An Engaged Brain is a Learning Brain
When students let their minds drift off, they are losing valuable learning time. Getting all your students focused, eager and on task in class can be challenging. Lack of engagement interferes with students’ learning and retention. When students are thoroughly engaged; they are actively listening and learning.
To increase classroom engagement, teachers need to create a toolbox of routines and activities. The activities can be general purpose and apply to various subject areas. The activities will allow students to tap into various regions of their brain and move them from the recall level to more advanced thinking and learning.
A few RULES of ENGAGEMENT
Class Warm up that involves collaboration and competition.
More student voice than teacher voice.
Class Check in with a quote, a challenge, or quick write.
Physical Movement gets kids focused: Brain Gym, Chair Yoga, hand-clapping patterns, snapping/clapping in pattern.
Create TEAMs (Together Everyone Accomplishes More).
Use Quick writes when you want quiet think time and reflection.
Attention Signal when giving directions: Give me 5, chimes or chant.
Equity Sticks: create equity and gives everyone an opportunity to show what they know.
Teaching Styles: to keep kids engaged and motivated move from teacher-centered to student-centered throughout the lesson.
Cultivate engagement and be aware when your students are paying attention and deeply engaged. Teachers should create an active learning environment in which all students are on task in their thinking and speaking.
If you are interested in learning more about student engagement, there is an upcoming regional workshop entitled, Student Engagement Strategies for Learning, on January 11, 2022.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
An increase in stress and burnout among teachers have been at the forefront of conversation since the onset of the pandemic. Our systems have directly experienced the implications of such issues, in several unforgiving ways. Combined with the number of additional challenges posed to our schools, and the impact that each issue can have on another, the search for solutions has been an ongoing, yet urgent process.
In working with Wellsville and considering research in developing a district strategy for supporting teachers throughout the 2021-22 school year, a monthly schedule of offerings focused on educator resilience, entitled, “Empowered Educators,’ was created. The sessions are offered monthly, for one hour after school hours and are optional.
Over the past few months teachers have come together during this session to connect, reflect, process and specifically focus on individual resilience building strategies to counter the impact of stress and burnout.
A few of the resources utilized to support this work are “Onward,” written by Elena Aguilar and “Paws to Comfort,” written by Jen Marr. Aguilar’s research focused around the 12 strategies that hold the most leverage for cultivating educator resilience and have been central in the development of specific tasks throughout each session. Marr’s work addresses the significant need for the act of comfort and the gap that exists, as she refers to, “the awkward zone,” in which individuals choose not to respond and comfort due to lagging skills. Both resources are relevant to the present challenges facing teachers, both individually and collectively, and have been invaluable in the work that has taken place thus far at Wellsville.
As the school year progresses, an open invitation to join the monthly sessions exists. In addition, the group continues to work collaboratively to reflect on this model of support, in the hopes to grow and evolve this type of support within their district moving forward.
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools
Natural phenomena are observable events that occur in the universe and that we can use our science knowledge to explain or predict. The goal of building knowledge in science is develop general rules, based on evidence, that can explain and predict phenomena. Despite their centrality in science, phenomena have traditional been a missing piece in science education, which too often has focused on teachers passing on general knowledge that students can have difficulty applying to real-world contexts. By centering science education on phenomena that students are motivated to explain, the focus of learning shifts from being told about a topic to figuring out why or how something happens. Students work through figuring it out because they are wondering how it works. If we simply give students the scientific knowledge, we kill the wonder. Don’t kill the wonder!
Magic Milk Art Investigation
PHENOMENON: How does soap get greasy dishes clean? Better yet, how does dish soap get greasy ducks clean?
Click here to observe the phenomenon.
This activity involves demonstrating a supporting phenomenon and then attempting to explain it by designing an investigation. Post a photo of your students in action in our comment section or post a comment on how you modified the activity to work in your classroom.
This phenomenon may be used for the following NYSSLS standards:
Students in elementary grades may likely not be able to explain in scientific terms what is happening. Allow them to draw their explanation or explain in their own vocabulary. The important part here is the wonder. With younger kids, they don’t need the real explanation at this point.
TO DEMONSTRATE THIS PHENOMENON:
STEP 1: Start by pouring your milk into a baking dish or other flat bottom surface. You don’t need a lot of milk just about ¼ of an inch. Then if you have one, place a cookie cutter in the milk. Allow the milk to settle before moving to the next step.
STEP 2: Next you want to drop some coloring onto milk (outside of the cookie cutter).
STEP 3: Pour some dish soap into the small cup. Dip your cotton swab tip into the dish soap so the cotton is coated in soap. Then bring it over to your milk dish and gently touch the swab to the surface of the milk. What happens?
DEVELOP AN INVESTIGATION:
Can you explain how this phenomenon works?
OPTION 1: Change the milk. Develop a data table and try repeating this experiment with different types of milk and liquids (skim, 1%, 2%, whole milk, half & half, heavy cream, or even plant-based milks or water, vegetable oil, olive oil, canola oil, etc.).
OPTION 2: Change the soap. Develop a data table and try repeating this experiment with different types of soaps (shampoo, liquid hand soap, laundry detergent, or bar soap).
What happens? Do you get the same effect, or does it change? Which liquids produce the most dramatic effects? Does it help you to explain how this phenomenon works?
