On October 18th, school librarians honed instructional strategies in recognizing news bias, gained insight into what influences human reasoning, and left with ideas and activities for student instruction when collaborating with teachers or teaching information literacy. Two great tools that facilitate the teaching of news bias and is provided to all CA BOCES’ districts are Newsbank’s Access World News and America’s Historical Newspapers.
With links to primary sources, students can explore global perspectives and differing viewpoints on important issues and events. Articles from newspapers, magazines, and other news media can be easily cited, saved, emailed, or printed. Access World News provides current information from over 200 countries including Spanish languages sources, and everyday a list of about 12 headlines in news from countries around the world include activities that tie into common core standards. A monthly list of hot topics in the news provide suggested search terms and critical questions to guide students in effecting searching. Topics such as Business and Economics, Health, Literature, Performing and Fine Arts, Politics and Government, STEM, and Technology are linked to primary news sources relevant to what students are learning in the classroom.
America’s Historical Newspapers makes collaboration across disciplines amazingly easy! Organized by eras from the late 1600’s to 2000, primary sources are divided within each era by the following topics: Government, Military & Political Events; Social & Cultural Issues; and Discoveries, Inventions & Firsts. While students are learning about the Civil War in social studies, the art teacher can introduce the Impressionist Movement with news and reviews on artists and their work. Complementing the Vietnam War are links to primary news sources on music: Bob Dylan & folk music; Beatles and British music; literature: Maya Angelou, Steven King, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ken Kesey; PE/Health: DDT banned, Bobby Riggs vs. Billy Jean King, first Super Bowl; Technology: Pong; moon landing. Students can become more engaged with an era when provided with topics that appeal to their interests.
Students can learn perspective through original newspapers printed during the Civil War (north versus south) and Westward Expansion (east coast versus west coast/American Indians).
Please contact me at Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces for personalized training in your district.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES School Library System Coordinator
New York State Education Law now requires schools to begin providing instruction in mental health, leaving many with questions. Districts in our region are interpreting the specifics of the law in different ways. Change can be scary, overwhelming and very stressful. It is also the perfect opportunity for growth. Together, our region will effectively navigate the new law, utilize accessible resources to support the process, assess current practice and create meaningful changes.
The concept of mental health as an integral part of health
Unfortunately, the word mental health often has a negative connotation. There is a stigma attached to the word, causing a cloud around the topic itself. However, mental health, just like physical health is a part of each and every one of us. We teach students about physical health and promote physical wellness, therefore, we must teach students about mental health and promote mental wellness in an equal fashion. Above all else, when interpreting the new law, it is critical to note that it is not intended to be a deficit model. Instruction should not solely focus on mental illness or include learning objectives that teach students to diagnose or treat mental illness.
Whole school, multi-tiered approach
Students are impacted significantly, in a positive way, when there is a holistic approach. While the requirements speak to integration of mental health instruction into the health curriculum, schools are strongly encouraged to promote a whole school, whole child, multi-tiered approach to mental health. Collectively, the districts and respective schools within our region have strong practices in place that support the holistic approach to mental wellness. For example, schools are building capacity in restorative practices, promoting trauma sensitive schools and classrooms, organizing family resource/support centers, expanding community partnerships that offer education and supports to students, staff and families.
Community partnerships are essential to the development of a comprehensive, school-based mental wellness approach. The purpose of school-community partnerships vary, however, often allow outside professionals to educate students, staff and parents, provide imperative services that the school simply cannot and refer students to necessary resources or services in the community. Research has found the importance of community partnerships in relation to improving school outcomes for students and increasing family engagement at school.
Resources for School Districts
Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES will be offering a professional development opportunity on December 10th to address many of the questions and differing perspectives. The offering is entitled “Mental Health Literacy Forum,” and will be held in Olean at the Main Center. Other educational resources include the following;
In September, several members of the CA BOCES ISS team had the opportunity to attend the Staff/Curriculum Development Network conference with Larry Ainsworth, educational expert on standards and formative assessment. It was an intensive day of exploring curriculum development through prioritizing standards. Members of the team worked with other Curriculum Coordinators from across the state in Math, Science, ELA, and Social Studies to examine the standards, learning how to prioritize, and the implications such work has on curriculum and assessment.
Because each discipline has dozens of standards, Larry Ainsworth argues that to develop curriculum, prioritizing the standards is a critical step in the process. Throughout the work we did, Larry made sure to say that just because some standards are prioritized, it does not mean the other standards do not matter. We worked with an analogy of a fence, seeing prioritized standards as posts and supporting standards as rails. Seeing standards in this light can help teachers determine what to elevate in instruction, and what standards are foundational to building other skills.
In his book, Rigorous Curriculum Design, criteria is established for looking at each standard to determine whether it should be prioritized. There are four lenses to examine each standard through: Readiness, Endurance, Leverage, and External Exams. Readiness represents how the standard prepares students for next level learning. Endurance of a standard determines whether it’s a concept or skill that lasts over time. Leverage of a standard means that it has interdisciplinary connections. Finally, standards should be looked at through how they are assessed on external exams.
Due to the size of the group and the multiple different disciplines we were working with, we examined the standards through for readiness, endurance, and leverage. In small groups, teams reviewed standards at a particular grade level through the lenses, trying to establish a list of standards that should be prioritized. The conversations were fantastic and allowed for in-depth discussion on not only the standard, but the implementation of the standard in the classroom.
Because of the depth of analysis of the standards, Brendan Keiser and Sarah Wittmeyer facilitated the prioritization process with the Middle School/High School English Language Arts CLC in October. Teachers were divided by grade level bands, and in small groups looked at the standards through the first three lenses.
After the standards were reviewed through those lenses, we added in the data from the 6-8 ELA State Tests and the English Regents Exam regarding the most frequently assessed standards. This allowed for another layer and added in-depth discussion on what standards should be prioritized.
The purpose of the activity with the CLC was not to give teachers a list of standards to prioritize in their curriculum, but rather to give teachers a protocol by which to examine the standards. The process included discussions on unpacking the language, understanding what the standard looks like in the classroom, and the importance of the standard at the particular grade level. Teachers walked away with the ability to replicate the process in district, but also a more comprehensive understanding of the Next Generation English Language Arts Standards.
By: Sarah Wittmeyer, CA BOCES Professional Development
Check out this month's Advancing STEM Challenge!
Now You See Me...Now You Don't
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.
Follow us on