Have you seen students who struggle with the following...
● getting started on their work, even though directions were just explained
● turning in homework when it is completed and sitting in their book bag
● planning out their time appropriately for long term assignments
● Cramming materials in their desk or folder
These are tasks that require executive functioning skills. According to The National Center for Learning
Disabilities, “Executive function is a set of mental processes that helps us connect past experience with
present action. People use it to perform activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to and remembering details and managing time and space.” It is quite common to have a deficit in one or more of the following skill areas: time management, task initiation, planning/prioritizing, impulse control, organization, emotional control, flexibility, working memory, and self-monitoring.
These deficits can be heightened when a student has a disability or as a child progresses in school and academic demands become too grueling. Luckily there are many strategies that can help improve or eliminate deficits and set students up for long term success. The visual below shows an example of what a deficit in impulse control could look like in the classroom and strategies that could help eliminate those issues.
When determining which strategies to implement, it is important to personalize them to the needs of the
student. We all have strategies that work for us when tackling tasks. For example, many of us prefer a paper calendar to keep track of appointments or to-do’s while electronic calendars work better for others. You may prefer to take deep belly breaths to destress while others benefit from a quick walk. Students are no different and will need strategies personalized for them and to meet their unique needs. To find a strategy that works best for your student, begin by establishing a positive relationship, trying an approach that is age appropriate and seeking student feedback. In addition, strategies should be modeled, practiced and scaffolded by the adult until the student can be independent with the approach.
As we dive into the 2020-2021 school year and contemplate how to best support learning whether brick, click or hybrid, remember to give thoughts to how explicit instruction on personalized strategies can improve executive functioning skills and set your students up for a LIFETIME of success.
For additional information on Executive Function or to set up a zoom training for your staff, please reach out to Tessa Levitt or Jessica Rose.
By: Jessica Rose and Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
Very soon the leaves will begin to fall and classrooms will begin to hum with the sounds of four and five year olds engaged in imaginary play. Although our schedules may be different and the number of children in a classroom will vary, play is still a necessity. Whether we are face to face or working virtually, children show us time and again that play is the way they learn.
It is through play that children develop necessary social-emotional skills which are linked to improved behavior, higher academic performance and better attitudes about school.
Play is at the core of development and learning. The early learning standards articulate the learning progressions for all students. Those who work with young children are charged with the task to provide intentional, experiential, and joyful learning experiences where play is the vehicle to deliver curriculum.
If you are interested in learning how to use play as an instructional tool in your classroom contact Michelle Rickicki or Corey Wilson.
By: Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development
With Remote Learning plans factoring into many Districts’ plans for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, one of the platforms that many teachers in the CA region will be using is getting some long-awaited and powerful updates to enhance learning remotely this fall.
Microsoft has announced over 50 updates for its Microsoft Teams platform, both major and minor, that will make the product a much more enjoyable software application for remote learning. Some of the new features coming to Teams are introduced below.
Meeting with students and other teachers just became a more supercharged, with the addition of Large Gallery view, that enables seeing 49 participants on the screen at once, as well as Together Mode, which strips away the boxes behind the video participants and puts them into a virtual assembly hall to make them appear as if they are back in the classroom together.
Alongside these updates, more features such as extended meeting Attendance Reports (up to 24 hours after a meeting has concluded), the ability to “hard mute” participants so they cannot unmute themselves, breakout rooms for smaller discussion-based settings, the ability to share a new collaborative Whiteboard experience with text, pens, and sticky notes, a raise hand feature to signify wanting to talk, and more settings for students to be “participants” (ability to chat and share), “attendees” (view only), or “presenters” (ability to share screen) will be hitting teachers’ screens soon.
Teachers will also see updates in the Assignments tab across the top of the General channel in their Teams. This includes the ability to now have students see a thumbnail preview of attached websites prior to clicking on the link, the ability to attach up to 500mb worth of file attachments to Assignments, “Anonymous Grading” as an option where the students’ names are stripped from their work to focus solely on grading the work and reducing any “grading bias” that may exist, whether purposeful or not. There will also be the ability to set a default due time for all assignments in that class, so you won’t have to change it every time! There are also lots of new kid-friendly animations when they turn in their work that are new to the Fall 2020 update.
For more details on the Fall 2020 updates to Microsoft Teams, or for more information about when to expect more of the announced update features, please check out this article https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/education-blog/25-updates-for-microsoft-teams-for-education-for-back-to-school/ba-p/1554445
By: Ryan McGinnis, CA BOCES Model Schools
MORE THAN JUST A GAME
Not long ago, a handful of CA BOCES regional educators inquired about eSports at a Technology Coordinators & Integrators Forum (TCIF). The murmurs were subtle and few, but they were present nonetheless. Has anyone heard about eSports? A handful. Is anyone going to get involved? A few interested. What can CA BOCES do to help? We’ll look into it.
Not long after, the buzz grew louder and more frequent, and questions like, “What can CA BOCES do about eSports?” turned into, “What is CA BOCES going to do about eSports?” Consequently, our exploration hastened and narrowed in on some key players.
HSEL & PlayVS
If you search “high school eSports” in your favorite web browser, one of the first links (if not the very first) is High School Esports League | HSEL. (Smart business move.) According to HSEL’s website, the league includes participation from over 3,000 schools and 80,000 students. Similarly, it doesn’t take much searching or asking around before you find yourself on the site of PlayVS, a league that boasts of its presence in all 50 states, over 13,000 schools, and over 80,000 sign ups.
