The 3rd Southern Tier Annual Film Festival was held at Allegany-Limestone Central School District on May 9th, 2019 under the direction of Suzan Snyder and was another amazing success. Teachers, parents, administrators, and students gathered together, watched student films, and awarded the trophy to the winning district, Cuba Rushford Central School. Participating districts included Alfred-Almond (@AlfredAlmondCS), Allegany-Limestone(@ALCSGator), Cuba-Rushford (@CR_REBELS), Fillmore (@FillmoreEagles), Olean (@OleanHighSchool), and Whitesville (@wcsbluejays).
As a teacher who loves to see the creativity of my students, to witness the brilliance of a new generation, to be part of collaborative communities, I look forward every year to the professional development that spearheaded the film festival. It is an ongoing experience that continues to bring teachers together–those that were there first and new faces that join each year.
Three years ago, a group of teachers gathered together for professional development offered by CA BOCES (@CABOCESit), bringing Dr. David Bruce from University at Buffalo and Dr. Sunshine Sullivan from Houghton College to guide us in our efforts to learn to use digital media in our classrooms. We left that experience armed with new ideas for our classroom, exciting project-based assessments, our own creative pieces, and with a vague idea that we wanted to come together at the end of the school year and showcase our students’ efforts. We met periodically and fleshed out an idea for a film festival—a good spirited, but competitive event that would allow students to try to win a trophy for their school, and provide recognition among their peers and throughout their communities. We also wanted our students to create the artwork to advertise the festival so they could own this event alongside their teachers.
That vague idea became a fully developed festival. Now, each year towards the culmination of the school year, students enter their best work from throughout the year to a film committee. The committee picks thirty of the best films to showcase, selects winners based on specific criteria, and creates a flight sheet for one final award to be chosen by the audience at the end of the event. This year we had a wonderful artist, Jazlynn Sullivan of Olean High School, create the image for the posters to advertise the event and the programs.
As an English teacher, I am constantly amazed at the writing that comes out of these projects. Teachers ask students to tell a story, to shed light on an issue or a poem, to be a magician with images, to create a parody or satire, and they deliver at the film festival with glowing outcomes and to genuine applause. When we ask our students to put themselves in the spotlight, we are asking them to be vulnerable, to be real, to be exceptional. And they do not fail. Students create comedies and tragedies, extrapolate meaning from a poem through image and sound or investigate the way color is used in writing. Sometimes they look at what it means to be a teenager, magnifying difficult issues like bullying, violence, and trying to find their identity. Students are investigating the deep issues of their lives and sharing it with their teachers and then a wider audience so that we can search for answers or laugh or be afraid along with them.
Sometimes our students bring tears to our eyes. Sometimes the adults in the room go back in time, spend three minutes as the adolescents that we once were. That is what happens every year at this film festival. Every year another group of students radiates their authentic selves and ask the adults and companions in their lives to go with them on that journey.
This small film festival is growing every year. This year there were over 110 attendees. The students propelled the hard work of a small group of teachers into something great. For all the future festivals, we hope more teachers throughout the region will attend the five-day summer professional development opportunity and begin making digital projects and films in their classrooms with their students. We can’t wait to see the work of the students next year. Maybe it will be your students that win your district the trophy.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Can you feel it? Winter break is fastly approaching. For many, this break is a time of a much needed and well-deserved rest. For others, winter break, like the several other breaks from school, is a time that causes stress because school is the safest home they know. The differences between these two feelings remind us of the importance of cultivating the social and emotional well-being in addition to fostering academic growth in public education.
In addition to the social and emotional well-being of students, the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) has also recognized the importance of mental health education. Proposed in January of 2018, the continuum of well-being for mental health literacy was formally adopted by the Board of Regents in May of 2018. The NYSED Mental Health webpage nicely reminds us “research has shown that the quality of the school climate may be the single most predictive factor in any school’s capacity to promote student achievement. When young people are educated about mental health, the likelihood increases they will be able to effectively recognize signs and symptoms in themselves and others and will know where to turn for help. Health education that respects the importance of mental health, as well as the challenges of mental illness, will help young people and their families and communities feel more comfortable seeking help, improve academic performance and, most importantly, even save lives.” Some school districts have gotten creative in their approach to positively improve their culture and climate.
I recently walked into Cuba-Rushford Central School’s Middle/High School building and was delighted to see Lupo, pictured above, a 15-week old, male Bouvier des Flandres; the Bouvier des Flandres breed is loyal, gentle, and hypoallergenic, typically living 10 to 12 years growing upwards of 100 pounds. As I watched Lupo, he brought smiles to nearly all who passed him by, and he received welcoming embraces from both students and adults. Naturally, like most, I needed to learn more about Lupo’s role at CRCS.
Whose dog is Lupo? Lupo belongs to Chris Cappelletti, and is, ultimately, his responsibility throughout the day. However, Chris let me know that both getting Lupo into CRCS and taking care of him throughout the day wouldn’t be possible without the encouragement and assistance of the CRCS faculty and administration, particularly Nicole Williams and Sally Kus.
Why is Lupo at CRCS? Several events took place that allowed for Lupo to be welcomed at CRCS. After many weeks of researching the benefits of a therapy dog, the idea was presented to CRCS superintendent, Carlos Gildemeister. Then, after discussing the idea and the research, Carlos gave his full support knowing that the benefits of a therapy dog far outweigh the costs.
Who takes care of Lupo at night? Lupo belongs to Chris. This means that Chris is responsible for taking care of Lupo before and after school. Furthermore, Chris is responsible for having Lupo trained as a therapy dog; this means Lupo needs to pass a temperament test, complete obedience school, and undergo therapy dog training, each with an associated fee. The big goal for Lupo, once he completes all of his training, is for him to pass the American Kennel Club (AKC) Therapy Dog Test.
Has Lupo made an impact in his first 15 weeks at CRCS? “I’ve seen a huge difference!” Chris told me. “I’ve seen more smiling faces, more communication with children and adults, and increased empathy. Students worry if Lupo has eaten enough, and regularly ask to take him on walks so Lupo can go to the bathroom outside.” Nicole added “that socially he has created a bridge for students that normally would not hang out or speak to each other. For instance, two girls in particular that do not hang out, quickly and without any awkwardness, started talking while they were petting Lupo.”
What else do I need to know if I wanted get a therapy dog in my school district? In short, you need research, support, and commitment; research to identify which type of dog will be the suitable, support from administration and the dog’s owner, and a commitment both financially and mentally to the lifestyle of raising a therapy dog.
