As the school year drew to a close, most teachers across NYS would welcome the end of June in a fashion indicative of rest and relaxation, particularly after the tumultuous 2020-2021 academic year. However, the end of June for many teachers in the Salamanca School District was one focused on professional development and personal growth. Various teachers from the Salamanca School District spent the end of June discovering the aspects of personalized and blended learning, delving into their current instruction practices to reflect on their forms of instruction, and designing personalized learning experiences for their grade level and content areas that can be used with their students next school year. This was certainly a contrast to many other educators across the state and a way for them to take a personal approach towards student achievement.
Participating teachers were first led in examining the aspects of personalized, student-centered learning and were introduced to ways in which student choice and personalized learning can be tailored to student interests and needs. They explored ways to create a classroom environment and structure that gives students ownership over their learning, and how to leverage technology in a blended environment to promote student achievement through interests, choice, and adaptation of tasks. They spent time reflecting on current instructional practices, looking for ways to incorporate a blended and personalized approach into their current instructional model, and worked to construct resources aligned to those principles.
Through exploration of the various methods and materials used for instruction and assessment, teachers worked to create resources that would assist their students as they travel down their individualized learning path during the upcoming school year. Depending on grade level, content area, and achievement objectives, teachers would work with various models and methods they had learned about to create a personal learning experience for their students.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
The Common Core asks students to read stories and literature, as well as more complex texts that provide facts and background knowledge in areas such as science and social studies. In doing so, students are challenged and asked questions that push them to refer back to what they’ve read. This stresses critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills that are required for success in college, career, and life.
To aid in this initiative, Learning Resources has put new Focus Readers on the shelves. These new nonfiction readers have captivating topics, accessible text, and vibrant visuals to motivate young readers in grades K through 7. Focus Readers books combine the best elements of library books and classroom materials.
We have over 600 texts to choose from with varying reading and interest levels. For every title, we have hard copies of lesson plans, curriculum standards, and quizzes. Additionally, teachers can visit focusreaders.com for educator resources, including online lesson plans, curriculum correlations, resource links, and book-related downloadables.
LET’S BOOK SOME KITS!!!! Go to our resources page here to look at the new kits, older kits, and streaming resources. Keep checking back as we keep adding more items to assist teachers in their craft and students in their learning.
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
It is always great when you can simply walk into your backyard and find amazing things…well 3rd grade students at Bolivar-Richburg were able to use an amazing resource right in our backyard…the Pfeiffer Nature Center located in Portville.
Pfeiffer Nature Center is home to more than 676 acres of nature’s bounty. Here you will find miles of open-access hiking trails, a historic American Chestnut log cabin, great birding areas, a picturesque pavilion available for rent, and so much more!
Students were able to explore an assortment of activities throughout the day. Those activities included observing a vernal pond and learning about the creatures that are found there, investigating fossils, discussing bird migration, and going on a nature hike through the well-maintained trails and stopping along to way to learn about the flora and fauna.
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
Resilience CAN be taught… and it IS being taught right here in our region! Many educators were intrigued and inspired to learn more about teaching resilience after hearing author and speaker Christian Moore at different events throughout the last school year. As he does in his book, The Resilience Breakthrough, Moore shared his own personal story of resilience and his journey of overcoming obstacles throughout his life, especially in childhood and education and how this led to the development of the social emotional learning approach that focuses on teaching resilience, Why Try.
WhyTry was created to provide simple, hands-on solutions for dropout prevention, violence prevention, truancy reduction and increased academic success and has grown into a unique method for teaching social and emotional skills in a variety of settings. The curriculum consists of ten visual analogies that are reinforced creatively, through a set of activities that provide choices and engage each of the major learning styles. WhyTry is versatile and has proven to be a successful approach with students age 6 through 18, can be delivered individually, in small groups or with an entire class, and across multiple settings.
Thanks to the grant funded TRLE professional learning series, educators from across the greater WNY region have begun accessing opportunities to become trained facilitators in WhyTry. All educators are welcome and encouraged to join us for one of the two remaining webinar training sessions (July or August). All training and curriculum costs are covered through the TRLE grant and offered at no additional cost to the participant or their district.
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools
New York State has provided funding for teachers and administrators to participate in a variety of professional development opportunities free of charge through the TRLE grant. CA BOCES has partnered with our regional Joint Management Team (JMT) of Erie 1 BOCES, Erie 2 BOCES and Orleans Niagara BOCES to provide resources and opportunities in the following six areas: Culturally Responsive Teaching, English Language Learners, Families as Partners, Remote and Hybrid Teaching, Social Emotional Learning and Students with Disabilities. Different focus areas offer a collection of resources that can be used this summer by educators to strengthen and deepen learning experiences for students in the coming school year.
Resources and professional development opportunities can be found on this website: https://sites.google.com/e1b.org/rethinkwny/home?authuser=0
Let's take the best learning experiences from this school year and make them better for next year!