While there are a variety of leagues to join, HSEL and PlayVS are among the most popular. Each league provides organized eSports competition across the nation with regional divisions available and smaller subdivisions arriving in the near future, and both offer a variety of benefits such as technical support, resources for coaches, families, and students, and fully unlocked features through their game licensing.
However, it wasn’t until Rob Miller, former CA BOCES Model Schools coordinator and current Director of Educational Technology & Information Systems at Salamanca City School District, suggested we explore a different league altogether that we realized we were missing something bigger.
Ultimately, the work we do at CA BOCES is aimed at improving the student experience. When you attend professional development such as Don’t Ditch That Tech! (based on the book by Matt Miller), you will likely explore a variety of technologies, but the focus isn’t on the tech. The priority is using that technology, a means, to improve your instruction and assessment for the sake of students. When you explore the Advancing STEM curriculum and STEM kits, you will see numerous activities and projects around many topics, but the activities aren’t the focus. The emphasis is to improve STEM curriculum, instruction, and assessment for the sake of students. After only a brief meeting with NASEF, we learned that their mission was very much like ours.
North America Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF)
In our initial endeavors of exploring eSports, we were able to justify purchasing equipment through CSLO (ask your tech. director if you’re interested in what this means) since most equipment is multi-purposed, used in labs, STEM spaces, or for other high-capacity software such as CAD or video editors. But how could justify a stand alone gaming event? Thankfully, we don’t have to.
The key word making all the difference both in appearance and practice: scholastic. NASEF is not just an eSports league; it is so much more.
Because the mission at NASEF is “to provide opportunities for ALL students to acquire critical communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills needed to thrive in work and in life,” eSports is simply the platform where that mission takes place. A means to an end. Furthermore, through the principal support of the Samueli Foundation, NASEF offers middle school, high school, and CTE curriculum aligned with Common Core ELA, NGSS, ISTE, and SEL standards.
If we weren’t excited enough after our first meeting with NASEF, we grew even more interested when we learned of NASEF’s COVID-19 response via Minecraft and the 14 beyond the game challenges. With our many questions answered, multiple meetings conducted, and the proper paperwork signed, we are pleased to announce that CA BOCES is among the many NASEF affiliates!
Consequently, with the fantastic support of NASEF, CA BOCES will be hosting our first semi-annual scholastic eSports tournaments at the CA BOCES Olean Main Center, tentatively December 16, 2020 and March 31, 2021. For more information regarding registration for these events, please contact Jean Oliverio (Jean_Oliverio@caboces.org), coordinator for Student Programs. For more information regarding the scholastic eSports collaboration between CA BOCES and NASEF, take a glance at the announcement on the NASEF website or contact Mary Morris (Mary_Morris@caboces.org), Program Manager for Student Programs.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
As one school year ended in an undeniably different fashion than years prior, so too is a new one set to begin under circumstances far different than the traditional expectations and norm. As schools create plans and explore various options to accommodate and connect students in both the face-to-face and digital formats, there has been a tremendous focus of time and learning dedicated to the exploration of various platforms that can effectively promote connectivity and collaboration among both teachers and students. One of these platforms is Microsoft Teams.
While Microsoft Teams is not a new product, the awareness and familiarity has become relatively new to many in the educational world as a shift to remote learning became a reality. This application is meant to enhance teamwork through enriched collaboration and communication. It has the capability of video streaming, document collaboration and sharing, one-on-one and team chat, and more. Additionally, since it is part of Office 365 suite, integration already exists with other Office products making access to cloud storage and files simple for the user.
The CA BOCES staff worked through the school closure and throughout the summer to offer varied training opportunities to cater to the familiarity and expertise of those desiring to learn more and gain deeper understanding about this application. Teams training was based on three different levels of users; Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.
Differentiation of these specific workshop trainings brought all those involved, teachers and administrators, a deeper understanding of not only the functional components and the customizable aspects of the application, but also the safety and security features that are built in as well. Through these targeted workshops that were open for any teachers who desired to participate, and through training offered to district level groups of staff, CA BOCES trainers worked to increase the ability of those using Teams across the region focusing on ways to effectively collaborate and communicate with each other and with students in an online environment. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced user of Microsoft Teams, if you’re looking to increase your ability to help your Team, reach out to your Essential Partner at CA BOCES because we are here to support you!
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Brain rules are twelve rules proposed by John Medina to help us understand how our brains work and how to use them as effectively as possible. Of the twelve brain rules, there are several that I want to explore in detail that could be used and implemented in the classroom.
Rule 1: Survival
Our survival instincts are what have helped humans evolve into the society we form today. Medina explains survival as the ability to solve problems, learn from mistakes and create alliances with other people. Thus, collaboration and group work are important for our survival. The classroom should not be any different. Teaching team work skills, active listening and developing social intelligence will not only create an environment of trust in the classroom, but also help the students lean on each other and survive the year together.
Rule 2: Exercise
Starting a class with a quick exercise is a way to refresh the brain. This can be as simple as moving our arms in swimming motions or performing deep breathing exercises. The aim is to get some oxygen to the brain. If there are two classes back to back, a break between them would be good too.
Rule 7: Memory
By recapping the material often, relating it to present day happenings or relevant day-to-day activities and tasks, students will remember more. Brains possess neuroplasticity which means that they are constantly evolving and the more we use them, the stronger they get.
Rule 9: Vision
Getting content across to students. does not have to be just about pages full of words. Expressing material in different ways using pictures, videos, and models allows the brain to make sense of things quickly and remember them better.