Can you explain how dish soap gets greasy pans or greasy ducks clean?
Teacher Hints and tips:
By: Kelli Grabowski, CA BOCES Learning Resources
“Rules of the Road” Online Style
What would you have said a few years ago if someone had told you that schools would have a complete virtual option, and that it would be utilized in our public-school settings? How about this: What would you say to teaching Driver Education from the virtual world?
Well, CABOCES did just that this past summer. Hundreds of Cattaraugus and Allegany County students benefitted from the offering of 12 sessions of online Driver Education throughout the months of July and August 2021. Due to the pandemic in the Summer of 2020, driver education was not available to students per the NYS guidelines within the school settings, so the ability to offer the course in the online format opened an opportunity for students who missed out the year before as well as those qualifying this year.
The course is housed in the CABOCES Moodle Learning Management System (LMS). The students participated daily in Zoom meetings and accessed Moodle to complete the required content and hours to fulfill the NYS Guidelines in order to earn their NYS Diver Education Certificate. The 24 hours of instruction time, paired with 24 hours of guided parental supervision behind the wheel, earns the student a certificate that allows additional privileges and safe practices as they hit the road, alongside all of us. The online course and the plan set in motion through CABOCES was a great success!! Hundreds of students received their Driver Education Certificate. They have been exposed to the training and safety measures that the Driver Education Course is designed to provide. In the future we are hoping to offer this online Driver Education opportunity throughout the school year in addition to our traditional summer program. Be on the lookout for more information about online Driver Education!!!
By: Lisa Scott, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Ancient History, “CAN YOU DIG IT?”
Ninth-grade students at Portville High School were learning about Ancient River Valley Civilizations, and they were using the G.R.A.P.E.S. organizer as a tool to categorize the information for each civilization:
An essential part of studying ancient history is for students to learn that a great deal of what’s known of these civilizations comes from archeological evidence. This is especially true for the Indus River Valley Civilization because their writing has never been successfully translated; everything known is from the work of archeologists. Because of this, an idea was born. Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Carey’s students became archeologists. Mr. Carey spent time highlighting critical aspects of the Indus River Valley so that during “the big dig,” students could infer connections from the artifacts that they discovered.
“The Big Dig”: Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Carey found artifacts that represented each section of the G.R.A.P.E.S.organizer. Next, they put the items in Ziploc bags and buried them in the school’s long-jump pit.
This active exploration proved to be a great simulation for the work of archeologists; students were able to infer what the artifacts represented and demonstrate a better understanding of the civilization. An example of an artifact used was a die and a game token. These items illustrated true archeological findings in the Indus River Valley as numerous game pieces were found but very few weapons, suggesting it was a peaceful and prosperous society.
The students rotated through six stations (G.R.A.P.E.S.) and really enjoyed digging, finding, and making inferences and connections about each item’s importance. Active student engagement increased their interest and understanding. As learners and educators, “WE DIG IT!”
By: Anne Mitchell, CA BOCES Professional Development
Second Step Giving Second Chances
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is certainly not new, but if it wasn’t already, it is certainly now a top priority since the beginning of the pandemic. Students’ overall well-being has suffered, giving schools an extra challenge to deal with as instruction has returned to five days a week this school year.
One way Pioneer Middle School has addressed this challenge is by incorporating a program called Second Step. Second Step describes itself as “a holistic approach to building supportive communities for every child through social-emotional learning.” Started successfully in the district’s elementary schools during the 2018-19 school year, the middle school has embraced the program by incorporating Second Step Wednesday’s, where homebases are extended twice a month to allow for a particular SEL lesson to take place.
With vertically aligned and scripted lessons for teachers that are research-based and aligned to SEL standards, the program has thus far been a success. In addition, all teachers and students in the school are involved in the program allowing for common themes in each lesson to continually be supported and intertwined into instruction regardless of the class subject area.
But what exactly is Second Step? (https://www.secondstep.org)
Ultimately, the school will measure the success of the program by using the administration of a SEL screener, last given in April 2021, in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. The screener analyzes student responses to a number of questions to determine if the student is at normal, elevated, or extremely elevated risk. By utilizing the screener, those students who are identified as elevated or extremely elevated risk are given a second chance to get the support they need to succeed, support they may have previously not received had it not been for the Second Step program.
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Professional Development
The State Library of New York provides free access to GALE databases through NovelNY and every school library and public library has a link to this fantastic resource! Databases for kids through adults, professionals and hobbyists, can be accessed directly from the Learning Resources page at resources.caboces.org, (second row of icons). If you do not know your log in information, or are wondering how your students can access, contact Rachelle_Evans@caboces.org.
A brand new feature is now available to help readers who do not see well, have reading disabilities, or simply want choice. In addition to existing features, like adjustable text size, the vendor has added display option tools for customization, including:
· Additional font choices, such as OpenDyslexic, for readers with different needs.
· Optional background colors to better view text on the screen.
· Line, word, and letter spacing, so individuals can choose what style is easiest for them to read.
Below is a screen shot of where the tool for accessibility is located:
Additionally, all articles have audio read aloud and text translation for accommodating those whose native language is not English.
If you would like more information on GALE databases, please contact Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces.org.
By: Cece Fuoco, Learning Resources
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