2022-2023 was a record-breaking year for Student Competitions. A total of four teams from the Cattaraugus-Allegany region excelled at their regional qualifying tournaments, advanced to the State competitions, and earned advancements to the World competitions. Congratulations to two VEX Robotics teams from Wellsville Central School, coached by Justin Skrzynski and Caitlin Bowen. These two teams traveled to Dallas, Texas last month to compete in the ‘Spin Up’ game. Check out next year’s game, ‘Over Under’ at https://www.roboticseducation.org/teams/vex-roboticscompetition/. CABOCES will host TWO Qualifying Tournaments next year, December 20th, 2023 at Belfast Central School and February 14th, 2024 at Franklinville Central School.
Congratulations to two Odyssey of the Mind teams from Salamanca Central School, coached by Janette McClure and Brenda Windus. These two teams traveled to Michigan State University this month to compete in Problem 4, ‘Where’s the Structure?’. Next year’s Long-Term problems have just been released and will be posted at odysseyofthemind.com. CABOCES will host the Region 19 Odyssey of the Mind Tournament next year, Saturday, March 23rd, 2024 at Salamanca Central School.
For more information about CoSer 506 Student Competitions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES Student Programs
Junie B’s Essential Survival Guide to School, https://twusa.org/shows-artists/on-tour-2/junie-b-sessential-survival-guide-to-school/, was this year’s final Theaterworks USA performance in the CABOCES region, hosted by Student Programs (CoSer 403, Arts in Education). Thanks to our partners at Delevan Elementary School, Scio Central School, and Salamanca Central School for welcoming approximately 3,000 local elementary students and teachers into their auditoriums this month. Teachers received study guides to use with their students before and after the show. These educational resources reinforced the NYS standards being taught in elementary classrooms. Over three days totaling six shows, Junie B. Jones and friends sang and danced their way from September to May, learning valuable lessons along the way. The inspirational show was a great way for the region’s students and teachers to celebrate the completion of NYS testing. CoSer 403, Arts In Education, helps schools enrich the lives of their students by providing opportunities to experience the performing arts. TheaterWorksUSA is a professional acting company based out of New York City. For more information about CoSer 403 Arts In Education, contact email@example.com.
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES Student Programs
Cattaraugus-Allegany School Library System offers school librarians relevant training in a variety of services including vendor products, technology tools, instructional strategies, best practices, and support from the school library system director (yours truly). The system has worked to support school librarians through shared resources and specialized workshops tailored to the unique needs of each school library program. This article highlights some of the significant ways in which school librarians (which extends to educators and students), have benefited from the school library system.
Professional Development: At the regional level, the School Library System has consistently supported school librarians and their programs through shared resources and specialized workshops, which included the following topics: diversity in the library collection, information and media literacy, graphic literature collections, advocacy, ChatGPT, and a full-day meet-up with vendors for product demos and free trials. Based on feedback from school librarians, a 10-hour Moodle course on Managing Student Behavior was created and will soon be available on CA BOCES’s registration system. This course, although not specific to librarians, can be convenient for classroom teachers and provide them with valuable content as well.
Relevant Training: The School Library System Coordinator offered librarians help in creating and/or editing their library Policy and Procedure Manual. This year has seen a dramatic increase in book challenges and a pro-active approach was taken to ensure school librarians had the opportunity to update their policies. Both documents clearly state how books are selected for the school library, and if content is challenged, what steps should be taken to ensure all voices are heard through a respectful and fair process. Librarians who have had to navigate these topics this year have done so with professionalism and grace.
Communication Coordinators: NYSED/Division of Library Development recommends that one media specialist from each public member school district and a designated representative from each non-public school meet four times per year (8 CRR-NY 90.18). These meetings take place in the afternoon of each Librarian CLC and conversations are focused on Advocacy, Professional Development, Collection Development, and Achievements. This year, two noteworthy highlights included meeting with Senator Borrello and Assemblyperson Joe Giglio to advocate for school libraries, and being guided through a Project Look Sharp lesson by Aaron Meyers, recipient of a Project Look Sharp grant and Olean’s HS librarian!
Resources: Through the Library CoSer 510, schools are provided with access to a wide array of resources they might not otherwise have. Resources include databases, digital platforms for classroom products & eBooks/audiobooks, movie streaming & licenses, educational materials, and books that can enhance teaching and learning experiences. A day-long vendor fair in February encouraged librarians to see product demos and obtain free trials to share with teachers.
Educators pursuing higher education often check with the library system first to see if required textbooks are available through OCLC. The school library system is a member of this network of libraries that loans and borrows print books, which is a cost-saving benefit to teachers.
Speaking of saving money, music and choral teachers who are members of our Music Library have increased their buying power when purchasing music through J.W. Pepper. Music charts arrive at our office and are inventoried, catalogued, and added to Insignia for easy borrowing.
Flexibility and Adaptability: As the coordinator of the school library system, I bring an added layer of flexibility and adaptability to each district. I have tailored my support to address inquiries related to the following: analyzing the library collection and assisting with pulling titles based on pre-set criteria, (which is often part of the Selection Policy); observing library instruction and/or student behavior and providing feedback for improvement; repairing books; training on vendor products including Insignia, Sora, NoodleTools, NewsBank, Flocabulary, Learning A-Z products, GALE databases and World Book. I have also answered questions related to research, music and movie licensing, book challenges, and copyright & Fair Use. This customized approach allows me to provide specific support as needed.
Access to specialized expertise, professional development opportunities, valuable resources, and flexible in-house support is not just limited to school librarians! The school library system is here to support all educators. If you have any questions on how the school library system can support you or your school’s student achievement goals, please reach out to Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces.org.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
In late October of 2022 5th grade students at Bolivar-Richburg received Brown Trout eggs that STEM teacher Carol McClellan had received from the Randolph hatchery. This was the start of an 8-month long experience that ended with those same 5th grade students being able to release the Trout into the Little Genesee Creek. This creek is located directly behind the elementary school in Richburg and is the future site of their outdoor learning classroom.