Rule 12: ExplorationSchools are a safe environment where students have the opportunity to experiment and evolve at their own pace. I want my classes to be an adventure where the students can each explore their interests to some extent and share their experiences. Inquiry-based learning is a great way to get students to do this.
If you want to learn more about Brain Rules by John Medina, check out his book. If you are interested in the 2 hour workshop with ideas around classroom implementation of the 12 brain rules by John Medina, reach out to Tessa Levitt or Jessica Rose at CABOCES.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
Uncertainty can be paralyzing, provoke fear and anxiety and result in many unanswered questions. Despite the overwhelming amount of uncertainty that abruptly entered the lives of educators (and so many others) due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, opportunities were seized, risks were taken, creativity and innovation arose and problems were solved. However, as soon as one challenge was tended to, a handful of new, complex challenges were waiting to be addressed.
One of the overarching themes of uncertainty that continued to come up in conversation amongst educators, was what returning to school would be like; the “when,” the “how,” the “if,” and the “what” were often discussed. From early on, most recognized that whatever the answer to the former questions, for better or worse, it would simply not be the same. Many educators also agreed that securing a sense of physical and psychological safety for all staff and students, would be critical, yet, would not be an easy task and could take several weeks or months to achieve.
The conversation around “re-entry” became a frequent, recurring one within the weekly remote PD session for school counselors, social workers and psychologists. The collective passion and emotion present in each conversation led the group to take action and create a guidance entitled “Social and Emotional Recommendations for a Healthy Re-Entry,” for school districts to reference as they navigate re-entry planning. Although there were a number of unanswered questions and remaining uncertainties, the group agreed upon critical considerations for a healthy re-entry. Margaret Wheatley once said, “It is possible to prepare for the future without knowing what it will be. The primary way to prepare for the unknown is to attend to the quality of our relationships, to how well we know and trust one another.”
If you are interested in learning more about actionable recommendations for meeting the SEL needs of staff and students and supporting a healthy re-entry, please consider joining us on August 3rd, for one of our summer PD opportunities, “Back to School: SEL Transition Conversation.”
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools
Teaching Physical Education Without the Gym. . . A Reflection from Portville Elementary School’s PE Teacher, Christina Matz
Field Day at Portville, like many schools, is a fun, engaging day not only to help close out the year but to give students ideas to stay active in the summer with their families. Obviously, due to the school shutdown, I had to modify Field Day, but I was not going to cancel it.
Throughout the shutdown, I was able to collaborate and share ideas with physical education teachers with whom I networked from around the country and around the world. I took advantage of the many CABOCES PE webinars and forums afforded to us, especially with learning the use of technology, which is a smooth segue to our Portville Virtual Field Day.
Before the shutdown, I had limited knowledge of Google slides, publishing to YouTube, or Facebook Live. But, I learned these skills to combine with my prior knowledge of physical education to create a Google slide with 23 Field Day events as well as 36 clickable images. The links led the students to YouTube videos of me and my family doing the various Field Day activities. I was also able to attach a scoresheet and a certificate to the Field Day slide post. Some of the activities were my own, while some were shared with me with other PE teachers from as far away as California and Australia.
One of the many challenges was how to come up with physical education activities to do without the aid of traditional equipment. To overcome this, I looked around our home for common household items present in most homes. For example, I used rolled-up socks and pillowcases, ladders, and spatulas. To help hype it up, I asked for elementary teachers and staff to send pictures of themselves with an encouraging sign for our students. Using a video editor, I put together a collage set to music for the students to enjoy.
The community response was overwhelming. On my PE Rockstar Facebook page, I asked for families to share pictures and/or videos of their children doing the activities. I had so many responses, it was hard to keep up with them all!
During the shutdown, community support and involvement is even more important than normal times and this was a great way to inspire passion and excitement for physical education.
So why did I do this? I did it to continue to interact with students but also to bring families together with physical activities designed for students, which the whole family could engage in. The passion I have for physical education is something I will always have but staying positive and learning new skills during our time at home will only enrich my teaching in the future.
I would not have been able to do this without the support of our Portville school and community, especially our elementary principal Lynn Corder, who is always supportive of my ideas for our Portville elementary PE program.
By: Christina Matz, Portville Elementary
Coordinated by: Anne Mitchell, CA BOCES Professional Development
The students in Mrs. Sortore’s Forensics class at Friendship Central School have been busy searching for clues! Two different crime scenes were created in the school area, and two teams were chosen to investigate each crime. The class consists of 21 students that are a mixture of seniors and sophomores this year. Each group included a Facilitator, Lab Technicians, Crime Scene Investigators, Photo Analysts, Crime Scene Sketch Artist, Blood and Fingerprint Analysts. The teams used their prior knowledge of Forensic Science to gather and analyze the clues. One of the critical tools to analyze hair collected from the scenes was the Amscope Digital Microscope from CABOCES. This scope allowed the students to measure the medulla to compare hair from the scene and hair collected from suspects. Without this technology our student’s ability to narrow down the suspects would have been severely hampered leading to a possible incorrect assumption. The ability to measure and view the hair at this level was a key component to solving the crime. It was inspiring to watch this group of students work together to piece together the clues. The students worked tirelessly gathering clues, piecing together evidence, and solving critical pieces between the separate scenes.
By: Mark Carls, CA BOCES Professional Development
Did you know that teaching is the 2nd highest profession that struggles with mental health? As we find ourselves in the midst of remote learning and isolation from students, colleagues, family, and friends this current situation only MAGNIFIES this struggle. As teachers we often work to build and address the mental health of others, but we tend to neglect self. We need to be sure to monitor our own personal mental health and recognize when there are dangers to our personal mental health. In doing so, you will be able to provide for self-care.