By: Karen Insley, CA BOCES Learning Resources
As the timeline for roll-out and implementation of the New York State Computer Science and Digital Fluency Learning Standards draws nearer and nearer to the first-year implementation phase, there are several resources that are worth considering to help both staff instruct and students demonstrate proficiency with these standards.
Google Applied Digital Skills
I know, I know. The first section in a Microsoft-themed article dealing with Google seems misleading. This is only one of two non-Microsoft sections, and I saved the other for last. I promise. I felt obligated to open with Google’s resource since it has been available for a little while longer, and more people are familiar with it.
Google Applied Digital Skills provides over 100 lessons for users to access with their EDU or personal Google account(s) ranging from everyday use of products like Docs and Slides to business use developing financial literacy or creating resumés.
Microsoft Digital Literacy
Microsoft Digital Literacy is for anyone with basic reading skills who wants to learn the fundamentals of using digital technologies. Resources can be downloaded in a variety of languages at the bottom of the Microsoft Digital Literacy webpage or they can be accessed by working through the online courses Working with Computers and Devices and Working and Collaborating Online through LinkedIn (no account necessary).
Microsoft Learn is a free, online training platform that provides interactive learning for Microsoft products and more. Microsoft’s goal is to help you become proficient on their technologies and learn more skills with fun, guided, hands-on, interactive content that's specific to your role and goals. Additionally, as students and staff sign in with their Microsoft 365 accounts, they are able to track their progress, collecting experience and bages along the way. (This is similar to the Microsoft Educator Center but contains additional resources and learning pathways for uses beyond the role of an educator.)
Microsoft Imagine Academy
Microsoft Imagine Academy is one of Microsoft’s newer education releases that should have educators, especially those explicitly teaching computer science and digital fluency, very excited. District Microsoft 365 administrators can get the ball rolling when licensing agreements are renewed using the Microsoft Imagine Academy Quick Start site.
Carnegie Mellon University’s Computer Science Academy
CMU CS Academy is an online, graphics-based computer science curriculum taught in Python provided by Carnegie Mellon University. We create novel, world-class Computer Science education for your classroom —and it’s entirely free. WIthout signing up or creating accounts, students and staff can access CMU CS Academy’s Hour of Code module to get a glimpse of what the coursework resembles through CS Academy.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
During the 2020-2021 school year, West Valley CSD received S.T.E.M. resources through the Eisenhower Math and Science State Grant Program. Ryan McGinnis, Curriculum and Professional Development Coordinator, provided a virtual training on how to use Piper kits, Root Robots, Spike Lego kits, and Microbits. School librarian Jody Thiel is a proponent of incorporating S.T.E.M. into library programming, and using Microbits and one module of five easy-to-use lesson plans (offered through BBC micro:bit), Thiel’s 5th grade students practiced computational thinking and strengthened literacy skills.
Literacy has evolved over time and presently requires “using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge” (Kirsch & Jungeblut, 1986, as cited in Dewitz, Graves, Graves, & Juel, 2020). In preparation for Thiel’s Microbits activity students learned what data is, how it may be classified, and identified how it might be used. For example, what personal data is important for a doctor or school to request versus GameStop ® or someone online. Students practiced literacy skills by writing algorithms, coding, and creating a computerized personal assistant who advises on weather appropriate outerwear.
Dewitz, P., Graves, M. F., Graves, B. B., & Juel, C. (2020). Teaching reading in the 21st
century: Motivating all learners (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Pearson.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Although it’s been a trying year for most students and teachers, there have been quite a few interesting activities at Friendship Central School. Here are a few:
Tech Thursday Spotlight Students: Alaric and Gavin Magnani are among the next generation of skilled welders from the BOCES Welding Program. More than that, they are always willing to help others succeed as well. Recently, the brothers have taken Morghyn Ross, under their wings. Morghyn is a 7th grade student who has been working on a welding project in the shop. Alaric and Gavin have been giving Morghyn some pointers to help her become a better welder. Morghyn has been stepping out of her comfort zone to learn new skills. Great job Alaric, Gavin and Morghyn!
As an incentive to be online during remote instruction each of the Middle School and High School student were given duct tape determined by the number of hours they connected via Zoom. The students then had the opportunity to come down in the middle of January to duct tape the principal, Chris Cornwell and the Superintendent, Judy May to the wall. The elementary had a similar incentive to throw snowballs (marshmallows) at certain faculty and admin.
The 4th graders completed their simple machine projects again this year with quite a few interesting machines created for Mrs. Crabb and Mrs. Costello’s class.
Lastly, the Middle School and High School students in Tech class created trebuchet’s where they had a contest to see who could shoot the marshmallow to a target. The students earned points for hitting the board, going through the bigger hole near the bottom and even more for shooting the marshmallow into the smaller hole near the top.
By: Mark Carls, CA BOCES Professional Development
Student Programs inspires creative problem-solving, teamwork, deep thinking, and resilience. This year, more than ever, students, coaches, and the Student Programs team were challenged to apply these traits to achieve the impossible, virtually.
