School districts around the area have been looking for ways to help their staff build better relationships with their students and to hopefully come up with ways to reduce discipline issues. The West Valley school district led by their principal, Dan Amodeo and School Psychologist, Antonette Leonard, met earlier this year with Katie Mendell and Mark Carls about bringing Restorative Practices to West Valley. During the last staff development day before Spring break, Mark and Katie worked with the West Valley staff in the morning to give an overview of Restorative Practices and how it can possibly help the West Valley staff. Throughout the morning the teachers had plenty of open and honest conversations about what they already do in their classes and brainstormed some ideas on what they can possibly change at West Valley.
Many CA BOCES districts have been looking at Restorative Practices and have also attended many of the CA BOCES offered IIRP two-day trainings. The CA BOCES certified trained IIRP professionals offer dates in July and August for these two-day trainings, but they can also work with districts to offer full or part time trainings for any district. Participants in West Valley and other districts have been excited to see that Restorative Practice is ‘more than just circles’. Schools that adopt Restorative Practices give a common language to set expectations, build positive relationships and to help set up a ‘culture of caring’ for all students in a building.
By: Mark Carls, CA BOCES Professional Development
In Mr. Dave Taylor’s Introduction to Engineering course, students have many experiences connected to solving real-world issues. In Mr. Taylor’s latest unit, he charged his students with designing a concrete bridge with the challenge of holding as much weight as possible while using as little material as necessary. Students were given one 80lb. bag of concrete and 8 yards of wire reinforcements.
The unit opened up with students researching the field of civil engineering, learning about salary, education required, and all of the sub disciplines. Mr. Taylor then had his students participate in the Question Formulation Technique (QFT). The QFT is an inquiry-based process that helps students generate many questions around a topic, or Q Focus. A Q Focus can be a statement, an image, a video, a song, or more, but it is never a question. The first time he did the QFT with students, he gave them a picture of a 19th Century aqueduct. This sparked many types of questions from students as they wondered about the construction, design, and history of the image. Once they were hooked, Mr. Taylor provided another Q Focus to get students to deeply think about their upcoming project: “We will build scale reinforced concrete bridges that accurately model real functioning bridges designed by civil engineers.” Students once again generated questions based on the statement, sparking their interest in the project at hand.
The students researched bridge design, including regulations from the Montana Department of Transportation and even the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. From there, students engaged in the engineering design process. Working in groups, they made 3D models using Fusion 360 and continued to iterate their designs until they were satisfied with the finished product. One of the key challenges was figuring out how to make a mold to design their bridge, as they had to think about their design from a different perspective to design an inverse mold. Once they were finished, they went into Mr. Farrand’s wood shop with their final designs and physically constructed their molds with wood. Students determined how much water and wire reinforcement they wanted to use, where to place that reinforcement, and also considered how to remove their bridge from the mold without it sticking to the wood and cracking or breaking.
After a seven day curing process, students were ready to test out their bridges! Mr. Brisky came up with a chain hoist system as a way to evenly place weights on students’ bridges. Group A used 77.5 lbs. of concrete mix while Group B used 35.5 lbs. of mix. While Group A was able to hold 335lbs. compared to Group B’s 148.5lbs., Group B ultimately won because they held more weight with a lot less material.
Students were fascinated by this unit and want to try additional experiments, such as playing with the amount of water and reinforcement to see if they can improve their designs. Well done, panthers!
By: Brendan Keiser, CA BOCES Professional Development
As the winter snows melt and sunshine begins to extend and warm up each day, you know Spring is in the air. At Gail N. Chapman elementary school in Randolph, 2nd grade students ‘Catapulted into Spring’ with a STEM activity that consisted of two parts. Each student was given a bag of various materials that could be used for each part. In part one, students could use pieces of wood, rubber bands, tape, and a spoon to create a catapult that would fly a plastic egg into the air. In part two, students needed to create a nest type structure to catch the egg. The structure could be made out of toothpicks, lollipop sticks, jelly beans, gumdrops, marshmallows, and grass clippings.
The first part of the STEM challenge focused on leverage and force, as students needed to be sure their catapults could take an egg at least 6” into the air. They experimented with various lengths for their catapult, and how much force would be needed to get the proper height and distance they were looking for.
