Jennifer Smith, Speech Therapist, Andover, collaborates with a very flexible 3rd grade teacher, Faye Shay, to login to the student publishing program, Voicethread, and integrate her custom-designed therapy for one particular student with the whole class of students.
Students practice vocabulary, spelling and creative writing during this lesson on the meaning and use of the word, exaggeration. Ms. Smith had a picture of “Pecos Bill” in the Old West projected on the screen in Voicethread and each student could choose his or her method of commenting on the picture (microphone or typing) and begin a story (an exaggeration) of how the “Andover Ponds” were formed. What Ms. Shay noticed was that the students who have very little to say in class, were very involved and lengthy in their explanations of how the ponds were formed – all based upon background knowledge from class and checked later for spelling and punctuation. Creative stories about the ponds and their formation were anywhere from Pecos Bill lassoing animals to push the dirt away to the digging of holes one after another with intervention from a magical being. Ms. Smith also had the students owning their own learning as she communicated to them and displayed on the big screen how their individual comments come to her in an email from Voicethread.
By: Maggie Jensen, CA BOCES Learning Resources
There is a new buzz word in town called “STEM,” but what does it really mean? Just as other catch phrases or words can take on various meanings, the definition of “STEM” or how STEM looks like in the classroom has also taken on various descriptions.
The book-ends of STEM are easy to define as “Science” and “Math” content, but defining the components in the middle gets a little tricky. Let’s look at “Technology”, for instance. Nowadays, when people hear the word “technology,” they think of computers or other electronic devices. However, technology is simply referred to as the tools and machines that are used to solve real-world problems. Yes, this includes electronic devices such as computers and tablets, but it can also include devices such as microscopes, hand-lenses, hammers, and even a spoon!
The last component of STEM we need to define is “Engineering.” Simply put, engineering is the practical application of science and math to solve problems. Some people view engineering as the manufacturing of products, but the solution to a problem could also be a process that is created. For example, creating a better traffic flow pattern through the cafeteria is an engineering task.
So how do we put it all together in the classroom? Simple. We teach the content of science and math and have students apply that content knowledge to solve a real-world problem, using technology.
By: Kristen Keenan, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Heather Brubaker, teacher in Whitesville, prepares 9th, 10th and 11th grade general education students for Regents exams using the Promethean Board in the Resource Room. She self-assigns the public, Regents questions she chooses within Castle and projects them on the board for a whole class review of multiple choice or constructed response answers. Another way she uses Castle Learning is to put several students on computers with assignments she has selected while she works and assists others individually on paper worksheets she has printed from Castle. She finds this method of working on the computer keeps the students engaged and not distracted until she is freed up. The assignments Mrs. Brubaker sets up for those on the computers can be be assigned as “open” – giving the student two attempts at the correct answer and a hint before going to the next question. With immediate feedback for students, they are more likely to continue studying, make use of their time, and continue preparing for the exam.
By: Maggie Jensen, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Come into the art room at Whitesville Central School where students choose how to express their ideas. The children in elementary art class are busy making their personal works of art. The ideas and energy of these students have fueled the teaching setting of choice-based art. Every week, over a hundred students use the studio classroom and choose the material that will best express their artistic ideas.
The classroom is full of activity and the noise level is conducive to artistic thought. All the students are engaged and on task either working alone or in a small group. Children know where to find the materials and how to set up their own work space. At the end of class, each student is responsible for clean- up. Many forms of sharing, reflection and celebration take place at the end of each class.
One of the fundamental benefits of choice based art programs is the support, space and time that teachers provide children to realize and exercise freedom of thought. Choice Based Art promotes student inquiry, self-expression and creativity. This transition at Whitesville Central School has been supported by a partnership with Alfred University Pre-Service Teachers who are also engaged in Choice Based pedagogy. If you would like to learn more about Choice Based Art, please feel free to contact Chris Brown at Whitesville Central School or Corrie Burdick at Alfred University.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development and Whitesville Curriculum Coordinator
A Friendship elementary teacher, Paul Braun (grade 3), incorporates BrainPop, Scholastic News, and National Geographic in one very active lesson on habitats.
Mr. Braun starts the period with a timed three-minute sprint for math fractions (a nice review). Additionally, he models this by actually doing the sprint on screen, starting just after the students begin. As they go over the answers together the kids shout out, “Yes”, to indicate they have the correct answer. Partially invigorated by the mild shouting, the students are immediately on their feet to do jumping jacks, sit-ups and other exercises for about two minutes with Mr. Braun and a student leading the routine.
It is obvious that this is no ordinary classroom. The student desks are facing each other and not the front of the room, although they can easily turn to see the Smartboard and the short BrainPop Jr. animated film about habitats – kicking off the main lesson for the day. The videos are based on the characters of Tim and Moby with questions following. Mr. Braun can print the worksheets from BrainPop or project the questions on the board. He told me later that he uses Brain Pop Jr. regularly and that the most useful activity available to him within the program, besides the video, is the vocabulary word wall activity. “It’s the best.”
Turning to Scholastic News, he passes out the magazine reader but then projects the Scholastic website for more close reading of text. The inter-active website reads the definitions of new vocabulary for the habitat lesson to the class - the definitions pop up with a click. Students write down the main ideas of the article after finding them in the text.
The final part of the day finds students being assigned an animal and habitat to research. Logging on to HP Minis in groups of two, The National Geographic site is accessed from Mr. Braun’s school webpage, full of links to the animal videos, and becomes the focus of their research. The research will spill over to the next day. The students happily leave the room looking forward to learning more about their animals tomorrow.
