A new month brings exciting new Microsoft Teams technology designed to help your classroom stay organized, save time, and collaborate in the months ahead. A slew of new features and updates are rolling out now and will be available soon to support both students and staff as they move into spring. Look at the included PDF for more info, as well.
As the year continues on, stay tuned as more updates and feature improvements to the Microsoft Teams platform head out to teachers.
By: Ryan McGinnis, CA BOCES Model Schools
Flipgrid has been a favorite of many teachers both virtually and in person. Recently, Flipgrid launched a series of weekly virtual field trips to help bring experts from around the world into classrooms to engage students. Events take place on Wednesday at 12:00pm CST.
January field trips are focused around the theme of literacy:
February field trips are focused around the theme of Black History Month.
In these sessions, students will get to hear from authors and experts who will inspire them and spark meaningful conversations. Each session also provides teachers with a link to premade activities and Flipgrid conversations to do with students beforehand and spark their thoughts leading into the event!
To register for Flipgrid events, go to THIS LINK where you will find all of the upcoming sessions!
By: Chelsea Lobello, CA BOCES Model Schools
In my last article, SharePoint: A Microsoft Teams Alternative, I highlighted a few benefits to creating a SharePoint site and using SharePoint in the classroom. Since then, I have spent a good amount of time exploring some of the features within Microsoft’s Power Platform: Power Automate, Power Apps, Power BI, and Power Virtual Agents, two of which I think are well worth your time.
There are three ways to create a new workflow:
2. from a template; or
3. from a connector.
Take a look at Power Automate and start exploring how you can automate processes to save you time, money, and energy!
Power Apps allows for three types of app creation: Canvas app, Model-driven app, and Portal app. While I don’t yet fully understand the Model-driven app, the Canvas app uses the device screen (whether a tablet, phone, or other screen ratio) as the canvas to construct the app, and the Portal app functions more like a website that is not limited to internal use. [Disclaimer: Portal apps may require additional licensing so communicate with your Microsoft 365 administrator before pursuing this route.] Furthermore, just like the other Microsoft services, Power Apps provides access to guided learning in the Microsoft Education Center, support documentation, and a community forum (hyperlinked in each image below).
To help me (and hopefully you) better understand Power Apps, I worked with Jay Morris, Director of Technology, at Cuba-Rushford Central School District to brainstorm ideas for meaningful apps. For me, the easiest place to start was a Help Desk app similar to services such as QWare or Spiceworks. To make this happen, we needed to create a SharePoint List that would allow us to collect and update each ticket, and then we used a Power Apps Canvas app to connect to that data.
The Help Desk app can be opened by the app’s administrators/owners and general users either online or through the Power Apps mobile app to view, update, or delete existing tickets or create new ones; regardless of the modification, the SharePoint List is updated automatically through the app. Additionally, we could have the Help Desk automatically email the ticket creator as well as the technician to whom the ticket is assigned any time changes occur.
Shown below are four of the seven screens used to make the Help Desk App (Home, Create Ticket, User Tickets, User View/Delete Ticket, Successful Submission, Admin Tickets, and Admin Update Ticket):
Then, on the same SharePoint site where we created the List, we can create a dashboard similar to what you would see using a service like QWare and Spiceworks.
I look forward to exploring Power Apps further to see what processes we can automate and apps we can create. In theory, I am thinking that we could make apps for lunch orders, teacher evaluations, daily check-ins, etc. If you have an idea, send it my way.
If you’re interested in getting a copy of the Help Desk app template and putting it into place, please do not hesitate to reach out (Mark_Beckwith@caboces.org).
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Model Schools
As many schools continue to navigate remote and hybrid learning, we often think about our youngest learners and worry about how they will connect with their teachers, view lesson materials and complete learning activities at home. Seesaw has become a great tool for doing exactly that! Seesaw is described as “Student driven digital portfolios and simple parent communication,” and I have found that this quote is exactly what Seesaw is. Add the pandemic into the mix and these portfolios and simple communication become a lifeline to student success in all learning situations we may be in.
Students log into Seesaw Class App using their home learning code. Once logged on, they are connected to their teacher’s class and able to view and complete activities, view teacher videos and share photos and videos to their personal journal. This is especially helpful when we have students at home, in the building and anywhere in between. Teachers are able to create their own activities, as well as collaborate and share with teachers around the world in the community library.
Families log into Seesaw Family App where they can see all of the activities the student has done, message teachers, and leave comments on student work. This meaningful feedback connects home to school to further support student learning. For example, a student can work on a writing piece in Seesaw, then view compliments from family members, teachers, and even their principal right under their work.