While some regions chose to cancel student competitions this year, CABOCES reimagined them all as virtual events. Despite countless obstacles, innovative teams found ways to participate and excel, thanks to supportive administration and dedicated coaches who were willing to take a risk. Coaches, students, and judges faced a steep learning curve of mastering the complicated new format of virtual competitions. The Student Programs team would like to recognize some highlights of the 2020-2021 CABOCES Regional Student Competitions.
Scholastic Challenge (November 2020)
At the uncertain start of the school year, nine districts came together, virtually, and formed a total of 21 teams. Ellicottville Central School, coached by Ann Chamberlain and Chris Edwards, won 1st place honors in both the Junior and Senior divisions.
Odyssey of the Mind Multi-Regional Tournament (March 2021)
Allegany-Limestone Elementary School took a risk by joining Odyssey of the Mind for the first time. Starting a new membership is impressive in a year that caused many established memberships to drop due to the obvious obstacles. Kimberly Voegelin’s Problem 5 Division 1 team received Region 19’s OMER Award and ended up in 5th place in the New York State Tournament. Congratulations on establishing a new membership and Division 1 team.
Bolivar-Richburg Central School’s Problem 5 Division 1 team, coached by Carol McClellan, earned a 4th place finish in New York State. Also, Margaret Werner’s Problem 5 Division 2 team earned an impressive 1st place in the Spontaneous portion of the state competition.
Seneca Intermediate (Salamanca) School’s Problem 4 Division 2, coached by Janette McClure and Brenda Windus, earned a 3rd place finish in New York State. Despite the pandemic, they remarkably built a balsa wood structure that held a weight of 202 pounds. They are currently competing in the 2021 Odyssey of the Mind Virtual World Finals along with 873 teams from all over the world.
NASEF (eSports) NYS Tournament: Rocket League (6-week season and playoffs; March-April 2021)
A pandemic school year might be the best AND worst time to launch a new Student Programs event. Congratulations to two school districts that led the way and were successful in their first eSports season.
Cuba-Rushford Central School’s eSports team competed in the NASEF Rocket League tournament and finished as NYS Finalists and 12th place nationally. The team consisted of all Seniors who played on school computers located in the library. Thank you and congratulations to Cuba-Rushford’s Jay Morris who served as General Manager.
Salamanca City School fielded two Warrior eSports teams and they ended the regular season ranked in 4th and 15th place. Salamanca eSports is fully funded and recognized by the Salamanca Board of Education as a Varsity Sport, with all the benefits and academic responsibilities that come with that designation. Congratulations to the Warrior’s General Managers Justin Schapp, Aaron Straus, and Kim Dry.
VEX Robotics Skills Challenge (February 2021) and FIRST Lego League Championship Event (April 2021)
Building a robot in a normal year is difficult. Building a robot during a pandemic, with school closures and quarantines, sounds impossible. Yet, one school district found a way to field four VEX teams, coached by Dave Taylor, and four Lego League teams, coached by Dawn Wardner.
Franklinville Central School’s teams worked hard and engineered an impressive season. Collectively, the VEX teams earned the Design Award, the Robot Skills 2nd Place Award, and the Robot Skills Champion Award at the CABOCES Skills Challenge in February and, all four teams advanced to the Northern NYS Finals in April.
Additionally, one of Dawn Wardner’s Lego League teams scored in 5th place in the robot matches at the New York State Championship Event.
Now is the time to plan to join the fun in the 2021-2022 school year!
Follow this link https://caboces.org/services/student-programs/extra-curricular-activities/ as next year’s events will be published here as soon as they are confirmed. Contact email@example.com for more information.
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES Student Programs
Three on-demand virtual opportunities are available to all school districts in the Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES region. Whether districts intend to incorporate them into their lesson plans and curriculum or enjoy them as fun, virtual ‘end of the year’ field trips, ArtsPower Theatre on Demand, the BPO’s Music for Youth Education Hub, and Dave Ruch’s Engagement Library are ideal resources for classroom teachers, librarians, as well as art, music, and physical education teachers.
In addition, educators can contact Cece Fuoco (Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces.org) or Cathy Dunkleman (Catherine_Dunkleman@caboces.org) at Learning Resources to check out supplementary books from the professional library or Interlibrary loan.
ArtsPower Theatre On Demand virtually brings core curriculum-based, multiple-lesson courses built around musical theatre productions. Designed to promote learning in the performing arts, language arts, and character education, these full-length (55 minutes) musicals are based on the following popular children’s books. So far, 42 regional educators have used these resources.
· Chicken Dance (PreK-Grade 2)
· The Monster Who Ate My Peas (PreK-Grade 2)
· From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (Grades 3-6)
· Anne of Green Gables (Grades 3-6)
https://bpo.org/music-for-youth-hub/ Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s Music for Youth Education Hub offers unlimited viewing opportunities of videos that feature the BPO with special guest artists recorded in Kleinhan’s Music Hall. The content is geared for grades K-12 and is divided into five thematic units, each including suggested lesson plans to enrich the viewing experience.
