resources to Empower Students Writing and Ensure that All Voices can be Heard:
The New York Times Learning Network: lesson plans, activities, and suggestions for how to
bring current events into the classroom
By: Jenna Fontaine, CA BOCES Professional Development
Imagine this being your classroom for a week!
High School students will have the opportunity to use this setting, as well as others, as their classroom for a week over the summer. Through our Environmental Science CoSer, students will investigate and study a variety of topics at a Marine Ecology Summer Camp located on the east end of Long Island.
Some of the topics to be investigated and studied will be physical and chemical oceanography, marine ecology, animal behavior, invertebrate zoology, marine fish, algae, seaside plants, birds, mariculture, man's impact on the marine environment and wetland conservation. All these investigations are led by a marine biologist who works in conjunction with the professional teaching staff.
Students will also get the chance to visit locations such as salt marshes, sand dunes, rock jetties and sand flats to collect marine specimens and learn about the characteristics and importance of each ecosystem. Crabs, clams, polychaetas, mussels, jellyfish and sea stars are among the organisms that will be observed in their natural habitat. Time will also be spent in the laboratory for dissections and lectures. Students will be expected to take notes in the field and laboratory, as well as keep a personal journal.
In addition to field work, students will visit a marine museum to learn about Long Island's storied whaling history as well as taking part in an actual fishing trip. Students will also visit the historic Montauk Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in New York State. Marine biologists from Long Island will lead the students in their studies.
The learning opportunities in this program are unique and far-reaching. Through teamwork and field experiences, students will gain insights into the unique problems faced by organisms as they survive in salty environments. Students who are prepared for the rigorous schedule will have an unforgettable experience.
This is just one of the many opportunities that the Environmental Science program at CA BOCES has to offer! For more information on these programs, please feel free to visit CABOCES Environmental Science or contact Lance Feuchter at (716) 376-8379 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Lance Feuchter, CA BOCES Learning Resources
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