The second part of their STEM challenge required their catapulted eggs to be caught in a nest type structure and they were not to touch the ground. Students discussed various creative ways to accomplish this and were left to explore their own engineering and design. Conversations about what design to use, and what materials worked best were taking place all over the classroom. Once time had elapsed for their construction and building, it was time for each student to attempt to catapult their egg into their created nest. No matter how many students were able to launch their eggs into the nest, all students succeeded in having fun and experimenting with leverage and engineering.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Instructional greatness is the theme in Friendship Central School. Teachers here have dedicated time and effort into making every moment in school count. They have worked countless hours to help all students achieve success. One way they have accomplished this is through data driven instruction.
Planning instruction based on assessments is hard work. Teachers in Friendship are diligently working at unpacking standards, aligning curriculum and planning lessons using the data from CA BOCES-created benchmark assessments. This teacher tool gives educators the knowledge and understanding of student learning. It also provides a foundation for teacher professional development.
Teachers engage in collegial and collaborative conversations on a regular basis. There are numerous benefits to these conversations such as creating professional community, learning, and a culture where knowledge and respect are highly valued. These educators are responsible for transforming classrooms as they share ideas and expertise. The support they receive from colleagues is inspiring. Ultimately, these professionals develop and maintain the culture of cooperation so that teachers continue to learn and students achieve. The work in Friendship is transformational and teachers are the heart of this work.
By: Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development
What was once viewed as a nuisance or a children’s toy is now widely recognized as a tool for business: drones. Teachers are now seeking ways to take advantage of drones as meaningful instructional tools such as using them to teach content learning standards or to prepare students for a career as a drone pilot for commercial use.
Teaching Content Learning Standards
Of all the feature requests I receive about using drones, autonomous flight is the most common by far. However, for drones such as the DJI models, autonomous flight is much different than the computer programming with which teachers and students are familiar. For example, programming a DJI Phantom 4 to follow a specific route is as easy as reading Google maps and placing points of interest. Most teachers are really looking for something similar to blockly, Java, or another programming language; if you are in this category as well, you may be delighted to know that you can sign out up to 6 Parrot Minidrones through the CA BOCES Media CoSer.
Aside from the obvious connection to computer science standards, educational drone curriculum addressing learning standards in other content areas is virtually nonexistent; the lack of curriculum focused on academic learning standards is due to a primary focus on commercial drone use. However, a drone can provide a meaningful substitution for a variety of lessons and concepts such as rates of change in Algebra, velocity in Physics, and digital storytelling in ELA.
According to an extremely accurate 2014 estimate from Goldman Sachs, the drone industry would be valued at roughly $100 billion by 2020. Although nearly 70% of that market belongs to military use, commercial drone usage, particularly in construction and agriculture, is on the rise. A report from Dronethusiast notes that drones in construction were valued at $11 billion.
Since commercial drone use is a rapidly growing industry, several schools are preparing students to operate drones commercially. For instance, over one dozen educators partook in the Introduction to sUAS (small unmanned aerial systems) course at CA BOCES led by Jon Thies, current CEO of SkyOp LLC. Not only did this course help prepare teachers for the Part 107 Remote Pilot Knowledge Test (a requirement for commercial drone use), but it also helped provide a more accurate picture of the commercial drone industry. Companies, like SkyOp, provide training and curriculum that acts an extension to the introductory course by leading students through a similar, more in-depth experience.
One of the major takeaways from the introductory training was the reaffirmation of the importance of having Part 107 certified educators directly involved during the outdoor use of drones (within FAA and insurance policy regulations) at all times. Consequently, since more educators have expressed interest in preparing for the Part 107 Remote Pilot Knowledge test, an additional two-day training will take place this summer and will be available on the CA BOCES registration system soon; before you go up, up, and away, make sure you are prepared the right way.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
In March, teachers of 6-8 Middle School Math met to collaborate in their subject area. This day of collaboration began with a presentation from Dr. Xiao-Ning Zhang, a professor in the Science Department at Saint Bonaventure University (SBU). Dr. Zhang discussed at length the exciting opportunity she and her department have been working on in collaboration with the Cattaraugus County Health Department. The Health Department released some of its data to SBU in order for students to have access to real, meaningful data as part of their lessons. By sharing with area middle school teachers, Dr. Zhang is hoping to get teachers interested in having real data to use in class in order to help students see how data is used in real-life as well as increase their statistical fluency. Her efforts will be highlighted further during SBU’s K-12 Science and Math Teacher Workshop from July 8-11.