So far, seventeen school districts in Allegany and Cattaraugus counties have accessed the Hub and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
This year the most popular videos have been:
https://daveruch.com/the-engagement-library/ Dave Ruch’s program is a Netflix-like service featuring 49 pre-recorded assembly programs in arts-in-education for grades PreK-8. Also, at your request and convenience, a private online concert by Dave Ruch is available for your school!
Access the Engagement Library at https://daveruch.vids.io/, use AinE@caboces.org as the login email, and caboces as the password.
This year the most popular videos have been:
CoSer 403 information is available at https://caboces.org/services/student-programs/arts-in-education-and-exploratory-enrichment/. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in finding out more about these resources.
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES Student Programs
Conversations centered on healing from the Covid-19 pandemic have taken center stage in many educator circles. All learners have had to figure out how to come back together after a lengthy separation. Learning spaces look very different as social distancing measures are practiced. Even though spaces look different, students and teachers are finding ways to create classroom community and bring healing to families through learning.
Finding healing through learning develops resilience and healthy communities. Research shows that humans learn best through times of engagement and times of rest. This holds true for adults and children. This rhythm is also vital for creativity and curiosity. Combining creativity and curiosity through engagement allows children to chase after their dreams of becoming literate. Literate children flourish and create healthy communities.
One example of this can be seen at Friendship Central School. Students, faculty, staff, parents, and community workers engaged in a community reading of the book The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, throughout the month of March 2021. Partnering with Read to Them, the school participated in the One School, One Book program. Children and families created several projects that showed their understanding of the book. Staff frequently participated by reading aloud to students. Middle school students completed project showcases while high school students competed in a door-decorating contest. The excitement throughout the building and the community lifted spirits and opened spaces for unity among the Friendship Community.
By: Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development
Continuing our push to create more relevant and timely resources, we are putting many more kits on the booking system. The kits we created in January have been flying out of the warehouse and we are doing our best to keep up with the demand. We have several areas of need on which we are focusing, including play-based learning, social emotional learning, movement and balance, and fairy tales.
For play-based learning, we’ve added Magna-Tiles (teaching spatial relationships, math, logic, and problem-solving through creative building), foam “wooden” lumber pieces, multi-cultural block play family sets, and friends with diverse abilities posable play sets.
Social Emotional Learning kits are working their way onto our warehouse shelves. We’ve started by adding Grab and Write SEL Prompts for Grades K-2, and 3-5. Great for daily writing or group conversations, the cards cover topics such as friendship & teamwork, self-control and more.
For movement and balance, River Stones are now available. They are designed to improve coordination and balance. Jumping or stepping from stone to stone develops a child's confidence in their ability to judge distances and are a great sensory and gross motor activity. We also now have scarves and ribbons movement sets.
Creating a bridge between STEM and ELA, Fairy Tales Problem Solving Kits are available to book, including Rapunzel, The Gingerbread Man, and Little Red Riding Hood. In addition, we have the Happy Architect Fairy Tales kit, wherein creative play and storytelling are all rolled into a beautiful set of wooden toys.
LET’S BOOK SOME KITS!!!! Go to our resources page here to look at the new kits, older kits, and streaming resources. Keep checking back as we add more items to assist teachers in their craft and students in their learning.
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
The current school year can be considered anything but traditional and causes some to look forward to a time when things can go back to ‘normal’. Others see the current situation and departure from ‘normal’ as a way to continue personal growth and development regardless of the situation and demonstrate the ability to be innovative and responsive to any situation. One such individual is Andover High School Social Studies teacher Harold Brown. Having lived what some would consider a non-traditional life, Mr. Brown is well prepared to face challenges head on and accomplish the mission of educating his students regardless of the time, place, setting, or circumstances.
The ability to both recognize and respond to present situations is a hallmark of being able to succeed, and Mr. Brown possesses this ability in abundance. Maybe the awareness to positively respond and be dedicated to improvement is the result of the experiences he has had during his life. Growing up in a military family and contributing twenty years of his own life to military service, combined with almost two decades of teaching in both parochial and public schools, have enabled Mr. Brown to understand what it takes to adapt to situations and continue to push towards a clear objective. Regardless of where his experiences have come from, they have equipped him to be prepared for the current state of education today. His continual desire for personal learning and his attendance of multiple professional development opportunities are indicative of the growth mindset and the thirst for knowledge that Mr. Brown possesses and works each day to instill in his students. His teaching style is a true manifestation of his personal belief that one should go into education to enjoy the subject matter and his passion for history is easily recognized and displayed throughout his classroom. His willingness to learn things has been evident this year as he has worked to adapt his instruction in many ways, whether it be incorporating the use of Breakout rooms or using communication and chat platforms to keep his students learning and engaged. No matter the application or format he is, always seeking ways to help his students develop their skills while connecting to the content.
