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
Flipgrid has been a favorite of many teachers both virtually and in person. Recently, Flipgrid launched a series of weekly virtual field trips to help bring experts from around the world into classrooms to engage students. Events take place on Wednesday at 12:00pm CST.
January field trips are focused around the theme of literacy:
February field trips are focused around the theme of Black History Month.
In these sessions, students will get to hear from authors and experts who will inspire them and spark meaningful conversations. Each session also provides teachers with a link to premade activities and Flipgrid conversations to do with students beforehand and spark their thoughts leading into the event!
To register for Flipgrid events, go to THIS LINK where you will find all of the upcoming sessions!
By: Chelsea Lobello, CA BOCES Model Schools
Are you looking for resources for students that explore a variety of careers? Do you want something that is ready to use with an activity and follow up work? Below are some options that may be helpful, and they are free!
If you have any questions about Career related resources, don’t hesitate to contact any of the following members of the Learning Resources team at CA BOCES:
Cece Fuoco Library Media Services Coordinator email@example.com
Alexandra (Alex) Freer Digital Media Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Insley Distance Learning Coordinator email@example.com
By: Karen Insley, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Social Emotional Learning can best be described as teaching ourselves and students to be
aware of our internal environment. Giving ourselves space to identify and recognize our
emotions isn’t necessarily a new idea, however it is powerful to explicitly teach our students how
to recognize what is going on internally. Only when we become aware of our feelings are we
able to help ourselves move through when we are in the grips of intense emotions.
Trauma-Informed Classrooms cultivate a culture of safety and focus on the external
environment for students to thrive. When educators focus on the external environment they
intentionally work on creating space for students to thrive and practice the skills needed for
Resilience is our entry to thriving, not just surviving. Recently I attended an ASCD virtual conference and heard Elena Auguilar share her ‘12 Strategies to Build Resilience in Yourself and Communities’ which we can put into practice immediately.
1. Right here, right now, everything is ok
2. Feel your body
4. Recognize, name and accept emotions
5. Stay connected to people
6. Take care of yourself
7. Practice perspective taking
8. Be kind to yourself
9. Distract yourself
10. Look for bright spots
11. Practice gratitude
12. Practice “maybe”
When individuals struggle with big emotions we owe it to our students to give them the words and means to move through their emotions and practice resilience. Resilience can be thought of how we weather the storms that life throws at us. Take a moment to remember a time you weather a small challenge and you emerged stronger than you were before. This practice helps to cultivate resilience. There is power in remembering the smaller challenges that you were able to overcome and if you have an opportunity to share your story (and hear another person’s story) it builds resilience in both individuals. When we share our stories it helps to expand our perspective, normalize our experiences, and boosts our oxytocin (which is so healthy and combats our stress hormones!). We all have resilience and we all have the ability to build it. A stress check is a great visual for students to use in order to self evaluate if they are learning ready. This stress check can also be used with a worry box. This graphic has been borrowed from peardeck, as their website has featured some free social-emotional templates. https://www.peardeck.com/studentpaced-demo-resources
A worry box is a great way to have students identify something that may be concerning them
and write them down on a strip of paper and drop into their box. The idea is once the worry is
written down and placed in the box it is captured inside and no longer needs to take up space in
your mind. At the end of the day you can come back to the worry box and see if it still is a worry
or if the worry was resolved throughout the day. If the worry was resolved then it can be thrown
away, if the worry grew the idea is to take it out and place the worry in the teacher’s worry box
so the worry can be problem solved together.
Another idea to cultivate a safe environment and build resilience is to have your students participate in the ‘Hands of Promise’ activity. In this activity the left hand serves as the past and the right hand the future. Students write and/or draw pictures to express their fears on the left hand and what they are expecting and looking forward to on the right hand. This activity can be used to help kids move their thoughts from the past into the present.
It is so encouraging to know that resilience can be cultivated and developed in anyone. We
have the opportunity to continue to practice, model, and develop resiliency skills in ourselves
and others. And, if 2020 has taught us anything it is this…..we are resilient!
By: Jessica Schirrmacher-Smith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Recently, I joined a "fireside chat" with some brilliant literacy experts; the chat was hosted by the International Reading Association (ILA), and the topic was "What Should Equitable and Comprehensive Early Literacy Instruction Look Like in 2020 and Beyond?"
One of the speakers was Douglas Fisher. Doug is a professor of educational leadership at San Diego State University and a teacher leader at Health Sciences High & Middle College. He is a member of the California Reading Hall of Fame and was honored as an exemplary leader by the Conference on English Leadership.
Doug discussed something that a lot of people are talking about, learning loss. He explained that the learning loss narrative emphasizes the wrong thing, and too much attention on learning loss and remediation can lower expectations for teachers and kids, creating negative mindsets. He cited recent 3-8 NWEA test scores for 4.4 million students in the United States; the organization reported that the students generally started school this fall about where they should be in reading. He shared that what needs to be magnified right now is that children will learn to read because of the great work that teachers are doing.
“Believe in yourself.”
Teachers across the region have been engaged in heroic efforts during the pandemic. If the "loss, gap, deficit" narrative changes, teachers will believe in themselves, their work, and that all kids will learn to read.
