As the winter snows melt and sunshine begins to extend and warm up each day, you know Spring is in the air. At Gail N. Chapman elementary school in Randolph, 2nd grade students ‘Catapulted into Spring’ with a STEM activity that consisted of two parts. Each student was given a bag of various materials that could be used for each part. In part one, students could use pieces of wood, rubber bands, tape, and a spoon to create a catapult that would fly a plastic egg into the air. In part two, students needed to create a nest type structure to catch the egg. The structure could be made out of toothpicks, lollipop sticks, jelly beans, gumdrops, marshmallows, and grass clippings.
The first part of the STEM challenge focused on leverage and force, as students needed to be sure their catapults could take an egg at least 6” into the air. They experimented with various lengths for their catapult, and how much force would be needed to get the proper height and distance they were looking for.
The second part of their STEM challenge required their catapulted eggs to be caught in a nest type structure and they were not to touch the ground. Students discussed various creative ways to accomplish this and were left to explore their own engineering and design. Conversations about what design to use, and what materials worked best were taking place all over the classroom. Once time had elapsed for their construction and building, it was time for each student to attempt to catapult their egg into their created nest. No matter how many students were able to launch their eggs into the nest, all students succeeded in having fun and experimenting with leverage and engineering.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Our annual Scholastic Challenge competition was held at Portville Central School on April 6, 2019
Here are the results!
Senior Division - 1st place
Scio Central School (Tenacious Tigers)
Coach - Tammy Straight, Shawn Patrick, Jeb Broach
Senior Division - 2nd place
Cuba-Rushford Central School (Rebel One)
Jack Benham, Connor Whitney, Roman Tomasi, Coach - Tom Kenyon, Vansh Patel, Kyle Wittenrich (not pictured)
Junior Division - 1st place
Scio Central School (Trivia Tigers)
Coach - Tammy Straight, Derek Ketchner, Will Broach, Jordan White, Gregory Wesche
Junior Division - 2nd place
Immaculate Conception School (Crusaders)
Coach - Zachary Smith, Nial Rigas, Serena Boussa , Eli Brophy,
Instructional greatness is the theme in Friendship Central School. Teachers here have dedicated time and effort into making every moment in school count. They have worked countless hours to help all students achieve success. One way they have accomplished this is through data driven instruction.
Planning instruction based on assessments is hard work. Teachers in Friendship are diligently working at unpacking standards, aligning curriculum and planning lessons using the data from CA BOCES-created benchmark assessments. This teacher tool gives educators the knowledge and understanding of student learning. It also provides a foundation for teacher professional development.
Teachers engage in collegial and collaborative conversations on a regular basis. There are numerous benefits to these conversations such as creating professional community, learning, and a culture where knowledge and respect are highly valued. These educators are responsible for transforming classrooms as they share ideas and expertise. The support they receive from colleagues is inspiring. Ultimately, these professionals develop and maintain the culture of cooperation so that teachers continue to learn and students achieve. The work in Friendship is transformational and teachers are the heart of this work.
By: Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development
What was once viewed as a nuisance or a children’s toy is now widely recognized as a tool for business: drones. Teachers are now seeking ways to take advantage of drones as meaningful instructional tools such as using them to teach content learning standards or to prepare students for a career as a drone pilot for commercial use.
Teaching Content Learning Standards
Of all the feature requests I receive about using drones, autonomous flight is the most common by far. However, for drones such as the DJI models, autonomous flight is much different than the computer programming with which teachers and students are familiar. For example, programming a DJI Phantom 4 to follow a specific route is as easy as reading Google maps and placing points of interest. Most teachers are really looking for something similar to blockly, Java, or another programming language; if you are in this category as well, you may be delighted to know that you can sign out up to 6 Parrot Minidrones through the CA BOCES Media CoSer.
Aside from the obvious connection to computer science standards, educational drone curriculum addressing learning standards in other content areas is virtually nonexistent; the lack of curriculum focused on academic learning standards is due to a primary focus on commercial drone use. However, a drone can provide a meaningful substitution for a variety of lessons and concepts such as rates of change in Algebra, velocity in Physics, and digital storytelling in ELA.