In addition, teachers spent much of the afternoon exploring different technology tools that they can utilize in their classrooms to help increase the engagement of their students. One such tool was Desmos which allows teachers to graph functions, plot data, evaluate equations, explore transformations, and more. Desmos even has classroom activities that are pre-built and ready-to-use in the classroom.
A second tool shared was Graspable Math which allows the user to “grasp” terms in an equation and move them to the other side in order to solve the equation. The program does not allow for the students to make arithmetic mistakes and can be a valuable tool for those students who struggle in this area.
A third and final tool shared was Gimkit, a game show for the classroom that requires knowledge, collaboration, and strategy to win. Created by a current high school student, one teacher described it as, “Kahoot on Steroids!” Gimkit’s platform is similar to Kahoot but allows students to work at their own pace, answering questions for money, and using the money they earn strategically to buy upgrades that enhance their earning potential. Teachers enjoyed trying this out for themselves and were excited to try it in their own classrooms!
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Professional Development
On March 11th, over 100 local educators, administrators and community leaders gathered at the Restorative Practices Symposium to explore, learn and experience from experts and practitioners in the field. The event was organized in response to the increasing interest in restorative practices in the region. The morning consisted of a keynote speaker and three practitioner presentations, while the afternoon allowed participants to experience different aspects of restorative practices based upon interest. Let’s take a look at what we learned about throughout the morning!
The keynote speaker, Dr. Tom Cavanagh of Colorado State University shared evidence and research specific to restorative practice in schools. He noted the significance of creating a culture of care using the principles and practices of restorative justice in the school environment. Dr. Cavanagh’s work with Hinkley High School in Aurora, Colorado was a great example of the application of a “culture of care” and related positive outcomes. Based on his research, Dr. Cavanagh concluded the implications for restorative schools include improved graduation rates, decreased discipline referrals, increased learning time and greater equity.
Deb Golley and Mollie Lapi, of CA BOCES Exceptional Education Programs spoke about the implementation process and daily practices within special education programs. They shared the reality of the 80/20 rule with restorative practices. The majority (80%) of practices are proactive, leaving the reactive practices happening much less of the time (20%). Therefore, reinforcing that restorative schools are heavily invested in practices that build relationships and community. This investment enables the responsive practices, such as conferences or corrective circles, to have greater influence and success in repairing harm and relationships when harm has occurred.
Representatives from East High School in the Rochester City School District, Dr. Lia Festenstein and Michelle Garcia offered insight into the revitalization of climate and culture in an urban school, through the implementation of restorative practices. Garcia introduced the social discipline window and noted that the ideal restorative response is a combination of high control (limit setting, discipline) and high support (encouragement, nurturing). Dr. Festenstein highlighted the process and stages of implementation and shared details of the journey from year one into year four. Finally, Dr. Festenstein spoke of the noteworthy impact that restorative practices has had at EAST. Outcomes include, a decrease in school referrals and suspensions, a decrease in the severity of school offenses and a narrowing discipline gap that disproportionately punishes students of color.
Finally, participants heard from local superintendent Lori DiCarlo. DiCarlo walked participants through the three tiers of restorative practices. She illustrated how the multi-tiered system of support aligns with the restorative practices continuum and what this looks like at Randolph Academy UFSD. For each of the three tiers, DiCarlo gave examples of what the practice looks like, how it is implemented and what the benefits are.
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools Coordinator
There have been numerous activities that have occurred out in Friendship this year and a few accomplishments. We’ll highlight a few of them as we continue to grow and learn. At the January 25th in-service day we celebrated Friendship moving off NYSED’s watch list as they’ve shown growth through multiple layers at New York State. That was a result of years of work to do what’s in the best interest of students. To continue an afternoon of celebrating and teamwork the Friendship staff, led by school psychologist, Kimberly Riordan, worked in teams to complete a scavenger hunt with the Goose Chase app. Goose Chase allows you to form teams that have to accomplish certain tasks and can take photos to show that they accomplished the task. Those photos go to the moderators of the challenge to award the pre-determined points or not. This was an excellent team building opportunity with many of the photos shared before the faculty left.