Wishing you a very happy, healthy, and safe holiday season.
By: Anne Mitchell, CA BOCES Professional Development
In my last article, SharePoint: A Microsoft Teams Alternative, I highlighted a few benefits to creating a SharePoint site and using SharePoint in the classroom. Since then, I have spent a good amount of time exploring some of the features within Microsoft’s Power Platform: Power Automate, Power Apps, Power BI, and Power Virtual Agents, two of which I think are well worth your time.
There are three ways to create a new workflow:
2. from a template; or
3. from a connector.
Take a look at Power Automate and start exploring how you can automate processes to save you time, money, and energy!
Power Apps allows for three types of app creation: Canvas app, Model-driven app, and Portal app. While I don’t yet fully understand the Model-driven app, the Canvas app uses the device screen (whether a tablet, phone, or other screen ratio) as the canvas to construct the app, and the Portal app functions more like a website that is not limited to internal use. [Disclaimer: Portal apps may require additional licensing so communicate with your Microsoft 365 administrator before pursuing this route.] Furthermore, just like the other Microsoft services, Power Apps provides access to guided learning in the Microsoft Education Center, support documentation, and a community forum (hyperlinked in each image below).
To help me (and hopefully you) better understand Power Apps, I worked with Jay Morris, Director of Technology, at Cuba-Rushford Central School District to brainstorm ideas for meaningful apps. For me, the easiest place to start was a Help Desk app similar to services such as QWare or Spiceworks. To make this happen, we needed to create a SharePoint List that would allow us to collect and update each ticket, and then we used a Power Apps Canvas app to connect to that data.
The Help Desk app can be opened by the app’s administrators/owners and general users either online or through the Power Apps mobile app to view, update, or delete existing tickets or create new ones; regardless of the modification, the SharePoint List is updated automatically through the app. Additionally, we could have the Help Desk automatically email the ticket creator as well as the technician to whom the ticket is assigned any time changes occur.
Shown below are four of the seven screens used to make the Help Desk App (Home, Create Ticket, User Tickets, User View/Delete Ticket, Successful Submission, Admin Tickets, and Admin Update Ticket):
Then, on the same SharePoint site where we created the List, we can create a dashboard similar to what you would see using a service like QWare and Spiceworks.
I look forward to exploring Power Apps further to see what processes we can automate and apps we can create. In theory, I am thinking that we could make apps for lunch orders, teacher evaluations, daily check-ins, etc. If you have an idea, send it my way.
If you’re interested in getting a copy of the Help Desk app template and putting it into place, please do not hesitate to reach out (Mark_Beckwith@caboces.org).
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Model Schools
Big Idea Learning blog article written by Sophie Murphy
In 2008, renowned textbook author Dr, Ron Larson founded Big Ideas Learning, https://www.bigideaslearning.com . They are a leading publisher for mathematics curriculum, by providing cohesive, coherent and rigorous mathematics curriculum. They look to empower teachers and support student learning for K-12. Although this may be a wonderful resource, my intention is to share the blog article from this website pertaining to teaching with clarity and purpose as we conquer the distance learning arena.
In her weekly online blog article, the author Sophie Murphy, provides some tips for guidance to better teach with clarity and purpose during distance learning. 13 to be exact, hence the title of the article “13 Tips for Teaching with Clarity and Purpose During Distance Learning”. She has recognized within the article that we are navigating new ways to teach our students while not being in the classroom with them, and that we have been given no time to prepare in these everchanging times. With that being said, I think we can all agree that there have been times of confusion as to what and how we should be implementing our lessons most effectively.
In her article, Sophie touches on some practices that will be helpful in continuing to deliver daily lessons with the same clarity and purpose as in the traditional classroom setting. In reading the blog article you will find a list of the 13 tips she has compiled to share, however I wanted to mention one in particular. It is her 13th tip, “Be kind to yourself. Know that we are here to continue to support you.” As a member of the CABOCES Instructional Support Services, Distance Learning team this caught my attention and prompted me to share this article. “Be kind to yourself”, be sure to take some time to do this. Whatever it may be that makes you feel better, take that time regularly and believe that you deserve it. “Know that we are here to support you”, you can be sure of that statement. We are here, ready, willing and able to assist you.
Just in case you are not aware of all the supports available to assist you, I will share. CABOCES Instructional Support Services (ISS) has many areas for personal and professional growth within Professional Development, and the coordinators are always working to put a specialized training together based on the needs within the districts. However, ISS is not just about the professional development. Within Learning Resources, there are endless online learning opportunities through distance learning for students. The online experience is even supported with two face to face teacher that guides students through the process, and they provide information of students’ progress to the districts with regularly scheduled check ins. Here is the link: https://caboces.org/services/learning-resources/distance-education/online-courses/. There are many elective and course opportunities to be shared that may not be offered within the walls of the districts. It expands the choices and the variety of content the students could be exposed to in their educational journey. And please if you do not see what you are looking for, reach out, we will be glad to search for you. ISS will provide supports for just about every need, and if we do not have it, we will try to find it. Be sure to reach out to any of the ISS staff and take advantage of all the supports we have to offer the participating districts.
