This summer, I had the opportunity to attend a powerful three-day learning experience, facilitated by Solution Tree, which focused on the essential elements and practices of effective professional learning communities (PLC’s). In the context of education, the idea of utilizing PLC’s and the power of collective teacher efficacy is not a new concept. But, just how powerful is the correlation between teacher collaboration and improving student learning outcomes? John Hattie, the author of Visible Learning, conducts meta analyses, which evaluates multiple research based studies surrounding a specific instructional practice or strategy, as well as well as school, home, and teacher based influences that impact student achievement, in order to identify the effect size or impact that strategy has on student learning. To put it simply, an effect size of .2 indicates below average gains, .4 indicates average gains, and anything above .6 correlates with a significant effect on student learning outcomes. With an effect size of 1.57, collective teacher efficacy is ranked as the number one factor influencing student achievement (Hattie, 2016).
Most districts effectively utilize several of the essential elements of professional learning communities such as: peer coaching, data analysis meetings, and creating opportunities for teams to meet during common planning time. During the institute, one of the speakers, Eric Twaedell, Superintendent of Adlai Stevenson High School, challenged participants to reflect on the three big ideas of PLC’s:
In addition to the three big ideas in PLC’s, it is imperative for educators to reflect on the four critical questions surrounding effective professional learning communities:
A key take away from this institute was the importance of focusing on an organizational mindset committed to continuous improvement. When goals are met or surpassed, new goals geared toward improving student achievement and learning outcomes are set and plans for reaching them are collaboratively developed. Reflect. Plan. Keep moving forward. That’s how we move from good to great.
By: Colleen Root, CA BOCES Professional Development
Check out this month's Advancing STEM Challenge!
Catapulting Candy Corn
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 posted monthly.
Welcoming West Valley students into the school library this year is a new space designated for S.T.E.A.M. activities. Jody Thiel, SLMS, is offering students the opportunity to explore coding, collaboration, and creativity with $500 raised through Donors Choose. Mrs. Thiel purchased over ten interactive resources to engage student learning and encourage a growth mindset (See photo).
A struggling middle school student recently demonstrated growth mindset as he was putting together circuits. When a bulb failed to light, he blamed it on dead batteries – several times. Mrs. Thiel did not offer correction on his design but simply told him the batteries were new and encouraged him to try again. The student figured it out and was so proud of himself! Taking risks in a safe environment allowed for experiencing success.
For younger students, Mrs. Thiel purchased the FisherPrice Code-a-Pillar. This is a colorful robotic whose pre-coded segments are put together by the student. Once segments are connected the Code-a-Pillar crawls across the floor to find a predetermined target. Quick feedback allows for student correction. Additional segments can be purchased for increased challenges.
Elementary and middle school students enjoy the Code & Go Robot Mouse and no doubt high school students and adults will too. Similar to the design of a BeeBot, Robot Mouse can be programmed to find a block of 'cheese' within a maze. The maze offers a variety of design challenges to engage “steamers” of all ages. and provides small groups with collaborative opportunities to problem solve.
Displayed among the LittleBits, Magformers, and Snap Circuits was the Osmo. This product utilizes an iPad, stand, mirror, and apps to teach coding, letters, words, numbers, and drawings. I tried the drawing app which uses a mirror to project an image onto a piece of paper that can be traced. Lettering is also available to make attractive thank you notes or sayings. (See photo). The tools available to use with the Osmo clearly makes an interactive tool for students K-12.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Teachers, administrators, staff, and parents at Allegany-Limestone Elementary School have worked together to form a Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee (BPCC). On September 20th and 22nd, committee members participated in a two day Olweus Reboot. Staff members learned about bullying, identifying roles people play in bullying situations, and prevention and intervention strategies to create a safe and welcoming school climate.
OBPP is used at the school, classroom, and individual levels and includes methods to reach out to parents and the community for involvement and support. OBPP is not a curriculum, but a program that involves a holistic approach.
School administrators, teachers, and other staff are primarily responsible for introducing and implementing the program. These efforts are designed to improve peer relations and make the school a safer and more positive place for students to learn and develop.
The goals of the program are:
The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program has received recognition from a number of organizations and researchers committed to preventing school violence. OBPP has been named a Blueprints Promising Program by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and was highlighted in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Policy Statement: Role of the Pediatrician in Youth Violence Prevention.
The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program’s Coordinating Committee at Allegany-Limestone is excited to turn-key training to all staff members and plan for the 4th year of implementation in the elementary building. Currently, ALES utilizes the following school anti-bullying rules:
The OBPCC will be embedding Olweus training in faculty meetings, student assemblies, parent nights, and much more!
By: Jillian Putnam, CA BOCES Professional Development
All students in CA BOCES, but especially those in grades PreK – 8th will enjoy the premium version of Tumble Books. Offered in a French, Spanish, or Mobile interface, over 1400 eBooks are available with Wi-Fi connection.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Exposing children to music and art leads to a deeper understanding of content. It’s a natural connection for teachers to offer their students.
CABOCES hosted the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and an audience of more than 1,300 elementary students and teachers for 2 interactive concerts at the Olean High School on September 26. The BPO, led by conductor Stefan Sanders, kicks off their Student Concert Series each year by transporting a 60 piece orchestra to the Southern Tier.
The concerts combined not only a variety of musical selections, but also original poetry commissioned for the BPO, story-telling and active audience participation. It was more than just a concert, it was an educational show that connected NYS elementary curriculum with music. The audience was prompted to sing along, in both English and Spanish, as the musicians’ accompanied them. In essence, the young students performed with the BPO.
Afterwards, a Scio teacher remarked: “We haven’t been able to come to this for several years. I’m so glad we could come this year. We enjoyed every single minute of it! I loved how the BPO made it interactive for the kids and encouraged them to move and sing!”
Each year a talented team of music teachers, staff and musicians develop the School Concert Series. This year the theme was a focus on community and working together. The BPO Education department linked their performances to the Common Core Learning Standards. This provided a unique opportunity to inspire Kindergarten through Fifth grade students and enhance the ELA, Literacy, Social Studies and Art Standards that are being taught in the classroom. To ensure a strong foundation for “Our Orchestra Community: Same and Different” (Kindergarten-2nd Grade) and “The Power of Listening” (3rd-5th Grade), the BPO Education Department provided curriculum material for use in the classroom. All districts received these resources prior to the shows. Teachers were encouraged to use the resources to prepare their students for the performance. The information is also available on the BPO website (https://bpo.org/community-engagement/education/for-educators/curriculum-resources/)
Robin Parkinson, BPO’s Director of Education and Community Engagement, summed up the day this way: “The BPO is incredibly proud to start our season of youth concerts in Olean each year, performing for our neighbors in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties. It is gratifying to be able to take the orchestra on the road and play for students who can’t make it to Kleinhans in Buffalo.”
Thank you to Wellsville, Scio, Hinsdale and Olean school districts for allowing their students to attend and promoting the arts in their education. CABOCES Arts in Education helps schools enrich the lives of their students by providing opportunities to experience the performing arts. If the concept of music as education piques your interest, please call CABOCES Student Programs at 716-376-8284 to find out more about Arts In Education, CoSer 403.
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES Student Programming