The other activity that our 5th grade team took on was to run a BreakOut EDU review session to have students answer questions to review for their “Solids, Liquids and Gases” unit. Mrs. Sleggs and Mrs. Malinowski set up teams that the students worked on to solve specific problems. Each problem helped unlock a different lock on the box. Once every group solved their problem they were treated to a special reward/treat. Thank you Alex Freer from Learning Resources for showing us BreakOut EDU earlier this year!
By: Mark Carls, CA BOCES Professional Development
Over the past few months, Kathryn Mendell and myself have facilitated the Mental Health Literacy forum with about 70 teachers and leaders from the region. The purpose of the Mental Health Literacy forum is to share and provide information on mental health education provided within our community and area schools. We shared guidance for developing effective mental health education for ALL students at all levels while embedding mental health well-being into the entire school environment.
The NYS Education Department expects schools to utilize the guidance documents and other resources available to adopt or develop its own district curriculum aligned with the NYS learning standards and to tailor instruction based on the school district’s identified needs at the local level. The hope is that these changes will positively impact our student’s awareness of mental health prevention, treatment and stigma.
With the expansion of mental health in schools, it is expected that school personnel, students, families and communities will more openly discuss mental health well-being.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
Area teachers have been learning about the workshop model for mathematics over the past few months. What is the math workshop model? It is a flexible grouping model, incorporating best practices in mathematics, coupled with differentiation based on individual student needs. This model allows teachers to have smaller chunks of whole group instruction, allowing more time for smaller, targeted groups who work with the teacher on specific standards and concepts, while other students work in work stations. Teachers learned how to incorporate the tenants of the workshop model based on their classroom, and the needs of the students. Teachers who have been able to try the model out have been very enthusiastic about it, as they feel they have a much better picture of the students and their abilities and needs in mathematics, as they are able to spend more time with students in smaller groups. This has been extremely beneficial for the students as well as for the teachers. If you are interested in learning more about the Workshop Model in Mathematics, C-A BOCES will be holding a workshop in July. If you’re interested, please have your district contact person register you at register you at register.caboces.org.
By: Kathleen Agnello, 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
Portville Educators, along with CA BOCES’ Anne Mitchell, Present at New York State Professional Conferences
“I enjoyed the experience of presenting at the NYSSCA conference because I was able to share with fellow counselors and educators what I do to promote social and emotional learning and development in our students at PCS. My hope is that I was able to inspire those in attendance with ideas and information that they could take back to their schools,” (A. Luther).
In our region, it’s no secret that Portville Central School is doing amazing things for kids—now the state is starting to take notice, too. This fall Portville educators took the stage at two different state-level conferences. In October, Molly Scott and Theresa Lyons presented at the annual New York State English Council Conference in Albany. They presented the tremendously successful, elementary-level & community-wide One Book One Community Project: Palacio’s Wonder: the idea, the timeline; the events; the teachers; the students; the families, and the community—start to finish—and the lasting impact it’s had. Participants left understanding the value of the project and the process to implement One Book One Community at their own districts.
In November, Amanda Luther presented “Educating the Whole Child: Social Emotional Development and the Comprehensive School Counseling Model” at the annual New York State School Counselors Association Conference in Lake George. This year’s conference topic was RESILIENCY. The role of the school counselor has been transforming: Amanda shared evidence-based resources, authentic practices, and creative programming that are unique to Portville and highlight what the comprehensive school counseling regulations outline as best practice. The participants were extremely engaged and wanted to learn more about the meaningful and relevant social emotional learning opportunities and experiences happening at Portville.
Both building principals, Lynn Corder and Larry Welty, contributed to the presentations as well—via video. A special thanks to Portville’s student technology support on these projects: Chris Stebbins, Emma Mikolajczyk, and Devon Hall (graduated, attending Alfred State College).