Take a few minutes, read the article and hopefully it will give you some information you can use during these everchanging experiences in the education world.
Be Kind and Be Well,
Lisa Scott, CABOCES Learning Resources
A teacher preparing for remote instruction had heard about TeachingBooks from a colleague and called me for more information. Specifically, she planned to read a book to students and was looking for a vocabulary list. Within, TeachingBooks, the teacher located a vocabulary list, three lesson plans, and a pre-recorded author interview. Unlike OverDrive and popular ebook sites, TeachingBooks does not offer ebooks for download.
TeachingBooks is free to all CABOCES’ districts and provides publisher permissions for virtual read-alouds. Educators may browse PreK – 12 titles and author resources, discover virtual teaching ideas, access passages to 35,000+ books, and share resources via email and Google Classroom. Lesson plans and vocabulary lists assist in meeting learning objectives, and author interviews generate excitement about the book. Although this resource is available to teachers, students should know about it too.
K-12 students can visit resources.caboces.org and log in with a generic username and password (see your school librarian) to meet authors and illustrators with exclusive movies and recordings, experience over 12,000 read-along audiobook experiences, hear authors pronounce and tell the stories of their names, and enjoy over 1,500 complete book readings. Students undecided on what to read can find book suggestions through the Reader’s Advisory.
Contact Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces.org to discover how to use this resource for your remote instruction.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
In August 2020, ELA teachers from our region were invited to join Angela Stockman, author of Hacking the Writing Workshop and Make Writing, for a two-day institute on multimodal writing instruction face-to-face and across the distance. Through synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities, Angela led teachers in designing writing units and lessons that encourage students to use and explore hands-on approaches to writing.
As a continuation of this work, Angela is will be supporting the region in strategy sessions that are targeted towards specific grade bands, with rotating offerings for Elementary, Middle, and High School levels. Each of the strands will have a focus for that particular level with an overarching theme of multimodal instruction in face-to-face and distance learning situations. Teachers will engage in three one-hour sessions during the course of the school year and will have access to a variety of self-paced professional development lessons created specifically by Angela for our teachers.
Kicking off this series was the Middle School Strand that met after school on November 18, 2020. A handful of regional English teachers convened on Zoom with Angela around a focus on “Defining Structure and Form and Seeking Conventionality.” The next Middle School Session will be on January 27, 2021. Between now and then, teachers can access and work with Angela’s asynchronous resources.
An outline of the remainder of the series is as follows:
Multimodal Composition in the K-5 Writing Workshop
In each session, participants will examine explicit curriculum design methods, tangible writing tools, and instructional strategies specific to narrative, research and information, and opinion and argument writing.
December 2nd: Story Making
January 20th: Building Texts that Teach
March 31st: Composing Opinions and Arguments
MIDDLE SCHOOL STRAND
Multimodal Composition in the Middle School Writing Workshop
These sessions will challenge writing teachers to pursue and elevate the complexity of students' creative and academic writing. Each session will leave participants equipped to coach critical thinking, multimodal composition, and an iterative process, in service to more sophisticated thinking, learning, and written work.
November 11th: Defining Structure and Form and Seeking Conventionality
January 27th: Strategies for Coaching Critical and Metaphorical Thinking and Writing
April 14th: Lifting the Quality of Revision and Editing
HIGH SCHOOL STRAND
Multimodal Composition in High School Writing Classrooms
Participants in these sessions will learn how to leverage important constraints and help writers distinguish formulaic writing from coherent, sophisticated, and authentically influential work. All will leave with explicit strategies that move writers past mere replication in order to generate compelling compositions in every content area.
December 9th: Equipping Writers to Assume a Professional Posture
February 3rd: Tinkering with Structure and Using Conventions for Effect
April 21st: Elevating Complexity and Scaffolding with Careful Intention
Any teacher who may be interested in participating in this series can visit register.caboces.org to sign-up.
For more information Angela Stockman, visit http://www.angelastockman.com/.
By: Sarah Wittmeyer, CA BOCES Professional Development
The ISS Student Programs team is thankful to work with the following Scholastic Challenge coaches:
It is easy to agree that the ninety-five 6th through 12th grade students who participated in last week’s Virtual Scholastic Challenge were the bright stars of the day. However, since this is Thanksgiving week, the Student Programs team would like to shine a light on the unseen heroes of the day: the Scholastic Challenge coaches.
Often literally unseen, with videos and microphones turned off, the coaches virtually went from room to room to observe their students’ matches. These coaches were willing to take on extra work, juggle their hectic virtual and in-person teaching responsibilities, support the teams remotely and in-person, and adapt to last-minute changes due to school closures, in order to give students the opportunity to compete in the 2nd Virtual Scholastic Challenge held on Wednesday, November 18th, 2020. Thirty-four matches took place over the course of the day, with nearly 2,600 questions read aloud. This Student Programs CoSer 506 event would not have happened without the coaches listed above.
After the great success of the May 1st Virtual Scholastic Challenge (https://cainnovativeteaching.weebly.com/innovative-teaching/category/scholastic-challenge ) the Student Programs team aimed to make the second event even bigger and better. The November Virtual Scholastic Challenge grew by 1 team, making it an amazing 21 team all-day competition. Some teams were masked and socially distanced at their schools, while some were logged in from their homes.