Another great feature is the use of class and school announcements. Families can easily view announcements about reminders, class happenings or school wide information. Cattaraugus Little-Valley Elementary principal Jenny Conklin-Frank uses Seesaw to post her morning announcements to both students and families. Classroom community is crucial, but in a time like a pandemic it’s imperative that we keep the fun in learning and continue to bond over shared activities as much as possible during these trying times. Seesaw is a great way to keep us all together, even while we are apart.
By: Chelsea Lobello, CA BOCES Model Schools
I am sure you will not be surprised to hear that Microsoft Teams is the learning management system (LMS) of choice for nearly every CA BOCES component school district with the exception of very few. Teams is a dynamic application that allows educators to work productively in a digital environment.
Want a platform that can monitor student participation? Teams Insights has at-a-glance data. Need to video conference with one student, groups of students, colleagues, parents or guardians, or other stakeholders? Teams meetings “include audio, video, and screen sharing,” and “they're one of the key ways to collaborate in Teams.” Want students to submit their work but you struggle to store and keep track of physical papers? Teams Assignments are the solution you need. Whatever the problem may be, it is likely that a solution can be found in Teams.
Because Teams is so robust, it can also stir up strong reservations for educators who either struggle with integrating technology or those who need a simpler tool for their students. So if you are in one of these or similar categories, what do you do now that our school districts, for the most part, have gone all-in with Microsoft Teams? Microsoft still might have a solution for you.
Microsoft SharePointWhen you find that you are no longer struggling to keep your head above water in the midst of a pandemic trying to simultaneously teach students in your classroom and others at home, then I would strongly recommend exploring some of the other applications available through your Microsoft 365 account. My first recommendation for those of you seeking an alternative to Teams would be to spend some time in SharePoint. You can find this app by selecting the SharePoint icon (shown above) in your Microsoft 365 Home page.
SharePoint is the service that supports the other Microsoft applications. This is why you’ll see “sharepoint.com” in the URL when you share a file from your OneDrive (go try it if you haven’t seen this before). Another way to think of SharePoint is that it is a no-code, web-design tool. For example, the 3 Tools to Improve Results site was designed to replace the NYS Assessment Items OneNote file and allows members of the site to seamlessly transition from released assessment items to benchmark assessments to data analysis documents without the sync errors and delays that can often come with OneNote.
Also built on SharePoint, the Drone Education site was built with two objectives in mind: (1) to provide resources for educators seeking Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification and (2) to provide drone labs that can be utilized to teach content learning standards.
Once you are signed into SharePoint, you can create a new site by selecting the + in the upper left-hand corner of the page and then navigating through the prompts to get started.
After you pick an initial theme, you can start building your site by adding elements anywhere you find a +, or you can select the ⚙️ in the upper right-hand corner near your Microsoft 365 account initials and choose one of the options such as “Change the look” to get the theme that works best for you.
To make your site work best for you and your students, you can add a variety of media to your pages such as text, pictures, embedded videos, Microsoft Forms, and more. The best part is that your site will only include exactly what you want it to and nothing more (like that pesky Chat feature in Teams).
The biggest downside to SharePoint worth noting before you go exploring is the fact that SharePoint sites are designed to be used internally (i.e. users of the same Microsoft 365 tenant) as a means of security and protection. In order to enable access to guests such as parents, community stakeholders, or your friends at CA BOCES who may not have district accounts, you will need to get permission from your Microsoft 365 administrator who maintains the authority to change this setting.
For more help getting started with SharePoint sites, review Microsoft’s Create a Site in SharePoint resource or reach out to your friendly neighborhood CA BOCES coordinator.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
With Remote Learning plans factoring into many Districts’ plans for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, one of the platforms that many teachers in the CA region will be using is getting some long-awaited and powerful updates to enhance learning remotely this fall.
Microsoft has announced over 50 updates for its Microsoft Teams platform, both major and minor, that will make the product a much more enjoyable software application for remote learning. Some of the new features coming to Teams are introduced below.
Meeting with students and other teachers just became a more supercharged, with the addition of Large Gallery view, that enables seeing 49 participants on the screen at once, as well as Together Mode, which strips away the boxes behind the video participants and puts them into a virtual assembly hall to make them appear as if they are back in the classroom together.
Alongside these updates, more features such as extended meeting Attendance Reports (up to 24 hours after a meeting has concluded), the ability to “hard mute” participants so they cannot unmute themselves, breakout rooms for smaller discussion-based settings, the ability to share a new collaborative Whiteboard experience with text, pens, and sticky notes, a raise hand feature to signify wanting to talk, and more settings for students to be “participants” (ability to chat and share), “attendees” (view only), or “presenters” (ability to share screen) will be hitting teachers’ screens soon.
