BOCES and eleven regional school districts have been awarded the USDA RUS Distance Learning Grant, totaling $466,686.
Last week District Superintendent Lynda Quick, Esq. learned that Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES has been awarded a grant for $466,686 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The grant, known as the Rural Utility Service (RUS) Distance Learning grant, will be implemented by Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES and eleven area school districts to upgrade video conferencing equipment and other technologies.
The equipment upgrades will provide all three Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES Career and Technical Education (CTE) Centers, as well as Belfast, Bolivar-Richburg, Cuba-Rushford, Franklinville, Friendship, Genesee Valley, Hinsdale, Olean, Salamanca, Scio, and Wellsville Central School Districts, with new portable, high definition video conference capabilities that schools will use to provide students and teachers with a variety of distance learning opportunities including videoconference courses, virtual field trip experiences, and expanded access to nanotechnology capabilities.
This is not the first USDA RUS Distance Learning grant received by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES and component school districts. The Distance Learning Team at CA BOCES has been applying for and receiving RUS grants since 1997, resulting in eight previous awards and millions of dollars in equipment for our schools.
“Over the years, USDA funding has built a virtual school in our region," stated Lynda Quick. Over forty virtual classes connect via video conference every single day, allowing schools to share the instructional expertise of their outstanding faculty members. Additionally, hundreds of students to take other online courses because of this funding. These virtual courses are critical in expanding offerings in small rural schools that, over time, have been stripped of the ability to offer many (or any) AP, college credit, or elective courses to their students.
Lynda Quick also shared, "This award helps put a dent in leveling the playing field. It helps our students build a transcript that can be competitive in the post-secondary arena." Grant implementation will begin immediately.
The ROBOTC for VEX training at Pioneer High School was led by Jesse Flot, a Research Programmer & Senior Software Engineer for the Robotics Academy at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and Josh Jarvis, the lead developer for CMUs CS-STEM Network. In attendance were nearly thirty participants from various districts across the region (Allegany-Limestone CSC, Andover CSD, Belfast CSD, Bolivar-Richburg CSD, CA-BOCES Belmont CTE, CA-BOCES ISS, CA-BOCES ISS, Cattaraugus-Little Valley CSD, Cuba-Rushford CSD, Ellicottville CSD, Franklinville CSD, Fillmore CSD, Genesee Valley CSD, Hinsdale CSD, Pioneer CSD, Salamanca City SD, Scio CSD, and Whitesville CSD).
What is a robot, and what can we can we teach with it? These were the first two questions that Jesse Flot used to open the ROBOTC for VEX training. The first question is fairly direct: what is a robot? Perhaps you define a robot as something like Wall-E, or maybe to you a robot is Arnold Schwarzenegger from the Terminator. The definition is as simple as SPA: a robot is a device that has the ability to sense, plan, and act. What can we teach with a robot? This second question is more difficult to answer unless we first reflect on how we teach rather than the content of our teaching.
When teaching Algebra 1, my students would struggle with the concept of completing the square to rewrite quadratic expressions. Rather than using the skill of completing the square as a tool to accomplish a goal, I made the skill the learning goal; ultimately, it was not until I provided students with the necessary tools and shift my focus (using GeoGebra) that they were able to better understand the process of completing the square, how to use it, and when to use it. Similarly, “project-based learning (PBL) involves learning through projects rather than just doing projects,” says John Spencer. In other words, the goal of PBL is to focus on the learning process rather than a culminating project. Jesse explained what can be taught with robotics in the same way; he said, “the Robotics Academy at CMU uses robotics as a tool to teach programming; however, you can use robots to teach many other subjects and skills such as mathematics, physics, communication, teamwork, and time management.”
With these questions answered and an understanding that the VEX robots were a tool used to help teach programming, Jesse and Josh led participants through two days of hands-on training with the programming of ROBOTC as well as the hardware of VEX robots. Participants explored intuitive and basic commands using the block coding features of ROBOTC in conjunction with the physical features of the VEX robot the first day, and on day two, participants made the progression to virtual reality with Robot Virtual World software (RVW) and explored how the text commands of ROBOTC differ from its block coding commands.
In addition to Jesse’s 16 years of experience at CMU (12 of which being in professional development), the Robotics Academy’s research-based practices helped guide the hybrid training model. From anticipating participant questions to providing examples of student questions that participants should anticipate, Jesse and Josh led participants through a highly productive two days of learning. Jesse and Josh will continue this hybrid training online from mid-February through March in which participants will gain additional knowledge of the ROBOTC language, continue to track their progress with CMUs learning management system, and explore additional features of VEX robotics.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Over 300 school librarians converged in Buffalo May 4-6, 2017 to attend the state’s annual school librarians conference. Thirty-nine vendors were available to discuss databases, continuing education programs, cataloging systems, and books that support learning standards as well as popular fiction. Co-chaired by Pioneer school librarians Maria Muhlbauer and Tina Pierce, this year’s theme Make. Learn. Inspire. was a hit!