Scholastic Challenge is an annual event hosted by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES. The regional competition that tests students’ knowledge of academic trivia and current events is typically held as a face-to-face tournament.
The Student Programs team is also grateful for the willing and enthusiastic ISS staff who juggled their schedules to facilitate the match rooms.
Congratulations to the four teams that scored the highest total points after three matches and made it to the Finals.
The Junior (grades 6-9) Finals: Ellicottville Central School (1st place) and Whitesville Central School (2nd place)
The Senior (grades 9-12) Finals: Ellicottville Centra School (1st place) and Fillmore Central School (2nd place)
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES Student Programs
Together, we can do better. All students, school districts, families and communities have equitable access to rich resources to improve student learning, strengthen families and create healthier communities. School and community partnerships are empowered and connected in meaningful ways, problems are solved and resources are used effectively. The bi-annual Community & Schools Together Conference, is one example of how the vision of the Community Schools CoSer has been fulfilled. The conference has enabled school and community partnerships to develop, enhance and align.
On November 16th, Community Schools hosted the second virtual Community & Schools Together Conference, which appropriately, focused on relationships and resilience. Despite the fact that the conference was an all-day, virtual event, over 100 participants attended, and stayed the course of the day. This is a true testament to the quality of regional educational leaders and expert community leaders that presented at the conference. Presentations were intentionally structured in strands, starting with self-reflection and care and moving towards taking care of staff and prioritizing staff wellness and relationships. Next, sessions focused on students, parent and family engagement and finally, community partnerships and organizations. Presenters shared a variety of information, ranging from best practices, models of intervention, program evaluation and personal resilience.
In addition to the professional learning and growth that the day was centered around, personal reflection, connection and overall wellness were of equal importance, in terms of intended outcomes. One participant shared that they appreciated “addressing the 'real' issues with empathy and care, as so many people are suffering in their own ways. Information was presented in a way that really made you want to engage, listen and be active.”
Keynote speaker, Ali Hearn inspired participants by sharing her expertise on self-care. She demonstrated to participants that self-care can be replenishing, draining, or relaxing. Replenishing self-care requires people to truly identify self-care practices that are sustaining such as staying hydrated, exercise, and eating healthy foods. Additionally, Ali connected the importance of self-care practices of staff as a benefit for students stating, “If your staff isn’t OK, then students probably are not OK.” Participants were provided with many strategies for daily check-ins as a support for staff, relationship building between staff members, and connecting with families.
Thank you to all presenters, participants and districts that were represented at the recent event. You will find the “presenter profile” below, that provides a snapshot into the collective expertise represented on November 16th. We look forward to the next Community & Schools Together Conference, which will be held on March 22nd, 2021. Please stay tuned for information about the upcoming event.
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools and Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development
Are you looking for an interactive, fun, and different way to engage your students online? Do you want to tap into your student’s curiosity and increase their capacity to inquire, ask questions, and think more deeply? How about trying the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) with the use of the online tool, Padlet.com?
If you’re not familiar with Padlet, Matt Miller, author of Ditch that Textbook, explains it as “a web app that lets users post notes on a digital wall. The uses for this site in the classroom are virtually endless!” From bellringer activities, to notetaking, creating presentations, and more, Padlet is a great tool to help students collaborate in a virtual space. In addition, Padlet can be used both synchronously and asynchronously, as students simply need to have the shared link in order to access and post in the space. If you’re worried about students writing inappropriate things when you aren’t on the page, there is a “Require Approval” setting that can be turned on. With this setting, before any post a student makes appears on the page, you as the instructor and creator of the page will have to approve the post. If you are using Padlet live with your students, you also can delete any post made at any time. With a free account, you can have 4 Padlet’s at a time though you are able to endlessly delete one and create a new one if needed.
One highly effective way to utilize Padlet is by trying the QFT. The Right Question Institute describes as a tool that “helps all people create, work with, and use their own questions — building skills for lifelong learning, self-advocacy, and democratic action.” The QFT is a rigorous yet simple, step-by-step process that facilitates the asking of many questions. The seven steps include 1) a question focus (QFocus), 2) the rules for producing questions, 3) producing questions, 4) categorizing questions, 5) prioritizing questions, 6) next steps, and 7) reflection. By utilizing a Padlet, each of the steps can be clearly defined ahead of time for students.
When the link for your Padlet is shared, all students with access will be able to make original posts as well as react and comment on other students posts. Having this ability makes interactions between students during the QFT process not only possible but highly engaging and productive. If you are interested in trying the QFT in your remote learning space, I’ve provided a template via Padlet that you are free to copy and use for yourself. As we navigate the remote instruction waters, now is a great time to try something new and see if it works for improving the educational experience of your students.
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Professional Development
Students are connecting with a broad collection of ebooks and audiobooks through OverDrive’s Sora app. Inspired by educator and student feedback, Sora offers both assigned and pleasure reading incentivized with digital badges for achievements. It was also named one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2019.
