If it not there already, coding will be coming to a school near you really soon! But why is there so much of a push for this?
Coding has many education implications: it is a way for students to design, create, and express themselves while solving problems, creating games, and having fun. Additionally, there are many opportunities in the area of computer science that students can consider when looking at careers. Website design, app creation, business management and many other fields have jobs that require some understanding of computer code.
Learning to code prepares kids for the world we live in today. There are tons of jobs and occupations that use code directly, like web designers, software developers and robotics engineers, and even more where knowing how to code is a huge asset—jobs in manufacturing, nanotechnology or information sciences. However, career prep is just one facet.
The skills that come with computer programming/coding help kids develop new ways of thinking and foster problem-solving techniques that can have big repercussions in other areas. Computational thinking allows students to grasp concepts like order of operations and cause and effect. Much like following a recipe, coding is systematic and students can see that attention to detail and sequential thinking are necessary to create a workable code.
And then there’s the simple fact that coding is fun! Most kids play games already, so learning the code behind the games takes engagement to a whole new level.
So get ready! Coding isn’t the future….it is the present!
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CABOCES Learning Resources
In an effort to continue CABOCES’ progressive advances with coding, we have been offering CodeMonkey as a way to teach computational thinking and core computer science concepts that will prepare our students for the careers of tomorrow.
CodeMonkey is an engaging online game that teaches real computer programming to children as young as nine. Through fun challenges, teachers can introduce basic computer science knowledge to students and better prepare them for the 21st century.
Computer programming might seem hopelessly complicated, but it is actually a lot like walking—you just have to take it one step at a time! Programming is just like giving instructions, and when using CodeMonkey, adults and students alike discover how people write commands in computer languages called code, and how code is broken down into step-by-step procedures called algorithms. Patience, attention to detail, and the ability to foresee different circumstances and outcomes can turn lines of text into useful programs and activities!
The CodeMonkey curriculum is built as a self-paced online game, where students advance through a progression of challenges. In each level, students write real code to program a monkey to catch all the bananas on the screen. Each solution is checked and graded automatically, and the students receive personalized instructions and hints that help them advance at a pace right for them.
Recently, the 5th and 6th grade students at Genesee Valley decided to help that monkey find those bananas! Class time was spent going through the program and teaching the nuances of CodeMonkey and then having the students begin their coding adventure at their own pace. Laughter, shouts of, “This is so fun!”, problem-solving, and even a bit of frustration were on display…all of which are part of learning.
As the students progress, they will being to understand computer programming language, covering topics such as objects, function calls, arguments, loops, variables, arrays, with 300 levels available total. To assist with this, CodeMonkey provides a unique curriculum that accompanies the teaching process step-by-step. Additionally, CodeMonkey provides a teacher’s dashboard where instructors can keep track of their students' progress in real time, as well as see the actual code they wrote. CodeMonkey also provides a cheatsheet so teachers will have the solutions to all challenges.
So what are you waiting for? Contact us and give CodeMonkey a try!
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CABOCES Learning Resources
Are you looking for resources and don’t know where to turn? Maybe you have some idea of what you are looking for and don’t have the time to cull through the myriad options available. At the CABOCES Learning Resources center in Allegany, we will have a training in January for the teachers in our two county area, highlighting all that our Staff Specialists here can do for you and your students.
Learning Resources has recently had an increase in the amount of resources being used by our component schools, but there are still so many things being underutilized. So as part of this training, the Staff Specialists went through each branch of Learning Resources and how they can assist with curriculum and content, utilization of online and digital support, as well as providing tangible resources to use in the physical classroom. The teachers who have gone through the training before have been amazed at the hundreds of thousands of resources available and how each department can either assist with or provide instruction on the various aspects of digital resources and technology, STEM, Library services, and distance learning.
Both STEM and the Digital Media program provide kits that can be used in the classroom to aid instruction and provide hands-on activities. Online resources accompany those kits, as well as accessing the SNAP system to find additional support. The Distance Learning branch has many components, including Moodle and Mahara, credit recovery, virtual field trips, collaborative classrooms, online learning, and Adobe Connect. Additionally, our Library Resources offers support to all 22 school libraries in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, implementation of the inter-library loan system, and provides online usage of Britannica and World Book.