Make. Learn. Inspire. offered professional development workshops specific to the needs of the school librarian. Keynote speaker Gene Luen Yang, a former high school teacher, has been a recipient of several national book awards. Yang’s engaging style, peppered with humor, brought attention to using comics in education and the importance of representing diversity through the comics medium. Yang’s message was fitting in that it supports the current initiative by CA BOCES’ Brendan Keiser and Cece Fuoco in building graphic novel kits for classroom use next school year.
Thirty-six workshops were made available including“Fostering Civic Engagement Through Archival Research”, “The Differentiated Makerspace”, “Sensory Storytime”, “Game Design”, and “Genrefying Your Library”. One workshop held by Scio librarian, Mary Zdrojewski, had a packed room of 75 attendees who came to learn about using a Breakout Box to teach library skills. Bolivar-Richburg librarian, Karen Fox, (see photo) presented to over 50 attendees on “21st Century Toolbox for the School Librarian”. Fox capitalized on skills she learned as an employee of Apple and Starbucks to streamline the process for managing her library resources and tracking students.
Librarians also enjoyed hearing CA BOCES’ S.T.E.M. coordinator, Clay Nolan discuss using common fiction stories to create S.T.E.M. activities to support ELA standards. After introducing the book Timing Races: Measuring Time by Dianne Irving, Nolan challenged participants with Zometools to create an object that could spin and outlast others (see photo). It was a fun activity and participants’ phones were busy capturing the learning and competition taking place.
Returning to their schools across the state, librarians left inspired to make new learning opportunities for students.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
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
Tenth graders from Andover, Belfast, Bolivar-Richburg, Cuba-Rushford, Fillmore, Portville, Scio, and Wellsville explored careers at Alfred State College. Over 40 businesses shared about careers in Allegany County. Student spent the day answering the question, "What's my next step?"
TheatreWorksUSA’s talented cast performed, Miss Nelson Is Missing, based on the book series by Harry Allard this week. More than 1700 second and third graders from schools across Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties learned valuable lessons for school and life. The rowdy students and the witchy substitute teacher, Miss Viola Swamp, sang and danced their way through the school day. The engaging cast even asked the student audience for help in trying to figure out how to get Miss Nelson back to school.
Bolivar-Richburg, Franklinville and Arcade Elementary opened their auditoriums to host these performances. Teachers prepared their students well by utilizing the classroom activities provided by TheatreWorks USA. The pre and post show teaching tools supplement the teachers’ curriculum goals.
Miss Nelson Is Missing marked the fourth performance of the school year contracted by BOCES. BOCES Arts-In-Education helps schools enrich the lives of their students by providing opportunities to experience the performing arts. TheatreWorks USA is a professional acting company based out of New York City. It is America’s largest and most prolific professional theatre for young audiences.
For more information about bringing TheatreWorks shows to your area, contact Student Programs at 716-376-8284.
By: Jean OIiverio, CA BOCES Student Programs
Online learning has had a twenty-one percent increase in enrollment numbers since 2014 alone. The distance learning team at CA BOCES has been busy traveling to many districts helping students with their online classes. The most popular courses this year are Computer Science, Psychology, Sociology, Veterinary Science, Criminology, Game Design, German, Creative Writing, Engineering Design, Introduction to Entrepreneurship, Law and Order, and Personal Finance. Although these are the most popular, students are also learning about astronomy, sports marketing, digital art, 3D Modeling and animation, world religions, mythology and folklore, social problems facing the world, and many other diverse and remarkable things.
Every year the online enrollment numbers seem to increase due to students’ curiosity shifting and job markets broadening the skills required for employment. Students say that online courses give them a chance to try out many things that aren’t offered in their districts. As juniors try to determine where their enthusiasm lies for future college degrees, they use online courses to test out content areas and to deepen their skills in areas they are already passionate about.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Q: What do you get when you combine one Makey Makey kit, an innovative media specialist, and a dynamic music teacher with a 6th grade class?
A: Sweet, sweet music!
Karen Cawley, media specialist for Bolivar-Richburg was awarded a grant earlier this year from the CA Teacher Center. Included in the grant were ten Makey Makey kits. Along with attending CA BOCES Educating STEM series, Cawley had an idea. What if we brought in a non-traditional class to collaborate? This is when she decided to approach Jen Berg, Music teacher for Bolivar-Richburg, in using the Makey Makey kits. Together they wrote a unit that was STEAM based.