Our current work situation is more challenging to all aspects of our current life. Working and living with others who may also be stressed, can test our patience and push us to our limits, causing us to act in ways that are not our normal behaviors. Practicing Self-Care is an important activity that will help you to cognitively, physically and emotionally ‘bounce back’ each day over the long term and can help you avoid falling into the pitfalls of acting out.
We can improve our mental health through self-care by knowing the warning signs and how to identify mental health concerns, understanding how to implement self-care strategies, and identify ways to engage in positive aspects of mental health and self-care. Self-care can have many different forms, but the easiest way to implement self-care is by engaging in activities and practices that give you energy, lower your stress and contribute to your well being. Some examples of self-care are exercising regularly, eating well and fostering positive relationships. Self-care activities will be different for everyone and participating in activities regularly before a time of crisis will work to improve your mental health and well being.
As individuals we need to notice when our stress is manageable, and our physical and emotional wellbeing is enhanced. Make a commitment to your health and wellbeing for today and into the future you by identifying and implementing aspects of self-care. This will create positive habits in your life that can make self-care become a routine that positively impacts your mental health.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
When I took this photo, I had no idea that school would be closed and the world would be suffering a pandemic. My thoughts were centered on capturing the vision of growing leaders that Friendship Central School strives to achieve. The district believes that each person involved in the school has unique gifts and talents. Teachers, students, staff members and the school community have many opportunities to use their talents and grow into the person they are meant to become. In my mind, that’s the mission of education and it happens by becoming a lifelong learner.
Throughout this pandemic, I have had the unique opportunity to watch teachers transform their teaching from a face to face environment where daily interactions with students are the norm to a virtual and remote world. The challenges of living in a rural area where internet and cell service are often labeled “unstable” or “not available” can be overwhelming. However, future leaders saw this an opportunity for growth.
At Friendship Central School, teachers model a life of caring for others and giving of self to better the world. They demonstrate this value on a daily basis evidenced in classroom communities. Students are taught to give a little piece of their heart each day because it brings joy to self and others. Now, in the uncertainty of a crisis, Lindsey Weaver, Kindergarten teacher at Friendship, continues to model selfless service by growing her knowledge and sharing it with others.
In the district, Lindsey was instrumental in showing teachers the possibilities available when moving to an online platform. Leadership is about being brave and taking risks when faced with a challenge. Friendship Central School allows each member the opportunity to take a risk by creating a safe environment where risk-taking is valued. Lindsey’s willingness to be vulnerable during a crisis gave many other teachers the courage to try new ways of communicating with students and families. In just a few short weeks, Lindsey presented ideas to the Cattaraugus-Allegany region as well as in specific local districts. She has inspired joy and creativity between teachers, students, and families.
Even though we are in unprecedented times, Friendship Central School is still truly a place where its members are invited to learn and grow. All it takes is the courage to move in that direction.
By: Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development
"Far too many students come to school with small vocabularies. This is a big deal: the size of a child's vocabulary is an accurate predictor of academic achievement and even upward mobility over the course of a lifetime (Hirsch, 2013)." - 101 Strategies to make Academic Vocabulary Stick.
March left districts tackling unprecedented times as they worked to transition from classroom environments to creating work packets and delivering instruction online. As teachers navigate this unknown territory, this article means to highlight three ways to incorporate vocabulary instruction utilizing the video conferencing tool Zoom. While determining which vocabulary to focus on keep in mind the following information, according to the New York State Education Department principles of effective vocabulary instruction include:
In 101 Strategies to Make Academic Vocabulary Stick, Sprenger speaks to the three stages of the Memory Process. The stages include Encoding, Storage and Retrieval. Encoding is the first stage of building long term memory and the author notes that vocabulary instruction at this stage is meant to pique the students interest, motivate and engage them. Here are three strategies (adapted from 101 Strategies to make Academic Vocabulary Stick) that focus on the Encoding process and can be incorporated within a Zoom session.
● Story Impressions
○ This is a pre-reading activity meant to spark curiosity. This will make reading the upcoming content more meaningful and help students with comprehension.
○ Choose keywords from a story or chapter, keeping them in the same order in which they appear.
○ Provide the list visually (word doc, whiteboard, etc.) for students by sharing your screen during a zoom lesson.
○ Go over brief definitions/descriptions and then either whole group, small group (breakout sessions) or individually have students use the words in a made-up story with a beginning, middle and end.
● Word Up
○ This strategy helps students hone in on their listening skills and highlight important vocabulary.
○ Zoom participants would be placed in Gallery View, so everyone could be seen at the same time (think Brady Bunch).
○ Identify 1-2 words you would like students to write separately on a piece of paper or an index card.
○ While you are reading aloud, whenever the students hear the appropriate word they would lift the paper or index card.
● Word Expert Cards
○ Before beginning new content, create a vocabulary list, including the page number where each word appears or online resources for them to access.
○ Divide your class so that there are 3-4 students in a group.
○ Give each group 2-3 vocabulary words. Students in each group are responsible for learning those words and then teaching them to the other groups.
○ Using the breakout group feature, have students with the same words discuss the best student created definition, its part of speech, the sentence from the text where it appears, illustration, and a made-up sentence by the group.
○ Move from group to group to check on accuracy. Then switch breakout groups and have those ‘word experts’ teach their words to other members of the class that had different words.
○ This will take planning ahead to determine the best breakout groups and movement by the teacher throughout the groups to encourage participation and on-task behavior.
