Saturday, February 7, 2015 @ Portville Central School
The largest Scholastic Challenge Competition was held on Saturday, February 7 at Portville Central School. This annual event, sponsored by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES, hosted a record total of 49 teams who competed 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 three students measure their ability to recall details from a wide variety of topics.
Thirteen school districts participated in the double-elimination contest this year. This translates to more than 200 students and coaches. Throughout the day, several thousand questions were read aloud to these ambitious teams. All the teams represented their schools well, combining an impressive display of intelligence with camaraderie, graciousness and good sportsmanship that was admirable.
Competitors and coaches represented the following school districts:
Allegany-Limestone-1 team coached by Kathy Schaeper
Hinsdale Central-4 teams coached by Kate Jedrosko
Cuba-Rushford - 6 teams coached by John Butler
Ellicottville Central - 4 teams coached by Ann Chamberlain
Fillmore Central – 2 teams coached by Deb Woltag & Bill Kelley
Friendship Central - 1 team coached by Wade Pearsall
Genesee Valley - 6 teams coached by Rollie Duttweiler & Sara Donlon
Olean High- 2 teams coached by Carolyn Shields
Pioneer Central -5 teams coached by Sarah Wood & Jimmy Wood
Portville Central - 9 teams coached by Margaret Seib & Gene Rogers
Randolph Central- 1 team coached by Jennifer Bieniek
Wellsville Central - 3 teams coached by Diane Willard & Hope Gilfert
West Valley Central - 5 teams coached by Ryan Keem
There were two impressive teams who were undefeated going into the Finals in the auditorium. Congratulations to the Fillmore Green Junior team and the Pioneer Starfleet Academy Senior team!
The final matches were held on stage in the Portville auditorium. As usual, the finalists were challenged to answer questions on current events and local facts. The first and second place teams in each division were presented with plaques to recognize their achievements. All four of the Finalist teams have earned the honor of being invited to the 2015 National Academic Championship.
This event requires about 50 volunteers to make the day run smoothly. CABOCES Student Programs is grateful to everyone who donated 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 and their proud coaches on a job well done. We look forward to seeing everyone back next year!
By: Jean Oliverio, CA BOCES
Six local schools were recognized for their role as Emerging STEM School Systems on Thursday, September 11th at a ceremony at the NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences on the University at Buffalo Campus.
Twenty-nine districts from WNY were included in the inaugural class, and representing Cattaraugus and Allegany counties were Cuba-Rushford Central School, Fillmore Central School, Hinsdale Central School, Pioneer Central School, Portville Central School, and Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES.
Dr. Michelle Kavanaugh, facilitator of the WNY STEM Hub, recognized these districts for their sparks of STEM growth, and urged them to find ways to make that growth systemic. She encouraged enlightened teacher leaders to collaborate with enlightened leaders to allocate resources to teach our students today for their world tomorrow.
Dr. Kavanaugh acknowledged that each district represented had its own story about integrating and growing STEM, and explained that those stories would be featured on the WNY STEM Hub website, wnystem.org, so other districts looking for inspiration around STEM implementation could read about their peers’ successes. Dr. Kavanaugh was joined by Bob Grant, Account Executive for Siemens, in congratulating the districts and their representatives for their current work, and hoped that today would mark an “important turning point for our region” in the area of STEM education.
Have you ever had one of those moments where a student is so excited that they are beaming from ear to ear with pride over an accomplishment achieved as a result of a learning experience in your classroom? What if you could experience that once-in-a-lifetime moment with the job of a lifetime every day? What if you had the opportunity to change the course of a child’s life in one week? Sounds like a dream or a fairy tale doesn’t it?
Can you imagine having a classroom the size of approximately 30 acres? What would you do with all of that space? You could be like Scott and build a “Deerasic Park” Deer Research Center, a research pond with nearby wetlands and observation deck, a bone yard, a fish hatchery, and a log cabin style Wildlife Research Center. To top it off, you can capture the many smiles and accomplishments of your students every day and memorialize them with a student produced and created national television show! No, this is not a dream. This is the real life of Scott Jordan, Fisheries and Wildlife Technology teacher at Cuba-Rushford Central School.
Scott has a unique approach to teaching his students in that he turns control of the classroom over to his students every day. With his guidance, his students create their own projects to work on, some of which may take several years to complete. The class focuses on giving students the opportunity to study biological organisms in their natural habitats while at the same time, honing in on and utilizing the skills and future aspirations of each individual student in the class. Student managers are chosen to run and manage the various buildings and projects along with managing a team of student workers/researchers as well. Various projects include taxidermy; reassembling skeletons of large animals that have decomposed in the boneyard; capturing, collaring, tagging, and tracking whitetail deer; caring for and tracking the age, weight, and length of the fish in the hatchery and pond, and much more.
It doesn’t matter what field a student wants to pursue in the future as Scott will work with each individual student to develop a learning plan with projects that meets the needs and interests of his students. For example, students who wish to enter the computer science field work on producing and creating the television show and creating and maintaining the class’s website and social media accounts. Can you imagine writing on a high school resume that you have created and produced over 50 nationally televised episodes of a television show? You want to be a lawyer? No problem! Why not research the laws and regulations involved in creating a research pond near a wetland? Interested in becoming a doctor or a veterinarian? Excellent! You are in charge of working side by side with a professional to give inoculations to the deer!