We’re looking forward to having more Portville educators share their expertise and successes with state-wide colleagues and are grateful for the support of Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES: Student and Teacher Programs.
By: Anne Mitchell, CA BOCES Professional Development
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
Imagine, if you can, a world where teachers are given choice in their professional development, where they lead their own research and collaborate with others to hone their craft. You wouldn’t have to imagine too much if you are familiar with the Collaborative Research and Development Professional Development instituted by the administrative team at the Wellsville Secondary School of Mary Ellen O’Connell (Secondary Principal), Jason Mank (Assistant Principal) and Rick Bull (Assistant Principal).
After some initial planning and collaboration by the administrative team, Mary Ellen contacted me with the idea and from there we created a Moodle course on Poverty around Poor Students, Rich Teaching by Eric Jensen, a FlipGrid component (thanks to Mark Beckwith for this idea and support) for reflection and as an instructional classroom tool. The team’s vision was to create opportunities for teachers to select to collaborate with others in their building around their four main initiatives for the year poverty, assessment, PBL and positive relationships with students and families.
Teachers may be researching and collaborating around something they saw at a BOCES workshop, or a conference or that they read about and want to dig into deeper. Mary Ellen created the opportunity for that research to happen for them by replacing three faculty meetings with three hours of collaborative research and development with a requirement to use FlipGrid to share their learning and reflect on their practice. Teachers have four checkpoints (30-60 second videos) along the way where they get to share their learning and how they apply new knowledge their classroom practice.
To date, the administrative team has seen an increase in general collaboration among colleagues, an increase in FlipGrid use as an instructional tool by teachers in their classrooms and a deeper dive by teachers into areas of interest based on instruction or content. Mary Ellen stated “The engagement and interaction on FlipGrid has been unbelievable! We have only completed two of the four “checkpoints” and already my faculty has accumulated 3,500 views and over 21 hours of time online learning from each other’s research. It is clear they enjoy learning from each other’s experiences and research. I’m also very sure they love not attending traditional faculty meetings and they are having fun with the flipGrid format.”
If you had a chance to read the ASCD Educational Leadership journal When Teachers Lead their Own Learning in November 2018 you can note some of the same elements (choice, flexibility, personalization) from those articles in the work that the administrative team from the Wellsville Secondary School has created for their building. Change can be good!
By: Karen Insley, CA BOCES Learning Resources
In September, several members of the CA BOCES ISS team had the opportunity to attend the Staff/Curriculum Development Network conference with Larry Ainsworth, educational expert on standards and formative assessment. It was an intensive day of exploring curriculum development through prioritizing standards. Members of the team worked with other Curriculum Coordinators from across the state in Math, Science, ELA, and Social Studies to examine the standards, learning how to prioritize, and the implications such work has on curriculum and assessment.
Because each discipline has dozens of standards, Larry Ainsworth argues that to develop curriculum, prioritizing the standards is a critical step in the process. Throughout the work we did, Larry made sure to say that just because some standards are prioritized, it does not mean the other standards do not matter. We worked with an analogy of a fence, seeing prioritized standards as posts and supporting standards as rails. Seeing standards in this light can help teachers determine what to elevate in instruction, and what standards are foundational to building other skills.
In his book, Rigorous Curriculum Design, criteria is established for looking at each standard to determine whether it should be prioritized. There are four lenses to examine each standard through: Readiness, Endurance, Leverage, and External Exams. Readiness represents how the standard prepares students for next level learning. Endurance of a standard determines whether it’s a concept or skill that lasts over time. Leverage of a standard means that it has interdisciplinary connections. Finally, standards should be looked at through how they are assessed on external exams.
Due to the size of the group and the multiple different disciplines we were working with, we examined the standards through for readiness, endurance, and leverage. In small groups, teams reviewed standards at a particular grade level through the lenses, trying to establish a list of standards that should be prioritized. The conversations were fantastic and allowed for in-depth discussion on not only the standard, but the implementation of the standard in the classroom.
Because of the depth of analysis of the standards, Brendan Keiser and Sarah Wittmeyer facilitated the prioritization process with the Middle School/High School English Language Arts CLC in October. Teachers were divided by grade level bands, and in small groups looked at the standards through the first three lenses.