During the release, the students did some water testing on the creek. They tested the oxygen levels of the water to be sure the levels were sufficient for the fish to survive.
After the water testing, the students had to put the fish through an acclimation process. This process ensured that the fish could easily adjust to the varying temperature of the creek water.
This is just one of the many opportunities that the Environmental Science program at CA BOCES has to offer! For more information on these programs, please feel free to visit CABOCES Environmental Science or contact Lance Feuchter at (716) 376-8379 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Lance Feuchter, CA BOCES Learning Resources
In the world of education, fostering a love for reading at a young age is a key to unlocking a child's potential. One of the ways to make the reading experience truly magical is by taking it outside the classroom. Elementary students, full of curiosity and wonder, are at an ideal stage to embark on outdoor reading adventures. In Scio, second graders are celebrating the joy and benefits of reading outside, as they explore the world of books amidst the beauty of nature.
Do you want to spark curiosity and imagination in students?
Reading outside stimulates the natural curiosity and imagination of students. Surrounded by the sights, sounds, and textures of the outdoors, children's minds come alive with wonder. They can visualize the stories they read, connecting the characters, settings, and events with the real world around them. The openness of nature fuels their imagination, making the reading experience even more exciting and immersive.
Do you want students to connect with nature and the environment?
Bringing students outside to read provides a unique opportunity to foster a connection with nature and the environment. As they flip through the pages of books under a tree or in a park, children become aware of the world beyond their immediate surroundings. They observe birds, insects, and plants, igniting their curiosity about the natural world. This connection nurtures a sense of responsibility and care for the environment, planting the seeds of environmental stewardship from an early age.
Do you want students to develop a love for literature?
The enchantment of reading outdoors helps cultivate a genuine love for literature. With the freedom to choose their reading spot and engage with books in a natural setting, children develop a positive association with reading. The enjoyment of a captivating story while feeling the warmth of the sun or the touch of a gentle breeze creates lasting memories and a deep appreciation for the written word. Reading outside becomes an adventure that fosters a lifelong love for books.
Do you want students to enhance learning and comprehension?
Reading outside has been shown to enhance learning and comprehension in young students. The outdoor environment provides a multisensory experience that enriches their understanding of the text. Children can relate what they read to their surroundings, deepening their comprehension and making connections between the story and their real-life experiences. The combination of fresh air, natural light, and a change in scenery can improve focus and engagement, allowing students to absorb information more effectively.
By: Jessica Schirrmacher-Smith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Mrs. Crabb’s and Mrs. Costello’s 4th grade classes continued their yearly “Simple Machines” projects and presentations this year.
These 4th grade students had to think about which of the six simple machines they wanted to use: wedge, screw, lever, pulley, inclined plane and the wheel and axle.
Many of the students used multiple simple machines as they thought up a design, then took time in school and at home to build their project. Once the projects were completed, each student got up and presented their Simple Machine(s) to the entire class to work on their public speaking skills. Some of these projects were quite involved and took many hours at home with multiple simple machines built in. After the student presented their simple machine projects the other students had the opportunity to ask three questions by raising their hand. The student who presented called on them one at a time and answered the question.
These 4th grade students learned how to plan an idea, figure out whether it would work out, make changes and adjust and then continue moving forward. It was very interesting to not only hear students present but then answer questions on the spot in front of their peers.
Congratulations 4th graders!
By: Mark Carls, CA BOCES Professional Development
Teachers spend countless hours building and creating positive classroom culture. When the classroom culture is positive, students make connections with peers and teachers inspire attitudes of lifelong learning. Students carry the culture with them into the wider school community, building bridges across differences and making the world a better place.
In the Spring, teachers often revisit classroom culture, adding new incentives to carry students through the remainder of the year. Friendship Central School accomplishes this task collectively through a school-wide book read.
The after-school program offered children materials to create robot animals as a means to build bridges between the classroom and extracurricular activities.
Each classroom invited a “guest reader” to read aloud as a welcoming start to the day.
Students reached out to the national community and experienced a virtual author visit.
Inspired by the community service theme in the novel, high school classes partnered with elementary classes to “grow” a canned goods garden. The food collected was donated to the community food pantry.
Elementary students used the canned goods garden as a resource to learn about data, measurement, and graphing.
At the end of the month, students requested to read another novel as a school next year. Clearly, this venture was time well spent. If you are interested in learning more about building classroom and school culture through a school-wide book read, please contact Michelle Rickicki at email@example.com
By: Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development
UPDATE TO BREAKOUT EDU
Breakout EDU is one of our most popular kits. It goes out of the warehouse on a consistent basis and has done so since we first purchased these kits when Breakout EDU was founded in 2015. Breakout EDU has come quite a long way since then, moving from a free platform to a paid one; adding several locks and thousands of puzzles; and adding the digital component.
One of the things Breakout EDU added in the past few years is their Expansion Pack. We’ve never really dipped our toes in that water until now! Learning Resources has just purchased 12 new Breakout EDU kits, complete with the newest expansion pack! Level up your experience with these brightly colored wheels and dice. These items feature unique symbols that allow educators to continuously add new challenges and hands-on elements. Your students' critical thinking and collaboration will be at an all-time high! The Expansion Pack works with a growing library of Digital and Kit-based games within the Breakout EDU Platform which you can find by searching “expansion pack” in the search bar.
So many teachers in our area know that Breakout EDU game design is an effective way to allow students to work at the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Students even have the opportunity to create games, providing an opportunity to construct puzzles and think critically about academic content. This is infinitely more exciting and challenging than simply memorizing facts or completing worksheets.
With these new and exciting opportunities, are your teachers using Breakout EDU? If not, please reach out and we’ll make sure they are using this valuable game tool with their students.
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
This article is the second of 2023 that continues to offer information about the NYS Science Investigations. If you missed the first article, head back to the February archive and search for “NYS REQUIRED SCIENCE INVESTIGATIONS GOT YOU STUMPED?” or click here.
