Happy Retirement Cindy Crandall!
Thank you for dedicating so much of your career to the students and educators of Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties. The breadth and depth of your impact is priceless. The richness of your friendship will always be cherished.
In retirement keep learning, keep laughing, and live your dreams. So many adventures await!
To our colleague and our friend, Cindy Crandall, we wish you the happiest of retirements!
This spring, two classrooms at Cattaraugus-Little Valley have been communicating with two schools in London. Learning Resources at CA BOCES helped facilitate the connections between the two schools. The students were all very excited and eager to interact with each other.
Mrs. Christopher’s 3rd grade class connected with Mrs. Begum’s 4th grade class at Red Bridge Primary School on Tuesday, June 2nd and talked about a variety of topics. Mrs. Christopher’s students walked through slides in a PowerPoint that showcased different classrooms, teachers and activities that they have here at Cattaraugus-Little Valley. The students from London asked a variety of questions about the number of students, the school mascot and what students here did during the day. Mrs. Begum’s class in London taught the students at Cattaraugus Little Valley about landmarks in London, what their neighborhood around the school looked like, and shared information about their school. At Red Bridge Primary School there are 21 classes and a nursery. Each year the grade levels have three classes with about 30 students in each class.
Later in June Mrs. Urbanski’s 2nd grade class will also make a Polycom connection with another school in London. The teachers in London reached out and stated that they would like to continue connecting next fall.
By: Mark Carls and Kristen Meiers, CA BOCES
After school on Thursday afternoons, Pioneer Middle School LMC is the place to be. It is here that anywhere from 20-25 students in grades 5-8 gather for Maker Club under the guidance of librarian Maria Muhlbauer and teacher Gio LoBianco. The idea for a library makerspace is one that had been brewing for a couple years, and in November of this school year, Ms. Muhlbauer and Mr. LoBianco officially began recreating a section of the library into Pioneer’s own makerspace.
The concept of a makerspace is really quite simple: designate an area where students can gather to create, invent, learn, and teach others about something they are good at doing. This idea complements the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives currently underway at Pioneer, and the space allows students to work with computer programming, robotics, crafts, drawing, origami, etc. According to the Middle School Library blog, accessible at pioneermiddlelibrary.blogspot.com, the space is stocked with a wide variety of materials, including Raspberry Pi programming kids, solar robotic kits, mousebots, spinbots, squishy circuits, Makey Makey kits. District employees and community members generously donated craft supplies such as duct tape, origami paper, Legos, and more to help get the Maker Club up and running this year.
Maker Club officially kicked off with its first meeting on January 8 with 18 students attending. After an introduction to the concept and goals of Maker Club and talk of acceptable and unacceptable activities during the meeting times, students got busy creating with Legos, crafting with duct tape, weaving with plastic bands, and coding with programs such as Scratch. More recently, students have been participating in a “Robot Finch Loan Program” through BirdBrain Technologies, where students learn how to program the finches.
Looking ahead to next year, Ms. Muhlbauer, Mr. LoBianco, and teacher Ms. Brenda McKenzie applied for and were awarded a grant worth approximately $2,600 from National Grid to further support STEM initiatives at schools within the Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES region. Grant money will fund the purchase of Dash & Dot robotics kits and iPads for programming them. The app will allow students to sharpen their creative and critical thinking skills while using concepts and information learned in class to help them find solutions to complex problems.
New students are always welcome at Maker Club and can attend one, many, or all meetings. This is a great opportunity for students to explore activities that are of interest to them, all while learning lifelong skills and maybe – just maybe – sparking an interest that will lead them to a fulfilling career someday!
By: Amy Windus, CA BOCES and Pioneer Central School
Are you looking for creative ways to inspire your beginning readers? Maybe you have a struggling reader who needs a little bit of motivation to get through the frustration they are feeling. Reading Eggs is a wonderful online reading program geared at children ages 4-7. This program helps provide a dynamic online reading experience for your students to promote healthy reading and attitudes about reading.
Learning Resources has recently had an uptick in the amount of schools and students using this program. They find the challenges, positive reinforcements, and tangible “egg” rewards to be something very enjoyable. Reading Eggs starts the child off on a map where they must complete each level to advance to the next stepping stone – ultimately leading them through an entire level. It makes for easy mapping of a student’s progress and saves it where the student last left off. There is a placement test at the beginning of the program so your students don’t waste time on activities that are too easy for them, or get frustrated that it is too difficult.
For those who are very visual when it comes to learning, having the map helps them to stay focused on the goal. Reading Eggs is really easy to navigate, fun, and utilizes the many different approaches of teaching. For instance, when the game first starts out, a student is introduced to one letter – the letter M. After that, they learn to master the phonetic sound, identification, matching pictures to the letter, even showing how the letter is to be written through a number sequence. Because of the multiple approaches, students are also becoming better with spelling the words they are reading.