According to an extremely accurate 2014 estimate from Goldman Sachs, the drone industry would be valued at roughly $100 billion by 2020. Although nearly 70% of that market belongs to military use, commercial drone usage, particularly in construction and agriculture, is on the rise. A report from Dronethusiast notes that drones in construction were valued at $11 billion.
Since commercial drone use is a rapidly growing industry, several schools are preparing students to operate drones commercially. For instance, over one dozen educators partook in the Introduction to sUAS (small unmanned aerial systems) course at CA BOCES led by Jon Thies, current CEO of SkyOp LLC. Not only did this course help prepare teachers for the Part 107 Remote Pilot Knowledge Test (a requirement for commercial drone use), but it also helped provide a more accurate picture of the commercial drone industry. Companies, like SkyOp, provide training and curriculum that acts an extension to the introductory course by leading students through a similar, more in-depth experience.
One of the major takeaways from the introductory training was the reaffirmation of the importance of having Part 107 certified educators directly involved during the outdoor use of drones (within FAA and insurance policy regulations) at all times. Consequently, since more educators have expressed interest in preparing for the Part 107 Remote Pilot Knowledge test, an additional two-day training will take place this summer and will be available on the CA BOCES registration system soon; before you go up, up, and away, make sure you are prepared the right way.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
In March, teachers of 6-8 Middle School Math met to collaborate in their subject area. This day of collaboration began with a presentation from Dr. Xiao-Ning Zhang, a professor in the Science Department at Saint Bonaventure University (SBU). Dr. Zhang discussed at length the exciting opportunity she and her department have been working on in collaboration with the Cattaraugus County Health Department. The Health Department released some of its data to SBU in order for students to have access to real, meaningful data as part of their lessons. By sharing with area middle school teachers, Dr. Zhang is hoping to get teachers interested in having real data to use in class in order to help students see how data is used in real-life as well as increase their statistical fluency. Her efforts will be highlighted further during SBU’s K-12 Science and Math Teacher Workshop from July 8-11.
In addition, teachers spent much of the afternoon exploring different technology tools that they can utilize in their classrooms to help increase the engagement of their students. One such tool was Desmos which allows teachers to graph functions, plot data, evaluate equations, explore transformations, and more. Desmos even has classroom activities that are pre-built and ready-to-use in the classroom.
A second tool shared was Graspable Math which allows the user to “grasp” terms in an equation and move them to the other side in order to solve the equation. The program does not allow for the students to make arithmetic mistakes and can be a valuable tool for those students who struggle in this area.
A third and final tool shared was Gimkit, a game show for the classroom that requires knowledge, collaboration, and strategy to win. Created by a current high school student, one teacher described it as, “Kahoot on Steroids!” Gimkit’s platform is similar to Kahoot but allows students to work at their own pace, answering questions for money, and using the money they earn strategically to buy upgrades that enhance their earning potential. Teachers enjoyed trying this out for themselves and were excited to try it in their own classrooms!
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Professional Development
On March 11th, over 100 local educators, administrators and community leaders gathered at the Restorative Practices Symposium to explore, learn and experience from experts and practitioners in the field. The event was organized in response to the increasing interest in restorative practices in the region. The morning consisted of a keynote speaker and three practitioner presentations, while the afternoon allowed participants to experience different aspects of restorative practices based upon interest. Let’s take a look at what we learned about throughout the morning!
The keynote speaker, Dr. Tom Cavanagh of Colorado State University shared evidence and research specific to restorative practice in schools. He noted the significance of creating a culture of care using the principles and practices of restorative justice in the school environment. Dr. Cavanagh’s work with Hinkley High School in Aurora, Colorado was a great example of the application of a “culture of care” and related positive outcomes. Based on his research, Dr. Cavanagh concluded the implications for restorative schools include improved graduation rates, decreased discipline referrals, increased learning time and greater equity.
Deb Golley and Mollie Lapi, of CA BOCES Exceptional Education Programs spoke about the implementation process and daily practices within special education programs. They shared the reality of the 80/20 rule with restorative practices. The majority (80%) of practices are proactive, leaving the reactive practices happening much less of the time (20%). Therefore, reinforcing that restorative schools are heavily invested in practices that build relationships and community. This investment enables the responsive practices, such as conferences or corrective circles, to have greater influence and success in repairing harm and relationships when harm has occurred.