Teachers and coordinators have been experiencing the NYS Science Investigations firsthand in several workshops that have been offered this spring. Participants in these workshops are encouraged to ask any and all questions and are assured their questions will be answered before they leave for the day. They participate in a vocabulary activity where all vocab words are identified in an Investigation and then they are given ideas for how to start incorporating these words more into their curriculum. The participants split up to experience an activity that is relevant to them - they set up the Investigation as they would as a teacher, and then they work through the Investigation as a student would, identifying obstacles and points where they could scaffold or modify the Investigation for students they think may struggle on that part. Finally, everyone is brought back together as we comb through the list of questions, being sure none are left unanswered. Resources that are used during the workshop as well as other items related to the NYS Science Investigations can be found in this Wakelet collection.
If you would like to take part in one of these NYS Science Investigations workshops, there will be a workshop this summer, July 12 (register now!) and another on October 10 (registration for fall workshops will be open soon). Principals are encouraged to attend with their teacher teams. Certainly, newly-hired teachers in Grades 3-8 should attend.
Kits filled with materials for the NYS Science Investigations are available to order from resources.caboces.org. Each kit contains enough materials for 30 students. Some kits contain reusable items, and so a teacher with multiple classes would only need one kit. Some kits have consumable items, and in that case a teacher with multiple classes would want to order enough kits for the number of students they have, ie. If a 5th grade teacher has three classes of 20 students throughout the day, they would have a total of 60 students, and should order 2 kits.
We are in the process of receiving all of the materials we ordered and continuing to fill kits. We will ultimately have a stock of 35 kits for borrowing, hopefully by September.
With the printshop, we have created a booklet that contains all of the documents that should follow a student through three years, being passed on to each teacher as the student moves on. The spiral-bound booklets contain the record-keeping sheet, all of the student answer packets, and the rubric for each investigation. Districts can order these booklets using this sheet. You can order any of the NYS Science Investigations print materials from this form, but the booklets are located at the bottom of each page. Directions for where to send this are found on the third page.
The answer booklets are a fantastic tool for assessing student progress through the new science standards. Teachers in 4th grade can now see student answers and how they were scored on the rubric in 3rd grade and use that information for scaffolds and support in their science lessons. Even though the grades are banded 3-5 and 6-8, 6th grade teachers will likely want to see the answer booklets from 3-5 to inform their lesson design. Likewise, as a former 9th grade teacher, I would love the information in the 6-8 answer booklets to make it to me in preparation for those students entering my Earth Science course.
In addition to keeping these booklets, PowerSchool, eSchool, and School Tool all have integrated a column for tracking the NYS Science Investigations from year-to-year. The checkbox is important to confirm the student is eligible to take the 5th grade and 8th grade state science exams.
If a student transfers, please send the answer booklet to the next school. There is a place for teacher and principal signatures in the front of the answer booklet, that is necessary to confirm what the student has completed.
When can a student be marked as “Successfully Completed”?
This is a local decision. All teachers should have the goal of helping all students meet Proficiency in all categories as they guide their students to the state assessments. In reality, not all students will meet Proficiency. Teachers should mark students appropriately on the rubric and make notes where applicable as information for further remediation or for information for a student’s future teachers. The rubric is not a report card, it is part of the tool that will help inform instruction for our students to help them better learn science.
To learn more about the NYS P-12 Science Learning Standards, administrators and teachers are welcome to attend the Intro to NYSSLS workshop on November 16 (registration will become available soon).
Please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-376-8285) for work with Teacher-Administrator teams to come up with the best solution for NYS Science Investigations implementation at your district.
By: Kelli Grabowski, CA BOCES Learning Resources
canva continues to advance!
Pioneer Central School District, along with many other school districts in this region are familiar with Canva. Canva allows educators to sign up with free accounts, and by using your school email, you also have access to the educator “pro” tools and templates. Pioneer Middle School 7th Grade ELA Classes with Mrs. Irizarry have been using Canva alongside their research projects. Students were able to use the CABOCES resources such as the Gale and World Book databases to conduct research, Noodle Tools to save and cite their resources, and Canva to make their presentations come to life. Students first created presentation slides, then incorporated sounds and music, animation, and their own personal touches within their research presentations. Mrs. Irizarry commented that the overall student engagement, and student interest in all the Canva features was one of the best parts of the projects. Here is an example of a research project that a pair of students completed.
Ready to try it yourself?
To create your own presentation, create your school Canva account. Then, once logged in, click presentations.
Next, choose one template to begin your presentation with! The template will automatically load into your new project.
While Canva has several different presentation templates to choose from, you may want to use Slides Carnival to embed a presentation into Canva for your own educational or teaching use. Simply login to your Canva account. In a new tab, visit Slides Carnival, and choose a Free Template that has the Canva Logo.
Click the blue C, and then Use Template to create your next Science lesson!
Canva allows creativity and engagement for educators and students alike! We can’t wait to see your next Canva creation!
By: Jenna Tost, CA BOCES Professional Development
preparing for future history
This June a brand-new Regents exam, the USHG exam, is set to be offered for the first time. It has been years of preparation for teachers who anticipated this exam coming for over five years after being told it would arrive. Set to debut last June, but canceled because of unforeseen circumstances, the 2023 United States History & Government exam will be administered for the first time ever this June.
Over the past few years, the New York State Education Department has been developing new exams for High School Social Studies in both Grade 10 Global History and Geography and Grade 11 U.S. History and Government. These new exams reflect the shifts in instruction that were identified in the 2014 released Field Guide for Social Studies and assess students according to the practices identified in the Social Studies Framework for K-12 instruction. The US History exam was supposed to be offered for the first time in June 2020. As a result of shutdowns and cancellations this exam was never given. However, come June this brand-new assessment will be administered for the first time.