Prior to researching which type of dog would be purchased, Chris, Nicole, and Sally explored what the research showed regarding the benefits of having a therapy dog. Then, with a plan and the research to support it, Chris, Nicole and Sally received approval from their administration after several discussions. Lastly, perhaps the most challenging aspect of owning a therapy dog, each member of this small team must be committed to not only caring for this support animal, but they must also be committed to doing so consistently.
Do the benefits outweigh the costs? For the sake of clarity, there are several costs associated with owning a therapy dog. Not only does someone need to pay for the dog itself, its food, shelter, training, etc., but there are also physical and emotional costs such as training the animal early in the morning and throughout the day until the evening hours, caring for the animal in addition to normal expectations at home and at work, and determining whether the animal truly is having a meaningful impact.
For some, these costs constitute burdens that are far too great, and for others the benefits far outweigh the costs. Based on the few days I have seen Lupo in action, I would argue he his performing his duties well. Based on the several weeks Lupo has been at CRCS, Lupo’s caretakers would also argue that Lupo is worth the cost. More time may be required for a concrete measure of Lupo’s impact, but perhaps time has already shown just how valuable this dog can be.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Last year, Mark Beckwith and Sarah Wittmeyer collaborated on a project to create an online database of every test question that has been assessed on the 3-8 ELA and Math state assessments in the last few years. This database, the NYS Assessment Item Notebook, allows teachers to easily click a standard that has been assessed, which in turn generates a list of every released question that is connected to that standard. The Notebook is tremendously helpful because it contains all of this public information in one place, rather than having to open a myriad of PDFs.
Districts in our region have been using this tool in numerous ways. At Cuba-Rushford, middle school ELA teachers have been analyzing the question stems to notice patterns in how standards are being assessed. For example, teachers noted that many questions reference specific paragraphs, such as “How do paragraphs 3 and 4 contribute to the story?” By mirroring their own questions to students in this format, students will be more familiar with the structure of the state exam. Additionally, analyzing question stems can uncover vocabulary that students may need to help them succeed. For example, if students don’t understand what is meant by “contribute”, they may struggle right at the beginning of attempting to answer the question.
In Fillmore, middle school ELA teachers have created a mid-year benchmark assessment using the Assessment Item Notebook. Teachers reviewed their data to determine standards that are commonly assessed. Then they selected two passages and ten multiple choice questions to assess students with in January. The benefit to using these questions is that it will give them an indication of how students will perform against the rigor of the state assessment. Also, because they know which questions are connected to which standards, data analysis is easier and can offer areas for them to focus on before the state assessments.
If your district would like support in using the NYS Assessment Items Notebook to guide data analysis and instruction, please reach out to our team!
By: Brendan Keiser, CA BOCES Professional Development
On October 19th, 2018, Cuba-Rushford staff welcomed Mollie Lapi, behavioral specialist from C-A BOCES. Mollie presented the staff with an overview of brain research on trauma, how the brain works after a student experiences a traumatic event, and trauma informed interventions A brief overview of the biology of the brain and how it reacts to trauma was addressed. “This “fight or flight” response is a natural response to stress”, she said. Mollie also addressed Adverse Childhood Experiences, also known as A.C.E.S. (Adverse Childhood Experiences) can dramatically affect the quality of health and wellness. Trauma is toxic to the body, and we can do something about it.
Mollie, then talked about strategies to help support the students. She said, “Educators can make a difference; believe your students can grow, change, and succeed? The common denominator could be YOU! Help promote resiliency within your classroom.” Mollie also talked about the “sweet spot”, which means being able to provide emotional nurturance and still expect our students to perform and own, but not judge, their shortcomings. It is a PROCESS. There has to be a balance between availability and accountability with the students.
The staff was also challenged to make sure to take care of themselves. Mollie stated, “it is so important for the adults working with any students to make sure to manage their own stress. Health, and wellness are not to be forgotten, especially to help regulate the body and mind.” The morning was filled with fantastic learning, and the staff was thankful for Mollie’s presentation.
By: Kathleen Agnello, CA BOCES Professional Development
The second Southern Tier Annual Film Festival (S.T.A.F.F.) was held at the Cuba-Rushford Central School District auditorium on Friday, May 18. Participating schools included Allegany-Limestone, Belfast, Cattaraugus-Little Valley, Cuba Rushford, Fillmore, Olean, and Whitesville.
Administrators, teachers, parents, and students gathered together to watch and vote on student productions to see which district would take home the trophy.
Leading up to the event, Courtney Brisky, a student at Olean High school, created the artwork for posters to be distributed throughout districts across Allegany and Cattaraugus counties to advertise and promote the festival. Student submissions for the festival were due in mid-April and the finalists for the event were decided by graduate students at the University at Buffalo.
Audience members watched forty-three films, voting in a mere six films as finalists.
Finally, the moment came for the audience to choose the winning film and they selected a parody of the popular television sitcom, “The Office.” Students DeAndre Ahrens, Gabby Dutton, Hannah Erwin, Cody Findlay, Dana Hatch, Colston Saulter, Jonah Williamson, and Trenon Zeager took home the trophy for Cuba-Rushford. The trophy was previously housed at Fillmore Central School District and will now spend the year at Cuba-Rushford until next year’s festival.
Teachers have been preparing for this festival throughout the year by attending ongoing professional development offered by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES and presented by Dr. David Bruce at the University at Buffalo and Dr. Sunshine Sullivan at Houghton College. At the ongoing events, teachers hone their skills, brainstorm, and develop curriculum for teaching students to craft narratives, investigate the correlation between images and narrative, develop writing and media skills, and tap into creativity.
The first film festival developed out of a week-long summer professional development opportunity offered to English teachers through the region through a partnership by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES, Houghton College, and the University at Buffalo. This opportunity culminated with the creation of the Southern Tier Annual Film Festival by teachers because they wanted to offer their students the same kind of enriching experience in the classroom and give students the chance to present their work to a live audience.
“Writing with Video: Rural Voices” is going to be offered this coming year to teachers in every discipline to hone their skills, collaborate, and plan future film festivals. If you have interest in bringing this unique opportunity to your students, look out for the upcoming summer institute as well as for future film festivals.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Barb Busack is an Olean native whose parents nurtured an appreciation for nature. Whether it be traversing through the jungles in Costa Rica, hiking the west coast of Greenland, or walking in Spain, Barb enjoys nature and learning about different habitats. With digital camera in hand, she captures a variety of images from her adventures and readily shares with others. It is no surprise that Barb’s experiences and energy for life have allowed her to successfully grow CA BOCES’ Environmental Science program, CoSer 416.