While this year has been anything but typical and has been subjected to so much change and expression of opposing viewpoints on multiple topics, the focus Mr. Brown has on preparing students for achievement and increasing their learning has not changed and remains a constant regardless of instructional model or format. This year may be viewed as a blessing since it has provided so much material and sources that can be examined for reliability, bias, and propaganda and given Mr. Brown the opportunity to be innovative and utilize various technologies to showcase to students the many aspects of the world in which they live. For a social studies teacher there is no better situation and circumstances than those which polarize our society providing opportunities to present students with the chance to learn the most desirable and pursued objective of Mr. Brown, for students to think for themselves!
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Do you teach 4th-12th graders that struggle to meet the reading and writing demands in your classroom?
“Adolescent literacy encompasses the skills that must be taught to all students so they can meet increasingly challenging reading and writing demands as they move through the upper grades (i.e., comprehension, vocabulary, writing skills), as well as what needs to be done for those students who fall behind who may need intervention instruction in foundational literacy skills (i.e., decoding and fluency).” https://keystoliteracy.com/blog/adolescent-literacy/
Click on the links below to find strategies that can be used across content areas:
● Build Background Knowledge-○ http://www.adlit.org/article/19865/
“Background knowledge is essential to the comprehension of more difficult text, and reading easy nonfiction that explains the critical concepts is an ideal way to expose all students to the essential background knowledge they need to understand their textbooks.” http://www.adlit.org/article/19865/
● Explicit Vocabulary Instruction-
“...researchers argue that the most common approach to teaching vocabulary — providing students with a word list on Monday then quizzing them on Friday — doesn't work. Kids don't really learn and remember words unless they see them many times in print, use them many times in their classroom discussions and written texts, and continue to see, hear, and use them subsequently.” http://www.adlit.org/adlit_101/improving_literacy_instruction_in_your_school/vocabulary/
● Discussion Protocols-
“Research demonstrates that oral communication in the classroom is an important precursor to both reading fluency and comprehension, yet it is often neglected in secondary schools (Horowitz, 2007). According to classroom observational studies, students are often silent in class (Nystrand&Duffy,2003). http://www.adlit.org/adlit_101/improving_literacy_instruction_in_your_school/vocabulary/
● Choral Reading-
“Some research has begun to show that fluency building—and by extension lessons and strategies for prosody, including choral reading—are also effective with high school students (e.g., Kuhn & Schwanenflugel, 2019; Paige et al., 2012; Rasinski et al., 2005).”https://www.timrasinski.com/presentations/Choral_Reading_Prosody_Secondary_Classroom.pdf
For additional strategies or questions, please reach out to email@example.com
By: Jessica Rose, CA BOCES Professional Development
At the sudden onset of school closures, in March of 2020, as fundamental changes in our education systems were taking place, partnerships with families, parents and caregivers shifted into unprecedented territory. Parents and caregivers, quickly stepped into the role of teacher, counselor, mediator, coach, to name a few, however, above all else, they stepped into the role of an essential partner with their child’s school district. Engaging parents became a top priority for schools across the nation, and around the world.
For the first time, parents had a front row seat in their child(ren)’s classroom. Establishing and engaging relationships with parents, was no longer an option, it was a necessity. Parents were feeling vulnerable, teachers were feeling vulnerable, many, were uncomfortable in their new and necessary partnership. The discomfort, uncertainty and vulnerability proved to be the perfect recipe for new opportunities. One of the opportunities, included a new regional model of parent/caregiver support and education, now known as “Parent University.”
Parent University was intentionally designed with stakeholders across the region to align the needs of parents and caregivers, as well as those of our regional school districts. Collaborative leadership has been a guiding force throughout the process of drafting developing, revising and implementing Parent University. The Community Schools Advisory Committee spent months creating and revising a model that would provide a resource for school districts to offer to the parents and caregivers within their respective communities. In addition, many regional educators, community partners and local universities have come forward as partners in leading and facilitating monthly sessions.
The model is set up as a series of monthly, 1-hour sessions in the evening, via zoom. Sessions began in January of 2021, and will run through June, as the school year comes to an end. To date, there have been three sessions, with each passing month the participant registration and participation has steadily grown. Participants have included regional educators & administrators, parents, grandparents, foster parents and community partners.
If your district is interested in sharing this resource with their community or looking to expand on their own family engagement initiatives, please feel free to reach out the Community Schools Coordinator, Katie Mendell, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools
In my October 2020 blog post I shared in detail about the Question Formulation Technique (QFT), a process that can greatly improve your student's ability to ask more, high quality questions. The QFT is simply one way to help engage students more deeply and tap into their natural, intrinsic curiosity. A stunning fact about students and asking questions is that the average preschooler can ask 400-500 questions per day while the average high school student asks only 1-2. This begs the questions, what happens to a student's curiosity as they go through school? Shouldn’t school be highly engaging and spark a student's interest resulting in them becoming more curious about the world around them? Why then do students ask significantly fewer questions, a sign of curiosity, as they age?