Representatives from East High School in the Rochester City School District, Dr. Lia Festenstein and Michelle Garcia offered insight into the revitalization of climate and culture in an urban school, through the implementation of restorative practices. Garcia introduced the social discipline window and noted that the ideal restorative response is a combination of high control (limit setting, discipline) and high support (encouragement, nurturing). Dr. Festenstein highlighted the process and stages of implementation and shared details of the journey from year one into year four. Finally, Dr. Festenstein spoke of the noteworthy impact that restorative practices has had at EAST. Outcomes include, a decrease in school referrals and suspensions, a decrease in the severity of school offenses and a narrowing discipline gap that disproportionately punishes students of color.
Finally, participants heard from local superintendent Lori DiCarlo. DiCarlo walked participants through the three tiers of restorative practices. She illustrated how the multi-tiered system of support aligns with the restorative practices continuum and what this looks like at Randolph Academy UFSD. For each of the three tiers, DiCarlo gave examples of what the practice looks like, how it is implemented and what the benefits are.
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools Coordinator
When you hear the word fossils, more than likely the first thing that comes to mind are bones. Well the 3rd grade students at Bolivar-Richburg learned that there are much more to fossils than just bones. During this Environmental Science program, the students discovered the true challenges that paleontologist face in trying to search and recover these remnants. The students were able to get their hands on some tools that these scientists use. One tool that was used during the program was a toothpick and the material included a “stone” (chocolate chip cookie) that has “fossils” (chocolate chips). They used the toothpick to carefully dig out the “fossils” in the “stone”. Once finished, we had a discussion on some of the challenges that paleontologists face.
In addition to digging out fossils with special tools, the students also were able to investigate and examine different types of fossils with a magnify lens. The items vary from squid shells to petrified wood to shark’s teeth. As they investigated, we discussed the process in which remains go through to make that change from their current material to a stone fossil.
Lastly, the students were able to take clay, form it into a stone shape and take shells to make imprints of fossils in their newly formed stone. After their stone fossils were created, they were able to take them home and let them sit to harden.
This is just one of the many Environmental Science programs that CA BOCES has to offer! For more information on this program or others available to you through Environmental Science please feel free to contact Lance Feuchter at (716) 376-8379 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Lance Feuchter, CA BOCES Learning Resources
There have been numerous activities that have occurred out in Friendship this year and a few accomplishments. We’ll highlight a few of them as we continue to grow and learn. At the January 25th in-service day we celebrated Friendship moving off NYSED’s watch list as they’ve shown growth through multiple layers at New York State. That was a result of years of work to do what’s in the best interest of students. To continue an afternoon of celebrating and teamwork the Friendship staff, led by school psychologist, Kimberly Riordan, worked in teams to complete a scavenger hunt with the Goose Chase app. Goose Chase allows you to form teams that have to accomplish certain tasks and can take photos to show that they accomplished the task. Those photos go to the moderators of the challenge to award the pre-determined points or not. This was an excellent team building opportunity with many of the photos shared before the faculty left.
The other activity that our 5th grade team took on was to run a BreakOut EDU review session to have students answer questions to review for their “Solids, Liquids and Gases” unit. Mrs. Sleggs and Mrs. Malinowski set up teams that the students worked on to solve specific problems. Each problem helped unlock a different lock on the box. Once every group solved their problem they were treated to a special reward/treat. Thank you Alex Freer from Learning Resources for showing us BreakOut EDU earlier this year!
By: Mark Carls, CA BOCES Professional Development
Check out this month's Advancing STEM Challenge!
Did you hear that?
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.
School librarians within CA BOCES are having an amazing year!
Whether it’s borrowing books from other school libraries to prepare students for a multi-school reading competition, providing a maker space where grades 7-12 compete to see whose best at repurposing odds and ends, promoting OverDrive’s class sets to teachers, or using instructional strategies to engage all learners, school librarians are exploring a range of techniques for whole class and group work, guided learning, and individual activities.
On January 17, school librarians reviewed the new National School Library Standards which complement and strengthen content standards. Focusing on the six Shared Foundations (Inquire, Include, Collaborate, Curate, Explore, and Engage) and school librarian Competencies, each librarian chose one competency of strength and one that needs strengthening and were challenged to come back to our next meeting on February to share examples of personal growth and impact on student learning.