This new exam design has 28 MC questions that are attached to a stimulus, a Part II Stimulus Based Short Essay task where students will write 2 responses to 4 documents, and Part 3 will be a 6 document Civic Literacy DBQ Essay. The purpose of this new Regents exam is to align assessment to the content, skills, and practices of the Framework.
One of the most noticeable changes in the exam will be regarding Part II. Replacing the Part II Thematic essay, the Framework exam Part II has two stimulus-based essay responses. These will require students to both analyze and make connections between sets of provided documents and discuss the context surrounding these documents.
Teachers across the region have been participating in professional development offered through CABOCES around the exam structure and the assessment style. In these workshops, they have participated in identifying skills students will need to be successful with this exam, have created learning experiences to prepare students, and developed assessment tasks that reflect the same criteria the new exam will address. They have been working hard to prepare students for a relatively unknown aspect of High Stakes Assessment and are to be commended as we approach the roll out of this much anticipated assessment.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Action research with moodle lms
Many theories have pinpointed advantages and disadvantages surrounding the use of technology as a means of instruction. Among the theorists is Alfred Bork who wrote a series titled interactive learning; a revision was written 20 years after the oroginal. Through the study of his writings, I have gained knowledge as to how computer usage may impact my pedagogical approach and delivery of instruction. In this reflection I will discuss the theory and indicate how my use of the computer intersects with Bork’s principals and how they have affected my use of computers in the classroom.
Alfred Bork predicted that by the year 2000 the interactive use of computers would be the major way of learning at all levels, and in almost all subject areas (Bork, 1980). In his article, he contends that the “new student” (older, poorer, and blacker) and the pressure for reduced cost of education will combine with the rise of computers as an inexpensive and effective teaching device, to bring about tremendous changes in our instructional institutions. He points out that there are eleven modes in which computers can be used; each having its own unique advantages. They are:
Although Bork’s prediction has not become a reality for every district in America, his modes of computer usage have molded my perceptions of integrating technology into my classroom. For the past several months I have been using the online Learning Management System “Moodle”. Moodle is the most famous software application (Learning Management Systems, LMS) to administer and deliver online teaching and support face-to-face teaching with online education. It is designed for users who do not have server or coding skills, and it is a flexible software that easily adapts to most different educational situations. Moreover, it is open-source, that is, completely free. Hence, it can be adopted by a whole school, but also by a single teacher for just one course.
I have learned to incorporate gaming within my Moodle course to attract interest and encourage engagement. I have experimented and become familiar with different LMS and web applications such as “Quizlet”, “Word wall”, “Powtoon”, “Animaker”, “Renderforest”, “Moovly”, “Canva”, and “Teams”, to name a few.
I am pleased to have had the opportunity to look at my teaching style; to analyze it and to experiment with it. It is not often that one critically self-evaluates, especially in a field such as education. It is difficult to study the conditions and situations in the classroom when you are part of that environment. One needs to step back away from it and look at it from the outside. It has been a pleasure to work and study kids at the high school level; students for the most part behaved as young adults and had respect for authority. I don’t believe I would have had the successes with experimentation if I were in a large urban school district. The difference between teaching here at CABOCES and teaching in a large urban district is enormous, like night and day. I am not saying that this endeavor did not have its frustrations and challenges, but I must wonder if doing this with 150 chaotic students, in five different classrooms, at various times of the day would have deterred me from continuing such an endeavor.
Fortunately, within the last few months I was able to obtain good sources, collect data, and develop a good sense of what happened. I guess what I am trying to say is that even though I have only scratched the surface, I have come to the conclusion, that technology is an excellent instructional resource. Let me not fail to mention that I have also been able to differentiate instruction, so that students who are learning disabled or who do not grasp content as quickly as others, can use the computer for learning and remediation – drill and practice, so that they can keep up with curriculum demands and their peers.
I am not the same teacher I was before experimenting with technology. I have a developed a new passion for teaching. I was somewhat bored with the old traditional ways and now I am excited and reenergized. I have many new tools in my bag of tricks.
By: Ed Cruz, CA BOCES Learning Resources
What is JASON Learning?
“Exploration”, “STEM literacy advancement”, “Love of Nature”, “Exploration”, “Inclusivity/Diversity/Equity” …
These are some of the values that are associated with a newly offered resources called JASON Learning. JASON Learning provides curriculum and learning experiences in STEM for K-12 learners through formal or informal education environments.
Connected with STEM professionals, students are challenged in real-world situations.
Each experience features print and digital materials, hands-on activities, videos, and online games for students. Lesson plans and implementation tips are provided for guidance.
Live, interactive events held throughout the year connect students with STEM role models, including renowned scientists and other experts pursuing STEM careers.
Interested in learning more about this great JASON Learning resource? We are offering two professional development opportunities. One for elementary, with a focus on PK-5, and one for MS/HS, with a focus on 6-12.
Feel free to join us:
November 28th, 2023- Elementary
March 14th, 2024- MS/HS
This is just one of the many resources that the Environmental Science program at CA BOCES has to offer! For more information on these programs, please feel free to visit CABOCES Environmental Science or contact Lance Feuchter at (716) 376-8379 or email@example.com.
By: Lance Feuchter, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Trauma, Illness, and Grief (TIG)
Trauma, illness, and grief are issues that affect many students in schools. In response to this, Trauma, Illness, and Grief (TIG) is a comprehensive program that trains networks of school-based professionals to meet the holistic needs of students and equip them with evidence-based crisis response skills. The TIG program offers a structured approach to dealing with these issues in a way that it is supportive and effective.
The TIG workshop being piloted by 5 school districts in the CABOCES region is designed to provide school-based professionals with the necessary skills and tools to support students who have experienced trauma, illness, or grief. The 5-day workshop will provide participants with the knowledge and resources to identify signs of trauma, illness, and grief in students and to respond appropriately. This includes providing students with emotional support and connecting them with appropriate resources.
These workshops being offered provide a deep understanding of the challenges that students face when dealing with trauma, illness, and grief. Educator professionals are trained and prepared to transform educational practice, inform district policy and procedure, as well as to implement effective crisis plans. Within a region, TIG Teams are linked to one another for support as well as with the other resources of the Consortium.