Every student possesses an intrinsic curiosity that fuels their desire to learn. As educators, it is our job to help tap into that curiosity in order to give our students the most meaningful educational experience possible. When students in our class seem uninterested, unmotivated, or fail to complete work because they just don’t feel like it, that is our cue that whatever we are currently doing instructionally is not working for these students. Instead of casting blame on the student and labeling them as lazy, we should aim to design more meaningful instruction, one that aims to engage students more.
For students to be engaged in our classrooms on a cognitive level, students must first be engaged on an emotional (sometimes referred to as “affective”) and behavioral level. In other words, students must feel as if their needs outside of the classroom have been met before they are capable of fully engaging in their academics. Building relationships and trust with our students is as critical in classroom instruction as is developing and consistently maintaining our classroom rules and procedures.
A bonus of the relationship building process is getting to know about our students interests and how they can be applied in our classroom instruction. Incorporating student interests in our daily instruction is a proven way of increasing student engagement levels in the classroom. For instance, when we know our students participate in certain sports, we can incorporate statistics from these sports into a math or science lesson. Or if a student participates in some civic engagement club or afterschool activity, we can incorporate their experiences into a writing task. These sorts of tasks also provide opportunities to give students a more “real-world” experience. When students feel as if the lesson has been catered to their interests, they’re more likely to participate.
Don’t fear taking the necessary time to develop and maintain relationships with your students. Due to the demands of state assessments and the sheer volume of content expected, some find it difficult to devote the appropriate amount of time to this task. Rest assured, building relationships with your students can only get more instructional time back as the year progresses as when these relationships are prioritized, less classroom interruptions will occur. When relationships are not firmly established, you can expect more interruptions, leading to a loss in precious instructional time.
Take the time to work on student-teacher relationships, you’ll gain more instructional time, learn important information about them to include in your instruction, and you’ll increase their overall engagement.
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Professional Development
If you were to look back and reflect upon the last two school years, then I think you would likely fall into the vast majority of people who say, “this is not what I thought being an educator would look like.” I think this is especially true for teachers and aides and all others who have entered the world of publication for the first time these last two school years.
Things are different. Some things better, some worse, and some remain the same. Regardless of the circumstance, we have found ourselves in a position to reevaluate what we are doing in public education and why it should (or shouldn’t) be so.
Consider the original approach to the onset of the pandemic in the United States. Regional educators as well as the professional learning networks (PLNs) on Twitter immediately took to making connections and practical applications to real-time COVID-19 data for instructional purposes. In social studies courses, these conversations focused on how pandemics have impacted governments, economies, or cultures throughout history. In mathematics courses, these discussions included analyzing infection rates to determine the best function to model the data.
It didn’t take long, however, for educators to realize that the data they were using to guide instruction was not producing the desired results. New data led to new conversations and new questions.
Sentiments that were already increasing in nature such as “students don’t work as hard as they used to” and “students don’t care about grades like they used to” were compounded with the stressors of a pandemic, but were they factual? And how could we know?
When asking for help on analyzing data, a regional administrator shared some thoughts regarding the 2021-2022 school year:
For the past few months, I have not been able to stop thinking about the start of next school year. It does not matter whether a teacher has been teaching for 20, 10, 5, or even 1 school year, I just do not see how we can start next school year the same way we have any other year. The teaching and learning that has taken place has been so different that we need to reexamine what that looks like in terms of what and how we instruct students starting the new school year.
The nuts and bolts of the data project are this: we are reviewing skills-based report card data for the past several years as a means of identifying trends wherever possible. While I cannot share the details for most of that data, I would like you to consider the example in the graphic below.
The data graphed is collected over the last five school years (2016-2017, 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020, and 2020-2021) for all students at one grade level for a district using the four quarterly reports on a 4-point scale (1-below grade level, 2-below grade level and making progress, 3-at grade level/proficient, and 4-above grade level expectations).
There are many things that we can learn from this one graphic. We can see that scores for the 2019-2020 school year were not reported for quarters 3 and 4 in the same manner as had been done previously (due to the pandemic). We can see that the yearly trend for effort at this particular grade level trends slightly positively while remaining consistent at or about grade level expectations. We also see that during the 2020-2021 school year, a school year that opened dramatically different than any other school year for the current generation, this grade level of students has demonstrated notably greater effort than the recent years prior.
While I know there may be questions about the reliability of this particular perceptual data, the intent of this graphic is not to convince you to trust the data presented here. Rather, the purpose is for you to reconsider what it is that you think you know regarding pandemic teaching and learning. Making data-informed decisions is a practical way to do just that.
What data do you have available? What is it actually demonstrating? Why does that appear to be so? What implications does that yield as you move forward?
I would echo the sentiments from the regional administrator shared above. I cannot imagine the best pursuit for education would be to start the 2021-2022 school year as we would any normal year (however you would define a normal year), but don’t take my word for it. See what the data is showing you, and move forward from there.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
A number talk is a daily routine in ALL grade levels, that requires students to demonstrate flexibility in working with numbers and solving basic problems without using paper and pencil to find the solution. Consider how number talk routines can be used to help your students think more flexibly about whole numbers and operations with fractions and decimals.