Teachers will also see updates in the Assignments tab across the top of the General channel in their Teams. This includes the ability to now have students see a thumbnail preview of attached websites prior to clicking on the link, the ability to attach up to 500mb worth of file attachments to Assignments, “Anonymous Grading” as an option where the students’ names are stripped from their work to focus solely on grading the work and reducing any “grading bias” that may exist, whether purposeful or not. There will also be the ability to set a default due time for all assignments in that class, so you won’t have to change it every time! There are also lots of new kid-friendly animations when they turn in their work that are new to the Fall 2020 update.
For more details on the Fall 2020 updates to Microsoft Teams, or for more information about when to expect more of the announced update features, please check out this article https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/education-blog/25-updates-for-microsoft-teams-for-education-for-back-to-school/ba-p/1554445
By: Ryan McGinnis, CA BOCES Model Schools
Teachers and students in the Cattaraugus and Allegany County region have all-access to many high-quality online resources. Check out our guide. All resources can be accessed at http://resources.caboces.org Contact anyone on our team for username and password assistance.
All Access Content Includes:
What are the odds that two coordinators would schedule different lessons with the same grade level educators on the same day? While we don’t know the exact odds (perhaps a probability and statistics lesson for those of you interested), we do know that we were able to make this unlikely event happen.
With what was seemingly conflicting lessons, we then had to make a decision. Which lesson would stay and which would be rescheduled: coding or fossils? After a quick discussion and a lot of excitement, we decided something different altogether. Why not both?!
With Kevin Erickson, Cuba-Rushford Elementary School principal, and the 2nd grade team on board, we set out to make our lessons a pairing better than peanut butter and jelly (if that is even possible). Based on the response from students and teachers, we may have come close.
Students were placed in quasi-random groups and assigned with unique roles (i.e. excavation director, materials specialist, recording specialist, and site manager) to complete their task: locate anything at all from the dig site using only the appropriate tools, the excavation robot and the excavation trowel.
Once each excavation team made a discovery, each member fulfilled his or her role to ensure that the dig site was properly cared for, all team members were participating, and the appropriate materials made their way to each group’s respective work site.
Depending on what the excavation robot and trowel uncovered, each excavation team explored a variety of fossil concepts such as types, formation, and locations.
Whether the topics are technology and dinosaurs, Science and Social Studies, or Restorative Practice and mathematics, reach out to your friendly neighborhood Instructional Support Coordinators to help with your next interdisciplinary, co-teaching lesson.
By: Lance Feuchter & Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Learning Resources & Professional Development
P.s. We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to Karen Insley, Distance Learning coordinator, for her valuable assistance and Wendy Sprague, CRCS Elementary Librarian, for allowing us to utilize the necessary space to conduct such learning opportunities.
As adults, many of us travel to countless places, cities and even countries. We have access to unique experiences, cultures and pieces of history. Our students, however, do not always have those opportunities and experiences. I remember going to Boston while teaching 4th grade and taking so many pictures to bring back and show my students, wishing they could experience that themselves. When a 7th grade social studies teacher was looking for an engaging way to let his students expand their recent learning of The Liberty Tree and Boston’s history, I remember that feeling I had and we decided to introduce virtual reality using Nearpod VR.
Using a teacher led tour, students answered questions, posted on a collaborative board, and of course, experienced Boston in VR. With each location, students were able to walk around, look around them and make inferences and discoveries relating to the lessons they had recently learned. Rather than just hear about the monument plague where the Liberty Tree once was, they got to see it with their own two eyes in relation to the other stops on their tour. Some students have never been to a large city, so seeing the buildings and focal points of a major city was an added bonus experience.
The student engagement I was able to witness was what I found most exciting. Students were asking questions, pointing out interesting features to each other and showing genuine excitement over connecting their learning of Boston’s history to the amazing sights in front of them. There are so many opportunities we can bring students through VR and truly bring learning to life!
By: Chelsea Lobello, CA BOCES Model Schools
Let’s face it. Much of the technologies recommended for teaching and learning need to undergo greater scrutinization since many of those technologies are too far down the wrong end of the spectrum of shiny only to beneficial for learning. However, a shiny technology tool should not be dismissed simply because it is attractive; we must evaluate the tool to determine whether teaching and learning can be meaningfully improved.