Barb meets with approximately 5000 students each year, engaging them hands-on activities that complement classroom curriculum such as studying habitats (see photo), or creating a molecular model of a snowflake (see photo).
Barb is state certified in geology, biology, and elementary education. Every summer, she takes 7th graders from Cuba-Rushford to a three-day camp where they take guided nature walks, learn about snake hunts, identify edible plants, and observe insects and amphibians in the Allegany State Park. She especially likes providing instruction on animals and plants in the region, and the Three Great Cycles (water, soil and air) that sustain our life.
In this photo, Barb is speaking to students about ladybugs. Ladybugs are highly beneficial to gardens since they eat aphids and are an important part of our ecosystem.
Although most of Barb’s interactions are with elementary students, Science on the Seneca is a research program sponsored by Hobart-William Smith College that provides high school students an opportunity to be on a research boat and participate in a plankton drag. Students view plankton under a microscope, conduct a chemical analysis of water, and dredge up soil to analyze its contents (see photo). The results are then added to the college’s findings to assist in ongoing research.
Barb’s creativity and enthusiasm for nature is a true passion and contagious! If you would like to know more about the Environmental Science Program, please contact Amy_Windus@caboces.org at Learning Resources.
By: Cece Fuoco, School Library Coordinator for CA BOCES
Do you think communication is an important skill? I’m sure you immediately answered, YES, It sure is! Students in Mr. Donald Griffing’s Chemistry class found this out, first hand. Here is the backstory as to how this all happened. I experienced this activity at my professional development retreat at the beginning of January, and thought it would be a great way for the CRCS staff to experience the importance of communication. So, during the high school’s faculty meeting, Cuba-Rushford teachers and staff went through the same activity. Mr. Griffing found the communication exercise so valuable, he wanted to repeat the activity with his Chemistry classes. He hoped the students could see the importance of specific directions, and common vocabulary. He thought this would be a great way to remind them about being careful and clear in their lab reports, specifically with their data tables.
The entire class was given a chance to become familiar with two of the six objects the activity called for, before the activity started. The class had to come up with common terms to call each item. This would help with visualization and familiarity while building the items in the activity. Students were placed into groups of four. To set the stage for the activity, two students volunteered to be blindfolded and then were given a task to complete, while blindfolded. One of the students was given an object, already put together. This student was the “direction giver”. He or she was then asked to describe to the other blindfolded student how to put this object together…the problem was, this student’s object was in six pieces. The student responsible for building the object, was called the “direction receiver”. The other students were observers, and were instructed to only watch the activity. They were not allowed to help. They would be sharing their observations after the activity was completed.
This was not an easy task! It became very clear to all students how crucial specific vocabulary, as well as specific directions, were to complete this activity. There was a lot of explaining, questioning, and re-explaining during the exercise. Once the duo thought they were done, they raised their hands for their constructed objects to be checked for accuracy. The students worked diligently on getting their objects built. It was very difficult for some, and to others it felt impossible. The great thing is, NO ONE GAVE UP! They persevered through it all. The conversations afterward were interesting to hear, as the perspectives of the observers were heard, as well as the challenges the receiver and the giver faced.
By: Kathleen Agnello, CA BOCES Professional Development
BOCES and eleven regional school districts have been awarded the USDA RUS Distance Learning Grant, totaling $466,686.
Last week District Superintendent Lynda Quick, Esq. learned that Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES has been awarded a grant for $466,686 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The grant, known as the Rural Utility Service (RUS) Distance Learning grant, will be implemented by Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES and eleven area school districts to upgrade video conferencing equipment and other technologies.
The equipment upgrades will provide all three Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES Career and Technical Education (CTE) Centers, as well as Belfast, Bolivar-Richburg, Cuba-Rushford, Franklinville, Friendship, Genesee Valley, Hinsdale, Olean, Salamanca, Scio, and Wellsville Central School Districts, with new portable, high definition video conference capabilities that schools will use to provide students and teachers with a variety of distance learning opportunities including videoconference courses, virtual field trip experiences, and expanded access to nanotechnology capabilities.
This is not the first USDA RUS Distance Learning grant received by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES and component school districts. The Distance Learning Team at CA BOCES has been applying for and receiving RUS grants since 1997, resulting in eight previous awards and millions of dollars in equipment for our schools.
“Over the years, USDA funding has built a virtual school in our region," stated Lynda Quick. Over forty virtual classes connect via video conference every single day, allowing schools to share the instructional expertise of their outstanding faculty members. Additionally, hundreds of students to take other online courses because of this funding. These virtual courses are critical in expanding offerings in small rural schools that, over time, have been stripped of the ability to offer many (or any) AP, college credit, or elective courses to their students.
Lynda Quick also shared, "This award helps put a dent in leveling the playing field. It helps our students build a transcript that can be competitive in the post-secondary arena." Grant implementation will begin immediately.
The ROBOTC for VEX training at Pioneer High School was led by Jesse Flot, a Research Programmer & Senior Software Engineer for the Robotics Academy at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and Josh Jarvis, the lead developer for CMUs CS-STEM Network. In attendance were nearly thirty participants from various districts across the region (Allegany-Limestone CSC, Andover CSD, Belfast CSD, Bolivar-Richburg CSD, CA-BOCES Belmont CTE, CA-BOCES ISS, CA-BOCES ISS, Cattaraugus-Little Valley CSD, Cuba-Rushford CSD, Ellicottville CSD, Franklinville CSD, Fillmore CSD, Genesee Valley CSD, Hinsdale CSD, Pioneer CSD, Salamanca City SD, Scio CSD, and Whitesville CSD).
What is a robot, and what can we can we teach with it? These were the first two questions that Jesse Flot used to open the ROBOTC for VEX training. The first question is fairly direct: what is a robot? Perhaps you define a robot as something like Wall-E, or maybe to you a robot is Arnold Schwarzenegger from the Terminator. The definition is as simple as SPA: a robot is a device that has the ability to sense, plan, and act. What can we teach with a robot? This second question is more difficult to answer unless we first reflect on how we teach rather than the content of our teaching.
When teaching Algebra 1, my students would struggle with the concept of completing the square to rewrite quadratic expressions. Rather than using the skill of completing the square as a tool to accomplish a goal, I made the skill the learning goal; ultimately, it was not until I provided students with the necessary tools and shift my focus (using GeoGebra) that they were able to better understand the process of completing the square, how to use it, and when to use it. Similarly, “project-based learning (PBL) involves learning through projects rather than just doing projects,” says John Spencer. In other words, the goal of PBL is to focus on the learning process rather than a culminating project. Jesse explained what can be taught with robotics in the same way; he said, “the Robotics Academy at CMU uses robotics as a tool to teach programming; however, you can use robots to teach many other subjects and skills such as mathematics, physics, communication, teamwork, and time management.”