Reading Eggs is an exceptional early literacy program for children to learn how to read, strengthen reading skills, and master reading and comprehension. I would highly recommend giving this program a try if you have pre-readers, beginning readers, and struggling young readers.
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CA BOCES
Over the past six months, I’ve had the pleasure of serving as a mentor for Patrick Coyle as he wrote his way through an online English credit recovery course. Patrick is an intelligent young man who loves fishing, hunting and working on engines. We studied together once or twice a week to help hone his English skills as he worked on his class. Patrick had a study hall set aside for his course, but was also willing to meet me after school to work on specific areas he was struggling to understand.
Jamie is Patrick’s mother and she is rightfully proud of her son and his accomplishments. I got to know them both over the time that I spent at Andover and enjoyed that time immensely. I sat down with Jamie and Patrick at our last tutoring session to find out how they felt about Patrick’s online experience. I wanted to know how Patrick felt as a student taking an online course and how Jamie felt as a parent of a student taking the course. Patrick said, “It was pretty straight forward, not very difficult. It was a lot easier for me to work on my own than it was to sit in a classroom. I’m easily distracted.” He laughed a little then.
“Thinking back, how did you feel about the program going into it?” I asked.
“I wasn’t really sure. I was kind of nervous because I hadn’t really done an online class before. I don’t know. I knew I was going to need help because I usually tend to get off track. I just wasn’t sure about it at first.”
Jamie said almost the same thing when I asked her how she felt as a parent, “I wasn’t sure, going into it. I didn’t know what all it involved.” But as the course progressed and she saw how it worked, she began to really like it. She said, “Well, what I really liked was him being able to do the work here in the computer lab. It was such a help. The biggest benefit for me was being able to do the online part here.”
Patrick said it was beneficial to him for a different reason. He said, “It gave me an opportunity to work on it by myself. Whenever I could work on it, I could go and work on it. It was a lot easier for me to sit at a computer to do it than to sit in a classroom and do it.” He would also recommend it to other students who have a similar learning style – students who are self-motivated, able to push themselves, prefer working at their own pace and are willing to ask for help, if needed.
I then asked them both how they felt about feedback they received from their online teachers and coordinators. Patrick said, “My feedback from my teacher, she always gave me feedback. It would take a day or two, but she always gave me good feedback on what I wrote about. And you always gave me good feedback when we were working and it was always a great help to have you here and help me through this.”
Jamie said, “Yes, I mean with the emails saying this is how he did, he needs to work on this, he needs to add more to this, and you know, with somebody correcting it and then saying, you did well, but it could be better if you do these things, and then he could take that and then add more and take their constructive criticism and build on that to make it a better paper.”
Finally, I asked them whether they would recommend online classes to other students, teachers, and administration and I received a big and wonderful yes. In Jamie’s words, “I would. Actually, administration, the superintendent who is no longer here – he retired last year, he actually suggested it to us because Patrick got hired by BOCES last year to work during the summer and he was so excited about that, so he couldn’t go to summer school and work at BOCES, so the superintendant actually told us about this program. I had no idea. Yes, I would recommend it, especially for someone who has plans for the summer, whether it be a job or traveling or whatever. It worked out great.”
Then Jamie went on to say that the program was very beneficial for Patrick, “I’ve told you that with Patrick getting constructive criticism from you, it meant so much more to him than coming from mom. In the way that you presented it to him, saying, you did good with this, but we need to work on this and here are some suggestions, now you go do it and you take the suggestions and do what you think you need to do. I could see, and my mother-in-law mentioned that she could see, such a difference in Patrick with his self esteem, saying, you know, I can do this. He just has a whole different attitude.”
And that is what online learning opportunities are about – helping students feel successful and achieve their goals.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES
Q: What do you get when you combine one Makey Makey kit, an innovative media specialist, and a dynamic music teacher with a 6th grade class?
A: Sweet, sweet music!
Karen Cawley, media specialist for Bolivar-Richburg was awarded a grant earlier this year from the CA Teacher Center. Included in the grant were ten Makey Makey kits. Along with attending CA BOCES Educating STEM series, Cawley had an idea. What if we brought in a non-traditional class to collaborate? This is when she decided to approach Jen Berg, Music teacher for Bolivar-Richburg, in using the Makey Makey kits. Together they wrote a unit that was STEAM based.
After studying Gregorian chants and musical theory and composition including note reading, Berg and her 6th grade music class wrote their own musical compositions. Next, they built their own instruments out of everyday “found” materials. Students found themselves deeply engaged in creating and executing their music using web based applications. These projects and materials are also offered to study halls in the media center for all students to explore and create. The object is to put as many materials into as many students’ hands as possible!
Cawley stated that for the future we are looking at now collaborating with our ELA, and science teachers. Walking away from the Educating STEM series with hummingbird kits and other resources is an integral part to successful implementation within our building. The creation of a STEM club is also not out of the question for next year.