Rather than focusing on a specific tool, let’s now consider more generally the tech. tools that utilize coding. The robots in this category have (and rightfully so) raised a lot of eyebrows. For example, it would be ill-advised to bring the tooth brushing robot into your classrooms as a tool for teaching and learning (feel free to email me with a counterexample if you’d like to prove me wrong). While the tooth brushing robot isn’t available for reservation, there are many robots that reside in the CA BOCES Learning Resources warehouse that can yield a meaningful impact on learning.
Lastly, unless the course objectives specifically include a focus on a specific technology, we are creating a disservice for learning when the tech. tool is the end goal rather than a means to reach other learning targets. To help avoid this trap, I have given a few reasons technology, such as augmented or virtual reality (AR or VR) or robotics, can be a meaningful tool to help students master learning targets.
1. Explore Content Learning Standards
Whether used for pre-teaching or re-teaching, technology can provide meaningful interactions with social studies topics (pictured left; the AR app 1600), science topics (pictured right; the AR app Quiver), and more. The benefits demonstrated above are amplified because the technology was integrated with effective instruction. The tech. tool didn’t replace the teaching. The teaching didn’t require students to imagine only. The pairing of technology and effective teaching created more meaningful connections to content learning standards.
2. Foster Creativity and Problem Solving
For struggling learners, students who don’t eagerly or correctly construct sentences, paragraphs, etc. or solve mathematical problems, technology can provide opportunities for increased engagement and flexibility. Parrot mini drones are one of those technologies that, arguably, fall too far down on the shiny end of the spectrum at first glance, but this tool does not have to be attractive only.
For instance, Chelsea Lobello, CA BOCES Model Schools coordinator, worked with an Ellicottville Central School student to complete provided and self-directed missions using block programming; this student not only demonstrated his ability to code and sequence blocks in order for the drone to complete a mission, but he also demonstrated his ability to code and sequence words to meet his language goal.
Later that same day, two other students also programmed the drones to complete self-created missions. During these missions, I was able to have students simplify expressions and solve equations using rational numbers, a topic directly related to their mathematics learning goals and standards.
3. Character Education
Of all the technology integrations that have taken place recently in the CA BOCES region, the upswing of VEX robotics has been the most exciting for me. This year’s competition, Tower Takeover, as well as those from previous years, is more than just an engineering challenge. Students must demonstrate more than academic ability if they want to be successful in this arena.
The REC Foundation includes a similar sentiment on their website:
“In addition to learning valuable engineering skills, students gain life skills such as teamwork, perseverance, communication, collaboration, project management, and critical thinking. The VEX Robotics Competition prepares students to become future innovators with 95% of participants reporting an increased interest in STEM subject areas and pursuing STEM-related careers.”
Almost always, technology should be a tool, not the goal. The scenarios above followed this approach of utilizing technology as a means to an end, providing meaningful benefits on teaching and learning. Hopefully your pursuits with technology are equally as fruitful.
By: Mark Beckwith, Model Schools
If you heard a buzz coming from the Main Center of CABOCES in Olean on August 20th and 21st, there was no need to worry! Our annual CABOCES Summer Tech Camp was going on and the energy, excitement, and participation was through the roof! If you missed out, keep reading for a recap of the event.
Spanning the course of two days in August, over 75 participants took part in a refreshing look into new and exciting instructional technology applications and programs to take back into their classrooms for the upcoming school year. There were 14 different school districts and three BOCES represented by the participants.
On the first day, Matt Miller (author of Ditch That Textbook, Ditch That Homework, and Don’t Ditch That Tech) presented a keynote all about bringing new and innovative approaches to educational activities using a variety of technology tools that most of us already have access to on a daily basis. He showed how to take virtual field trips using Google Maps, using the Quizizz app to replace general homework review assignments, new ways to combat Kahoot/Quizlet overuse. Matt also demonstrated the use of Pear Deck to make classroom presentations more interactive and engaging. He finished the first day with a meaningful and enlightening discussion regarding the relevancy and educational impact that homework may play in our classrooms. A participant commented that “Matt showed some things that were new, some that I already knew, but the approach to using them in the classroom has me excited and ready to go for this school year! He made everything seem so easy and relatable to my classroom.”
On the second day, we had the opportunity to shine the light on some of our local teachers who had put in requests to present to their peers on what they do, software programs they do, and much more. With over 20 teacher-directed presentations to choose from, as well as other sessions from vendors like Apple Education, Castle Learning, Spider Learning and the CABOCES Professional Development team, Day Two had a more “conference” feel to it. Regional teachers were able to choose from sessions such as “Beyond being Nice Online” by Fillmore teacher Eileen Anderson, “The Art of Storytelling” by Mark Beckwith from CABOCES, “iBooks” from Cattaraugus-Little Valley’s Chelsea Lobello, and many more!