During spring and summer 2020 Zoom trainings, educators downloaded Sora onto personal devices and discovered how to change an ebook’s font style to dyslexic, increase text size, highlight text, and make notes – even in an audiobook. Teachers were thrilled to learn that class sets can be assigned to students and highlighted texts and notes may be exported in response to an assignment. As a result, 19 titles (class sets) have been assigned to more than 450 students in 7 districts since September.
The combination of convenience, ease of reading on-the-go without wi-fi, and personalized reading experience has led to over 9,127 non-assigned ebooks and audiobooks being borrowed within the CABOCES’ region September 1 through October 27, 2020. See the graph below for the most popular titles checked out since September 1, 2020.
This digital collection is not limited to students in grades PreK – Twelve. Teachers and support staff can access many books featured in the NY Times’ Best Seller’s list and USA Today’s popular titles, as well as those that complement PD trainings.
For more information on how to maximize Sora at your school, please contact Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces.org.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Christiansen Institute blog article written by Thomas Arnett
The Christiansen Institute is a respected research-based leader in Disruptive Innovation at all levels. In addition to a blog subscription, the Christiansen Institute offers free resources, research and other valuable tools for today’s ever-changing world. You can find more at: christenseninstitute.org
When I first read the headline from the Christensen Institute blog in September I was immediately intrigued. I have been considering the headline for a few weeks as I work with CA BOCES districts and teachers in my role as Distance Learning Coordinator. I also admit that I read the article with the lens of a working parent of a student who is learning at a distance 3 days a week this school year. I have had many conversations within my different roles over this article as I digest the contents of this blog.
No doubt distance learning has it challenges for our students, families, teachers and administrators. The list of challenges is great, but some of those challenges have been met or at least lessened since the start of this school year. Many districts have increased the availability of devices and internet access providing some relief for families and students in our most remote/rural areas. Three districts have created opportunities for fully remote elementary level students using a combination of an online content provider and digital resources from our Digital Media CoSer. In all three districts the students were provided school issued devices and have academic support from an assigned New York State certified teacher in the district. Two of the three districts have a similar arrangement for students in grades 6-12. These examples, in addition to the numerous students that are receiving online courses at the middle and secondary levels provide insight into how distance learning may be better for kids. They also show how distance learning is meeting the needs of the students and families that are restricted from face to face attendance at school, but still allow for developmentally appropriate academic content to be provided.
The article goes on to mention some of the benefits of fully remote learning that some, I hope many, students are experiencing. Among those benefits are, having families more involved in student learning. Having the time outside of school to explore more than is possible during a typical school day, like watching the stars at night, following up on assigned learning activities that the families are more aware of and can elaborate on. These examples, and more, coupled with the amazing adjustment teachers made to their face to face environments to make them more accessible and digital for remote learning have made distance learning better for students.
Providing access to learning when face to face isn’t an option is a workable alternative. Is it better for all students? Maybe, maybe not. At CA BOCES Distance Learning we have options for consideration that may make it better for students. I will leave it to you to answer the question, are kids are better off with distance learning?
By: Karen Insley, CA BOCES Learning Resources
If you are as “seasoned” as me, you may well remember when The Mailbox was a print magazine and was delivered to....your mailbox! The Mailbox is no longer in print, but here at CABOCES Learning Resources, we’ve provided access to the digital version.
Out of frustration born by the lack of practical, ready-to-use materials for the classroom, The Mailbox was created in 1973 by teachers, for teachers. One of the reasons we looked into The Mailbox is because it uses creative ways to teach content that is aligned to standards. Pre-K to 6 grade teachers can find over 52,000+ worksheets, crafts, forms, songs, games, graphic organizers, patterns, clip art, cards, and more, spanning a diverse range of subjects, including language arts, math, social studies, science, classroom management, and arts and crafts. Engaging, skill-based student practice sheets are perfect for assessments, morning work, guided learning, and small-group or independent practice and homework. Teachers can easily download ideas directly to their computers (in PDF format), print them, or save them in their Collections folder or Print Packet for later.
If you or your teachers need more information or training on this or any of our eResources, please feel free to reach out to us directly. We are here to serve you and be your Essential Partner.
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
As many schools continue to navigate remote and hybrid learning, we often think about our youngest learners and worry about how they will connect with their teachers, view lesson materials and complete learning activities at home. Seesaw has become a great tool for doing exactly that! Seesaw is described as “Student driven digital portfolios and simple parent communication,” and I have found that this quote is exactly what Seesaw is. Add the pandemic into the mix and these portfolios and simple communication become a lifeline to student success in all learning situations we may be in.
Students log into Seesaw Class App using their home learning code. Once logged on, they are connected to their teacher’s class and able to view and complete activities, view teacher videos and share photos and videos to their personal journal. This is especially helpful when we have students at home, in the building and anywhere in between. Teachers are able to create their own activities, as well as collaborate and share with teachers around the world in the community library.
Families log into Seesaw Family App where they can see all of the activities the student has done, message teachers, and leave comments on student work. This meaningful feedback connects home to school to further support student learning. For example, a student can work on a writing piece in Seesaw, then view compliments from family members, teachers, and even their principal right under their work.