With these questions answered and an understanding that the VEX robots were a tool used to help teach programming, Jesse and Josh led participants through two days of hands-on training with the programming of ROBOTC as well as the hardware of VEX robots. Participants explored intuitive and basic commands using the block coding features of ROBOTC in conjunction with the physical features of the VEX robot the first day, and on day two, participants made the progression to virtual reality with Robot Virtual World software (RVW) and explored how the text commands of ROBOTC differ from its block coding commands.
In addition to Jesse’s 16 years of experience at CMU (12 of which being in professional development), the Robotics Academy’s research-based practices helped guide the hybrid training model. From anticipating participant questions to providing examples of student questions that participants should anticipate, Jesse and Josh led participants through a highly productive two days of learning. Jesse and Josh will continue this hybrid training online from mid-February through March in which participants will gain additional knowledge of the ROBOTC language, continue to track their progress with CMUs learning management system, and explore additional features of VEX robotics.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Teachers Across Cattaraugus-Allegany Counties Prepare for Student Video Submissions
Many teachers committed to the Writing with Video: Rural Voices Summer Institute over the past two summers and now attend quarterly reunions throughout the year in order to plan, collaborate, and write about the upcoming Southern Tier Annual Film Festival (S.T.A.F.F. Awards).
Teachers from the institute are invested in including digital audio and video assignments in their classrooms throughout the year in order to help students solidify their writing process through planning, pre-writing, and reflection. Students complete a variety of video projects including research, narrative, poetry, remix, vocabulary, and themes that they will then present to their classmates, publish, and screen to a larger audience.
Students who have created video projects across the region are invited to submit original films. The submission deadline is April 13, 2018. All student films will be judged by University at Buffalo graduate students in the education program.
Students whose films are chosen will have their films shown at the S.T.A.F.F. Awards which will be held at Cuba-Rushford Central School District this year on Friday, May 18th. Students will have a chance to see student-produced films from across the region, eat snacks, vote alongside the entire audience, and help choose a winning entry. The winning student or team will take home the traveling trophy to their school.
If you would like more information or would like your student to submit a video entry, please contact Christina McGee at email@example.com.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Creative Professional Development turns into Collaborative Life-long Learning, Innovative Curriculum, and a Regional Annual Film Festival
This summer I played, and I learned simultaneously. I had the opportunity to attend the Writing with Video: Rural Voices Summer Institute with Dr. Sunshine Sullivan, associate professor of education at Houghton College, and Dr. David Bruce, associate professor of learning and instruction at the State University of New York at Buffalo (University at Buffalo) Graduate School of Education. Under the guidance of Tim Clarke, Senior Program Manager for Professional Development at Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES, this summer institute was presented to area teachers throughout Cattaraugus and Allegany counties for two consecutive summer sessions.
During the week-long institute, I worked alongside many other English teachers including Lacey Gardner (Whitesville), Michelle Grillo (Cuba-Rushford), Brendan Heaney (Fillmore), Michelle McGraw (Cuba-Rushford), Micah Rust (Fillmore), Suzan Snyder (Allegany-Limestone), Stephen Sorensen (Olean), Louis Ventura (Olean), and Sally Ventura (Olean). We collaborated, learned to use digital media on the fly with guidance from Dr. David Bruce and Dr. Sunshine Sullivan, and then created our own projects including narrative sequences, “Me in Six Words/Images,” video vocab, multi-genre e-publications, and “This I Believe” digital essays. These projects became model projects for our students when we incorporated similar projects into our curriculum. These models would help students use media alongside written reflections and heuristics to present their understanding of content and concepts.
The whole week was one of the most rewarding, challenging, and engaging professional development opportunities that I’ve been fortunate enough to attend – and it was difficult work. As Sally Ventura, a teacher at Olean High School said, "Rural Voices has been such an energizing experience! It has been as fun as it has been challenging. It has been a pleasure working with smart, creative colleagues in the area.”
The days at the institutes were packed and I was always surprised that it was time to go home. The amazing thing was that I didn’t stop learning and thinking when I walked out the door. Instead, I continued ruminating on the drive home. I tinkered with ideas at home. I filmed at home. I reworked difficult pieces. I researched. The entire week, from the moment that I woke up until I went to sleep, was spent planning, collaborating, developing, creating, and reflecting – exactly the kind of experience I want for my students. As Brendan Heaney said, “The work being done at the Institute is revolutionary. Teachers will learn how to truly incorporate technology in a way that enhances student literacy and composition skills. If you buy into this and utilize it in the classroom you will see student engagement go through the roof. You will also see some of the best quality work you’ve ever seen from students.”
Out of this experience, a project was born. Brendan Heaney worked tirelessly to help organize the First Annual Southern Tier Film Festival, an event where students from five districts competed for a prize for the best film. All the teachers involved in Rural Visions collaborated to help plan, develop, and contribute to this amazing event. The film festival was advertised regionally through social media, local newspapers, and radio stations.
On the night of the event, parents came to see their children’s work and creativity. Teachers attended to see their student’s efforts. Administrators attended to see the work of their teachers and their students and to have an opportunity to relax and enjoy some great film. It was truly a community event where students showcased their videography skills, thoughtfulness, and ingenuity to a real audience and competed for a chance to bring their school home a traveling trophy.
The film festival showcased thirty student films over the course of three hours with breaks and refreshments offered between each of the hour sessions. The audience voted for their favorite films with one final vote at the end to determine the school winner.
Out of this amazing grass-roots effort, came a multitude of class projects which culminated in an annual film festival. This year’s Southern Tier Annual Film Festival will be held tentatively at Cuba-Rushford toward the end of the school year.
Many of the teachers involved in the summer institute went on to present their learning experience using digital video in their own classrooms at the New York State English Council ( NYSEC) Annual Conference in Albany, NY held in October this year. Projects ranged from research thesis statements to video poems, documentaries, film class projects, and six-word memoirs. Dr. Sullivan remarked, “It was a privilege seeing our teachers present what they are doing in their classrooms as a result of our summer institutes and how well received it was by their audience at NYSEC. Our teachers are becoming teacher leaders in the field in writing with video. We are also looking forward to seeing our teachers attending and presenting at NCTE in St. Louis later this month.”
