Creative Professional Development turns into Collaborative Life-long Learning, Innovative Curriculum, and a Regional Annual Film Festival
This summer I played, and I learned simultaneously. I had the opportunity to attend the Writing with Video: Rural Voices Summer Institute with Dr. Sunshine Sullivan, associate professor of education at Houghton College, and Dr. David Bruce, associate professor of learning and instruction at the State University of New York at Buffalo (University at Buffalo) Graduate School of Education. Under the guidance of Tim Clarke, Senior Program Manager for Professional Development at Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES, this summer institute was presented to area teachers throughout Cattaraugus and Allegany counties for two consecutive summer sessions.
During the week-long institute, I worked alongside many other English teachers including Lacey Gardner (Whitesville), Michelle Grillo (Cuba-Rushford), Brendan Heaney (Fillmore), Michelle McGraw (Cuba-Rushford), Micah Rust (Fillmore), Suzan Snyder (Allegany-Limestone), Stephen Sorensen (Olean), Louis Ventura (Olean), and Sally Ventura (Olean). We collaborated, learned to use digital media on the fly with guidance from Dr. David Bruce and Dr. Sunshine Sullivan, and then created our own projects including narrative sequences, “Me in Six Words/Images,” video vocab, multi-genre e-publications, and “This I Believe” digital essays. These projects became model projects for our students when we incorporated similar projects into our curriculum. These models would help students use media alongside written reflections and heuristics to present their understanding of content and concepts.
The whole week was one of the most rewarding, challenging, and engaging professional development opportunities that I’ve been fortunate enough to attend – and it was difficult work. As Sally Ventura, a teacher at Olean High School said, "Rural Voices has been such an energizing experience! It has been as fun as it has been challenging. It has been a pleasure working with smart, creative colleagues in the area.”
The days at the institutes were packed and I was always surprised that it was time to go home. The amazing thing was that I didn’t stop learning and thinking when I walked out the door. Instead, I continued ruminating on the drive home. I tinkered with ideas at home. I filmed at home. I reworked difficult pieces. I researched. The entire week, from the moment that I woke up until I went to sleep, was spent planning, collaborating, developing, creating, and reflecting – exactly the kind of experience I want for my students. As Brendan Heaney said, “The work being done at the Institute is revolutionary. Teachers will learn how to truly incorporate technology in a way that enhances student literacy and composition skills. If you buy into this and utilize it in the classroom you will see student engagement go through the roof. You will also see some of the best quality work you’ve ever seen from students.”
Out of this experience, a project was born. Brendan Heaney worked tirelessly to help organize the First Annual Southern Tier Film Festival, an event where students from five districts competed for a prize for the best film. All the teachers involved in Rural Visions collaborated to help plan, develop, and contribute to this amazing event. The film festival was advertised regionally through social media, local newspapers, and radio stations.
On the night of the event, parents came to see their children’s work and creativity. Teachers attended to see their student’s efforts. Administrators attended to see the work of their teachers and their students and to have an opportunity to relax and enjoy some great film. It was truly a community event where students showcased their videography skills, thoughtfulness, and ingenuity to a real audience and competed for a chance to bring their school home a traveling trophy.
The film festival showcased thirty student films over the course of three hours with breaks and refreshments offered between each of the hour sessions. The audience voted for their favorite films with one final vote at the end to determine the school winner.
Out of this amazing grass-roots effort, came a multitude of class projects which culminated in an annual film festival. This year’s Southern Tier Annual Film Festival will be held tentatively at Cuba-Rushford toward the end of the school year.
Many of the teachers involved in the summer institute went on to present their learning experience using digital video in their own classrooms at the New York State English Council ( NYSEC) Annual Conference in Albany, NY held in October this year. Projects ranged from research thesis statements to video poems, documentaries, film class projects, and six-word memoirs. Dr. Sullivan remarked, “It was a privilege seeing our teachers present what they are doing in their classrooms as a result of our summer institutes and how well received it was by their audience at NYSEC. Our teachers are becoming teacher leaders in the field in writing with video. We are also looking forward to seeing our teachers attending and presenting at NCTE in St. Louis later this month.”
If you have an interest in entering student work in this year’s Southern Tier Annual Film Festival or attending the festival in preparation for next year, please look out for upcoming announcements at your school district or contact Christina McGee at firstname.lastname@example.org or (716) 376-8281.
If you would like to learn more about the Writing with Video: Rural Voices Summer Institute, please contact Tim Clarke at 716-376-8321 or email@example.com.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Teachers, administrators, staff, and parents at Allegany-Limestone Elementary School have worked together to form a Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee (BPCC). On September 20th and 22nd, committee members participated in a two day Olweus Reboot. Staff members learned about bullying, identifying roles people play in bullying situations, and prevention and intervention strategies to create a safe and welcoming school climate.
OBPP is used at the school, classroom, and individual levels and includes methods to reach out to parents and the community for involvement and support. OBPP is not a curriculum, but a program that involves a holistic approach.
School administrators, teachers, and other staff are primarily responsible for introducing and implementing the program. These efforts are designed to improve peer relations and make the school a safer and more positive place for students to learn and develop.
The goals of the program are:
The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program has received recognition from a number of organizations and researchers committed to preventing school violence. OBPP has been named a Blueprints Promising Program by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and was highlighted in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Policy Statement: Role of the Pediatrician in Youth Violence Prevention.