Let's work together to help increase our students' vocabulary and ultimately have a positive impact on 'academic achievement and upward mobility over the course of a lifetime.'
For additional vocabulary strategies or questions, please reach out to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Jessica Rose, CA BOCES Professional Development
Hallmark 4 of Advanced Literacies Instruction: Academic Vocabulary and Langauge
Sprenger, M. (2017) 101 Strategies to make Academic Vocabulary Stick. ASCD
Leaders play a critical role in the implementation of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in schools. As a reminder, there are 5 competencies of SEL, they are as follows; self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and decision making. Several leaders from around the region gathered on March 10th to spend the day with Dr. Maurice Elias of Rutgers University to learn about just how significant their role is in the task of prioritizing and expanding SEL in our area schools.
Although SEL has been an educational priority for decades, attention to such learning has increased a great deal recently. Why? One reason is the mounting scientific evidence that proposes that SEL skills play a vital role in success in school and life beyond school, including one’s ability to understand and manage their emotions. Throughout the day, school leaders reflected on the significant impact that mental health and trauma have had on their students, families and communities, as well as the urgent need for SEL within the context of the school day. Additionally, interpersonal skills are in high demand from businesses around the world. Employers want people that are able to communicate and interact well with others.
So what do school leaders need for effective SEL leadership? First and foremost, they themselves must possess or improve upon their own SEL skills and SEL leadership skills. In the words of Dr. Elias, “The future of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Social Emotional Character Development (SECD) depends more than ever on the quality of leadership within schools and school districts, both generally and as focused on SEL/SECD.” Additionally, a clear vision, an understanding of the interrelationship between school climate and SEL, a current climate assessment, the ability to manage improvement/change initiatives and finally, the ability to inspire.
Despite all of the learning that took place around the leadership role of comprehensive SEL implementation in early March, our leaders collectively realized that while we have many strengths in this area, we have work to do. No improvement initiative is simple, it cannot be remedied with a “quick fix,” it takes time and persistence. Some of the actionable goals for leaders that are vital, include, infrastructure development, school identity clarification integration, climate/culture/skills assessments, promotion of student voice, connection to existing mandates and making connections with schools/districts that are “walking the walk.”
We look forward to facilitating meaningful, collaborative experiences that center around SEL Leadership and Implementation to continue the necessary steps towards improvement. Together, we must guarantee that students are in a positive school climate and will systemically learn social-emotional competencies and character virtues essential for life, this cannot be optional.
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools
What are the odds that two coordinators would schedule different lessons with the same grade level educators on the same day? While we don’t know the exact odds (perhaps a probability and statistics lesson for those of you interested), we do know that we were able to make this unlikely event happen.
With what was seemingly conflicting lessons, we then had to make a decision. Which lesson would stay and which would be rescheduled: coding or fossils? After a quick discussion and a lot of excitement, we decided something different altogether. Why not both?!
With Kevin Erickson, Cuba-Rushford Elementary School principal, and the 2nd grade team on board, we set out to make our lessons a pairing better than peanut butter and jelly (if that is even possible). Based on the response from students and teachers, we may have come close.
Students were placed in quasi-random groups and assigned with unique roles (i.e. excavation director, materials specialist, recording specialist, and site manager) to complete their task: locate anything at all from the dig site using only the appropriate tools, the excavation robot and the excavation trowel.
Once each excavation team made a discovery, each member fulfilled his or her role to ensure that the dig site was properly cared for, all team members were participating, and the appropriate materials made their way to each group’s respective work site.
Depending on what the excavation robot and trowel uncovered, each excavation team explored a variety of fossil concepts such as types, formation, and locations.
Whether the topics are technology and dinosaurs, Science and Social Studies, or Restorative Practice and mathematics, reach out to your friendly neighborhood Instructional Support Coordinators to help with your next interdisciplinary, co-teaching lesson.
By: Lance Feuchter & Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Learning Resources & Professional Development
P.s. We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to Karen Insley, Distance Learning coordinator, for her valuable assistance and Wendy Sprague, CRCS Elementary Librarian, for allowing us to utilize the necessary space to conduct such learning opportunities.
Middle school math teachers at Pioneer Central School recently tried a new problem-solving model with educational consultant, Susan Rothwell. The teachers were looking for additional instructional practices that allowed students to collectively tap their knowledge in order to solve a challenging, multi-step problem in mathematics. Over the past few years, being able to successfully collaborate with others has consistently been identified as one of the most important skills employers are looking for. This model allows students to improve upon these skills as well as develop a deeper and more meaningful understanding of what they are learning. The problem-solving technique that was introduced to the teachers and students included the following materials and steps.
Problem-Solving Model Steps: (total time is 31-47 minutes)
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Professional Development
Many districts in our CABOCES region have decided to use our ELA and Math Benchmark assessments to help prepare students for the NYSED 3-8 assessments. Mark Beckwith at CABOCES has those benchmark assessments and other documents on our 3 Tools to Improve Results site: http://bit.ly/3TOOLS.
This all came about from a discussion at Friendship with their administrative team trying to help teachers understand what they need to cover to prepare students for the 3-8 ELA and Math assessments. We used the released questions on the NYSED site and focused on the standards that have been asked the most since the Common Core tests started. CABOCES staff worked on creating parallel questions to these most asked released questions to make the benchmarks and tried to keep the overall look and feel as similar to the actual assessment as they could. The 3 Tools site has a tutorial on using the site, it gives educators the assessments along with Educator Guides for scoring the assessments and Data Analysis documents for analyzing the student results.