Number talks require students to be flexible in their thinking about numbers and operations. In addition, students increase their ability to articulate their thinking, develop their mathematical vocabulary and refine their mathematical communication skills through the use of number talks.
How to Get Started with Number Talks
Like many other math routines, creating norms for the community and helping students feel like they are working in a safe space is crucial. In order for number talks to be successful, students must understand how to actively listen and hold a respectful exchange of ideas. Before implementing number talks in the classroom, brainstorm a list of classroom norms for how community members will participate and behave during the routine.
Teacher and Student Roles
During a number talk, it is the teacher’s job to encourage students to share their solution strategies, ask questions to clarify understanding, and direct the learning of the class. Number talks require students to explain their solution strategies, convince others that their strategy works, and listen to and pose questions about the strategies of others.
Extending the Thinking
Because the goal of number talks is to help students communicate their thinking, after a student has shared his/her strategy, there are several questions that can be used to extend and help a student better shape his/her thinking.
Final ThoughtsThe strategies that students use and are able to learn from doing number talks is invaluable! Students can build a mental storehouse of strategic tools through this process. In addition, the rich discussion that occurs between the students and the teacher during number talks is truly amazing! Imagine the possibilities if all of our students had the reasoning, critical thinking, language, and communication skills that result from regular participation in number talks each day for about 12-15 minutes.
· Making Number Talks Matter: Developing Mathematical Practices and Deepening Understanding Grades 4-10 by Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker
· Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies by Sherry Parrish
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
Environmental science is best experienced by picking up physical objects, observing, discussing, sharing...
Well, 4th grade students at Cuba-Rushford and 1st grade students at Hinsdale, along with hundreds of other students in the CABOCES region, get to experience these interactive experiences still…but at a distance.
All the programs that the Environmental Science CoSer has to offer, have been transformed to allow students to be immersed in the wonders of learning about the remarkable features of the environment around us, the mysteries of animal behavior, and the natural wonders of how living (and non-living) things interact with each other.
Here students in 4th grade at Cuba-Rushford are learning about animal senses by observing why the Burmese Python can use its tongue to smell or why a Termite will follow a pen line when drawn. Students discovered the many mysteries of how and why animals use their senses to survive.
Pictured below are students in 1st grade at Hinsdale discovering where the concept of Velcro came from or how mimicking shark skin on a swimsuit can help someone swim faster. Realizing that humans use nature to invent incredibly important items in our everyday life is the process called biomimicry. Using this information, students were able to make a connection with other biomimicry examples in their life
These are just a few of the many Environmental Science programs that 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
An educator with experience in distance learning shares what he’s learned: Keep it simple, and build in as much content as possible.https://www.edutopia.org/article/4-tips-supporting-learning-home
In 2020, a challenging profession became a bit more challenging overnight. Last March, teachers woke one morning, and their workdays were very different. Some of the challenges teachers faced daily no longer existed, while new challenges took their place. It has been a year since shifting to online teaching in some form, and what a year it has been. Focusing on the positive, there has been growth, there has been perseverance, and there has been dedication among the many positive aspects. As we come into the one-year anniversary, I thought that sharing some tips that may have been overlooked through all those challenges would be appropriate, and possibly could be applied as teachers reflect and plan future lessons in education.
The article written by Kareem Farah is found on the Edutopia website ( www.edutopia.org ). The author shares struggles and provides some solutions to consider as shifting to teaching online. Most teachers are beyond the shifting point, being that we have been shifting, dodging and weaving for the past year, but looking back teachers can hopefully acknowledge the personal growth in learning with technology alone.
Teachers are always creating new lessons, recreating and then start it all over again to incorporate the latest strategies to ensure that they are providing the best learning environment they can. Even with the online shift, the time to recreate or modify has not changed. I am hopeful that somewhere in this article, one of the suggestions will add another component to the amazing lessons that teachers prepare for their students.
Be Kind and Be Well.
By: Lisa Scott, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Mr. Arron Wixson’s 7th grade general music class was in for quite a treat after Christmas break. Mr. Wixson worked with Mark Beckwith from CABOCES Professional Development to be one of the first teachers in our area to use the new Ukulele’s that were purchased at CABOCES Learning Resources. The 7th grade students worked with Mr. Wixson for about 6 weeks learning the scales and the chords so that before the February break they’d be able to play a song of their choosing. Everyone had a ball learning the new and unique instrument, and the sounds of ukulele’s filled the Friendship halls daily.
Thank you Learning Resources team and Mark Beckwith for helping make this happen. We can’t wait to use them again next year.
A new month brings exciting new Microsoft Teams technology designed to help your classroom stay organized, save time, and collaborate in the months ahead. A slew of new features and updates are rolling out now and will be available soon to support both students and staff as they move into spring. Look at the included PDF for more info, as well.