During these 5 days of organized training, educator professionals will be introduced to 7 modules which include the following topics:
Grief and Loss
Chronic and Acute Illness
Suicide Assessment and Intervention
Threat Assessment Management
TIG Implementation and Crisis Response Network
Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)-Group Crisis Response Skills Course.
By: Kelli Forster, CA BOCES Community Schools
The transfer of skills from one computer program to another is an important skill. When students graduate, they will be required to take something they know and apply it to something new that they have never experienced before. On March 21, 2023, I had the privilege of going into Julie Saylor’s Franklinville Elementary classroom. I facilitated a lesson where 4th graders had to transfer skills that they learned in Pyonkee to the program, called Blockly, to control a small robot called Dash.
Pyonkee is a program on the iPad that is built off of Scratch 1.4. MIT is up to 3.X Scratch now. You can access Scratch at Scratch.mit.edu for free and without having to create an account.
Whenever I introduce students to a new computer programming language, I always have them make a square. When I taught 4th grade students at Franklinville how to program with Pyonkee, I taught them how to make a square with a repeat (loop) and without a repeat. The code with the repeat was more efficient and easier to write. Fewer coding blocks were involved. I asked students to create shapes with equal side lengths all the way up to a 12-sided figure. Students had to use trial and error to find out what the “turn degrees” (angle) is for each shape. Students picked this up quickly and able to program their avatar to draw multiple shapes.
Next, I had students close Pyonkee and open Blockly. On the interactive digital board, I showed the class how to make a square with a repeat. They then created the code on their own iPads. One-at-a-time, we paired the Dash robot, using Bluetooth, with 4 student iPads and split student into groups. I then asked students to apply what they learned using Pyonkee to have your robot draw a hexagon, octagon, and nonagon. Students were able to easily transfer what they learned on Pyonkee to Blockly and the Dash robot. (The Dash robot can be checked out of the Learning Resources library if your school does not have these robots.)
Students learned a lot more than just coding and computer programming. Since students were in groups, because we only had four robots and about 14 4th graders in class, they had to work together. This is not always an easy thing to do for anybody. Not only did they learn to work together, but they also shared, took turns and communicated ideas to each other very animatedly.
Computers are in every career and every “walk of life.” The ubiquity of computing devices is starting to cause people to question their use. Regardless of your thinking on the subject, computing devices are here to stay. It would be great if students understood how computing devices worked. Not only could it help a student have skills that might make them more attractive to employers, but coding also changes the way we think and look at the world. Every student should have this opportunity.
By: Rick Weinburg, CA BOCES Model Schools
As the world continues to evolve, technology is playing a more significant role in education. Even here is Western NY, online courses have become an increasingly popular option for high school students looking to prepare for college. These courses provide a number of benefits for students who choose to participate in them, and they can be a great way to enhance their college preparation. These benefits include flexibility, money savings, wider range of course offerings, development of important life skills, and a more interactive learning experience.
High school students who take online courses have the advantage of being able to access the course material from anywhere, at any time. This flexibility allows students to balance their schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and personal life. In addition, students can work on their coursework at their own pace, giving them the opportunity to spend more time on challenging topics and move more quickly through easier topics. In this manner, students can customize their education to meet their individual needs and strengths, which can lead to better overall performance and satisfaction in their education.
Online courses can also help students save money. College tuition rates have soared over the years, and the cost of textbooks and other supplies can add up quickly. By taking online courses, students can save money on these materials. In addition, many online courses offer students the opportunity to earn college credit while they are still in high school, which can help them save money on tuition costs in the long run.
Online courses also provide students with access to a wider range of course offerings. Especially true for smaller school districts such as many in the CABOCES region, many high school students often have limited options for classes they can take as a result of limited resources available to support them. With online courses, students can access a much larger pool of classes. This can allow students to explore new subjects and broaden their understanding of the world around them.
Online courses also provide students with an opportunity to develop important life skills. With online courses, students must be more self-motivated and organized, and they must learn to manage their time effectively. Theses skills are critical for success in college and beyond, and can be developed through online courses. Moreover, online courses help students develop their communication skills as they must be able to communicate effectively with other students and their teachers. This in turn can help students develop the skills necessary to be able to successfully collaborate with others.
Finally, online courses can provide students with a more interactive learning experience. Many online courses utilize various multimedia materials such as videos, audio recordings, and other interactive simulations. These materials can provide students with a deeper understanding of the material and help students remember what they learned. In addition, these courses can enhance students critical thinking and problem-solving skills through their opportunities to participate in online discussions and forums.
Knowing that online courses can be a valuable tool for students looking to enhance their college preparation and life skills, CABOCES Distance Learning is here to help. With a wide-range of course offerings available through online platforms such as Edmentum, Apex, Imagine Learning, and eDynamic, there is an opportunity for everyone. From credit recovery, core, and elective offerings to college connections with college credit opportunities, we can help you find what your students need. We can even help you find video-conferencing opportunities within the region.
For more information, please visit our Distance Learning page at https://caboces.org/education/instructional-support-services/learning-resources/ or reach out to Justin Shumaker at Justin_Shumaker@caboces.org.
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Learning Resources
In the Bolivar-Richburg Central School district, a group of bright and curious third-grade students were afforded a unique and immersive learning experience. With the invaluable guidance of local police department officers, the students were introduced to the basics of crime scene investigation. This involved hands-on training that equipped them with essential skills to investigate a challenging case where their principal, Mrs. Duke, had gone missing.
Throughout the investigation, the students were presented with various obstacles that put their critical thinking, problem-solving, and physical abilities to the test. They were tasked with making inferences, assessing the reasonableness of their answers, honing their writing skills, reading fluency, mastering multiplication fluency, finding the area of a rectangle, and collaborating effectively with their peers.
This immersive experience provided them with invaluable skills that they will carry with them for years to come.