If you are not utilizing any of these resources, only using some of them, or need to know more, come join us on January 12 at our Learning Resources center in Allegany, NY.
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CA BOCES
For a full week in July, area teachers gathered at Houghton College to be a part of an up and coming program aimed at working in the field of digital literacy. We are blessed in this area to have so many great content area teachers. Throughout our workshops, we see interested, talented, and dedicated professionals striving to give of their best to their students.
To that end, CABOCES has partnered with Houghton College to provide professional development for teachers who wish to increase their knowledge of technology and digital literacy that will propel their learners through the 21st century. Led by Dr. David Bruce, Associate Professor of Learning and Instruction at UB and Dr. Sunshine Sullivan, Associate Professor of Education at Houghton College, Rural Voices, Rural Visions closely resembles City Voices, City Visions. This is a program based out of Buffalo State University that provides educators and students with digital video resources to augment classroom learning. In this area, though, the focus is on those in rural communities.
Rural Voices, Rural Visions stresses not simply the use of technology, but the transformational power of technology. We cannot simply use technology for technology’s sake; we need to use it in ways that impact learning and give students another tool in their toolbox. Dr. Sullivan is hopeful that Rural Voices, Rural Visions will “provide a peek into the world of professional learning communities around digital literacies in a rural context, a gap in educational research and practice”.
Through Rural Voices, Rural Visions, the goal is to have teachers teach composition using varied modalities, not simply using essays or papers to reflect knowledge of content. For example, how can we use film to supplement classroom learning? According to Dr. Bruce, “When we discuss compositional issues such as audience, point of view, transitions, specific details, etc., the video theme provides a useful framework for discussion. This is especially crucial if the coursework involves print compositions. For those students who struggle to get their ideas on paper, I have found it to be helpful to refer back to their videos as a reference point.”
What a great opportunity we have in our region to work with such dedicated educators! Please contact me if you are interested in finding out more about Rural Voices, Rural Visions. We’d love to have your expertise!
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CA BOCES
Making sure that students read assignments can be a challenge. Some teachers use reading quizzes or one-page papers, while others create discussion boards. But as a given quarter nears its end, those options can seem laborious to both students and the instructor. VoiceThread is extremely user-friendly for students of varying technological abilities and offers an alternative that gives students options of how they respond, while still satisfying the goal of assessing how well they read assignments.
As many educators have discovered, especially language and art teachers, there are a myriad of educational possibilities with VoiceThread. For example, students can practice foreign language skills by describing a picture. They can analyze and comment upon historically significant photographs or architecture. A class can create a virtual tour of a place or event they are studying. VoiceThread can even be used as a means to debate a topic.
Ultimately, Voicethread offers a platform that visually simulates a real discussion and helps to prepare students for class in an engaging manner that offers practice for not only writing but (for some students) oral presentation skills. Take a look!
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Are you looking for creative ways to inspire your beginning readers? Maybe you have a struggling reader who needs a little bit of motivation to get through the frustration they are feeling. Reading Eggs is a wonderful online reading program geared at children ages 4-7. This program helps provide a dynamic online reading experience for your students to promote healthy reading and attitudes about reading.
Learning Resources has recently had an uptick in the amount of schools and students using this program. They find the challenges, positive reinforcements, and tangible “egg” rewards to be something very enjoyable. Reading Eggs starts the child off on a map where they must complete each level to advance to the next stepping stone – ultimately leading them through an entire level. It makes for easy mapping of a student’s progress and saves it where the student last left off. There is a placement test at the beginning of the program so your students don’t waste time on activities that are too easy for them, or get frustrated that it is too difficult.
For those who are very visual when it comes to learning, having the map helps them to stay focused on the goal. Reading Eggs is really easy to navigate, fun, and utilizes the many different approaches of teaching. For instance, when the game first starts out, a student is introduced to one letter – the letter M. After that, they learn to master the phonetic sound, identification, matching pictures to the letter, even showing how the letter is to be written through a number sequence. Because of the multiple approaches, students are also becoming better with spelling the words they are reading.