Next comes the quandary.....after teachers and administrators sit down to analyze these results, what do they do next? It’s great to realize where you have weakness (and strengths, it’s always good to make sure you keep doing well at what you do well), but what do you do to help students who struggle? What change in instruction happens? At Friendship teachers are going back to use the tests with each individual student and after two administrations to go back and show how much improvement (hopefully) that a kid has shown from one benchmark to the next last. Time is given in AIS/RtI and also teachers can go over it in class. There’s always room to improve and we hope they find value in getting to individual students to go over their own personal results and to come up with a plan to help them fix any gaps. We’re still looking for ideas to help close those gaps that they find from these benchmarks before the actualy New York State test.
What is the answer to that? Is it more of the same type of instruction? Is it more focused practice and if so how and when? Is it using a program like i-Ready or Castle Learning for more practice? I don’t know but would love to hear how other districts are going through this process to help close the gaps, whether you use these benchmark assessments or not. Please let me know at: Mark_Carls@caboces.org.
By: Mark Carls, CA BOCES Professional Development
In the United States, 34 million children have had at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE) -- ranging from abuse or neglect to parental incarceration or addiction. Children living in poverty are more likely to have multiple ACEs, compounding the effects of economic insecurity. In addition, the current opioid epidemic is devastating families. Many classrooms in America are touched by trauma.
Earlier this month 40 teachers and leaders from the region learned about the effects trauma has on the learning brain. In school, children with trauma are more likely to have trouble regulating their emotions, focusing, and interacting with peers and adults in a positive way.
Teachers learned how to take care of themselves in order to take care of the students in their classrooms. Teachers and leaders learned about the nine areas of self-care from Kristen Souer’s book; “Fostering Resilient Learners.” The nine areas of self-care are: sleep, eat healthy, drink water, exercise, sense of TEAM, breathe, limit screen time, challenges and gratitude.
There is some hopeful news in the research about kids and trauma. “We know enough about the science to know that teachers can make a huge difference.” The school environment is one of the places where students who are exposed to real challenges at home can find safety, predictability and consistency.
Relationship-building is an important element of addressing trauma because students rely on stable relationships.
Modeling apologies repairs relationships and develops students’ relationship skills.
ENCOURAGING RESPONSIBILITY is a sense of responsibility, it is important in trauma-informed classrooms because it fosters a belief in students that they are in charge of themselves.
PROMOTING REGULATION Regulation strategies such as soothing music and brain breaks allowed students to manage physical and emotional responses, which is especially important for students who have experienced trauma.
Many more strategies were shared at the workshop. If you would like to learn more about Trauma Sensitive Classroom Strategies, please feel free to check out any upcoming offerings at register.caboces.org
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
As adults, many of us travel to countless places, cities and even countries. We have access to unique experiences, cultures and pieces of history. Our students, however, do not always have those opportunities and experiences. I remember going to Boston while teaching 4th grade and taking so many pictures to bring back and show my students, wishing they could experience that themselves. When a 7th grade social studies teacher was looking for an engaging way to let his students expand their recent learning of The Liberty Tree and Boston’s history, I remember that feeling I had and we decided to introduce virtual reality using Nearpod VR.
Using a teacher led tour, students answered questions, posted on a collaborative board, and of course, experienced Boston in VR. With each location, students were able to walk around, look around them and make inferences and discoveries relating to the lessons they had recently learned. Rather than just hear about the monument plague where the Liberty Tree once was, they got to see it with their own two eyes in relation to the other stops on their tour. Some students have never been to a large city, so seeing the buildings and focal points of a major city was an added bonus experience.
The student engagement I was able to witness was what I found most exciting. Students were asking questions, pointing out interesting features to each other and showing genuine excitement over connecting their learning of Boston’s history to the amazing sights in front of them. There are so many opportunities we can bring students through VR and truly bring learning to life!
By: Chelsea Lobello, CA BOCES Model Schools
Defining what mental health and wellness is and isn’t can be extremely helpful in order to demystify cultural perspectives regarding this topic of interest. Katie Mendell, CABOCES Community Schools Coordinator, shared with Scio’s faculty and staff a wealth of information regarding mental health and wellness and what we can do in education to help our students. Understanding the continuum of well-being around mental health and educating the importance of the mind-body connection benefits all learners.
New York State Education Department (NYSED) Board of Regents permanently adopted a proposed amendment in May 2018 clarifying for schools what health education should include in all grades. Schools are required to: include mental health and the relationship of physical and mental health; and designed to enhance student understanding, attitudes and behaviors that promote health, well-being and human dignity. Many school may already be incorporating these elements in their education of health, however this formalizes the new requirements in law.
Take a moment and think of a situation where you recently felt upset; What feelings did you experience? How about a situation that made you feel happy? What were you doing? Simply defined, mental health is how one thinks, feels, and acts. The spectrum of wellness on mental health ranges and often times we associate mental health with mental illness. Katie shared a wealth of information in order to demystify and redefine mental health as how we think, feel and act. Mental Illness is a diagnosable illness that affect a person’s thoughts, feelings, and actions as well as disrupts the ability to engage in daily activities.
What can we do for our students? We can begin by reviewing and assessing our current K-12 health education curricula for alignment to new mental health education requirements; build capacity and strengthen relationships between educators and pupil personnel services (school psychologist, social worker, counselor, nurse); developing school-community partnerships with mental health professionals and organizations; identify strategies to engage families and students in supporting mental health and well-being; support a school climate “Culture of Care”; and leverage partnerships and build upon existing resources to develop a sustainable infrastructure for mental health. The following cards were shared with faculty and staff and also provided to students.