Recently, librarians at Franklinville and Friendship had students write letters to Senator Catharine Young and Assemblyman Joe Giglio. Students not only learned how to properly address an envelope (and where to place a stamp), but crafted hand-written letters expressing why their school library and librarian is important to them. In the afternoon of the January CLC, school librarians participated in civic engagement by meeting with Assemblyman Joe Giglio and a representative from Senator Young’s office at St. Bonaventure’s Friedham Memorial Library, where the receipt of students’ letters mentioned.
Meeting with state representatives provided librarians from public, academic, and school libraries to share why library funding is critical. Specifically, the need for broadband access so students can complete homework. Although a student may have access to a cell phone, the monthly data plan is quickly exceeded when accessing databases or other sites needed for homework. This was a meaningful experience for school librarians. (Photos below by Danielle Newman, librarian at Fillmore Central School @FscLibraries ).
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Over the past few months, Kathryn Mendell and myself have facilitated the Mental Health Literacy forum with about 70 teachers and leaders from the region. The purpose of the Mental Health Literacy forum is to share and provide information on mental health education provided within our community and area schools. We shared guidance for developing effective mental health education for ALL students at all levels while embedding mental health well-being into the entire school environment.
The NYS Education Department expects schools to utilize the guidance documents and other resources available to adopt or develop its own district curriculum aligned with the NYS learning standards and to tailor instruction based on the school district’s identified needs at the local level. The hope is that these changes will positively impact our student’s awareness of mental health prevention, treatment and stigma.
With the expansion of mental health in schools, it is expected that school personnel, students, families and communities will more openly discuss mental health well-being.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
Area teachers have been learning about the workshop model for mathematics over the past few months. What is the math workshop model? It is a flexible grouping model, incorporating best practices in mathematics, coupled with differentiation based on individual student needs. This model allows teachers to have smaller chunks of whole group instruction, allowing more time for smaller, targeted groups who work with the teacher on specific standards and concepts, while other students work in work stations. Teachers learned how to incorporate the tenants of the workshop model based on their classroom, and the needs of the students. Teachers who have been able to try the model out have been very enthusiastic about it, as they feel they have a much better picture of the students and their abilities and needs in mathematics, as they are able to spend more time with students in smaller groups. This has been extremely beneficial for the students as well as for the teachers. If you are interested in learning more about the Workshop Model in Mathematics, C-A BOCES will be holding a workshop in July. If you’re interested, please have your district contact person register you at register you at register.caboces.org.
By: Kathleen Agnello, CA BOCES Professional Development
The Library CoSer provides all districts with TeachingBooks, a resource accessible to students and faculty at resources.caboces.org.
A quick subject search using the term Valentine’s Day returns several resources for books, including lesson guides, worksheets, and many other resources that allow for connecting deeply with text. For example, P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han provides an author book reading, audio name pronunciation, link to the author’s website and blog, audiobook excerpt, reading questions, and several videotaped interviews with the author. Although each featured book is not in digital format for instant reading, students and teachers can identify exceptional books that reflect diverse cultural experiences, interests, and ability levels, and obtain resources paired with book titles that further reading enjoyment, contextual knowledge, and educational relevance (TeachingBooks, 2019). Additionally, students can practice reading fluency and voice through Reader’s Theater scripts in ready-to-print format.
Stories become more meaningful when students learn the backstory, the research, and the inspiration for each book directly from the author and illustrator. Although I can read a summary of Jaquelyn Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming aloud to students in an effort to pique interest, it’s not the same as the author’s voice briefly sharing about her memoir. The same can be said for Gene Luen Yang’s book American Born Chinese.
TeachingBooks also provides English text of author name pronunciations and transcriptions for book readings. The following features benefit all students:
Contained within this kit are books, guides that study the circulatory system and normal heart conditions, and the following models:
Since February is American Heart Month, why not learn about this important organ and other key organs that help us keep living and breathing via a science kit? In the kit Health Kit: Our Lungs, Heart, and Health, students will identify parts and functions of the respiratory and circulatory systems. They will examine ways to keep these two very important systems working efficiently through nutrition, exercise, and healthy habits. Special emphasis will be placed on the negative effects of tobacco. For more information on this kit or others available to you through STEM, contact Clay Nolan at (716) 376-8354 or email@example.com.