If you missed out, you can follow along with what the discussion and buzz was about on Twitter, just search for the hashtag #CABOCEStechcamp to see the resources and more that was shared during the conference days. Teachers left Summer Tech Camp with a tremendous buzz and excitement to use what they learned in their rooms and looking forward to next year’s CABOCES Summer Tech Camp 2020!
By: Ryan McGinnis, Model Schools
Pixar in a Box Meets Khan Academy
We are storytellers. Notice that I used “we.” Some people prefer sharing stories through writing, others through video, and others through song. Regardless of the medium, we are all storytellers--every one of us.
The question then becomes, “How do we go about telling our stories?” To find the answer, look no further than Pixar’s collaboration with Khan Academy, Pixar in a Box. While the curriculum contains 15 units, The Art of Storytelling is central to story creation and development and is bolstered with six modules to help anyone guide their storytelling much like Pixar has done for over three decades.
The Art of Storytelling
Model Schools Coordinator, Rob Miller, and I first explored The Art of Storytelling curriculum this past March at the South by Southwest EDU (SXSW EDU) conference with Elyse Klaidman, co-leader of the team at Pixar that created, developed, and promoted Pixar in a Box. In her two-hour, hands-on session, Elyse shared her recommendations for utilizing the curriculum on Khan Academy in the middle-high school classroom (disclaimer - I must have been so engrossed in learning that I excluded a piece of the puzzle and numbered incorrectly):
English Language Arts Collaborative Learning Community
After returning from SXSW EDU, Rob and I shared our learning with the Professional Development team at CA BOCES. Seeing our enthusiasm and a clear connection to the NYSED ELA learning standards, Sarah Wittmeyer and Brendan Keiser collaborated with us to include The Art of Storytelling in the next Middle School/High School English Language Arts Collaborative Learning Community (MS/HS ELA CLC).
Educators from Allegany-Limestone, Bolivar-Richburg, Cattaraugus-Little Valley, Friendship, Portville, Salamanca, Scio, West Valley, and Whitesville school districts followed a process similar to the one I experienced with Elyse by working through the Getting Started with Pixar in a Box: The Art of Storytelling document in conjunction with the available video lessons over the course of approximately two hours. However, The Art of Storytelling could be easily extended to one week, one month, or one marking period (or longer) if desired. This process could even be developed into a course to include not only storytelling, but also design, effects, simulation, animation, character modeling, and more.
Maybe you aren’t convinced that you are a storyteller; perhaps you feel like you don’t have what it takes to write, produce, or create something valuable. If that really is you, I think the Introduction to Storytelling with Pixar in a Box can help. If that isn’t you and you are interested learning more about Pixar, or if you are looking to expand your storytelling strategies, you can start there, too.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Teachers and students in Cattaraugus-Little Valley are exploring 3D pens and their possible uses in the classroom. Imagine students being able to instantly draw their learning in the air! Students can draw geometric shapes, bridges, and music notes in a matter of minutes. A lot of schools and classrooms have experimented with 3D printers. They can be expensive, and prints can take a long time. With a 3D pen, students can create 3D drawings in a matter of minutes.
Freshman ELA students in Ms. Lobello’s class are using 3D pens to create tools for characters in a story they have written. In Mrs. Purdy’s Art class, students are learning to design bridges and animals with a 3D pen. Some students have requested to borrow the 3D pens to complete self-paced genius hour projects. The 3D pens come with simple designs for students to develop skills. They learn by creating cubes and large structures with triangles and squares.
The pens work as a manually operated 3D printer. Heated filament made from plastic is extruded through the pen’s tip, which quickly cools down to form a stable 3D object.
The possibilities are only limited by a teacher or a student’s imagination. Here are a few ideas that teachers can explore:
By: Rob Miller, CA BOCES Professional Development
Ms. Pelligrino’s 7th and 8yh grade students are bringing literature to life by creating virtual reality reenactments of their favorite scenes. Virtual Reality is a 3d generated image or video that makes users feel like they are actually inside that environment. Users can view virtual reality through the use of head mounted viewers (Google™ Cardboard).
For this lesson the students chose a scene from a book they are reading or recently read. The students chose a part of the book that they wanted to share with other people. After choosing the scene the students examines the visual elements in the story, the character’s interactions with the environment and the critical elements. After noting these the students got to work creating their virtual worlds.
We used a free website called cospace.io. The students got a quick tutorial in the software and quickly created. The students were able to build the scene and use computer code to create interactions. Dialogue for the characters was created using thought bubbles.