By: Jessica Schirrmacher-Smith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Let’s face it. Much of the technologies recommended for teaching and learning need to undergo greater scrutinization since many of those technologies are too far down the wrong end of the spectrum of shiny only to beneficial for learning. However, a shiny technology tool should not be dismissed simply because it is attractive; we must evaluate the tool to determine whether teaching and learning can be meaningfully improved.
Rather than focusing on a specific tool, let’s now consider more generally the tech. tools that utilize coding. The robots in this category have (and rightfully so) raised a lot of eyebrows. For example, it would be ill-advised to bring the tooth brushing robot into your classrooms as a tool for teaching and learning (feel free to email me with a counterexample if you’d like to prove me wrong). While the tooth brushing robot isn’t available for reservation, there are many robots that reside in the CA BOCES Learning Resources warehouse that can yield a meaningful impact on learning.
Lastly, unless the course objectives specifically include a focus on a specific technology, we are creating a disservice for learning when the tech. tool is the end goal rather than a means to reach other learning targets. To help avoid this trap, I have given a few reasons technology, such as augmented or virtual reality (AR or VR) or robotics, can be a meaningful tool to help students master learning targets.
1. Explore Content Learning Standards
Whether used for pre-teaching or re-teaching, technology can provide meaningful interactions with social studies topics (pictured left; the AR app 1600), science topics (pictured right; the AR app Quiver), and more. The benefits demonstrated above are amplified because the technology was integrated with effective instruction. The tech. tool didn’t replace the teaching. The teaching didn’t require students to imagine only. The pairing of technology and effective teaching created more meaningful connections to content learning standards.
2. Foster Creativity and Problem Solving
For struggling learners, students who don’t eagerly or correctly construct sentences, paragraphs, etc. or solve mathematical problems, technology can provide opportunities for increased engagement and flexibility. Parrot mini drones are one of those technologies that, arguably, fall too far down on the shiny end of the spectrum at first glance, but this tool does not have to be attractive only.
For instance, Chelsea Lobello, CA BOCES Model Schools coordinator, worked with an Ellicottville Central School student to complete provided and self-directed missions using block programming; this student not only demonstrated his ability to code and sequence blocks in order for the drone to complete a mission, but he also demonstrated his ability to code and sequence words to meet his language goal.
Later that same day, two other students also programmed the drones to complete self-created missions. During these missions, I was able to have students simplify expressions and solve equations using rational numbers, a topic directly related to their mathematics learning goals and standards.
3. Character Education
Of all the technology integrations that have taken place recently in the CA BOCES region, the upswing of VEX robotics has been the most exciting for me. This year’s competition, Tower Takeover, as well as those from previous years, is more than just an engineering challenge. Students must demonstrate more than academic ability if they want to be successful in this arena.
The REC Foundation includes a similar sentiment on their website:
“In addition to learning valuable engineering skills, students gain life skills such as teamwork, perseverance, communication, collaboration, project management, and critical thinking. The VEX Robotics Competition prepares students to become future innovators with 95% of participants reporting an increased interest in STEM subject areas and pursuing STEM-related careers.”
Almost always, technology should be a tool, not the goal. The scenarios above followed this approach of utilizing technology as a means to an end, providing meaningful benefits on teaching and learning. Hopefully your pursuits with technology are equally as fruitful.
By: Mark Beckwith, Model Schools
With the start of a new school year, Community Schools hosted the inaugural, bi-annual Community and Schools Together Event. Nearly 100 educators and community partners came together on September 30th to teach, learn and collaborate with one another. The region collectively chose to focus on advancing mental health and wellness at this event. This came as no surprise, considering that 46% of children experience at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE) and approximately 20% of adolescents have diagnosable mental health disorders. School and community partnerships are key to the growth and development of policies, procedures and best practices for mental health.
Dr. Liz Anderson of Binghamton University’s NYS Community Schools Technical Assistance Center welcomed the group and set the stage for the day. She discussed school and community collaboration, and reminded us that collaboration challenging, yet rewarding. “When we collaborate, we know that our strengths will be maximized, our weaknesses will be minimized and the result will be better for families, schools and communities,” said Anderson. The relationship between a community and a school is reciprocal in nature. Communities provide schools with a context and an environment that can reinforce the values, culture and learning. In addition, communities can also expand the variety of opportunities and supports available to students and families. In return, schools offer the community an enduring public institution that often serves as the “hub” of the community, especially within our rural region.
This event truly reflected the four pillars of the community schools strategy, which include, expanded learning opportunities, collaborative leadership and practices, family and community engagement, as well as, integrated student supports. A combined total of twelve breakout sessions took place throughout the day, and were facilitated by school leaders and representatives as well as community agency representatives. Sessions covered things such as family engagement, community trauma coalition, probation services and new legislation, model mentoring programs, addressing traumatic stress with restorative practices, school resource officer support, utilizing the community schools strategy in rural context, health services in school settings and substance abuse prevention and intervention services for schools.
As we move forward to begin planning the next CST event, to be held on March 23rd, we welcome schools and community partners to participate in the planning process. Our goal is to build upon the collaborative spirit that was developed during the inaugural event and increase the outcomes for our region.
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools
We are preparing students for a world that wants go-getters, decision makers, designers, creators, and dreamers. The old system of school is focused on compliance, but if our students are compliant when they leave us, they will always need to follow someone else’s rules and our society is not made for that. Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning? by John Spencer and AJ Juliani challenge our thinking about engagement in schools and push for classrooms that empower our learners.