Another great feature is the use of class and school announcements. Families can easily view announcements about reminders, class happenings or school wide information. Cattaraugus Little-Valley Elementary principal Jenny Conklin-Frank uses Seesaw to post her morning announcements to both students and families. Classroom community is crucial, but in a time like a pandemic it’s imperative that we keep the fun in learning and continue to bond over shared activities as much as possible during these trying times. Seesaw is a great way to keep us all together, even while we are apart.
By: Chelsea Lobello, CA BOCES Model Schools
As schools look to create a more inclusive setting for all students, co teaching is a model that is frequently used. This collaborative approach allows all students to remain in the general education classroom. This model of inclusive education helps to ensure that all students have access to the general education curriculum. The following defining characteristics identify the unique relationship of co teaching.
(Friend & Cook, 2003)
Co-teaching relationships represent a significant change in the working conditions and day to day activities if school professionals who are often used to work in a more independent manner. Professionals should consider the defining characteristic of co-teaching and their own professional strengths as they initiate co teaching relationships.
Here at CA Boces, we can help you with your co-teaching ventures by providing professional development, as well as peer coaching with feedback to improve implementation and instruction. Some topics of the professional development could be:
By: Corey Wilson, CA BOCES Professional Development
We know that teacher immediacy and creating learning communities is essential for any successful and positive educational experience. Students may wonder—is my teacher interested in my life? does my teacher have a vested interest in my success? are my assignment good enough? do I feel like I am part of this class and that my presence matters?
But what does teacher immediacy and community look like in a blended learning environment or even in a fully online, asynchronous course? How do we make sure that all our students, who we root for passionately, know that we are still there cheering them on and trying to protect and inspire them in the world of ones and zeros?
In her blog, Rebecca Heiser (2019) notes that teacher immediacy is defined by Wiener and Mehrabian (1968) as “non-verbal and verbal queues and the psychological distance between the communicator and recipient,” which means that it is our job as teachers to make students feel like they are, figuratively, sitting on a beanbag in our virtual classrooms able to be seen and heard even when they are at home with headsets, on a videoconference call, or working in Moodle, Schoology or Microsoft Classrooms. They are physically far away, but should feel as though they are able to pop into our rooms and share a moment of their day, happy or difficult, and that we will be there with joy or comfort, that they can ask a question and we will help guide them to an answer, that they still can communicate with their peers and collaborate in our classroom communities. As mentioned in Engaging the Online Learner: Activities and Resources for Creative Instruction, “…experienced online instructors have found that interaction is actually the essence of the course” (pg. 8). As teachers, we must come up with ways to make our students feel like we are right there even when we cannot be and that students’ peers are still their community and fellow collaborators.
So how do teachers create a community and make our presence known in an online educational setting? How do we use technology to bring us together even as we are asked to social distance and remain apart? Like everything in education, making a connection to our students is the foremost priority.
One of the most important findings in online educational research is the importance of making our students feel that their teachers are immediately available even though that is not always feasible. Here are some introductory best practices (found through multiple sources listed at the end of this post) that I have used in my own online teaching and can be great starting points:
1.Respond as soon as possible to submissions, emails, and texts, but give a timeframe to accommodate your own time and needs. For example, “I will respond to your emails within 24 hours and I will respond to your assignment submissions within 3 days.”
2.Create discussion forums, but do not feel the need to respond to every student. Instead, respond to a couple of different students in each forum, but respond deeply and thoroughly with comments, guiding questions, and outside resources. Students will see your presence and know that you are thinking about their answers but responding will not overwhelm you. Ask students to do the work and respond to classmates as well so that everyone is getting feedback and creating community at the same time.
3.Brainstorm virtually using chat boxes in synchronous videoconference situation or use shared documents or the top lines of discussion forums to answer and then be able to quickly review student ideas in asynchronous online course situations.
4.Give feedback using a variety of tools and methods. For example, try a short video answer to student questions. Use images that might help students understand a written explanation or to invite conversation. Record audio feedback so that students can hear tone and inflection. And of course, rely on text with email, and when it makes sense, set up a videoconference for more difficult or lengthy “in person” conversations.
5.Have set “office hours” where any student can meet you in a webinar during that time but let students know that they may end up meeting in a group. Set up separate individual conferencing sessions for more serious conversations and invite parents and guardians to join in.
6.Create spaces for students to just talk and be themselves but guide their chatter with some questions about the topics they are learning in classes or have conversations about events that they are still engaged in like music, sports, or clubs. Help students have productive conversations and share about their lives like they might done in person before class, in hallways, or when they stopped by to talk between classes.
7.Set up group work with spaces like break-out rooms in Zoom. Mix and match the groupings or pairings.
8.Create shared documents or Wikis, perhaps even a blog or an online school newspaper where students create the news and stories that are important to them.
9.Create collaborative projects that feel like real-world experiences where students can use videoconferencing to showcase talents and creativity.
10.Create safe social media spaces where students can collaborate and share projects that they have completed as well as share ideas and help one another when they get stuck on an assignment or project.
All these ways of communicating help create online community through teacher immediacy that make us feel like a whole that is working together again and gives us opportunities to be heard and seen in our digital lives.
Conrad, R-M., & Donaldson, J. (2011) Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.