By Maggie Jensen, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Students were familiar with analyzing a story using a story mountain, including: setting and characters, conflict or problem, the rising action, the climax or turning point, the falling action and the resolution or solution. After working with this article at a faculty meeting, Mrs. Hillman decided to have the students develop the rubric for the keynote project. She worked with her students on identifying key characteristics and understandings of each story element and what would be needed for each rubric score. The students were aware of what they needed to do for a quality score in each rubric category.
Each child took a different element. After reviewing other rubric samples, they created a four-point rubric for their element. Mrs. Hillman modeled how to do this with the exposition (characters and setting). Students got to work on their element, thinking about key understandings of their element. After completing their own element, students met as a group to share and discuss. This would be a group effort so they all had a say in the qualities of each element. Even though each student only had one element of the story mountain to develop in their portion of the report, they were very involved since it was a group activity. There was a lot of discussion since they were developing parts of something bigger that they were going to be putting together. With teacher guidance, they edited and revised the rubric.
Each child created their portion of the keynote presentation for their element. Their project was edited, revised, and reworked until students were satisfied with it. They referred to the rubric they created as they revised. This made it easier for the students since they had control of what they needed to include for each element. Once they felt it was complete, they emailed it to Mrs. Hillman. She combined all the elements into one presentation. Once all the elements were compiled into the group project, students were able to watch and share the presentation with the principal. Each student presented the element they had worked on in the rubric.
When the keynote presentation was complete, Mrs. Hillman projected the student created rubric using Apple TV; students also had a rubric in front of them to look at. The students graded the keynote project based on their rubric criteria. They analyzed each element and compared it to the rubric language. They provided feedback to each other, continuing to using the language of the rubric. The students loved this approach as they were personally invested in the rubric creation. All the students agreed that this project was easier to do well on than others were since they wrote the rubric and knew what they needed to do to get a certain score. They felt like they were set up for success. They liked to have the control over how they were graded and even wanted to eliminate the “one” score since they were not going to get that! When asked if they wanted to try this again for another project, they said definitely.
By: Gina Palermo, CA BOCES Professional Development and Cuba-Rushford Curriculum Coordinator
The Wellsville Campus of Alfred State College was the place to be on April 2, 2014 from 9:00-1:00. Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES offered the 3rd Annual College and Career Readiness Fair for more than 325 Allegany County teenagers. Immediately afterwards, the Greater Allegany County Chamber of Commerce began their Business Conference, concluding at 5:00.
The Career Day Planning Committee worked for a full year to develop a great opportunity for Allegany County students to explore their future, discover their passions and set potential goals. All details of the day, from student and exhibitor registration to pre-event activities, were available at lifeready.weebly.com. The dynamic and user-friendly website was the main vehicle of communication between CABOCES and students, guidance counselors, and businesses.
The 2014 event shaped up to be bigger and better than last year, with an even more robust lineup of speakers. The Planning Committee was honored to introduce Scio native, Michael Kintner (360heros.com), as Keynote Speaker to address the students. The Career Fair website details the impressive lineup of all the successful professionals committed to connecting with the youth of Allegany County.
Allegany County teenagers from 9 different school districts participated in the Fair. Participants transitioned through 3 interactive areas (Career Conversations, Career Playground and the Career and Community Exhibitors) while on campus. Students prepared for the day by identifying a Career Cluster that interested them. Careers can be categorized into six main clusters, see the Fair website for more details. Each Career Cluster was identified at the Fair. Students were guided to learn from experts from each Career Cluster.
Based on students' individual interests, they were given a personalized schedule to ensure they got the most out of their day. Students were encouraged to get their hands dirty, drive a backhoe, take a Culinary Arts lesson, speak with professionals from local businesses, and Skype with successful business people from across the country. The day offered something for everyone, in a rich, hands-on way.
Thank you to Andover, Belfast, Bolivar-Richburg, Cuba-Rushford, Elm Street Academy, Fillmore, Portville, Scio, Wellsville School Districts for allowing their students to attend and inspiring them to dream and set goals for a bright future. The date for next year’s event will be Thursday, April 9, 2015. For more information, call CABOCES Student Programs at 716-376-8284 and the College and Career Readiness website at lifeready.weebly.com.
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES Student Programming
As a teaching assistant for Scio Central School, Darla Rau has found success with K-4 students in the computer lab where she engages classes in practicing reading, math, and keyboarding on a variety of student learning programs.
Approximately four years ago Darla investigated “SuccessMaker” at the Rochester-based annual NYSCATE (The New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education) Conference and requested the purchasing of this data-oriented program from the Scio Central School administration. She works with teachers to track data on individual students for either remediation or higher level placements. Darla also uses many learning games for math and reading as well as basic typing and keyboarding skills, which she implements with early learners. Some of the resources (many free) which she uses are: Dance Mat Typing, Type to Learn 4, starfall.com, coolmathgames.com, sheppardsoftware.com primarygames.com and learninggamesforkids.com.
Darla finds that students really respond to “games” for learning and has recently expanded her offerings to include the animated, grade-appropriate, movie clips in the Teacher Toolkit of Study Island ( a web-based assessment program aligned to the common core standards). To access the animated videos, teacher videos, lesson plans and other classroom resources in Study Island just log in, click on “Teacher Toolkit” on the left-hand navigation bar and search by grade level, type of resource and subject.
By: Maggie Jensen, CA BOCES Learning Resources