If you have an interest in entering student work in this year’s Southern Tier Annual Film Festival or attending the festival in preparation for next year, please look out for upcoming announcements at your school district or contact Christina McGee at firstname.lastname@example.org or (716) 376-8281.
If you would like to learn more about the Writing with Video: Rural Voices Summer Institute, please contact Tim Clarke at 716-376-8321 or email@example.com.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
As the new school year approaches, teachers in several districts (Cuba Rushford, Andover, Franklinville, Whitesville, Olean, Fillmore and Cattaraugus – Little Valley) learn the importance of helping students improve a set of thinking skills known as executive function skills. “Human beings have a built in capacity to meet challenges and accomplish goals through the use of high-level cognitive functions called executive skills. These are the skills that help us to decide what activities or tasks we will pay attention to and which ones we’ll choose to do.” (Hart & Jacobs, 1993) These functions are a set of cognitive processes, such as focus, memory and self-control, which enable us to manage information and complete tasks.
CA BOCES provided professional development opportunities for teachers to improve how students learn and develop executive function skills during their K-12 education and beyond. Teachers were informed how to recognize students who struggle with executive weakness, and what strategies can assist students in developing these skills.
Knowing Cognitive Capacities
In order for teachers to target specific executive function skills, they must first be able to identify them. Our teachers researched and developed strategies for the following list of executive function skills:
Teachers reflected on how these skills might exist in the classroom. For example, Students with weak working memory are unable to remember and apply crucial information in order to move to the next step of a task. They often struggle when a task requires them to remember a series of directions, generate ideas in response to the directions and then express their ideas. Information just doesn’t “stick” for them. Once the teacher recognizes a student needs to work on working memory, they can develop a list of strategies to address this learning problem.
Teachers realize it’s important to recognize that the same strategy won’t work for each student. Some students work better with visual cues than verbal cues, for instance. Teachers must differentiate thinking strategies for each student to help them meet full learning potential.
Exercises for Executive Function Skills
There are a number of exercises to help students develop thinking skills. Practices can range from computer games to improve memory skills to physical tasks such as balancing. Here are just a few examples of how teachers in our district have worked with students to improve their executive function skills.
Organization and Planning
Teachers can help students to master these tasks by encouraging students to write down important assignments in a calendar and to allocate time accordingly. Students can be taught how to make lists of homework assignments. Students can be encouraged to use brightly colored folders to take home important papers (like homework and permission slips) to and from school, so those items don’t get lost.
For short-term assignments, encourage students to picture the end result of completing the task and the positive emotion that may be attached to it. Students and teachers can brainstorm ways to make assignments more interesting.
Feeling vocabulary can be taught through books by discussing the feelings the characters had and asking the student to make connections to his own experiences. When the student begins to experience strong emotions, allow them to identify it, validate it and provide a clear direction about what could be done instead of the negative behavior.
When it comes to improving executive function skills during the school day, a step in the right direction is to set up time and programs that are devoted to these strategies. It can take as little as two minutes before class or a full 30-minute session.
The group concluded that students with well-developed executive function skills really hold the foundation to success in school, with their peers, in college and for a career. These skills are what provide individuals with the capacity to meet challenges and accomplish goals! Collaboratively we recognized the responsibility educators have to build these skills in ALL students.
If you are interested in learning more about how to enhance these skills and promoting school and social success for ALL students, please contact CA BOCES (Laurie Sledge at 716-376-8357).
By: Marguerite Andrews and Deanna Wilkinson, CA BOCES Professional Development
Have you ever made a mistake? Have you ever faltered with a task that you simply gave up on? Let’s face it: life throws us challenges, and some are more likely to give up on those challenges than to embrace them, struggle through them, and ultimately learn and grow from the experience as a whole. Today, many students are in the same shoes as a large percentage of adults - unwilling to take on new learning, new adventures, new challenges. To help cultivate a willingness to grapple with difficult problems and to persevere both inside and outside of the classroom, many are turning toward the ideals of a Growth Mindset. Through cultivating a culture of growth, students’ minds evolve to having a willingness to try, to stick with a tough challenge, and make the most of each and every bump in the road they face.
Cuba-Rushford Elementary is home to some 60 or so fifth grade students. To help teach these students about having a growth mindset, Beatrice Bottomwell of The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes painted a picture of overcoming challenges and growing from the things that often get the best of us. In hearing main character Beatrice’s tale, students came to find that no one is perfect and that mistakes are okay; so long as we embrace them, and grow from them.
These same fifth graders were given a challenge: cut a piece of paper so that an adult could walk through it. Words such as “impossible,” “hard,” and “can’t” rang through the halls of CRCS. Cuts were made, paper was ripped, and students sat staring wondering how this challenge could ever be fulfilled. In talking about how the initial mistakes were made, and the emotions that the students felt, they learned; they grew. Before you knew it, these same fifth graders that had points of frustration and attitudes of “I give up” were walking through paper left and right!
As some students shared, making mistakes on math problems is common, and while thinking “we can’t” when faced with a tough problem, they come to realize that with effort and commitment, they can get through it. Others felt they simply couldn’t tumble, a recent unit of study in PE. Despite that belief, after practicing and asking for help, that attitude of “I can’t” turned to one of “I can.” Without realizing it, fifth graders were sharing stories of how they took a fixed mindset and transferred it to a mindset of growth.
As teachers, it is important to acknowledge when students are making the most of the mistakes they’ve made, learning how to overcome challenges and those bumps in the road. Whether it be a challenge in the classroom or a challenge in everyday life, having a growth mindset can help adults and students alike to have an attitude of CAN as opposed to an attitude of CAN’T. Students thrive in environments that support their growth as learners. By learning from Beatrice Bottomwell, and by embracing challenges such as the paper activity, students can begin to see that life is more about the journey than the destination; it’s more about the path we take to find success than the immediacy of doing well.
By: Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES Professional Development
“What did you learn today?
What mistake did you make today that taught you something? What did you try hard at today?
– Carol Dweck
What is blended learning? Are we truly blending learning in our region? Yes we are! Below are examples of Michael B. Horn - The Christensen Institute’s blended learning models that are taking place across our region, and quite successfully!
While blended learning began in simple applications to serve students in situations where there was no other alternative, it has grown exponentially over the past ten years in the Cattaraugus Allegany region, where our region is recognized as the leader in online learning in New York State BOCES regions!