By: Sarah Cartmill, CA BOCES Professional Development
Driver Education online
The online option for Driver Education will soon be coming to an end. As of July 1, 2023, NYS is removing it as an option for our young drivers. The past couple of years with Covid allowances have given many students access to all of the safety information from an online course offered through CABOCES.
The online course was set up to provide all of the course information through instruction and was in combination with the Driving Log sheet and Parental Signature sheet to satisfy NYS requirements to earn the Driver Education Certificate. The online option has allowed many students who would not have been able to attend in person to be exposed to the safety and maneuvering of the roadways by our young drivers.
Due to NYS no longer allowing the online option, CABOCES will no longer have it available to our students. I do plan to reach out and share my concerns for the limited in person availability. I am still looking forward to the in-person Driver Education that will be offered in districts throughout the Summer, I hope that each and every student that has the desire to take the course has the opportunity to do so.
If anybody has any questions as these changes are being made, please feel free to contact any of us at Distance Learning.
Clay Nolan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Justin Shumaker: email@example.com
Lisa Scott: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed Cruz: email@example.com
Cathy Dunkelman: firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Lisa Scott, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Keeping Current With Biographies
Whenever I help a school librarian determine what books should be culled from a collection, the biography selection usually takes a large hit. When a book is written after a person passes away (Daniel Boone, George Washington Carver, Ronald Reagan, etc.), the content is still relevant. Popular books featuring teen idols, celebrities and athletes encourage students to check out a book to learn more but the shelf life for these books is limited because idols and celebrities change in appearance and careers, and athletes get traded and eventually retire. Now that webpages and social media can easily be accessed to find the latest news, biography sections have become reduced in size. When a teacher’s objective is to have students learn about an individual’s achievements and contributions to society, WorldBook offers a great alternative to print books and the Internet.
Free to all CA BOCES component school districts, WorldBook is easily accessed through the school library website or resources.caboces.org. Using the generic username and password for the school (check with your school librarian or Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces.org if you don’t know it), students can search biographies by Nationality/Ethnicity, Area of Work/Interest, Gender, or Time Period. For students with IEPs, text size may be increased and voice choices for reading the article aloud are options. Build vocabulary skills by double-clicking any word to have it defined. For ELLs, the text may be translated too. Students will find the interface easy to use and images may be printed for projects.
Teachers wishing to introduce students to research will appreciate WorldBooks’s How To Do Research guide which includes an introduction to research skills, planning research, conducting research, evaluating resources, organizing data, and presenting a project. Citations for articles are provided for WorldBook articles but a citation builder is included to help students cite work from other resources. If you are looking for articles that connect to curriculum standards, the tab is easy to locate. With this being the month of March, type in St. Patrick to learn about his writings and popular legends associated with him.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
During the afternoon of Friday, February 3rd the participants of the CABOCES Technology Coordinator and Integrator Forum & Technology Solutions paid a visit down to the Olean JCC campus to view their new eSports spaces. The group was led through JCC’s new program by three of the main people responsible for eSports there at the Olean campus:
After that session, Johnathan and Kassandra led the group over to the ‘old train station’ building that has been wonderfully re-created into the JCC eSports arena. All of the visitors were able to watch some of the students competing and had time to explore this brand new arena. The front main area has three sets of tables with 4-5 gaming laptops each and a big screen TV with a perched viewing area. The middle section has an enclosed area where the students were able to project their game on the front TV and then there’s a back room with ‘plug and play’ space.
Jonathan is openly trying to recruit new eSport athletes for this upcoming 2023-2024 school year. JCC is also open to working with area high schools and their eSports program. Some of the opportunities that they can offer to high school students are games such as League of Legends, Overwatch, Valorant, Rocket League, and Super Smash Brother Ultimate.
Chris Swanson is the Head Coach for Esports, JCC’s first season playing Overwatch 2 started Friday February 17th and runs through March 31st. If you have students interested in more information about JCC’s eSports program, feel free to reach out to Johnathan Kowal email@example.com or call 716.376.7535. If you have an eSports team and would like to see about connecting with another CABOCES area team, please reach out to Karen Insley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Mark Carls, CA BOCES Professional Development
The Science of Reading says that reading comprehension (RC) is the product of decoding (D) and language comprehension (LC), or RC = D x LC. Learning to read for understanding requires sounding out and recognizing words—decoding—but it also requires making meaning of the words and sentences we hear—encoding, and language comprehension.
In agreement with Science of Reading research, there are five main components that are fundamental to reading: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. The Science of Reading research has shown that a child's brain needs to first know the different sounds in spoken language and then be able to connect these sounds to written letters and then blend the sounds to make words (decoding).
The Science of Reading is a vast, interdisciplinary body of scientifically based research about reading and issues related to reading and writing. This research has been conducted over the last five decades across the world, and it is derived from thousands of studies conducted in multiple languages.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
NYSED recently released Frequently Asked Questions Related to Investigations for the Elementary- and Intermediate-level Science Tests (nysed.gov). Feel free to read through this document at your convenience.
As we learn more from NYSED, experience these Investigations, and encounter new questions, feedback, and ideas from local teachers and administrators, our understanding may shift slightly, causing tweaks* to our recommendations. I assure you that our recommendations come from the most professional judgement and serious considerations - and seem to be very much in congruence with NYSED's objectives.
The remainder of this article will be notes on the NYSED FAQs based on questions I’ve received, conversations I’ve had with both teachers and school leaders, and based on specifics for the C-A region. Links are provided to CA BOCES-made documents*. Upcoming workshops, directly related to the Required Investigations are listed at the end.
*CA BOCES Grade Level Alignment
The Elementary Investigation, "Cloud in a Bottle", is aligned with Grade 3 standards. However, it may be found that this Investigation will be too complex, and the reading level too high, for Grade 3 students. Within the Grade 5 Advancing STEM kit, "Models of the Earth", students do an activity exploring cloud formation, as they model how Earth's spheres interact (hydrosphere, geosphere, and atmosphere). Following this unit would be a great opportunity to administer the "Cloud in a Bottle" Investigation to Grade 5 students, instead of in Grade 3.