By: Jen Pangborn, CA BOCES and Bolivar-Richburg Central School
This Spring, more than 2000 area students attending the TheaterWorks USA musical performance, “Teacher From the Black Lagoon and other Stories.” The New York City based Theater Troupe, brought in by Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES, on behalf of area districts, spent three days in our region performing for elementary students. Genesee Valley Central School, Cattaraugus Little Valley Central School and Arcade Elementary in the Pioneer School district hosted the performances. Five performers and the Director enjoyed their time in our region and said that our students were great audiences!
An idea that is beginning to gain a lot of favour in education at the moment is the notion of fixed versus growth mindsets, and how they might relate to students and learning. During the past few months, BOCES has offered two workshops entitled; “Mindsets in the Classroom.” More than 70 teachers and administrators have learned about Growth Mindset based on the work of Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck; the idea of mindset is related to our understanding of where ability comes from.
Growth mindset is a simple and powerful concept explained in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Essentially, if you have a growth mindset you believe your abilities — how smart you are, how you backhand a tennis ball, how well you manage your time — can improve with effort.
The alternative to growth mindset is fixed mindset: the belief that your abilities are already set.
Fixed mindset says, “I’m not good at reading.”
Growth mindset says, “I’m not good at reading right now, but I can get better if I work at it.”
As studies have shown, this simple difference is pretty powerful.
Growth mindset allows kids to see challenges as opportunities to grow rather than daunting judgments on who they are.
Some methods for developing growth mindsets in the classroom are:
Few would argue that calling a kid stupid is a good idea. What many find surprising, though, is that the opposite — calling a kid smart — is bad, too.
One of Dweck’s key studies illustrates this. In the study, Dweck took two groups of elementary students; one group was praised for being smart, the other was praised for working hard. After this, both groups were given the chance to take a challenging assessment. The “smart” group was hesitant to take the assessment, while the “hard working” group was open to trying.
What’s really crazy is that, when both groups were given the assessment, the “smart” group did not perform as well as the “hard-working” group.
Essentially, Dweck found that praising kids in a fixed manner — in this case, that their achievement was due to the fixed state of “being smart” — retards both their motivation to engage with challenges and with the actual performance on assessments, whereas praising kids in a growth manner — in other words, attributing their success to hard work — propels their growth in the long term.
So the first method for developing growth mindset is by being thoughtful with how you praise students.
Storytelling is powerful. Teachers must develop a go-to repertoire of stories that illustrate the power of hard work and growth mindset.
A great place to start for those stories: Dweck’s book. In the book, there is a large collection of illustrative anecdotes sprinkled throughout it. The next step would be reading biographies of people who have become successful through hard work. In the workshop we used TED videos and video clips of movies such as; “Finding Nemo”, “Facing the Giants”, “The Ron Clark Story”, “The Pursuit of Happiness”, and “Nike Commercials with Michael Jordan.”
So the second method for developing growth mindset is by sing stories, TED Talks and video clips about the power of perseverance, struggle, and growth.
Teach kids how their brains work:
The key idea about the brain to get across to kids is that the brain is like a muscle in that it can be developed and strengthened. There are many books and articles available to teach student’s how the brain works and grows over a lifetime.
So the third method for developing growth mindset is by teaching kids that their brains are malleable.
How do you encourage a growth mindset in your school or classroom?
For more information about Growth Mindsets in your school or classroom, please do not hesitate to reach out to Tessa Levitt or Lauren Stuff.
By: Tessa Levitt, Jen Pangbord, and Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES
Wellsville first year Spanish teacher Mr. James Neely had a desire to incorporating social media into a project for Spring break. After discussing Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. and the pros and cons of using Social Media in the class, it was determined that using the actual sites for his project could lead to cyber bullying or other inappropriate situations. Instead he worked along with the Technology Integration Coach to create a project that mimics Social Media. The result was a Spapchat style video created by students to share what they did over spring break.
Snapchat is a photo messaging application developed by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown, then Stanford University students. Using the application, users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. These sent photographs and videos are known as "Snaps". Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps (as of April 2014, the range is from 1 to 10 seconds), after which they will be hidden from the recipient's device and deleted from Snapchat's servers.
Their assignment over break was to take video and/or photos of the things they did during their vacation. When they returned from break students transferred their video/photos to their iPad, and students in the 3 classes were then introduced to about 15 apps. Here are a few:
Shake Ur Life
Technology Integration coach Kate Green then worked with the classes for the next couple of days with adding, editing, and changing their vacation into a presentable product. The assignment was to then write a minimum of 15 word Spanish caption for each of their video/photos. The teacher supported the students in their translations and gave some class time for a couple of days. Students shared the final videos to the teacher and class presentations will follow.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES and Wellsville Central School