Michael B Horn’s and Heather Staker’s book, Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, lays out the process in a useful level of detail making it a must read for educators that want to take full advantage of tech-enabled learning. Staker shared, "I feel deeply sad when I see how many children do not have equal opportunities to high-quality schools. It's wrong that in a rich country with universal public education, zip code determines quality." But she feels fortunate to be living through the learning revolution where internet connectivity and personalized learning is “decimating old constructs about who gets what and introducing a new paradigm of shared access to the best learning experiences, regardless of geography.” (Education Week article - http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_innovation/2014/09/blended_a_conversation_with_michael _horn_heather_staker.html)
What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning? Michael B. Horn adds, “Online learning, particularly in blended learning schools, gives students more and more ownership of their learning, this is a big deal as it can allow schools to individualize for each student’s unique learning needs.” (http://dailyedventures.com/index.php/2012/11/08/michael-horn/)
How do these online learning opportunities benefit students? Danielle, from Allegany- Limestone, replied, “I wish that I could have studied this way from the beginning of the year. When I’m in a classroom with people, I get distracted, but using APEX is great. The program is really straightforward. It tells me exactly what I need to know. Some days I let it read to me and sometimes I read myself. I came from Pennsylvania and the work was harder and my Biology class was in a different place and the online class is helping me.”
To learn more about successful blended learning models in schools, join CA BOCES in an Online/Digital Learning Showcase, where you can ask questions and view demos of 7 different online solutions for:
For more information about Digital Learning Day on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at CABOCES Olean Center Conference Rooms, go to: http://dev.caboces.org/iss/calendar/2017-04.
By: Betsy Hardy, CA BOCES Distance Learning
The Scholastic Challenge Competition will be held on Saturday, February 4 at Portville Central School. This annual event, sponsored by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES (Student Programs CoSer #506) will host 36 teams who will compete in a Junior Division and Senior Division, for grades 6-12.
Scholastic Challenge is a fast paced contest that tests knowledge of academic trivia and current events. Teams of four students measure their ability to recall details from a wide variety of topics.
Fourteen school districts will be participating in the double-elimination contest this year. This translates to about 200 students and coaches. Throughout the day, several thousand questions will be read aloud to these ambitious teams. Spectators are encouraged to watch the competitions. It’s exciting to see the students combine an impressive display of intelligence with camaraderie, graciousness and good sportsmanship.
The final matches will be held on stage in the Portville auditorium around 1:15-2:15. The first and second place teams in each division will be presented with plaques to recognize their achievements, as well as an invitation to attend the 2017 National Academic Championship.
This event requires about 40 volunteers to make the day run smoothly. CABOCES Student Programs is grateful to everyone who donates their time and experience to provide a fun and educational day for the students in our area. Scholastic Challenge could not happen without their help!
Congratulations to all the teams participating this year. Thank you to all coaches for mentoring and encouraging your students. The following school districts will be attending on Saturday, February 4:
This past November was an exciting month where teachers from Cuba-Rushford and CABOCES, Linda Botens and Justine Lombardi respectively, alongside Betsy Hardy, Staff Specialist for Distance Learning at CABOCES and this year’s presenter at iNACOL, delivered a gripping presentation about developing digital portfolios in the classroom. The room was filled to capacity and the audience was spilling out into the hallway to hear about the possibilities for using digital portfolios in the classroom.
In their presentation, “The Paper Extinction and the Rise of the ePortfolio,” Linda, Justine, and Betsy showed multiple examples of students’ work throughout the years that allowed students to show off their talents to prospective colleges and employers and explore new talents that some students might have otherwise been too shy to share.
Linda Botens shared one of her public speaking student’s forays into product endorsement and advertising. Normally, this student is shy, but when given the option to express herself on video, her dramatic personality had the opportunity to be shared with her teacher and peers.
Justine shared her uses of e-portfolios in her online Mythology and Folklore class and World Religions class that she teaches every year as elective options. In her classes, students share papers and projects, alongside art and presentations and have a way to group them all together and share with both teachers and peers. Justine also shared the uses of e-portfolios in the CTE classroom where students working on welding projects can photograph their talents and share them along with pictures of their earned certifications and share with their future employers.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Cattaraugus and Allegany County classrooms have reached an all-time high traveling virtually across the globe. Since the start of school 2,592 students have experienced opportunities to gain real world knowledge of various cultures from around the world. Historically, December Virtual Field Trips average 20 connections, but this year, Santa came to our region and brought our total to 103 trips in 3 weeks!
CA BOCES sends monthly trip highlights out to your Curriculum Coordinators, Tech Integrators, and Principals, so keep an eye out for these exciting opportunities. Some of these opportunities included National Distance Learning Week that was held November 7-11 in conjunction with the NYS Distance Learning Consortium. National DL Week allowed districts across the region to experience fee-based trips for free so that districts who had never seen a virtual field trip before could take part in this event. We expanded on these meaningful experiences at the NYS Middle School Association by showing districts how easy it was to connect to Ghana, Africa.
What better way to develop communication skills with students helping them to express their ideas culturally and academically through media sources. Students have opportunities to engage in collaborative discussions on curriculum topics, contrast cultural differences, and build language and logic to address details in directions. Below are some examples of content based trips:
Let CABOCES help you and your students take your next field trip virtually. All you need to do is click on the link below to see what’s on the calendar for upcoming trips:
Or to search for your own classroom topic, you can do a keyword search and see the hundreds of trips available by clicking on this link:
Or, to let us search for a trip for you! All you have to do is click on this link, and we will take of the rest. You will just need to fill out the request form and we will arrange to take your students around the world, into space, or even back in time!
If you would like to learn more about virtual learning experiences, please contact Carrie Oliver at 716-376-8270 or Betsy Hardy at 716-376-8281 for more information. The opportunities are endless.
By: Betsy Hardy, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Through participation in Environmental Science programs with traveling teacher Barb Busack, Cuba-Rushford fourth grade students learned spiders are fascinating animals. On this day, they studied the parts of a spider, as well as how it hunts and digests its prey; soup anyone? They also studied the spiders’ amazing ability to make silk stronger than steel and style it into a variety of webs. Most importantly, they learned spiders are beneficial to our ecosystem, as they help control the insect population.
A competition was held to see which students could use their newly gained knowledge of spiders and their amazing lives to answer assessment questions and unscramble facts about spiders’ benefits to man. The first student who figured out the scrambled sentence won a spider web keychain.
The lesson concluded with the students making a pipe cleaner spider that can be hung outside. Hopefully a real spider will come along and use the framework to make a web, thus reducing the amount of unwanted insects in our yards and proving that spiders are beneficial!