The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program’s Coordinating Committee at Allegany-Limestone is excited to turn-key training to all staff members and plan for the 4th year of implementation in the elementary building. Currently, ALES utilizes the following school anti-bullying rules:
The OBPCC will be embedding Olweus training in faculty meetings, student assemblies, parent nights, and much more!
By: Jillian Putnam, CA BOCES Professional Development
What is blended learning? Are we truly blending learning in our region? Yes we are! Below are examples of Michael B. Horn - The Christensen Institute’s blended learning models that are taking place across our region, and quite successfully!
While blended learning began in simple applications to serve students in situations where there was no other alternative, it has grown exponentially over the past ten years in the Cattaraugus Allegany region, where our region is recognized as the leader in online learning in New York State BOCES regions!
Michael B Horn’s and Heather Staker’s book, Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, lays out the process in a useful level of detail making it a must read for educators that want to take full advantage of tech-enabled learning. Staker shared, "I feel deeply sad when I see how many children do not have equal opportunities to high-quality schools. It's wrong that in a rich country with universal public education, zip code determines quality." But she feels fortunate to be living through the learning revolution where internet connectivity and personalized learning is “decimating old constructs about who gets what and introducing a new paradigm of shared access to the best learning experiences, regardless of geography.” (Education Week article - http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_innovation/2014/09/blended_a_conversation_with_michael _horn_heather_staker.html)
What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning? Michael B. Horn adds, “Online learning, particularly in blended learning schools, gives students more and more ownership of their learning, this is a big deal as it can allow schools to individualize for each student’s unique learning needs.” (http://dailyedventures.com/index.php/2012/11/08/michael-horn/)
How do these online learning opportunities benefit students? Danielle, from Allegany- Limestone, replied, “I wish that I could have studied this way from the beginning of the year. When I’m in a classroom with people, I get distracted, but using APEX is great. The program is really straightforward. It tells me exactly what I need to know. Some days I let it read to me and sometimes I read myself. I came from Pennsylvania and the work was harder and my Biology class was in a different place and the online class is helping me.”
To learn more about successful blended learning models in schools, join CA BOCES in an Online/Digital Learning Showcase, where you can ask questions and view demos of 7 different online solutions for:
For more information about Digital Learning Day on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at CABOCES Olean Center Conference Rooms, go to: http://dev.caboces.org/iss/calendar/2017-04.
By: Betsy Hardy, CA BOCES Distance Learning
Saturday, February 7, 2015 @ Portville Central School
The largest Scholastic Challenge Competition was held on Saturday, February 7 at Portville Central School. This annual event, sponsored by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES, hosted a record total of 49 teams who competed in a Junior Division and Senior Division, for grades 6-12.
Scholastic Challenge is a fast-paced contest that tests knowledge of academic trivia. Teams of three students measure their ability to recall details from a wide variety of topics.
Thirteen school districts participated in the double-elimination contest this year. This translates to more than 200 students and coaches. Throughout the day, several thousand questions were read aloud to these ambitious teams. All the teams represented their schools well, combining an impressive display of intelligence with camaraderie, graciousness and good sportsmanship that was admirable.
Competitors and coaches represented the following school districts:
Allegany-Limestone-1 team coached by Kathy Schaeper
Hinsdale Central-4 teams coached by Kate Jedrosko
Cuba-Rushford - 6 teams coached by John Butler
Ellicottville Central - 4 teams coached by Ann Chamberlain
Fillmore Central – 2 teams coached by Deb Woltag & Bill Kelley
Friendship Central - 1 team coached by Wade Pearsall
Genesee Valley - 6 teams coached by Rollie Duttweiler & Sara Donlon
Olean High- 2 teams coached by Carolyn Shields
Pioneer Central -5 teams coached by Sarah Wood & Jimmy Wood
Portville Central - 9 teams coached by Margaret Seib & Gene Rogers
Randolph Central- 1 team coached by Jennifer Bieniek
Wellsville Central - 3 teams coached by Diane Willard & Hope Gilfert
West Valley Central - 5 teams coached by Ryan Keem
There were two impressive teams who were undefeated going into the Finals in the auditorium. Congratulations to the Fillmore Green Junior team and the Pioneer Starfleet Academy Senior team!
The final matches were held on stage in the Portville auditorium. As usual, the finalists were challenged to answer questions on current events and local facts. The first and second place teams in each division were presented with plaques to recognize their achievements. All four of the Finalist teams have earned the honor of being invited to the 2015 National Academic Championship.
This event requires about 50 volunteers to make the day run smoothly. CABOCES Student Programs is grateful to everyone who donated their time and experience to provide a fun and educational day for the students in our area. Scholastic Challenge could not happen without their help!
Congratulations to all the teams and their proud coaches on a job well done. We look forward to seeing everyone back next year!
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES
Students and teachers (of COSER 501 member districts) can access hundreds of thousands of digital resources using CABOCES Digital Kids.
Users may login to CABOCES DIGITAL KIDS to search clips and images or pass through to:
Brain Pop (Jr., ESL, Espanol),Discovery, Learn 360, Sylvan Dell eBooks, Teaching Books, Tumblebooks, Soundszabound, Gale Cengage, Regents Review
Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES has been awarded a grant for $218,787 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The grant, called the Rural Utility Service (RUS) grant will be used by Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES and six area school districts to upgrade video conferencing equipment. The upgrades to video conferencing equipment will provide Allegany Limestone, Bolivar Richburg, Hinsdale, Randolph, Salamanca and West Valley with new high definition video conference capabilities that the schools will use to have students and teachers take part in distance learning opportunities.