After the standards were reviewed through those lenses, we added in the data from the 6-8 ELA State Tests and the English Regents Exam regarding the most frequently assessed standards. This allowed for another layer and added in-depth discussion on what standards should be prioritized.
The purpose of the activity with the CLC was not to give teachers a list of standards to prioritize in their curriculum, but rather to give teachers a protocol by which to examine the standards. The process included discussions on unpacking the language, understanding what the standard looks like in the classroom, and the importance of the standard at the particular grade level. Teachers walked away with the ability to replicate the process in district, but also a more comprehensive understanding of the Next Generation English Language Arts Standards.
By: Sarah Wittmeyer, 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
What would your ideal classroom look like? Sound like? Is it a place where there are minimal distractions, students are respectfully collaborating and engaged with each other, sharing ideas, and learning is taking place? Have you ever seen a classroom where students respect each other and their teacher, positively comment on and support each other’s opinions, are eager to learn, motivated, determined to do their best, and excited to try new things? Does this classroom even exist?
It does! Though it’s not easy and requires a lot of work on the teacher’s part. If the commitment is made and the plan is meticulously carried through, this could be your classroom. Many teachers say that they don’t have the time to establish this sort of classroom. It’s easy to see why, with so many things expected of teachers including curriculum to cover, tests to prepare for, and required extracurricular activities.
However, in order for student learning to be optimal, effective classroom management is a must! In spite of the time commitment, research overwhelmingly shows that teachers that invest in their classroom management techniques have fewer discipline issues and increased learning occurs. Don’t worry about losing a little time at the beginning of the school year since with effective classroom management practices in place, you will get that time back plus some throughout the rest of the school year! Effective classroom management is a TIME SAVER not a time killer.
Wait, didn’t John Hattie’s meta-analysis research in Visible Learning state that classroom management has an effective size of 0.35? If you are unfamiliar with Hattie’s work, the primary basis is that teacher practices with an effective size over 0.40 are the ones that have the most positive influence on student learning. So why is classroom management so important then?
Successful classroom management practices are the foundation leading to more effective student learning. These practices lead to better classroom discussions, higher self-efficacy and effort amongst students, more time on task, and more. Research continually proves that classroom management leads to a more effective classroom experience for students.
The classroom described in the opening of this article may seem far-fetched but it is completely attainable. It is also never too late to try and implement in your classroom. Start today if you haven’t established a classroom you are happy with. Furthermore, if you would like to hear more about the research behind successful classroom management practices and how to obtain a similar classroom yourself, consider joining Patty Rhinehart and myself in an upcoming workshop on the topic. No dates have been confirmed yet but stay tuned, they are coming! In the meantime, here are some quick DO’s and DON’Ts of successful classroom management practices to tide you over.
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Professional Development
It is my belief that students do well when they can, not simply when they want to. Furthermore, students learn best when their physical, mental and emotional needs are met. This type of scenario is ideal for schools, but it is not the reality. What does it look like when a student’s needs are not met? Avoidance, distraction, disengagement, defiance, disrespect, aggression, truancy, anger and the list goes on. Educators have seen the impact of unmet student needs within their classrooms and report, that the impact is greater than ever.
The rural landscape of the Cattaraugus-Allegany Region presents a unique set of barriers that increase the complexity of existing systemic barriers for school districts, educators, students, families and communities when it comes to ensuring that all students have access to necessary resources. Despite the pressure, barriers and growing scope of student needs, is it possible to create conditions that enable every child to succeed?
Not only is it possible to create such conditions, it is necessary. This school year, with the help of 17 of our component school districts, Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES has begun the work of building the brand new Community Schools CoSer within their Instructional Support Services Division. The community schools strategy, is an exceptional, evidence-based school improvement tool that enables schools to create supportive conditions for students by sustaining an integrated focus on student support services, expanded learning opportunities, family and community engagement and collaborative leadership.
Each community school is unique and defined based upon needs and assets specific to the respective local context and community. Therefore, the Community Schools CoSer will also be unique as it grows and develops to fit the needs within the local context of our rural, regional area. In an effort to influence the region in a meaningful way, we are working collaboratively to complete a thorough assessment of needs and assets, at the district level, as well as at the regional level.