Creating Virtual and Augmented Reality could be easy for students. Here are a couple free resources teachers and students and teachers could use to create content:
By: Rob Miller, CA BOCES Professional Development
High School ELA students in Jessica Brassard-Moore’s ELA class in Cattaraugus-Little Valley decided that they would use it to solve problems. After reading Bram Stroker’s “Dracula” the students determined a character as their custome and used the engineering design process to create a solution for that customer. Most of the students chose Van Helsing as their customer and designed products that would help him defeat Dracula.
The students individually brainstormed solutions and then worked on designing. The used a free 3d modelling website called Tinkercad (https://www.tinkercad.com/) to design their projects. Some students were given a quick tutorial, but soon became experts in the program sharing their newfound 3d design skills with each other. When students finished designing their projects, they were able to 3d print an actual product and “pitch” the products to their teacher and classmates.
The lesson idea originated form the website http://www.novelengineering.org/. In a Novel Engineering lesson: “Students use existing classroom literature – stories, novels, and expository texts – as the basis for engineering design challenges that help them identify problems, design realistic solutions, and engage in the Engineering Design Process while reinforcing their literacy skills”. Novel Engineering can be used for many different types of literature and across all grade levels. This is a great way to integrate STEM/STEAM lessons and the engineering design process into ELA classrooms. They provide many examples on their website
These students used a 3d printer but any materials for making or designing could be used to develop a solution.
By: Rob Miller, CA BOCES Professional Development
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
When students and teachers are browsing Jody Thiel's library in West Valley School, they can expect an interactive experience to learn about her students' favorite books. Visitors can point their phones or tablets at the book Pig Pug by Aaron Blabely and a student video will "pop up" to give viewers a summary of the book. You can virtually explore 20 different books in her library.
West Valley students in third grade created "Augmented Reality" book reviews of books they recently finished reading. The students created props in the Library Makerspace to use on their summaries. To prepare for the video recording, students read their books and wrote a review that included the book's authors, the setting, the storyline and their favorite parts of the book. Some students listed similar books that piqued the interest of others.
Augmented reality is putting a computer-generated layer in a real-world environment. The layer is not seen by the user until they view it through the lens of an augmented reality viewer on a phone or camera. The students used the cover of the books as "targets" and placed a video of their summary on the cover.
The videos were recorded on iPads. We then used an app called Aurasma (https://www.aurasma.com/) to put a new video layer on the books. When a patron or another student in the library has the Aurasma app, they can point their tablets or phones at the books to view the student created videos.
By: Rob Miller, CA BOCES Professional Development
When Microsoft originally announced that they were going to offer the Office 365 suite and its components free of charge to all schools who wanted access, it was seen as a “game-changing move” for education and learning in schools as we know it.
With the focus of today’s technology moving to cloud-based computing, storage, app access, and more, it made sense for Microsoft to offer these services to school districts to ensure that their software suites were still relevant and useful for students. Especially when factored in that competition in the education space has heated up between Google, Microsoft, and Apple, with all three offering enticing services to find their way into contracts with schools across the country.
This summer, school districts from Fillmore to Portville, and even administrators themselves, have been taking part in Office 365 Trainings offered by CABOCES. With a focus on what is Office 365, what features are included in the suite, what can be done with the programs, teachers and administrators have been upping their familiarity and comfortability in using the resources available to them in Office 365.
There were some topics that created more buzz than others, such as how to set-up and use ClassNotebook to run a blended or flipped classroom in various subject areas and grade spans. Seeing teachers experiment with creating classes, adding students and learning how to share documents and classroom resources with the push of a button to student computers is leading the charge this summer toward some classrooms becoming paperless! Sway, a presentation tool that creates its products as websites that automatically scale to fit different screen sizes was also a teacher favorite for combining elements of PowerPoint and website design into a friendly and easy-to-use format. Microsoft Forms, which allows for teachers to create surveys or quizzes online and quickly share them with students, access instant results, and provide data points that can be analyzed and diagnosed deeper to assess student progress on their learning of concepts was one that most teachers say they could see themselves using on a constant basis. With Fillmore and Portville students having 1-1 devices, the possibilities for enriching students’ learning are endless!
With everything around us moving toward cloud-based architecture, it only makes sense that our schools learn and adapt at the same time. Staying current for our students and using the resources in much the same way they do every day will allow us to stay relevant in education and keep the students with the best resources available to them at the touch of a button, mouse, or smartphone screen. With the move to Office 365, students will have the opportunity to have access to their files, and their programs, no matter where they may be with the devices they are already so capable of using every day.
