Pixar in a Box Meets Khan Academy
We are storytellers. Notice that I used “we.” Some people prefer sharing stories through writing, others through video, and others through song. Regardless of the medium, we are all storytellers--every one of us.
The question then becomes, “How do we go about telling our stories?” To find the answer, look no further than Pixar’s collaboration with Khan Academy, Pixar in a Box. While the curriculum contains 15 units, The Art of Storytelling is central to story creation and development and is bolstered with six modules to help anyone guide their storytelling much like Pixar has done for over three decades.
The Art of Storytelling
Model Schools Coordinator, Rob Miller, and I first explored The Art of Storytelling curriculum this past March at the South by Southwest EDU (SXSW EDU) conference with Elyse Klaidman, co-leader of the team at Pixar that created, developed, and promoted Pixar in a Box. In her two-hour, hands-on session, Elyse shared her recommendations for utilizing the curriculum on Khan Academy in the middle-high school classroom (disclaimer - I must have been so engrossed in learning that I excluded a piece of the puzzle and numbered incorrectly):
English Language Arts Collaborative Learning Community
After returning from SXSW EDU, Rob and I shared our learning with the Professional Development team at CA BOCES. Seeing our enthusiasm and a clear connection to the NYSED ELA learning standards, Sarah Wittmeyer and Brendan Keiser collaborated with us to include The Art of Storytelling in the next Middle School/High School English Language Arts Collaborative Learning Community (MS/HS ELA CLC).
Educators from Allegany-Limestone, Bolivar-Richburg, Cattaraugus-Little Valley, Friendship, Portville, Salamanca, Scio, West Valley, and Whitesville school districts followed a process similar to the one I experienced with Elyse by working through the Getting Started with Pixar in a Box: The Art of Storytelling document in conjunction with the available video lessons over the course of approximately two hours. However, The Art of Storytelling could be easily extended to one week, one month, or one marking period (or longer) if desired. This process could even be developed into a course to include not only storytelling, but also design, effects, simulation, animation, character modeling, and more.
Maybe you aren’t convinced that you are a storyteller; perhaps you feel like you don’t have what it takes to write, produce, or create something valuable. If that really is you, I think the Introduction to Storytelling with Pixar in a Box can help. If that isn’t you and you are interested learning more about Pixar, or if you are looking to expand your storytelling strategies, you can start there, too.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Check out this month's Advancing STEM Challenge!
Chalk It Up
Advancing STEM Challenges are designed to bring engineering and design to your classroom in a simple, easy-to-implement, challenge-based way. Modify our Advancing STEM Challenges for your classroom. A new challenge will be post
The 3rd Southern Tier Annual Film Festival was held at Allegany-Limestone Central School District on May 9th, 2019 under the direction of Suzan Snyder and was another amazing success. Teachers, parents, administrators, and students gathered together, watched student films, and awarded the trophy to the winning district, Cuba Rushford Central School. Participating districts included Alfred-Almond (@AlfredAlmondCS), Allegany-Limestone(@ALCSGator), Cuba-Rushford (@CR_REBELS), Fillmore (@FillmoreEagles), Olean (@OleanHighSchool), and Whitesville (@wcsbluejays).
As a teacher who loves to see the creativity of my students, to witness the brilliance of a new generation, to be part of collaborative communities, I look forward every year to the professional development that spearheaded the film festival. It is an ongoing experience that continues to bring teachers together–those that were there first and new faces that join each year.
Three years ago, a group of teachers gathered together for professional development offered by CA BOCES (@CABOCESit), bringing Dr. David Bruce from University at Buffalo and Dr. Sunshine Sullivan from Houghton College to guide us in our efforts to learn to use digital media in our classrooms. We left that experience armed with new ideas for our classroom, exciting project-based assessments, our own creative pieces, and with a vague idea that we wanted to come together at the end of the school year and showcase our students’ efforts. We met periodically and fleshed out an idea for a film festival—a good spirited, but competitive event that would allow students to try to win a trophy for their school, and provide recognition among their peers and throughout their communities. We also wanted our students to create the artwork to advertise the festival so they could own this event alongside their teachers.
That vague idea became a fully developed festival. Now, each year towards the culmination of the school year, students enter their best work from throughout the year to a film committee. The committee picks thirty of the best films to showcase, selects winners based on specific criteria, and creates a flight sheet for one final award to be chosen by the audience at the end of the event. This year we had a wonderful artist, Jazlynn Sullivan of Olean High School, create the image for the posters to advertise the event and the programs.
As an English teacher, I am constantly amazed at the writing that comes out of these projects. Teachers ask students to tell a story, to shed light on an issue or a poem, to be a magician with images, to create a parody or satire, and they deliver at the film festival with glowing outcomes and to genuine applause. When we ask our students to put themselves in the spotlight, we are asking them to be vulnerable, to be real, to be exceptional. And they do not fail. Students create comedies and tragedies, extrapolate meaning from a poem through image and sound or investigate the way color is used in writing. Sometimes they look at what it means to be a teenager, magnifying difficult issues like bullying, violence, and trying to find their identity. Students are investigating the deep issues of their lives and sharing it with their teachers and then a wider audience so that we can search for answers or laugh or be afraid along with them.
Sometimes our students bring tears to our eyes. Sometimes the adults in the room go back in time, spend three minutes as the adolescents that we once were. That is what happens every year at this film festival. Every year another group of students radiates their authentic selves and ask the adults and companions in their lives to go with them on that journey.