Heiser, R. (2019, February 19) Social presence expectations in distance education. Retrieved from https://sites.psu.edu/rebeccaheiser/2019/02/19/social-presence-expectations-in-distance-education/
Ko, S., & Rossen, S. (2010) Teaching online: A practical Guide. New York, NY: Routledge.
Mattson, K. (2017) Digital citizenship in action: Empowering students to engage in online communities. Portland, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.
Rice, K. (2012) Making the move to k-12 online teaching: Research-based strategies and practices. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Virtual restorative circles are the antidote for a great way to stay together when we must be so far apart. CA BOCES has been working with teachers across the region to focus on self-care, mindset, and the importance of positivity by providing virtual restorative circles. Virtual circles provide a place for teachers to connect, share ideas, and support each other through challenging times. It is also an opportunity for teachers to experience the social and emotional benefits of circle process and how this can transform into opportunities for supporting SEL with students through face-to-face, hybrid, and remote instruction.
The Restorative Practice Self-Care Circles followed the Kay Pranis circle process which includes an opening ceremony, mindfulness activity, establishing norms and guidelines, check-in rounds, guiding questions, and a checkout rounds. BOCES facilitators modeled through experiential practice with educators how these components could be present in instruction with students. We have all heard the popular phrase in education “Maslow before Bloom,” which is typically used to communicate that humans need their basic needs met before academic learning can be fully embraced. Self-Care Restorative Circles allows educators to embrace this phrase while embedding social emotional learning within the content they are teaching. Child psychiatrist Pamela Cantor told Edutopia in 2019 that “When we’re able to combine social, emotional, affective, and cognitive development together, we are creating many, many more interconnections in the developing brain that enable children t accelerate learning and development.” Allowing time to integrate social emotional learning into academics and content areas allows schools the opportunity to build relationships and make connections with students.
Restorative Practice Self-Care Circles model instructional approaches for educators to learn different ways to build connections with students during each component of the circle process. For example, educators might choose to start their day with an opening ceremony. This could consist of a morning greeting, short story, quote, poem, or even a song. Many of these could also be used during what is called a closing ceremony or ending a lesson. Educators also had opportunities to practice multiple mindfulness activities for all ages including deep breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, and opportunities or self-reflection. All of which could be transferred to instruction with students. The most common component to educators was establishing group norms and guidelines. Most educators start each school year off with this. The restorative self-care circles model for educators how to provide 2-3 non-negotiable guidelines while encouraging the students to develop additional guidelines that could be transferred to any learning platform. Participants also engaged in a wide variety of check-in and checkout strategies including the Fist-to-Five, Emotional Weather Report, and much more. Many might ask where does academic content fit into the circle process? Academic content is embedded in each component, but most visible within the guiding question rounds. During this time educators can check for understanding, introduce new vocabulary, discuss homework, build schema for introducing new lessons, and much more.
Below are a few reactions from participants across the CA BOCES Region that participated in Restorative Practice Self-Care Circles:
“I loved the gratitude session! I have an app on my phone that reminds me to list something I am grateful for everyday and I love it.”
“Enjoy these meetings every week! Love seeing others feeling the same as me. Great hosts!”
“I enjoy this every week! Allows one to feel accepted and important!”
“If I could give this professional development 10 stars I would!!! This is the one session that I look forward to attending every week. It is very organized, provides essential and necessary information, and always makes me feel good!”
As educators we must make the commitment to prioritize self-care to successfully be able to help others. It’s like the saying goes “You must put on your own oxygen mask before you can take care of others.”
By: Jillian Putnam, CA BOCES Professional Development
Anxiety is the leading mental health diagnosis amongst youth. Now, combine that with a pandemic and starting a school year filled with complex uncertainty, changes and concerns. How can educators effectively help students deal with anxiety amidst all that is transpiring? Educators from across the region came together recently, via zoom, to start to find these answers with anxiety expert, Kimberly Morrow, LCSW and founder of anxietytraining.com.
Anxiety can look like a number of things within the school setting. We may see refusal, inattention or restlessness, disruptive behaviors, frequent trips to the nurse/bathroom, attendance issues or resistance to socialize. The resistance to socialize, might include not turning on their camera during a remote lesson.
Morrow used a Chinese finger cuff to demonstrate the paradox of anxiety. Simply stated, the more that we resist the discomfort of anxiety, the more it persists. Traditionally, in good faith and trying to help, we, as educators, often do the exact opposite of what will help when trying to support a student struggling with anxiety. We might allow them to eat lunch in the classroom when they express discomfort about going to the cafeteria, we might avoid asking them to engage in class discussion due to social anxiety or we may make other, similar accommodations. Unfortunately, these actions will only reinforce the cycle within the brain that responds to danger. Notice the cycle in the diagram below.
One key perspective that Morrow ensured that the group of educators understood from the beginning was that the goal is not for the student to be symptom free, but to be effective in managing their symptoms. How can educators play a role in all of this?
1. Education about the brain and the function of the amygdala can be very powerful. The book “Hey, Warrior” by Karen Young, is a wonderful book for teaching children about the function of the amygdala and the feelings of worry and anxiety.
2. Do NOT reassure an anxious child by saying things like, “it will all be ok,” or “you don’t have anything to worry about,” or “you always do well on your tests.”