As the year continues on, stay tuned as more updates and feature improvements to the Microsoft Teams platform head out to teachers.
By: Ryan McGinnis, CA BOCES Model Schools
In December, 2020 Learning Resources recorded 148,893 searches in NewsBank. This database is filled with the most recent news collected from 11,706 regional, state, national and international sources. Students and faculty can search for news, blogs, videos, transcripts related to many topics including SEL, STEM, Diversity Equity Inclusion, Sports, and more. NewsBank’s Hot Topics feature makes it easy for 7-12 grade teachers to engage students in current events with ready-made questions related to articles. Those looking to bring perspective into the classroom or research project can search for an article by topic and/or any location in the world. Digitized newspapers from 1690-2000 provide historical perspective as well.
Historic newspapers can be searched by either the timeline or topic search to easily find news and eyewitness accounts and pro/con articles of events. Consider issues and daily life in the colonies or during the Revolutionary War, westward expansion, the Civil War, Reconstruction, industrialization, the Progressive Era, World War I, the Great Depression, Vietnam War, World War II, Civil Rights Movement, Cold War, globalization and other eras. Users can search for illustrations, advertisements, classifieds, birth and marriage announcements, obituaries, stories about historic people and other articles exactly as they appeared in print.
Although February is widely recognized as Black History Month, Black Life in America offers curated articles for easy retrieval and meaningful discourse year-round. Newsbank is offering FREE access to its database, Black Life in America through the month of February 2021. It provides comprehensive coverage of the African American experience from earliest times to today, and articles are curated from 19,000 American and global newspapers from 1704 to the present, including over 400 African American newspapers. Users are provided with full-text searching as well as access to content by Topic, Event, and Eras in African American History. This database is updated daily.
If you would like to know more on how to use this database, please contact Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces.org
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Student Programs inspires creative problem-solving, teamwork, deep thinking, and resilience. More than ever before, students, teachers, and the ISS team are being challenged to apply these traits to achieve the impossible, virtually.
NEW from CoSer403!
12 months of unlimited use of Dave Ruch’s Engagement Library for your school district
The Engagement Library is a Netflix-like service featuring 49 pre-recorded assembly programs, plus the following:
Portville 4th graders experienced Dave Ruch’s virtual Native Americans program earlier this year. According to Mrs. Threehouse, “The Dave Ruch program was very insightful, especially in the hearing and seeing of the cultural significance of music in the Native American culture. The students enjoyed the musical instruments. He made it fun and had the kids laughing at times.” A 4th grade student added, “I thought it was cool to see a different culture’s music and how they create it is similar to other music performers. They chant about things that are important to them.”
ArtsPower Theatre on Demand (CoSer 403) is also available now through June 30, 2021. APTOD virtually brings core curriculum-based, multiple-lesson courses built around musical theatre productions. Designed to promote learning in the performing arts, language arts, and character education, these courses feature full-length (55 minute) musicals based on popular children’s books, plus the following:
Whether districts intend to incorporate them into their lesson plans and curriculum or use them as virtual ‘end of the year’ field trips, Dave Ruch’s Engagement Library and Arts Power TOD are both ideal resources for classroom teachers, librarians, art, music, and physical education teachers.
In addition, educators can contact Cece Fuoco (Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces.org) or Cathy Dunkleman (Catherine_Dunkleman@caboces.org) at Learning Resources to check out supplemental books from the professional library or Interlibrary loan.
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES Student Programs
We’ve been busy here at Learning Resources the past few months. New items are on the warehouse shelves and are available now on our resources page. We’ve been focused primarily on our younger learners, those in Pre-K, K and 1st grade. Additionally, play-based learning has also been an emphasis.
New additions include foam block builders, with realistic pretend bricks, cinder blocks, and rock wall builders. LEGO DUPLO kits are also now available. We have Wild Animals sets, Large Farm kits, and Build Me Emotions kits. This latter kit allows children to explore emotions and physical characteristics while developing social skills. As children collaborate on a range of character-building experiences, they recognize feelings and identify similarities and differences. Building cards provide support and inspiration so children can continue to build and rebuild characters again and again.
Continuing the theme of play-based learning, we’ve added soft dinosaur sets, pretend and play doctor sets, community workers sets, and North American wildlife sets. And then to round out our new kits are those that focus on small motor skills. Double-sided dexterity boards offer six dexterity functions: button, zipper, snap, buckle, Velcro®, and bow tying. The lace board is an excellent prop in teaching children how to tie their shoes. We also have stack and sort boards that feature colorful counting discs to sort onto stationary pegs. Double-sided, wooden squares have screened numbers 0 through 9 and a corresponding dot count on the opposite side. Rearrangeable, loose parts allow for multiple matching, counting, addition and subtraction activities on or off the board.
Sounds like fun, eh? Go to our resources page here to look at the new kits, older kits, and streaming resources. Keep checking back as we add more items to assist teachers in their craft and students in their learning.
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources