The goal of education is to encourage young minds to develop creativity, seek solutions and become forward thinkers who learn more than what we currently know. Many teachers in our caboces region are experimenting with play as an instructional tool so that children can make connections between disciplines and understand how the pieces of the world fit together. It is through play that children comprehend learning as a lifelong process of discovery and joy.
Early childhood experiences are critical to brain development. Studies show that positive early learning experiences through play allow children to develop social-emotional skills, deepen relationships, gain executive function skills, and manage stress. Over time, children who experience learning through play-based instruction have better overall health and longer life expectancy.
A play-based approach to learning requires child-initiated experiences and teacher supported learning. This learning requires careful cultivation and teachers are coming together to rethink how they are supporting our youngest learners. On October 22, 2021, teachers who attended the Foundations for Change: Rethinking Early Childhood Education workshop “played” with play-based learning kits from caboces learning resources. As they played, ideas for lessons, discussions, and questions flowed through the room. One walking by may have heard questions like:
Teachers engaged in discussion around the thinking of play as a tool for children to develop social and cognitive skills. They mature emotionally and gain the self-confidence required to ask questions. The conversations and interactions that happen through play are valuable opportunities to support children as they develop their identities early in life. Positive early experiences at school give children another opportunity to grow in a nurturing, language-rich environment.
Play-based learning also honors a child’s home experiences by building on the foundational skills learned at home. Parents are a child’s first teacher. Honoring each child’s home values inspires children to develop their identity and feel included in the learning environment. These ideas were reinforced by Robin Fuller, Early Childhood Development and Education Coordinator of Ardent Solutions in Wellsville, NY. Robin works tirelessly to make sure families with young children in Allegany County have access to resources. Robin presented teachers with materials to distribute to families. She also shared fun family activities that supplement free books donated through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Through the Imagination Library, children (birth – age 5) in Allegany County are eligible to receive free monthly books in the mail. Check out the website for more information: http://www.ardentnetwork.org/dolly-partons-imagination-library.html
If you would like to learn more about play as an instructional tool for learning contact Michelle Rickicki or Jessica Schirrmacher-Smith.
By: Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development
We continue to stock our shelves at the Learning Resources warehouse. As a nod to the wave of online learning and use of technology, we’ve upped our game by adding many Osmo kits for teachers to book.
What is Osmo? Osmo turns an iPad or a Fire tablet into a learning device with games that are so fun and engaging, student won’t know they are learning! Osmo combines online gamification with physical game pieces. With the games we have on our shelves, students can draw, code, spell, do math, and more. Studies show that active learning can boost critical thinking skills, information retention, motivation, and interpersonal skills. By incorporating physical game pieces, Osmo ensures students learn by doing, even in front on a screen.
Here is what we have available to book:
Osmo base: This is a must. The base is the launch pad to the world of Osmo and is required to play all Osmo games.
Osmo Math wizard is a self-paced, curriculum-inspired series that combines hand-on learning with digital adventure, helping students build math confidence and understanding.
Using Osmo Pizza Co., students make pizza, make change, and (hopefully) make profits when they run their very own cartoon pizza shop!
With a lean towards the creative side, Osmo Monster blends real-life doodles with on-screen action in amazing ways.
Osmo Coding transforms a tablet into a hands-on coding adventure. The Coding Starter Kit builds coding skills in progression with 3 hands-on learning games. Watch your students learn to code as they connect colorful blocks of code in the physical world to chart the adventure on their screen.
And lastly, Osmo Genius Numbers has students digging into math. Use physical tiles, including dots and digits, to match the numbers on the screen, and cartoon bubbles burst with a satisfying POP! Kids count, add, subtract, or multiply as they travel across the world to find aquatic animals in their native environments.
LET’S BOOK SOME KITS!!!! Go to our resources page here to look at the new kits, older kits, and streaming resources. Keep checking back as we add more items to assist teachers in their craft and students in their learning.
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Self-care has become the new buzz word in education. The pandemic reignited the importance of investing in SEL for students, but to reach students investing in educator self-care and wellbeing is a crucial part of this process. To ensure educators can model good self-care techniques they themselves must experience it. When we practice self-care and model it in the classroom early on, students can better model it in their own lives.
Let’s start first with a clear definition of self-care. Self-care is anything you do to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally well. Research suggests self-care promotes positive health outcomes, such as fostering resilience, living longer, and becoming equipped to manage stress.
Self-advocacy-promoting and supporting our own interests and well-being requires reflection and self-awareness. Like many districts across the region, Olean City School District has made staff self-care a focus by providing support and resources through their monthly Personnel and Wellness (PAWS) newsletter. Each month, the newsletter provides a topic that centers on monthly themes from the Onward Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators text written by Elena Aguilar. Staff have an opportunity to participate in a variety of SEL opportunities including some of the following:
As educators we must make the commitment to prioritize self-care in order to successfully be able to help others. These are some of the many ways to incorporate self-care with educators around the region. It’s like the saying goes “You cannot serve from an empty vessel” Eleanor Brownn.
By: Jillian Putnam, CA BOCES Professional Development
As school districts around the region approached the start to another school year during an ongoing global pandemic, many leaders recognized that social emotional learning (SEL), must continue to be a priority within their schools. Like many other districts in the region, Cattaraugus Little Valley, designated time within their opening staff days to provide SEL support, tools, and resources to educators.
On August 31st, CLV faculty and staff gathered to kick off the school year learning about an SEL tool that fosters a supportive learning environment. It is especially important when talking and learning about social and emotional skills and SEL, that adults take the time to self-reflect. In doing so at CLV, the group embraced the understanding that SEL starts within each one of us. As human beings, we are social, we are emotional and many of our daily interactions demonstrate this notion. Whether or not we explicitly teach “SEL” within our classrooms, we are modeling skills constantly, for students. Individually, each participant took inventory of their own social and emotional skills and attitudes by completing the “SEL Self-Reflection,” and then further discussed their perspectives on how their own strengths and weaknesses may impact interactions that they have with students, colleagues, and families, daily.
One thing all educators at CLV walked away with, was a practical SEL tool that can be used in classrooms district wide, regardless of class size or grade level: The 3 Signature Practices of SEL. As the group discussed each of the three practices, many concluded that they were doing more SEL within their classrooms or learning environments than previously understood.
What are the 3 Signature Practices of SEL?
Welcome & Inclusion Activities: brief interactive experiences that increase connection and allow all voices in the room to be heard
Engaging Strategies: vary in complexity, include reflection and processing time and can include brain breaks or transition techniques
Optimistic Closure: an intentional closure of any learning experience, that can be done individually or collectively and allows for a sense of accomplishment and forward thinking
Not only did the group walk away with a better understanding of SEL and the 3 Signature Practices of SEL, but they were each given a copy of the 3 Signature Practices Playbook, as a resource. The playbook offers a structure to support thoughtfully selecting and facilitating these practices. In addition, it offers a connection to the research base as the foundation for each practice and outlines key SEL competencies and skills for each suggested activity.
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools
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