In addition to all of the onsite experiences the students have, Scott also starts most mornings off during the various hunting seasons by taking groups of students out hunting before the school day even starts. The students also have the opportunity to participate in various annual hunting and fishing expeditions to Alaska, New Zealand, South Africa, Ontario, and Texas. Scott is always amazed at the transformations the students go through over the course of just one week on one of these trips. Their confidence levels are built up so much, not to mention the life skills that are obtained by traveling around the world and working and interacting with people from various cultures outside of Western NY.
Prior to becoming a classroom teacher, Scott was a fisheries research biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He actually was paid to catch fish and camp out under the stars, listening to the arctic loons, wolves, and brown bears. For Scott, that was another job of a lifetime. One day he asked his boss why he was chosen for the job over the other 300 applicants. He was told that it was not only because of his grades, but more importantly; because he was the only applicant with ocean beach seine experience. Scott’s philosophy as an educator is the result of that one conversation. “You see, I received that ocean beach seine experience during one Ecology class field trip to Cape Cod while attending SUNY Cobleskill. I landed that job of a lifetime because of one experience, during one class, while I was attending one single field trip!” According to Scott, he tries to create as many similar opportunities for his students, hoping that their experiences will eventually land them that job of a lifetime.
Scott currently has more than 7 recent graduates who are working in the field of fisheries & wildlife all over the world as a result of experiences they had in his classroom. A current student of his who happens to be the Hatchery Manager for the class and aspires to pursue a career in fisheries technologies and engineering told me that the main benefit of taking the Fisheries and Wildlife Technology class is that you get to experience everything for yourself instead of just reading about it. He said that because of his experiences in the class and Mr. Jordan’s connections, he will now be able to go out in the field and write field expeditions a year earlier in college.
If you want that job of a lifetime where you have the opportunity to provide your students with real life experience in the field, and think that all of that is just a dream, well think again. Scott’s advice is to start small and do what works out for you locally. He built his “classroom” with a lot of hard work, time, fundraisers, and grants. This has been a project in the making for almost 20 years, and there is always room for expansion, whether that means more building projects or more wildlife to research. You, too, can make a difference one student at a time!
(CRCS Outdoors airs on the Pursuit Channel on Friday nights at 6:00 pm.)
By Kristen Keenan, CA BOCES
Students were familiar with analyzing a story using a story mountain, including: setting and characters, conflict or problem, the rising action, the climax or turning point, the falling action and the resolution or solution. After working with this article at a faculty meeting, Mrs. Hillman decided to have the students develop the rubric for the keynote project. She worked with her students on identifying key characteristics and understandings of each story element and what would be needed for each rubric score. The students were aware of what they needed to do for a quality score in each rubric category.
Each child took a different element. After reviewing other rubric samples, they created a four-point rubric for their element. Mrs. Hillman modeled how to do this with the exposition (characters and setting). Students got to work on their element, thinking about key understandings of their element. After completing their own element, students met as a group to share and discuss. This would be a group effort so they all had a say in the qualities of each element. Even though each student only had one element of the story mountain to develop in their portion of the report, they were very involved since it was a group activity. There was a lot of discussion since they were developing parts of something bigger that they were going to be putting together. With teacher guidance, they edited and revised the rubric.
Each child created their portion of the keynote presentation for their element. Their project was edited, revised, and reworked until students were satisfied with it. They referred to the rubric they created as they revised. This made it easier for the students since they had control of what they needed to include for each element. Once they felt it was complete, they emailed it to Mrs. Hillman. She combined all the elements into one presentation. Once all the elements were compiled into the group project, students were able to watch and share the presentation with the principal. Each student presented the element they had worked on in the rubric.
When the keynote presentation was complete, Mrs. Hillman projected the student created rubric using Apple TV; students also had a rubric in front of them to look at. The students graded the keynote project based on their rubric criteria. They analyzed each element and compared it to the rubric language. They provided feedback to each other, continuing to using the language of the rubric. The students loved this approach as they were personally invested in the rubric creation. All the students agreed that this project was easier to do well on than others were since they wrote the rubric and knew what they needed to do to get a certain score. They felt like they were set up for success. They liked to have the control over how they were graded and even wanted to eliminate the “one” score since they were not going to get that! When asked if they wanted to try this again for another project, they said definitely.
By: Gina Palermo, CA BOCES Professional Development and Cuba-Rushford Curriculum Coordinator
When a professional development day focusing on writing evolved into a discussion about reading comprehension, the day took a very eventful turn. Lesa Dionne, staff specialist for Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES, was providing professional development on the writing process for fourth and fifth grade teachers at Cuba Rushford Elementary School. The fifth grade teachers arrived in the afternoon, frustrated after looking at student work and realizing the class was having a difficult time citing evidence and answering comprehension questions. Student seemed to be struggling with the challenging texts from the Common Core and teachers wanted them to become more active learners. Lesa looked at the student work and pointed out that the students cannot write about a passage that they can’t comprehend. The discussion quickly changed from the writing process to reading comprehension and the use of questioning as a strategy to actively engage students.
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