By Barb Busack, CA BOCES
Tenth graders from Andover, Belfast, Bolivar-Richburg, Cuba-Rushford, Fillmore, Portville, Scio, and Wellsville explored careers at Alfred State College. Over 40 businesses shared about careers in Allegany County. Student spent the day answering the question, "What's my next step?"
The Scholastic Challenge Competition will be held this Saturday, February 6 at Portville Central School. This annual event, sponsored by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES, will host a total of 41 teams who will compete in a Junior Division and Senior Division, for grades 6-12.
Scholastic Challenge is a fast paced contest that tests knowledge of academic trivia. Teams of four students will measure their ability to recall details from a wide variety of topics.
Fourteen school districts will be participating in the double-elimination contest this year. This translates to about 250 students and coaches. Throughout the day, several thousand questions will be read aloud to these ambitious teams. Spectators are encouraged to watch the competitions. It’s exciting to see the students combine an impressive display of intelligence with camaraderie, graciousness and good sportsmanship.
The final matches will be held on stage in the Portville auditorium around 2:15-3:15 (these are approximate times). The first and second place teams in each division will be presented with plaques to recognize their achievements.
This event requires about 40 volunteers to make the day run smoothly. CABOCES Student Programs is grateful to everyone who donates their time and experience to provide a fun and educational day for the students in our area. Scholastic Challenge could not happen without their help!
The following school districts will be attending:
Hinsdale Central-2 teams coached by Kate Jedrosko
Cuba-Rushford - 4 teams coached by John Butler
Ellicottville Central - 3 teams coached by Ann Chamberlain
Fillmore Central – 2 teams coached by Deb Woltag & Bill Kelley
Franklinville Central - 3 teams coached by Shannon Wood
Friendship Central - 1 team coached by Wade Pearsall
Genesee Valley - 4 teams coached by Rollie Duttweiler & Sara Donlon
Olean High- 1 teams coached by Carolyn Shields
Pioneer Central -4 teams coached by Sarah Wood
Portville Central - 8 teams coached by Margaret Seib & Gene Rogers
Randolph Central-1 team coached by Jennifer Bieniek
Scio Central - 3 teams coached by Mary Zdrojewski
Wellsville Central - 2 teams coached by Diane Willard
West Valley Central - 3 teams coached by Ryan Keem
“Why does he keep saying that?,” was what one of the boys whispered to his friend in the elementary library. He had, what I would call, beige hair, and an inquisitive look on his face. His partner had an amazing ability to use the computer mouse. To him, the computer mouse was a part of his hand. I think first boy was talking about the fact that Wendy Sprague and I kept saying over and over “if you work hard you can actually get smarter.” After a brief introduction and an explanation of their first learning adventure, all four students used computer programing to get the solution. Some students were able to complete the learning adventure faster than others, even though learning is not a race and we all learn at different rates of speed. Whatever you do, please don’t tell them they were learning.
Wendy is a librarian at the Cuba Rushford school district. She has embraced computer programming and robotics in her schools. The learning of new things does not come easy to everyone and I think it is safe to say that that might be true of Wendy as well. Wendy is a great example of a life-long learner and a follower of the research headed up by Dr. Carol Dwick from Stanford University. Dr. Dwick has done scientific research to prove that if people work hard and believe that hard work can make them smarter and can increase your intelligence that the actual weight of one’s brain gets heavier. This weight change occurs due to the increased number of neurons, or thinking connections, created in your brain by learning. It is important for students to get a good night sleep because the neurons are solidified during sleep. The book called “Mindset” by Carol Dwick is a great resource for anyone and it discusses her brain research.
It is only natural for, what some might believe as, unconventional learning to occur in the library. With the easy access to information online, no longer can the library just be a place where information is archived and stored. Libraries are becoming more and more places where information is created to find new facts, invent products to help people and publish things of all kind, not just books.
Fifth grade students at Cuba Rushford used the computer programing language called Scratch, which can be found at Scratch.MIT.edu. This coding language consists of “drag and drop” blocks so no “hard coding” or syntax is used. So, instead of students making sure they capitalized using “camelCode” or that they used a semicolon instead of a colon, could put there mind work totally on the logic. Lots of logic goes into computer programming.
Students seemed to enjoy computer programming and I can’t wait till I can go back to Cuba Rushford to do some more teaching and learning with Wendy and her students. Programing is extremely fun, engaging and it teaches a lot of important skills that can help in any classroom. I can’t wait to see what the students come up with.
By: Rick Weinberg, CA BOCES Professional Development
We all have two fundamental social needs in our lives. One, is to have a purpose, and the other, to be accepted. Cuba-Rushford Middle and High School was fortunate enough to host the anti-bullying presentation called, “Sweethearts and Heroes”, on October 20th. CRCS Middle School principal, Katie Ralston was able to coordinate the presentation for the district. The presenters of the program, Tom Murphy and Rick Yarosh, truly believe in the fact that with everyone on board, we can stop bullying from happening, and allow our social needs to be met, especially in our schools.
A staggering 17,000 students skip school every day because they are bullied. An even bigger problem is that 100,000 students drop out of school, altogether, because they are bullied. This is a huge problem in our schools, and with the help “Sweethearts and Heroes” provided to the district, CRCS is addressing this issue head-on.
Rick and Tom spoke about a number of scenarios students could find themselves in, and how knowledge is power, in the face of a bully or bullying situation. The definition of bullying is as follows: A habitual action, where the bully is an intimidator of smaller or weaker people, and is intentional in his/her behavior. The students and staff were taught that bullying takes on many forms. The forms discussed were: 6% Social Alienation, 18% Indirect Bullying (bullying behind someone’s back), 30% physical bullying, and 46% Verbal Bullying. Tom also talked about Cyber Bullying being extremely problematic as most students have access to the Internet at home. Students think they can hide behind a computer screen, but they can’t. Capabilities to track online behavior are present, and kids are getting into trouble because of inappropriate online decisions.
Rick and Tom presented a plan for bully prevention. The plan outlined five bully buttons, when set into action, could prevent bullying. The five bully buttons are outlined below:
1. Perspective (Change Your Perspective)
2. H.O.P.E. (Hold On Possibilities Exist)
3. SWEETHEARTS (Bringing Hope to the Hopeless)
4. Jump Into Action (Force Yourself to Act Differently Than You Feel)
5. HEROES (Be Someone’s HERO)
Rick Yarosh spoke about H.O.P.E. Rick was involved in a military attack in Iraq, and sustained major injuries because of it. Rick was burned over 60% of his body with 2nd and 3rd degree burns. He had his right leg amputated below his knee; he lost both ears, his nose, multiple fingers and lost most of the function in both hands. He spoke about what it was like to be in an extremely hopeless situation, and how, through a stranger, he was able to regain his hope in life again. He stated that we never know how important our hope in others is. It can mean the difference between life and death. We need to be sweethearts and heroes to others.