In addition to the CA BOCES Record-Keeping document, it is important to keep the Student Answer Packets and Rubric for each Investigation for each student. Although none of these items will be sent to NYSED (they will all be kept within the school building), these documents would be a good formative assessment artifact for any teacher that will be working with that student as they progress towards their summative NYS Science Assessment. These documents should all be sent with a student that may transfer out of the school district as evidence of completion, but also to assist any future teachers and districts in identifying student proficiency and/or remediation needs. These documents may be kept electronically.
Districts may put all of the Student Answer Packets into one booklet to follow the student for 3 years. It would be wise to also add the Record sheet at the front or back of this booklet. By next fall, CA BOCES print shop should have a form that streamlines the ordering process for these booklets.
Purpose of the Investigations
The purpose of the NYS Required Science Investigations is to provide another mode of formative assessment in science. In the past teachers have not had a built-in opportunity to identify areas of weakness in science until the NYS summative assessments (such as the Grade 4 or Grade 8 Science Assessments). The Required Investigations now give teachers an opportunity to determine if their students are meeting some of the NYS Science Learning Standards that are not as easy to assess on a written exam. Differently than the old standards, the new science standards ask students to use the skills that scientists use. A skills-based activity is the best way to assess this, as opposed to a written exam. Even so, the logistics of standardizing such a task are complicated across a very diverse state, and so the culminating, summative assessment for science is still a written exam, that will include questions that lean into assessing the students' understanding of such science skills. In addition to providing teachers with vital information to student growth in science, the Required Investigations also provide us with an opportunity to better prepare our students for the summative assessment: We know that 15% of the NYS Grade 5 and Grade 8 Science Exams will be related to these Investigations. Within our locus of control is the knowledge to prepare our students for a portion of that exam.
NYSED continues to recommend that these Investigations are administered as a classroom activity by their teacher as the students are learning the related content. The Required Investigations are not a test, but a set of activities to assure student hands-on experience in science and allow formative assessment of science skills at multiple grade levels. Please make sure that students (and teachers and you!) do not take on undue angst over these activities! They should be fun as students get to be active in their learning and figuring out their own understanding of our natural world.
Modifying NYSED Investigations Documents
A common question from local teachers has been about modifying student documents: Modifications can definitely be made to benefit the student as long as the integrity of the question is not lost. If modifications are to be made to the Student Directions or Student Answer Packets, teachers may do this prior to printing these materials for students. Some examples of modifying the documents:
Scaffolding and Accommodations for Students
Another common question is how much scaffolding, assistance, and support can be provided during these Investigations: Teacher assistance is encouraged, welcomed, and totally allowed. If it is something that a teacher would normally do as they taught a typical science lesson, they are welcome to do so during the Investigations. Teachers must keep in mind that although it may appear the vocabulary used in these Investigations is above their students, the wording comes from the NYS Science Learning Standards and could appear on the Grade 5 Science Assessment. Teachers can define or replace words in the student documents but will want to make sure their students are learning those words for the long-term. Other assistance that has been mentioned and is allowed, as long as the students are still authentically doing the science themselves, and fulfilling the objectives of the Investigation (teachers should regularly refer to the Rubric to decide this):
Accelerated Middle School Students
NYSED notes that all middle school students, including accelerated science students, are expected to complete all four Intermediate Required Investigations. This note reinforces the importance that Intermediate students should be exposed to all of the Grades 6-8 NYS Science Learning Standards at some point during their middle school years. Districts have often struggled with how to provide the opportunity for students to accelerate in science.
Please contact me (email@example.com or 716-376-8285) if you would like to discuss the best way for your district to do this. As food for thought, my professional opinion would be to wait until the students are in 9th or 10th grade to double-up on their Regents science courses. If these are students that plan to take AP science courses in the future, two Regents courses will be good training to prepare them for that workload, and they will still have the full foundation of the middle school science program to support them.
Resources and Time for Science
Finally, NYSED fully supports more resources being put towards science instruction. These Investigations must be allotted appropriate time for the students to fully engage in the science skills being assessed, in addition to science instruction beyond these Investigations to support good science learning. Supplies and equipment, including some consumable materials, are also necessary to complete these Investigations. Thank you for investing in the initial construction of CA BOCES kits for this purpose. A notification will be sent as soon as the kits are complete. If teachers want to administer an Investigation before this time, please use the attached "Teachers Materials Lists" to identify items you may need to borrow before our kits are released.
News about HS Science Assessments from NYSED
Free Summer STEM Opportunities for Students
Appalachian STEM Academy at Oak Ridge is a residential, hands-on learning experience for 7th-9th grade students, as well as high school teachers in STEM-related fields. In an indoor/outdoor research environment, students will engage in creative problem solving as they design models and conduct short-term research projects alongside internationally recognized scientists. The application deadline is February 10th.
National Youth Science Camp is a residential science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) program designed to honor and challenge 11th-12th grade students by providing them with opportunities to engage with STEAM professionals and participate in exciting outdoor activities. The application deadline is February 28th.
On our CA BOCES workshop calendar are Required Science Investigations sessions over the next few months (March 16, April 12, and July 12). Principals are encouraged to attend with their teacher teams. For the weekend warrior, there is also a workshop at Buffalo State on March 4.
To learn more about the new NYS P-12 Science Learning Standards, please join the session on March 1.
Please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-376-8285) for work with Teacher-Administrator teams to come up with the best solution for Required Investigations implementation at your district.
By: Kelli Grabowski, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Conquer CBT with Castle Learning
From the optional participation in field tests in 2016 to the implementation of Grades 5 and 8 required tests via CBT in the Spring of 2024, CA BOCES has been on the forefront of information gathering and dissemination regarding NYSED’s push toward 21st Century teaching, learning, and assessment. There have been a few bumps in the road, such as technical issues, fiscal resources, and COVID, but we’ve learned to navigate those obstacles and are ready to help our districts survive and thrive.