After studying Gregorian chants and musical theory and composition including note reading, Berg and her 6th grade music class wrote their own musical compositions. Next, they built their own instruments out of everyday “found” materials. Students found themselves deeply engaged in creating and executing their music using web based applications. These projects and materials are also offered to study halls in the media center for all students to explore and create. The object is to put as many materials into as many students’ hands as possible!
Cawley stated that for the future we are looking at now collaborating with our ELA, and science teachers. Walking away from the Educating STEM series with hummingbird kits and other resources is an integral part to successful implementation within our building. The creation of a STEM club is also not out of the question for next year.
By: Jen Pangborn, CA BOCES and Bolivar-Richburg Central School
Christy Crandall-Bean is the guidance counselor at Bolivar-Richburg and has expressed many times that she believes online learning provides opportunities and flexibility that students may not otherwise have in a typical classroom. She sat down and talked to me about the online program that has been going on for about 3 years. “We tend to use the online classes for credit recovery and to expand on electives and very particular courses that we don’t offer here if students have special interests and things like that.”
This year there are four students at Bolivar-Richburg taking classes through Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES and online providers, including FuelEd and Edgenuity. All four students have very different reasons for taking online classes. Meghan wanted to try out environmental science before committing to it as a major in college. After taking the course for a number of weeks, Meghan decided to make her course a half credit and go in a different direction for her educational plan, but the online class gave her the opportunity to try out her options. She was able to assess what she might encounter and make an informed decision about her future career plan.
Another student needed a credit recovery option and is taking her course online, getting the credit she needs by working on it during what would normally be a study hall. Dedicated teachers, both online and at her school, offer assistance with difficult material. Material that the student already understands is reviewed and if she passes a quiz, she doesn’t have to spend more time on material she already knows.
Two students are taking Creative Writing, a course that has been offered in the past at Bolivar-Richburg, but didn’t have enough student interest this year to offer it. The online option gave those students an opportunity to take the course anyway. Bella is taking Creative Writing because she wants to be a teacher. When I asked her to tell me about her course, she said, “it definitely helped me progress through my writing because it helps me self edit and make it more complete before I send it to other people.” Bella’s favorite thing about her course was peer review and interacting with other students. “They just helped by encouraging you of what you can do better and things you can change to help your writing. You get to comment on their stuff and you can kind of talk back and forth about writing that everyone gets to see.
Tim is taking Creative Writing because he enjoys writing on his own time. Through the course, he found ways to publish his work through Teen Ink, an online student journal. Tim has published numerous poems and short stories on Teen Ink and was proud to tell me that “Brown Colored Pit Bull” was voted 4th for a week in best realistic fiction by his peers.
I asked Christy Crandall-Bean if she had any concerns about online courses and she told me, “I guess my main concern is just when teachers are leery of it and fearful that it will impact day-to-day teaching. That’s not our intention; it’s really to open up more possibilities.” Christy went on to talk about her wishes for the online program. “In my dream world, I would love for each one of my students to have to take an online class before they graduate. Because then they get used to that netiquette and communicating with their teachers online appropriately and I think that just a huge piece as well, not just the content, but maneuvering all the software and everything.” Most importantly, the students like the courses they’re taking. When I asked Bella if she would take another online course, she said without hesitation, “Definitely.”
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES
Jennifer Pangborn is an Instructional Staff Specialist for CA BOCES and the K-12 Curriculum Coordinator for Bolivar-Richburg Central School. Having been in education for 13 years, Jennifer has taught every grade K-8 including technology, RtI, and special education. Having served as a teacher consultant and curriculum writer for Frederick County Public Schools, MD has provided an array of experiences leading to a 2010 Who’s Who Women in Education, and 2011 Master Teacher Award for Frederick County.
Deciding to pursue a Master’s in Educational Leadership was a natural next step in continuing a career during this critical third wave of educational reform. Returning back to the WNY area in 2013, having the experience from the number one district in the state of Maryland, she is ready to lead schools through the change process and continues to empower teachers and students. Her passion lies in numbers- data; something every school has. Combined with a passion for leading administrators, and inspiring teachers in this collaborative process, increasing student achievement in our area is her goal.
Photos: NASA and Bolivar-Richburg Central School
What's out there in space? How do we get there? How do you live in space? These are some of the questions that were answered for Bolivar-Richburg Elementary students. Over 300 elementary students and teachers were invited to a Virtual Field Trip Showcase event that took place in their school on Friday, March 28, 2014. Each grade had the opportunity to have the world brought to their classroom through Distance Learning. Students sat patiently as Scientists, Firefighters, and Museum experts talked with the students about space, habitats, building communities, and fire safety.
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.