By: Ryan McGinnis, CA BOCES Professional Development
Connecting College and Career Experiences for Second Grade Students: Exploring Robotics and Real-World Learning Opportunities at CABOCES
College and career readiness are words that ring through the minds of many, wondering how such learning experiences can be generated to cultivate a sense of the opportunities that exist beyond a traditional PK-12 education. For many, college and career readiness is a facet embedded in the NYS Common Core Learning Standards for ELA and Math and the Next Generation Science Standards. For others, exposure to college and career opportunities is much more than what is taught in a traditional setting; it’s about the experiences and the real-world application we can create for learners of all ages.
Laurie Bushnell and Tracey Keller’s second grade students recently visited the Career and Technical Education Center in Olean, NY to highlight some of the future educational opportunities that they may have, be it as a programmer of various robotics resources, as a cosmetologist, or even as a culinary artist. The experience was intended to give students a greater sense of the opportunities that exist in the real-world, as well as an understanding of the strategies and skills that can help one to be successful.
While fiddling with robots can seem like all fun and games, for the teachers and students alike, the experience was much more. The students were able to gain insight into how robots work, solve posed problems, experience challenge, and learn how these emotions lend themselves to the real-world. Some students felt frustration in trying to accomplish a task or goal, but through their perseverance, their commitment, and ultimately their inherent want to be successful, the students learned.
For Ms. Bushnell and Ms. Keller, giving students exposure to experiences outside the walls of East View Elementary in Olean, NY brings new light to the opportunities that await them in the future. Having students feel a little bit pampered by the cosmetology department and engaged by the prospect of making robots work reinforces the need for teachers of all students to provide learning experiences that enhance exposure to college, to career, and to challenge.
By: Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES Professional Development
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
The coding initiative has taken hold in many of our elementary classrooms throughout the Cattaraugus-Allegany region, through the use of Bee-Bots, iPad Apps for Education, programming course platform Zulama, Lego League, and many more. Many of our teachers are breaking away from the ‘shuttering’ that ensued from the mere utterance of the word “coding”. Coding, at its heart, is simply providing a set of directions that one must follow. It encourages critical thinking and problem solving skills in our students.
On March 16, Mrs. Hamer’s Kindergarten embarked on their first hands-on coding experience under the expertise of technology integrator Mark Carls. cooperative learning groups of 4-5 students, under Mark’s guidance, programmed our Bee’s to maneuver through the grid provided.
Mark was very enthusiastic when describing his work with our students commenting, “Some students grasped the concept of the bees right away and I was able to provide more complex pathways almost immediately, while some students needed more direct support with one step programming tasks. All in all, it was great! The kids were very engaged and enthusiastic about using the Bee’s. Every student wanted to touch them and in our small groups they were able to do just that.” Through this one activity, Mark was able to provide students with an enriching differentiated critical thinking task.
Mrs. Hamer’s Kindergarten class is eagerly awaiting Mark’s next visit when they will be applying their knowledge of coding with the tangible Bee-Bots to coding with the Bee-Bot App.
The Maker movement is on the rise in today’s schools. The movement, which is poised to transform learning throughan emphasis on creation and creativity, ties in closely with
the STEAM initiatives many are looking to employ in their instructional practices. One such resource that can get a makerspace off the ground is LittleBits, easy-to-use electronic building blocks that snap together to help students in their creation of various inventions. LittleBits
have made their way into Cattaraugus-Allegany schools and are beginning to take hold in makerspaces and classrooms alike.
At a recent training, districts participating in the Eisenhower Consortium were given the opportunity to explore LittleBits and their application in the classroom and school-wide makerspaces. Teachers learning about the technology were given a series of challenges and asked
to use the building blocks to create useful tools that could help provide a solution to the given problems.
Take for instance, the case where the power goes out. What would one do? Reach for a flashlight of course, but what if there were no flashlight to be found? Could LittleBits help provide a solution? Teachers engaged with the blocks and snapped them together to make a useable flashlight. With toilet paper tubes, some tape, and a series of inter-locking electronic blocks, the problem came to be resolved.
Some would argue that a makerspace takes away from the content and curriculum that needs to be taught, but with LittleBits, the connection is often seamless. For those teaching about the solar system, and the movement of planets, imagine making a scale of the solar system using the components of LittleBits. Teachers at a recent team training collaborated to build a model of the movement of the moon around the earth, creating a replication of the phases of the moon. In tinkering with the inter-locking blocks and using easily accessible materials, the model took shape.
Students thrive in environments that rekindle their desire to make meaningful contributions toward relevant issues, ideas, people and interests. LittleBits can open the doorway to inspiring that creativity and innovation we often seek in our students. Whether using LittleBits or other resources, makerspaces are here to stay, and considering how to incorporate such tools into the classroom can push students further, and inspire deep, meaningful learning experiences for all.