One of the tools we have been continuing to use and support as we work with teachers and students on building capacity for the CBT is Castle Learning. To be sure, Castle Learning has been around a LONG time! I hesitate to say it, but the year was 1990. It was the vision of two New York State teachers and a computer programmer who wanted to leverage technology to help students prepare for end-of-year testing. And here we are, 30-some years later using the same tool.
Castle Learning has adapted and grown over the years into a quality resource for both students and teachers, especially as we move in the direction of using technology for testing. I have some tips and tricks that will help teachers better utilize this resource. Having teachers go into the program with no guidance can be frustrating, to say the least. However, even Castle Learning “vets” can use these pointers as well.
Need to find questions on a particular standard that students struggle with? Use Keyword Search. Go in, click on the “standard” tab, and type in the standard.
Want to find old state tests or regents questions? Use Public Assignments.
Need to work on math facts or skills? Use Math Skills
How do you find passages from the NYS Sampler tests? Use Castle Reading Sets
If you need additional help, training, or just have a question, please reach out. Let’s make sure our students are prepared to conquer CBT!
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Facilitating Focused Conversations
Have you ever walked out of a meeting or away from a lesson and thought that the conversation that was had could have been better or more focused? A colleague and I attended a Technology of Participation (ToP) Facilitation workshop in September that guided us to do just that! We walked away with the steps to help people reflect together on just about any subject. We were taught the use of a structure known as O.R.I.D (Objective, Reflective, Interpretive, Decisional) In this conversation structure, the facilitator has crafted questions that lead the participants to answer difficult questions or participate in conversations while also generating a decision for next steps or a future direction. The focused conversation starts by answering objective questions to get the facts and information about the goal of a meeting/lesson subject. Then they reflect on their personal reactions or the emotions felt during the meeting/lesson. Participants then interpret the significance, meaning, values, or implications that the meeting/lesson has impacted. Lastly, the participants resolve the goal of the meeting/lesson by determining a decision that will lead them to next steps, an action that can be taken, or a future direction. The O.R.I.D. conversation method can be used with any group that would like to focus their conversation on having a resolution or developing ideas to better their participants’ knowledge of meeting/lesson topics, including students.
Teachers at Cuba-Rushford Elementary School, participated in a training to lead difficult conversations with students. The teachers worked together to help each other create a structure for clear dialogue and reflection for their students in the classroom. Using the O.R.I.D. method teachers are encouraging all students to have a voice in a non-confrontational way. This leads to belonging in their classrooms and school.
If you feel like Focused Conversations may help administrators, teachers, and/or students in your district and would like further information, please contact me at Janelle_Freer@caboces.org.
By: Janelle Freer, CA BOCES Professional Development
Breakout box fun in hinsdale
Welcome to 2023, a brand-new year that grants us the opportunity to prioritize student engagement, learning, collaborating and exploration through technology. In this era, our students are practically being born with tablets, iPads, videos, games, and apps at their fingertips. Teaching students how to properly utilize technology can enhance learning and strengthen core skills like reading, writing, math, science, and more.
Before the winter break, I was able to work with students at Hinsdale Central School to strengthen these skills using technology. The first graders had been learning all about the “Gingerbread Man”, an elusive sugar creation that runs away to protect himself from being eaten. I utilized Breakoutedu.com, an awesome resource that is offered through CABOCES, to adapt a physical breakout box activity to help the first graders to “catch the Gingerbread Man”.
What is a breakout box? It is literally a metal box with a variety of different locks that need to be solved to be opened; there is a lock with a three-digit code, one with a four-digit code, one with letters to spell a word or phrase, a directional lock, and the final lock- a key. Students receive different “clues” of varying levels (you can choose how difficult you want it to be), and they solve the clues to find the correct code to open the lock. The students usually have a certain amount of time, and a limited number of hints, to solve all the clues and “breakout”, meaning that they have successfully completed the activity.
The Breakout EDU website offers a variety of different breakout style lessons for all age ranges. There are some that require a physical breakout box, which can be borrowed from the CABOCES Learning Resources Center. There are others that are completely digital, so you do not need to have the physical box and locks. Either way, this resource supplies you with a list of exactly what you will need to do to set up the lesson, and it will provide any materials that you may need to print out or organize.
The “Gingerbread Man” breakout activity required a physical box. We used four different locks and the students had to complete a series of activities to find the “codes” or the keys to the locks, so they could help to find the gingerbread man. Some of the activities required math skills (reading a graph), and others required reading skills (coloring the words that included long vowel sounds, short vowel sounds, etc.). To do the activity as a full class, I adapted the PowerPoint that Breakout EDU provides, and the students were able to follow along on the classroom Promethean board as we completed the “clues” to find the Gingerbread man.
The students were so thrilled to have received these “messages” from the Gingerbread man, and they were so proud of themselves every time they figured out a clue, shouting, “We did it!” When being asked if they thought we could figure out the next clue, a choral, “Yeah!” rang throughout the room.
When we finally figured out the last clue and found the remaining key to open the box, you could feel the suspense in the air. In both first-grade classrooms, we were successfully able to open the box to discover where the gingerbread man had been hiding! He was sneaky enough to get himself out, but he left a note and a candy cane treat for each student, telling them that they had done a great job following his clues. The students’ excited exclamations, with a few hugs peppered in, demonstrated just how proud of themselves they were to solve the clues and find the “Gingerbread Man”.
Is this something that could be achieved without the use of technology? I am sure there are ways, but I am grateful for the Breakout EDU resource because it made the planning and executing of this lesson so much easier.
If you are interested in learning more about Breakout EDU, or if you are interested in bringing in other types of technology into your classroom, including fun review games like Gimkit, interactive presentations like Nearpod, or coding technology like Puzzlets or Pyonkee, please contact me at email@example.com so we can make an appointment. I would love to help!
By: Brooke Neamon, CA BOCES Model Schools
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