This fall, Ryan McGinnis, Tessa Levitt, and Sarah Wittmeyer hosted a 6-week online book study on Facebook centered around the Empower text. 30 teachers from the region logged in weekly from 8-9pm to participate in discussion of the ideas presented in text.
We explored how to shift the classroom and put the learning into the hands of the students. How can we, as teachers, facilitate learning experiences that put students in control? Where can we let them take over the process? How do we do this within the parameters of curriculum, standards, the schools we work in, etc.? How do we give students more ownership in the learning process? What have we done in our classrooms to empower our students? Where do we start?
The best part of the entire discussion was learning how teachers in our region were upping the game for their students. From genius hour, to inquiry, to project-based learning, and beyond, our students are so lucky to have such creative and innovative teachers!
We will be having a “face-to-face” meeting at the end of November as a culmination to the learning and a check-in to see how things are going with empowering our students. If you are interested in learning more about our Facbeook book studies, please reach out! We will be hosting another in Spring 2020! Stay tuned!
By: Sarah Wittmeyer, CA BOCES Professional Development
The Cattaraugus County Government student intern class of 2019 consists of 32 students from Allegany-Limestone, Ellicottville, Cattaraugus-Little Valley, and Randolph. As part of the program for this semester, the class has chosen to support the CAMP group in raising awareness of preserving and restoring historical sites such as the Civil War Memorial building in Little Valley. CA BOCES offers the County Government Intern Program in conjunction with Cattaraugus County.
On October 16, 2019, the County Government students were involved in filming a video with Sam L. Hayes, Tourism Assistant with the Cattaraugus County Department of Economic Development, Planning and Tourism.
On October 1, K-5 math teachers from around the region gathered for a Collaborative Learning Community (CLC) experience. The morning was jam-packed with information and resources for math with CABOCES coordinators Jillian Putnam and Justin Shumaker. Using a Think Tank model for group discussion, topics discussed included best practices when facilitating student learning, the use of technology in the math classroom, and whether math lessons should begin with teacher led instruction or students attempting to solve problems on their own. Teachers had time to discuss each and ask questions regarding their current classroom practices.
If you are unfamiliar with the Think Tank model, participants are separated into smaller groups of preferably four members where each person is given a specific role. The roles include the facilitator, time keeper, scribe, and person to share out. The facilitator ensures that all group members are heard and stay on topic. The time keeper ensures the group adheres to the time constraints of the model and moves the discussion forward when necessary. A scribe takes notes of what the group discusses while the share out person takes the small groups ideas and shares them with the full group.
Also integrated into the day was the idea around Social Emotional Learning (SEL). A point of emphasis around the region due to the new NYSED standards, SEL is incredibly important for each of us to consider. The overall well-being of our students should be one of our main priorities and also goes a long way towards helping our students be successful. A quick tip - pine cones stimulate the nerve endings in your palms. Do you have students who struggle with focus? Have them roll a pine cone in their hands! A cheap alternative to fidget spinners, simply walk outside and pick one up off the ground!
In the afternoon, Clay Nolan, STEM coordinator at CABOCES, shared with the group the latest and greatest from NYSED about the new science standards and assessment timeline. In short, the new grade 5 and 8 science assessments will start in the 2021-2022 school year. Also a point of emphasis, what makes a great exit ticket. Teachers dove deep into how to setup exit tickets in order to best inform us of the learning that took place that day. From Learning Resources, Alex Freer, Coordinator for Digital Media, also came and shared some of the resources available to the teachers through their department.
At the end of the day, teachers and facilitators were excited about the work accomplished. We look forward to working with teachers from around the region again for the next K-5 Math CLC on February 4 at the CABOCES Barn training room.
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Professional Development
Restorative Practices is becoming more common in the CA BOCES Region. Several districts have requested Restorative Practice Awareness training for staff as they begin to explore practices that teach positive behaviors and build relationships rather than punish. Climate changes daily but as we know changing school culture takes time, dedication, honest conversations, and an open-mindset. The CA BOCES Restorative Practice Awareness training provides an opportunity for teachers to reflect on the positive and negative impacts of current and past practices.
Restorative Practices range from informal to formal. Participants are introduced to the Restorative Practices Continuum which includes informal practices such as affective statements and questions that communicate people’s feelings, and allow for reflection on how their behavior has affected others to impromptu restorative conversations and more formal practices including circles and formal conferences. As you move from left to right on the continuum the processes become more formal, involve more people, and require planning and time.
During the awareness training, participants are exposed to affective statements and questions. Affective statements are personal expressions of feelings in response to others’ positive or negative behaviors. The idea is for teachers to make connections with students. Affective questions include questions that can be asked to the:
Person who committed the harm:
What were you thinking at the time? What have you thought about since?
Who has been affected by what you have done in what way?
What do you think you need to do to make things right?
Person who was harmed:
What did you think when you realized what had happened?
What impact has this incident had on you and others?
What has been the hardest thing for you?
What do you think needs to happen to make things right?
Participants gain an understanding of how to have small impromptu conferences with students to address specific situations and how to incorporate circles into the classroom. It’s always recommended that circles be 80% proactive and 20% responsive. Therefore, more emphasis should be put on building relationships and making connections with students.
Changing school culture is a significant challenge where students will become the beneficiaries of stronger schools and a safe and supportive environment for learning. Restorative Practices provide children and adults with a skill set for enhancing communication in all settings. We encourage schools to explore the restorative journey for their students!
By: Jillian Putnam, CA BOCES Professional Development