Would you like to connect you students to an expert in your field, have your students experience something specific to your content area, or extend a topic? What about a really cool review activity that you don't have to create or manage? Then look no further! For districts that participate in the Distance and Online Learning CoSer 420, you have the world at your fingertips. We offer virtual field trips for all grade levels and content areas. We will even take care of the tech connections for you! Here are some examples of what is available:
The Constitution at Work
Flagler's Flippers Fins and Fun Facts
Science of Seeking Snacks: Learn About Your Senses Through Mantis Research
Homestead Act of 1862
Ship to Shore- EarthEcho Expeditions: PlasticSeas Virtual Field Trip
America's Signs & Symbols
For more information and other suggestions for virtual field trips, contact:
Have you thought about connecting your class to an expert in the field, but don't know where to start? There are plenty of FREE and bee-based trips for you to choose from. Simply follow the easy steps below to open the doors for your class.
What are you waiting for? Imagine your class interacting with a zoologist, a park ranger, or a musician…all from the comfort of your school!
Cuba, New York – Wednesday, January 16, 2019 – Fifteen VEX Robotics teams from across Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties attended the inaugural VEX Robotics Qualifying Tournament at Cuba-Rushford Middle/High School on Wednesday, January 16, 2019. Students competed with and against teams from Pioneer, Cattaraugus-Little Valley, Franklinville, Salamanca, Scio, Wellsville, Genesee Valley, and Cuba-Rushford. The middle and high school students executed the 2018-2019 VEX Robotics Competition game, Turning Point, which is played by stacking caps on posts, flipping caps, stacking balls on caps, toggling flags, throwing balls, and parking robots.
Congratulations go out to Cuba-Rushford (Blue Team), Pioneer (Sicko Code), Franklinville (The Black Death), and Franklinville (Four Blokes). Specifically, the Cuba-Rushford and Pioneer alliance were the Tournament Champions. The Franklinville (The Black Death) team earned the Excellence Award and the Franklinville (Four Blokes) team earned the Design Award. These four teams qualify to attend the Northern New York State Championship to be held in Syracuse on March 2.
The RoboJags from Genesee Valley were presented with the Judges Award.
To prepare for the tournament, students worked together to design, build and program a semiautonomous robot that could quickly and efficiently solve the specific challenges of the 2018-2019 VEX Robotics Competition game, Turning Point. Teams studied electronics, programming, mechanical systems, animation, 3D CAD, computer aided machining, web design, and materials fabrication. An equally important set of skills is learned through competition-communication, negotiation, project management, time management and teamwork.
The tournament was possible because of a tremendous collaborative effort between Cuba-Rushford school and CABOCES. The CABOCES Tech Support team, along with the 3 divisions of ISS (Professional Development, Learning Resources, and Student Programs) worked hard to ensure that the first ever VEX tournament in the region would be a success. Additional support and guidance, which was invaluable, came from Veronica Bitz (REC) and Alex Palowitch (iDESIGN Solutions).
The Cuba-Rushford Qualifying Tournament is one of a series of VEX Robotics Competitions taking place internationally throughout the year. VEX Competitions are recognized as the largest and fastest growing competitive robotics programs for elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and college aged students around the world. VEX Competitions represent over 20,000 teams from 45 countries that participate in more than 1,500 VEX Competition events worldwide. The competition season culminates each spring, with VEX Robotics World Championship, a highly-anticipated event that unites top qualifying teams from local, state, regional and international VEX Robotics Competitions to crown World Champions. More information about the VEX Robotics Competition is available at RoboticsEducation.org, RobotEvents.com and VEXRobotics.com. To find out how to become involved in VEX Robotics in this region, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 716-376-8323.
About the REC Foundation
The Robotics Education & Competition Foundation manages the VEX Robotics Competition, which thousands of schools participate in around the world each year.
The REC Foundation seeks to increase student interest and involvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by engaging students in hands-on, sustainable and affordable curriculum-based robotics engineering programs across the U.S. and internationally. Its goal is to provide these programs with services, solutions, and a community that allows them to flourish in a way that fosters the technical and interpersonal skills necessary for students to succeed in the 21st Century. The REC Foundation develops partnerships with K-12 education, higher education, government, industry, and the non-profit community to achieve this work so that one day these programs will become accessible to all students and all schools in all communities. For more information on REC Foundation, visit www.RoboticsEducation.org.
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES Student Programs
This month’s spotlight as we dig a little deeper into the resources we have available to our component school districts in our warehouse is…..cardboard AR/VR viewers and iPods.
CABOCES has offered a few workshops on Augmented and Virtual reality. Due to the popularity of those and the rising interest in our schools, Learning Resources has added supplemental resources to our warehouse. The cardboard viewers and accompanying iPods bring immersive experiences to everyone in a simple and affordable way. Step into stunning environments that stretch all around you. No matter where you look, it’s as if you’re really there. Discover thousands of VR apps and games, and a variety of captivating YouTube videos made to view with cardboard viewers. Travel the world, go onstage with your favorite artists, experience thrilling simulations, and more.
Regardless of the content or grade level, these cardboard views and iPods can revolutionize the classroom. Today’s education environment is increasingly offering immersive experiences that help children, teens, and adults truly enjoy the process of learning. Plus, these technologies can help certain students learn more effectively than traditional classroom methods by overcoming language barriers and accommodating visual learners.
So what are you waiting for? Take a look at our warehouse and give our cardboard AR/VR viewers and iPods a try!
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Check out this month's Advancing STEM Challenge!
Keeping Warm in Febrrrrruary
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.
Teachers and students in Cattaraugus-Little Valley are exploring 3D pens and their possible uses in the classroom. Imagine students being able to instantly draw their learning in the air! Students can draw geometric shapes, bridges, and music notes in a matter of minutes. A lot of schools and classrooms have experimented with 3D printers. They can be expensive, and prints can take a long time. With a 3D pen, students can create 3D drawings in a matter of minutes.
Freshman ELA students in Ms. Lobello’s class are using 3D pens to create tools for characters in a story they have written. In Mrs. Purdy’s Art class, students are learning to design bridges and animals with a 3D pen. Some students have requested to borrow the 3D pens to complete self-paced genius hour projects. The 3D pens come with simple designs for students to develop skills. They learn by creating cubes and large structures with triangles and squares.
The pens work as a manually operated 3D printer. Heated filament made from plastic is extruded through the pen’s tip, which quickly cools down to form a stable 3D object.
The possibilities are only limited by a teacher or a student’s imagination. Here are a few ideas that teachers can explore:
By: Rob Miller, CA BOCES Professional Development
It’s a new year and CA BOCES’ is releasing its new online course catalog for electives and core courses for the Spring 2019 semester, bringing updated information and an easy guide to signing your students up for online courses.
The online department has been growing and perfecting its offerings for over a decade. Through that process, the distance learning team has searched for the best possible classes to offer students residing throughout Allegany and Cattaraugus counties. The team is constantly on the lookout for new opportunities to make sure that students in this region can compete with college-ready students across the nation, including having the technological skills and online interactions necessary to compete in today’s world.
Literacy is an invaluable tool, and digital literacies are a vital part of that. Educators are responsible for teaching this aspect of education as much as any other both ethically and as emphasized through the ESSA guidelines and funding opportunities for school districts. According to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology, “Technology can be a powerful tool for transforming learning” and “can help […] reinvent our approaches to learning and collaboration, shrink long-standing equity and accessibility gaps, and adapt learning experiences to meet the needs of all learners.” Accordingly, students who have opportunities in online education learn how to participate in discussion forums, online collaboration, and digital assignment submission. Further, students receive feedback in a digital format (video responses, interactive comments, and email to name a few), develop self-advocacy skills, and experience giving online presentations and conducting online research. Through all these experiences, they become adept and fluent contributors and collaborators in a digital learning environment.
Looking into our students’ futures, online courses are part of most college and university programs. As educators, we have an obligation to make sure that students are ready to navigate all types of course content and structures, learn to communicate in a fully digital realm, and have a firm grasp of online etiquette in order to be prepared for their future college classes in an ever-expanding digital world. Offering online classes to our students in high school, means that they will have a guided experience with a mentor, have the flexibility to develop their own online learning style, and have the safety of someone to assist if the need arises, unlike in many college environments where students are on their own to figure out the details AND to succeed in an online environment with often costly outcomes if they are unsuccessful.
Knowledge gained in online classes is essential both from the experience of learning in an online environment and from the strategies acquired to learn in a different. These skillsets are broad and range from practicing collaboration needed work with a team in most occupational environments to knowing online platforms enough to attend Harvard’s next online business course. Students will be ready to compete for college acceptance letters and job markets because they have had a chance to experience online learning in a high school setting.
For more information about online learning, video conference courses, or credit recovery options, please contact Distance Learning at 716-376-8270.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Portville Educators, along with CA BOCES’ Anne Mitchell, Present at New York State Professional Conferences
“I enjoyed the experience of presenting at the NYSSCA conference because I was able to share with fellow counselors and educators what I do to promote social and emotional learning and development in our students at PCS. My hope is that I was able to inspire those in attendance with ideas and information that they could take back to their schools,” (A. Luther).
In our region, it’s no secret that Portville Central School is doing amazing things for kids—now the state is starting to take notice, too. This fall Portville educators took the stage at two different state-level conferences. In October, Molly Scott and Theresa Lyons presented at the annual New York State English Council Conference in Albany. They presented the tremendously successful, elementary-level & community-wide One Book One Community Project: Palacio’s Wonder: the idea, the timeline; the events; the teachers; the students; the families, and the community—start to finish—and the lasting impact it’s had. Participants left understanding the value of the project and the process to implement One Book One Community at their own districts.
In November, Amanda Luther presented “Educating the Whole Child: Social Emotional Development and the Comprehensive School Counseling Model” at the annual New York State School Counselors Association Conference in Lake George. This year’s conference topic was RESILIENCY. The role of the school counselor has been transforming: Amanda shared evidence-based resources, authentic practices, and creative programming that are unique to Portville and highlight what the comprehensive school counseling regulations outline as best practice. The participants were extremely engaged and wanted to learn more about the meaningful and relevant social emotional learning opportunities and experiences happening at Portville.
Both building principals, Lynn Corder and Larry Welty, contributed to the presentations as well—via video. A special thanks to Portville’s student technology support on these projects: Chris Stebbins, Emma Mikolajczyk, and Devon Hall (graduated, attending Alfred State College).
We’re looking forward to having more Portville educators share their expertise and successes with state-wide colleagues and are grateful for the support of Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES: Student and Teacher Programs.
By: Anne Mitchell, CA BOCES Professional Development
Can you feel it? Winter break is fastly approaching. For many, this break is a time of a much needed and well-deserved rest. For others, winter break, like the several other breaks from school, is a time that causes stress because school is the safest home they know. The differences between these two feelings remind us of the importance of cultivating the social and emotional well-being in addition to fostering academic growth in public education.
In addition to the social and emotional well-being of students, the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) has also recognized the importance of mental health education. Proposed in January of 2018, the continuum of well-being for mental health literacy was formally adopted by the Board of Regents in May of 2018. The NYSED Mental Health webpage nicely reminds us “research has shown that the quality of the school climate may be the single most predictive factor in any school’s capacity to promote student achievement. When young people are educated about mental health, the likelihood increases they will be able to effectively recognize signs and symptoms in themselves and others and will know where to turn for help. Health education that respects the importance of mental health, as well as the challenges of mental illness, will help young people and their families and communities feel more comfortable seeking help, improve academic performance and, most importantly, even save lives.” Some school districts have gotten creative in their approach to positively improve their culture and climate.
I recently walked into Cuba-Rushford Central School’s Middle/High School building and was delighted to see Lupo, pictured above, a 15-week old, male Bouvier des Flandres; the Bouvier des Flandres breed is loyal, gentle, and hypoallergenic, typically living 10 to 12 years growing upwards of 100 pounds. As I watched Lupo, he brought smiles to nearly all who passed him by, and he received welcoming embraces from both students and adults. Naturally, like most, I needed to learn more about Lupo’s role at CRCS.
Whose dog is Lupo? Lupo belongs to Chris Cappelletti, and is, ultimately, his responsibility throughout the day. However, Chris let me know that both getting Lupo into CRCS and taking care of him throughout the day wouldn’t be possible without the encouragement and assistance of the CRCS faculty and administration, particularly Nicole Williams and Sally Kus.