LittleBits are accessible through our Learning Resources department and can be checked out for use in the classroom today.
Contact Lauren Stuff for more questions or support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the end of the year districts are asked if they'd like to contribute money towards an Eisenhower fund where the money is pooled together for the following school year. When the new year starts up, these districts meet to discuss possible options to maximize these funds- called Eisenhower Funds. This year the participating schools decided on sending teachers to learn and receive either Hummingbird, littleBits kits or to learn about Project Based Learning. The photos above are from the littleBits training held at the Barn Teaching and Learning Center in Olean on Leap Day (February 29th) and were tweeted out using the hashtag #myCABOCES.
The reason for the importance of these days was to explore more about the “Maker Movement” where people look to ‘make’ something to help fix a problem, help others or just because they want to make something! The importance of Hummingbirds and littleBits in that process is because they offer students a chance to easily ‘make’ or build their own ideas. After exploring different projects like creating a doorknob, a flashlight and a bubble maker, these teachers looked at finding ways to incorporate littleBits into their classrooms and spaces they have back in their district. As with the Hummingbird training in January, all of the teachers left with creative ideas for their students. We at CABOCES Professional Development can’t wait to see and hear all the neat products that the students create.
By Mark Carls, CA BOCES
On November 18, 2015 I was one of the first people to witness Kaylyn not having to write her name on a piece of schoolwork using her teeth. This day brought goose bumps to all the educators who were in the room. This piece of software was a game changer for Kaylyn. She was now able to do more work [lg2] independently. If you think about it, that’s really what we want from all of our students. We want them to grow up and be lifelong learners, contributing members to society and independent.
A special thank you goes out to Marcie Richmond, Olean’s Special Education Director, Amy Buckner, Kaylyn’s Support Aide and all of Olean’s Tech Department.
Kaylyn is a special girl and not because she can’t use her arms and legs. She is special because of her resilience, her stick-to-itiveness, and her ability to persevere. Kaylan is just like every other girl and that’s the way it should be. If she wants to dot her “I’s” with a heart or pass a note to another student in class when she should be paying attention, we as educators should do everything in our power to make that happen. I’m so glad to have met Kaylyn and extremely thrilled to call her my friend.
By: Rick Weinberg, CABOCES Professional Development
After school on Thursday afternoons, Pioneer Middle School LMC is the place to be. It is here that anywhere from 20-25 students in grades 5-8 gather for Maker Club under the guidance of librarian Maria Muhlbauer and teacher Gio LoBianco. The idea for a library makerspace is one that had been brewing for a couple years, and in November of this school year, Ms. Muhlbauer and Mr. LoBianco officially began recreating a section of the library into Pioneer’s own makerspace.
The concept of a makerspace is really quite simple: designate an area where students can gather to create, invent, learn, and teach others about something they are good at doing. This idea complements the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives currently underway at Pioneer, and the space allows students to work with computer programming, robotics, crafts, drawing, origami, etc. According to the Middle School Library blog, accessible at pioneermiddlelibrary.blogspot.com, the space is stocked with a wide variety of materials, including Raspberry Pi programming kids, solar robotic kits, mousebots, spinbots, squishy circuits, Makey Makey kits. District employees and community members generously donated craft supplies such as duct tape, origami paper, Legos, and more to help get the Maker Club up and running this year.
Maker Club officially kicked off with its first meeting on January 8 with 18 students attending. After an introduction to the concept and goals of Maker Club and talk of acceptable and unacceptable activities during the meeting times, students got busy creating with Legos, crafting with duct tape, weaving with plastic bands, and coding with programs such as Scratch. More recently, students have been participating in a “Robot Finch Loan Program” through BirdBrain Technologies, where students learn how to program the finches.
Looking ahead to next year, Ms. Muhlbauer, Mr. LoBianco, and teacher Ms. Brenda McKenzie applied for and were awarded a grant worth approximately $2,600 from National Grid to further support STEM initiatives at schools within the Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES region. Grant money will fund the purchase of Dash & Dot robotics kits and iPads for programming them. The app will allow students to sharpen their creative and critical thinking skills while using concepts and information learned in class to help them find solutions to complex problems.
New students are always welcome at Maker Club and can attend one, many, or all meetings. This is a great opportunity for students to explore activities that are of interest to them, all while learning lifelong skills and maybe – just maybe – sparking an interest that will lead them to a fulfilling career someday!
By: Amy Windus, CA BOCES and Pioneer Central School