3. Help students to tolerate uncomfortable feelings. “I know you are feeling really worried right now, I wonder if a ‘mindful minute’ would help?” “What has helped you to stay in class when you have felt this way in the past? I am willing to help you find some solutions.”
4. Let them know you are on their team. Be a cheerleader for them as they tolerate anxious feelings.
5. Validate the child’s feelings and help them to identify what the feeling is.
If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to Community Schools (Katie Mendell) or visit register.caboces.org for upcoming opportunities. Morrow will return to work with the region, via zoom, again on October 30th, for the session, “Living Well as a Teacher.”
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools
I am sure you will not be surprised to hear that Microsoft Teams is the learning management system (LMS) of choice for nearly every CA BOCES component school district with the exception of very few. Teams is a dynamic application that allows educators to work productively in a digital environment.
Want a platform that can monitor student participation? Teams Insights has at-a-glance data. Need to video conference with one student, groups of students, colleagues, parents or guardians, or other stakeholders? Teams meetings “include audio, video, and screen sharing,” and “they're one of the key ways to collaborate in Teams.” Want students to submit their work but you struggle to store and keep track of physical papers? Teams Assignments are the solution you need. Whatever the problem may be, it is likely that a solution can be found in Teams.
Because Teams is so robust, it can also stir up strong reservations for educators who either struggle with integrating technology or those who need a simpler tool for their students. So if you are in one of these or similar categories, what do you do now that our school districts, for the most part, have gone all-in with Microsoft Teams? Microsoft still might have a solution for you.
Microsoft SharePointWhen you find that you are no longer struggling to keep your head above water in the midst of a pandemic trying to simultaneously teach students in your classroom and others at home, then I would strongly recommend exploring some of the other applications available through your Microsoft 365 account. My first recommendation for those of you seeking an alternative to Teams would be to spend some time in SharePoint. You can find this app by selecting the SharePoint icon (shown above) in your Microsoft 365 Home page.
SharePoint is the service that supports the other Microsoft applications. This is why you’ll see “sharepoint.com” in the URL when you share a file from your OneDrive (go try it if you haven’t seen this before). Another way to think of SharePoint is that it is a no-code, web-design tool. For example, the 3 Tools to Improve Results site was designed to replace the NYS Assessment Items OneNote file and allows members of the site to seamlessly transition from released assessment items to benchmark assessments to data analysis documents without the sync errors and delays that can often come with OneNote.
Also built on SharePoint, the Drone Education site was built with two objectives in mind: (1) to provide resources for educators seeking Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification and (2) to provide drone labs that can be utilized to teach content learning standards.
Once you are signed into SharePoint, you can create a new site by selecting the + in the upper left-hand corner of the page and then navigating through the prompts to get started.
After you pick an initial theme, you can start building your site by adding elements anywhere you find a +, or you can select the ⚙️ in the upper right-hand corner near your Microsoft 365 account initials and choose one of the options such as “Change the look” to get the theme that works best for you.
To make your site work best for you and your students, you can add a variety of media to your pages such as text, pictures, embedded videos, Microsoft Forms, and more. The best part is that your site will only include exactly what you want it to and nothing more (like that pesky Chat feature in Teams).
The biggest downside to SharePoint worth noting before you go exploring is the fact that SharePoint sites are designed to be used internally (i.e. users of the same Microsoft 365 tenant) as a means of security and protection. In order to enable access to guests such as parents, community stakeholders, or your friends at CA BOCES who may not have district accounts, you will need to get permission from your Microsoft 365 administrator who maintains the authority to change this setting.
For more help getting started with SharePoint sites, review Microsoft’s Create a Site in SharePoint resource or reach out to your friendly neighborhood CA BOCES coordinator.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Student Programs has always inspired creative problem-solving, teamwork, deep thinking, and resilience. This year, more than ever, students, coaches, and the ISS team are challenged to apply these traits to achieve the impossible, virtually.
ArtsPower Theatre on Demand (CoSer 403) is available now through June 30, 2021
APTOD virtually brings teachers and students 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
In addition, educators can contact Cece Fuoco (Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces.org) or Cathy Dunkleman (Catherine_Dunkleman@caboces.org) at Learning Resources to check out the books from the professional library or Interlibrary loan.
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES Student Programs
Many beliefs in American society have become politicized and school environments naturally foster discussions around such issues. As a result, opinions are freely expressed regardless of depth of knowledge. Whether a conversation about free speech, the upcoming presidential election, or if vaccines are necessary, just about everyone is ready to express an opinion. Texts, statements, videos, photographs, and eyewitness accounts offer support for facts, yet constructing knowledge requires going beyond conjecturing for strengthening information literacy skills. Here are some basic tips:
In making these tips practical for students, consider applying information literacy skills to everyday life. Did someone send a mean text? Well, who is the author? Who is the intended audience? What was the purpose? A discussion can then take place on what friendship is and a possible remedy for the situation. Similarly, this conversation can take place when opinions are expressed about a sports team.
Challenge students to support their opinions with knowledge gained from several sources.
What is the evidence? What are some other viewpoints? What authority is contributing to your knowledge? Everyone has an opinion about something but whether they can use knowledge to defend that opinion is something else.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
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