This small film festival is growing every year. This year there were over 110 attendees. The students propelled the hard work of a small group of teachers into something great. For all the future festivals, we hope more teachers throughout the region will attend the five-day summer professional development opportunity and begin making digital projects and films in their classrooms with their students. We can’t wait to see the work of the students next year. Maybe it will be your students that win your district the trophy.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
In September 2018, school librarians attending the Collaborative Learning Community (CLC) were asked to set goals for the new school year. Some chose to look at their school’s student achievement goals while others focused on developing relationships with students and increasing collaboration with faculty. Meeting as a CLC throughout the year provided school librarians the opportunity to revisit goals and share success stories. Following are just a few highlights:
Amber Cheladyn, high school librarian at Allegany-Limestone, focused on building relationships with students. What started out as one teacher bringing special education students to the library has developed into a domino effect. More teachers have visited the library with their students where Amber has guided them through the process of borrowing OverDrive’s audiobooks and ebooks. Students are thrilled with being able to listen to popular fiction as well as those required for the curriculum.
Jody Thiel, PreK-12 librarian at West Valley Central School, focused on the long-term goal of increasing student achievement on the Regents and state assessment tests for ELA and Math. Increasing collaboration with teachers was her first step and has resulted in more projects this year. Jody has provided expertise to teachers on how to access CABOCES’ Insignia for borrowing items from CA BOCES and using the library’s online catalog for accessing databases and resources from the school’s library.
Elizabeth Brisky is the PreK-12 librarian at Franklinville. This year her school has been staircasing major subject areas and the specific writing and reading strands for each grade level. Elizabeth has participated in grade level meetings and programmed library instruction that builds on students’ areas of weakness. When she learned that genre was a difficult concept for students, Elizabeth created an entire unit on center-based activities that used genres, categorization of books, and writing activities for increasing student success.
In March, Dani Newman, PreK-12 librarian at Fillmore, recruited 30 students in grades 3-6 to participate in the IU9 Interscholastic Reading Competition in Bradford PA. When Dani shared her experience and her students’ excitement, other school librarians expressed an interest in recruiting their students to join in for next year’s event. Each team reads a total of forty pre-selected books and are responsible for knowing answers to questions asked during the competition. Librarians have received a list of titles for November’s competition which can also be used for summer reading.
Carli Wright is the new librarian at Randolph High School this year. Her goal of fostering relationships with students and getting them into the library led to many creative endeavors. Inspired by Dani’s success with the reading competition, Carli has connected with the Randolph Public Library to make sure her newly formed middle school team has what they need to read over the summer.
The Librarian’s CLC provides important networking for school librarians and has consistently seen high participation levels. Thank you, school administrators, for recognizing the unique professional development needs of school librarians!
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Moodle is a learning management system that is free, supported locally and readily available to component districts in the Distance Learning CoSer. Not only can you share documents or artifacts in your course, but you can add journals, discussion boards, videos, quizzes/tests, poll and much more to encourage interaction between you and your students, your students and the content, and student to student. Moodle will even grade assignments for you, after you set up the assignment to do so. To learn more about how to access Moodle or how it could benefit you and your students contact Karen Insley: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also access Moodle via guest access at moodle.caboces.org/demo and log in as a guest.
Current uses of Moodle across our region:
Future uses of Moodle across our region:
How will you use Moodle to benefit your students and yourself?
By: Karen Insley, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Students from 20 area schools experienced a brand new theatrical show last week. Almost 2500 elementary students from Cattaraugus and Allegany counties attended the TheaterWorks USA performance of "Rosie Revere, Engineer & Friends." A talented cast presented a lively musical revue of Andrea Beaty’s popular children’s book series.
The fun new musical is based on the books Rosie Revere, Engineer; Iggy Peck, Architect; and Ada Twist, Scientist, which all spotlight the STEM curriculum. Rosie, Iggy, and Ada, along with inspiration from Rosie’s great aunt, Rosie the Riveter, worked together to save the day and their teacher.
Information about the show, as well as curriculum connections and enrichment activities are available here: https://1s1lqm1s1b6x2bjxng3l5tmg-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/TWUSA-ROSIE-Study-Guide.pdf
TheaterWorks USA is a professional acting company based out of New York City. It is America’s largest and most prolific professional theatre for young audiences. Cuba-Rushford Elementary and Salamanca High opened their auditoriums to host the performances. BOCES Arts In Education, CoSer 403, helps schools enrich the lives of their students by providing opportunities to experience the performing arts. For more information about bringing theatrical shows to your area, contact Student Programs at 716-376-8323.
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES Student Programs
School districts around the area have been looking for ways to help their staff build better relationships with their students and to hopefully come up with ways to reduce discipline issues. The West Valley school district led by their principal, Dan Amodeo and School Psychologist, Antonette Leonard, met earlier this year with Katie Mendell and Mark Carls about bringing Restorative Practices to West Valley. During the last staff development day before Spring break, Mark and Katie worked with the West Valley staff in the morning to give an overview of Restorative Practices and how it can possibly help the West Valley staff. Throughout the morning the teachers had plenty of open and honest conversations about what they already do in their classes and brainstormed some ideas on what they can possibly change at West Valley.
Many CA BOCES districts have been looking at Restorative Practices and have also attended many of the CA BOCES offered IIRP two-day trainings. The CA BOCES certified trained IIRP professionals offer dates in July and August for these two-day trainings, but they can also work with districts to offer full or part time trainings for any district. Participants in West Valley and other districts have been excited to see that Restorative Practice is ‘more than just circles’. Schools that adopt Restorative Practices give a common language to set expectations, build positive relationships and to help set up a ‘culture of caring’ for all students in a building.
By: Mark Carls, CA BOCES Professional Development