Reading Eggs is an exceptional early literacy program for children to learn how to read, strengthen reading skills, and master reading and comprehension. I would highly recommend giving this program a try if you have pre-readers, beginning readers, and struggling young readers.
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CA BOCES
Perspective. Is the glass half full or half empty? Our attitude determines our altitude. We cannot see the forest for the trees. Yada, yada, yada. However trite, there is truth to this.
Before my years in education, I spent over a decade in the business world. The transition between the two was culture shock. I was suddenly immersed into the world of Curriculum Mapping, Teacher Evaluation, and the Common Core (oh my). Dorothy, you are no longer in Kansas!
It was a totally different work environment and it took some adjusting on my part. Though it all, I was grateful for the experience and thoroughly loved being a teacher. I learned more things than I ever thought I would, and I learned some things I really never wanted to (If it is wet, and not yours, don’t touch it!) I was eager to learn more about my profession, how to be better, and so availed myself to many of the professional development opportunities offered by CABOCES. I distinctly remember going to a training and thinking to myself, “Now that is something I would like to do”.
Fate is a funny thing. Here I am, suddenly immersed into the world of SNAP, Digital Resources, and CoSers (oh my). It is another totally different work environment and will take some adjusting. I have no doubt that my years in the school system will make me a more well-rounded Staff Specialist and shape my perspective. In many ways I feel like Robert Frost. I have taken the road less traveled…and it has truly made all the difference. Let’s all be part of that difference!
Alexandra L. Freer
Staff Specialist for Digital Resources & Technology
Kelli Grabowski, 10th Grade Earth Science teacher, and Beth McIntyre, 10th Grade ELA, collaborate all year-round as part of a 10th grade team at Cattaraugus-Little Valley Central School. Kelli states that their team is very cross-curricular, especially where it concerns literacy, research, and academic vocabulary skills. Engaging in concept-teaching is a specialty of Kelli’s and Beth’s while facilitating both Earth Science and ELA. This summer they collaborated further to work on their online, blended learning Moodle coursesfor one full day and to learn about using Mahara – an electronic portfolio system that integrates with Moodle.
Kelli and Beth work hard at understanding students and their needs to use modern learning management systems that deliver instruction. They feel the students will be more engaged if learning in the style they are most accustomed to – online. Moodle and Mahara fulfill this need for students. Kelli and Beth embed rich resources into the online portion of the class with video clips and discussion forums as well as creating a bank of questions for online quizzes.
Not only will students be able to work at their own pace and access information 24-hours-a-day, they will also experience the reality of an online class that they will almost assuredly face again in college. Links within Moodle to classroom blogs, wikis, and other online tools are also easily placed into the Moodle classroom by the teacher. Linking to other technology-based resources in this way, students will polish other college and career-readiness skills.
By Maggie Jensen, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Jennifer Smith, Speech Therapist, Andover, collaborates with a very flexible 3rd grade teacher, Faye Shay, to login to the student publishing program, Voicethread, and integrate her custom-designed therapy for one particular student with the whole class of students.
Students practice vocabulary, spelling and creative writing during this lesson on the meaning and use of the word, exaggeration. Ms. Smith had a picture of “Pecos Bill” in the Old West projected on the screen in Voicethread and each student could choose his or her method of commenting on the picture (microphone or typing) and begin a story (an exaggeration) of how the “Andover Ponds” were formed. What Ms. Shay noticed was that the students who have very little to say in class, were very involved and lengthy in their explanations of how the ponds were formed – all based upon background knowledge from class and checked later for spelling and punctuation. Creative stories about the ponds and their formation were anywhere from Pecos Bill lassoing animals to push the dirt away to the digging of holes one after another with intervention from a magical being. Ms. Smith also had the students owning their own learning as she communicated to them and displayed on the big screen how their individual comments come to her in an email from Voicethread.
By: Maggie Jensen, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Students and teachers (of COSER 501 member districts) can access hundreds of thousands of digital resources using CABOCES Digital Kids.
Users may login to CABOCES DIGITAL KIDS to search clips and images or pass through to:
Brain Pop (Jr., ESL, Espanol),Discovery, Learn 360, Sylvan Dell eBooks, Teaching Books, Tumblebooks, Soundszabound, Gale Cengage, Regents Review