Why is Lupo at CRCS? Several events took place that allowed for Lupo to be welcomed at CRCS. After many weeks of researching the benefits of a therapy dog, the idea was presented to CRCS superintendent, Carlos Gildemeister. Then, after discussing the idea and the research, Carlos gave his full support knowing that the benefits of a therapy dog far outweigh the costs.
Who takes care of Lupo at night? Lupo belongs to Chris. This means that Chris is responsible for taking care of Lupo before and after school. Furthermore, Chris is responsible for having Lupo trained as a therapy dog; this means Lupo needs to pass a temperament test, complete obedience school, and undergo therapy dog training, each with an associated fee. The big goal for Lupo, once he completes all of his training, is for him to pass the American Kennel Club (AKC) Therapy Dog Test.
Has Lupo made an impact in his first 15 weeks at CRCS? “I’ve seen a huge difference!” Chris told me. “I’ve seen more smiling faces, more communication with children and adults, and increased empathy. Students worry if Lupo has eaten enough, and regularly ask to take him on walks so Lupo can go to the bathroom outside.” Nicole added “that socially he has created a bridge for students that normally would not hang out or speak to each other. For instance, two girls in particular that do not hang out, quickly and without any awkwardness, started talking while they were petting Lupo.”
What else do I need to know if I wanted get a therapy dog in my school district? In short, you need research, support, and commitment; research to identify which type of dog will be the suitable, support from administration and the dog’s owner, and a commitment both financially and mentally to the lifestyle of raising a therapy dog.
Prior to researching which type of dog would be purchased, Chris, Nicole, and Sally explored what the research showed regarding the benefits of having a therapy dog. Then, with a plan and the research to support it, Chris, Nicole and Sally received approval from their administration after several discussions. Lastly, perhaps the most challenging aspect of owning a therapy dog, each member of this small team must be committed to not only caring for this support animal, but they must also be committed to doing so consistently.
Do the benefits outweigh the costs? For the sake of clarity, there are several costs associated with owning a therapy dog. Not only does someone need to pay for the dog itself, its food, shelter, training, etc., but there are also physical and emotional costs such as training the animal early in the morning and throughout the day until the evening hours, caring for the animal in addition to normal expectations at home and at work, and determining whether the animal truly is having a meaningful impact.
For some, these costs constitute burdens that are far too great, and for others the benefits far outweigh the costs. Based on the few days I have seen Lupo in action, I would argue he his performing his duties well. Based on the several weeks Lupo has been at CRCS, Lupo’s caretakers would also argue that Lupo is worth the cost. More time may be required for a concrete measure of Lupo’s impact, but perhaps time has already shown just how valuable this dog can be.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Last year, Mark Beckwith and Sarah Wittmeyer collaborated on a project to create an online database of every test question that has been assessed on the 3-8 ELA and Math state assessments in the last few years. This database, the NYS Assessment Item Notebook, allows teachers to easily click a standard that has been assessed, which in turn generates a list of every released question that is connected to that standard. The Notebook is tremendously helpful because it contains all of this public information in one place, rather than having to open a myriad of PDFs.
Districts in our region have been using this tool in numerous ways. At Cuba-Rushford, middle school ELA teachers have been analyzing the question stems to notice patterns in how standards are being assessed. For example, teachers noted that many questions reference specific paragraphs, such as “How do paragraphs 3 and 4 contribute to the story?” By mirroring their own questions to students in this format, students will be more familiar with the structure of the state exam. Additionally, analyzing question stems can uncover vocabulary that students may need to help them succeed. For example, if students don’t understand what is meant by “contribute”, they may struggle right at the beginning of attempting to answer the question.
In Fillmore, middle school ELA teachers have created a mid-year benchmark assessment using the Assessment Item Notebook. Teachers reviewed their data to determine standards that are commonly assessed. Then they selected two passages and ten multiple choice questions to assess students with in January. The benefit to using these questions is that it will give them an indication of how students will perform against the rigor of the state assessment. Also, because they know which questions are connected to which standards, data analysis is easier and can offer areas for them to focus on before the state assessments.
If your district would like support in using the NYS Assessment Items Notebook to guide data analysis and instruction, please reach out to our team!
By: Brendan Keiser, CA BOCES Professional Development