Tom Murphy said that even though 95% of the audience reported knowing either a bully or someone who is bullied, only 10% of peers intervene if witnessing a bullying situation. He reminded the audience that it is everyone’s responsibility, including the adults, to make sure they can identify and respond if anyone sees a bullying situation. He also gave three easy letters that correspond to action steps. He called it the ABCs of Bullying.
A- Away (Get the bullied student AWAY from the bully)
B- Buddy (Become his or her BUDDY)
C- Confront the situation (get a teacher, older brother/sister involved)
Tom chose three student volunteers to come up in the front and model the ABC method for the audience, and it had quite and impact on the students, and teachers, alike. It put the words Tom spoke into action.
The Cuba-Rushford School District also hosted “Sweethearts and Heroes” for an evening presentation to the community. Hats off to “Sweethearts and Heroes” for a thought-provoking and powerful message about anti-bullying!
By: Kathleen Agnello, CA BOCES Professional Development and Cuba-Rushford Central School
With more and more schools going paperless, student work has become more accessible for teachers, parents, and administrators. As a one-to-one iPad district, Cuba Rushford Central School has turned to digital portfolios, or e-portfolios, for their students to share and present their accomplishments. Carrie Bold, Principal at CRCS, tapped Linda Botens to guide all the 9th grade Transition classes through the personal portfolio creation process.
An e-portfolio is an ideal tool to create collections of documents, images, blogs, resumes, videos, and hyperlinks to share with classmates, teachers, family, and friends, and to present to potential employers. Making e-portfolios a requirement for all high school students enables every student a chance to take their work with them and create a visual artifact to show progress and development in all facets of their high school experience. These portfolios have become an online space for students or teachers to reflect on their life, learning and goals, and have become "the new generation of the three ring binder" JISC My World Project Final Report, Roberts, 2006.
Upon completion of the first year developing e-portfolios using Mahara, an e-portfolio platform supported by CA BOCES Distance Learning, Linda Botens shared, “It was great seeing all students, regardless of their academic grades in some courses, to be successful in creating e-portfolios in Mahara. This was one place that all students could achieve success, as they got to see their works in a type of on-line program. They were excited about posting photos onto the gallery, especially the students who used their own photo works from an art class.”
Mrs. Botens added, “Many students were excited about the fact that parents, including grandparents, could see their works, if they chose to do the sharing. Many of the students liked sharing their works with other students and teachers. The ultimate success was placing the Romeo and Juliet videos on Mahara. These could be shared with family members, friends etc., and it is something, that upon graduation, they can view again and bring back the memories. Overall, this past year proved to be exciting, as we were the first class at CRCS to create digital portfolios, and the students took pride in this.”
Mrs. Botens is eager to meet her new class of 9th graders and to begin the Mahara experience with them. The past CRCS 9th grade students will continue to add to their e-portfolios in their 10th grade year, and will develop a valuable collection of school memories throughout their years at CRCS.
By: Betsy Hardy, CA BOCES Learning Resources
The use of Apple Technologies in the classroom has become prevalent in schools throughout Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, and one such district that continues to extend its usage of such devices in the school setting is Cuba-Rushford Central School. The Rebels have been iUsers for several years, providing the technology to all classrooms PK-12. Most recently, students in kindergarten and first grade had the opportunity to work with the devices to extend their learning and explore practical uses of iPads in the elementary setting.
In Kindergarten, students worked to create their own All About Me books using the Story Creator application. Aside from working on their illustrative abilities, students also worked on their personal handwriting and typing skills, formulating their books overtime. Part of having such resources available is giving students the opportunity to create a product of some kind. Applications such as Story Creator give students the unique experience of building their own book, channeling opportunities to be creative, write, and share with others.
While some use iPads for the opportunity to create, others use it to practice essential skills in the various content areas. In first grade, the elementary Rebels have been working on fluency with their addition and subtraction facts. The ToDo Math application, which reinforces continual practice with mathematical concepts taught in grades PK-2, not only gives traditional fact fluency practice, but also allows students to build number sentences and use other critical components of the mathematical models embedded within the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. The first grade students worked on their understanding of addition and subtraction facts by rotating through a series of stations and activities from the ToDo Math application. With varied levels, the activities were differentiated based on student ability and allotted for continued practice with similar content in multiple modalities. Without iPads, the experience may have looked much different, but in thanks to the resource, students were able to reinforce understanding of a critical concept with repeated practice.
As technology makes its way into classrooms, teachers have come to learn and explore all the practical ways in which it can be used to promote student learning, opportunities for creation, and ultimately, student engagement and a positive learning environment of the 21st century. Just as the CRCS Rebels have modeled, iPads are a gateway to giving students another modality to learn with, and learn from.
By: Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES
“Tinkering is the way that real science happens in all its messy glory.” (Sylvia Martinez)
Are you looking for a way to help foster cooperative learning, problem solving, creative thinking, and student engagement in your classroom? Several PreK-1st grade teachers from Randolph and Cuba-Rushford school districts have been busy doing just that by incorporating engineering into their curriculum. Kudos to Tonya Thomas, Lisa Burris, DeAnne Gozdalski, and Melissa Grover for creating an authentic context for learning math and science and having students apply that knowledge to what they are learning in social studies and ELA as well!
Students need to learn how to fail in order to succeed and that it’s OK to not come up with a solution the first time you test out an idea. This can be difficult for both children and adults to learn, and the Engineering Design Process allows for students to be creative in their thinking and problem solving and to make multiple revisions to their work in order to be successful.
Lastly, I leave you with some thoughts to ponder over from Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager, Ph.D, who wrote the book Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom:
1. “Creating a learning environment that deliberately breaks this teacher-as-manager focus is difficult, yet necessary. It requires a new teacher mindset and also requires giving students explicit permission to do things differently.”
2. “When we allow children to experiment, take risks, and play with their own ideas, we give them permission to trust themselves.”
3. “Adopting a tinkering mindset in your classroom allows students to learn in their own style.”
4. “We teach children science and math so they can make the world a better place, not so they can pass tests.”
5. “It seems that to many people, tinkering connotes a messiness and unprofessionalism that doesn’t apply to “real” jobs in scientific fields. I believe just the opposite is true – tinkering is exactly how real science and engineering are done.”
By: Kristen Keenan, CA BOCES