Simultaneously, while working directly with school leaders within each district, there have been ongoing opportunities to meet directly with community partners that provide supports and services to students and families. The Community Schools CoSer hosted the first Service Showcase in September, bringing community partners and school leaders together to learn about specific services available to districts. School leaders were provided more information about school based dental care, substance abuse prevention curriculum and a mentoring program. As a result, six additional districts have school-based dental services available to students and four additional districts have begun preparing to implement a mentoring program for students.
Students do well when they can. Period. Through continued collaborative work and problem solving, our region can provide all students with equitable access to resources that allow them to exceed our highest expectations.
By: Kathryn Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools
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
As Pre-kindergarten-2nd grade teachers start the 2018-19 School Year they took a moment to focus on the importance of learning through play and movement. 66 educators from across the Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES Region attended a professional development opportunity with Lisa Murphy, M.Ed., an Early Childhood Specialist. Lisa Murphy has been involved in early childhood education for over 20 years, teaching and learning with young children. She is the founder and CEO of Ooey Gooey, Inc., and is a nationally recognized presenter and keynote speaker. Lisa’s topics for the workshop sessions included:
What if Today Was Their Only Day? (Keynote)
In this motivational keynote address Lisa shared the powerful story of her first day of school. Through active and engaging storytelling Lisa brought participants back to her first day, taking you on a grand tour of Miss Mary’s Nursery School. And, in the style she has become famous for, she shared many observations, lessons and anecdotes about how early childhood has changed along the way. Lisa shared the sights sounds and smells of the place where, at the young age of three, she decided to become a teacher and identified the how, and why, that one day solidified her decision to become an educator. This inspiring keynote encouraged participants to get back in touch with their personal how and why.
Identifying and Creating Child Centered Environments
This session provided an in-depth exploration of the 9 points within the framework of Lisa Murphy’s approach to working with children. Via interactive lecture, true-to-life examples, anecdotes and her signature “learning and laughing” style, this session presented what it really means to be a hands-on, play-based, child-centered program. Lisa stated that “Environments that encourage play are environments that are preparing children for kindergarten, future elementary school academics, and a love of life long learning. This foundation then supports the house of higher learning.” Educators must create, move, sing, discuss, observe, read and play with children through daily interactions.
The Importance of Early Experiences: How play IS Kindergarten Readiness!
During this session Lisa identified the seven things we need to do with children each day. These seven things make up the foundation that supports the house of higher learning. There is nothing wrong with the “academic” expectations within this house: reading, writing, math… the trouble is that many early childhood educators are being pressured to build a house where there is no foundation. Lisa stated, “And you do not need to be an architect to know that if you build where there is no foundation, the house will come crashing down!” Playing is “getting them ready” and through an investigation of each of the “seven things,” Lisa showed us how.
Lisa concluded the workshop with encouraging educators across the region to create a 10-day challenge for themselves. She encouraged educators to identify a workshop takeaway after 10 days that they are still thinking about and use that as their baby step for creating engaging experiences in the classroom!
By: Jillian Putnam, CA BOCES Professional Development
A truly successful schooling experience for students starts with a healthy and supportive school climate. Above all else, when students know they are cared for, they can truly focus on their educational experience and learning all that they can. Two staff developers and over thirty teachers and administrators from around the region took it upon themselves to collaborate and discuss ways to make positive changes to their school climates to better the learning experience of our students!
In late spring, Tessa Levitt and I had an idea to do a professional book study around a book we were both highly interested in ourselves, Lead with Culture, from author and Principal Jay Billy. This book is one of the Dave Burgess Publishing Company’s titles, made famous from the Like A Pirate series of books. We discussed different methods for how we wanted to approach this book study, and we both knew we wanted to try something “unconventional” in the sense of our current professional development opportunities.
We eventually decided that with it being summer and all, we wanted any participation to be completely voluntary from those interested in the book study. We also wanted to harness the power of the summer, and conduct the book study from an online platform, where participants wouldn’t need to physically be all in the same place to share ideas, discuss topics, and raise their questions to one another. In the end, we created a Facebook group, #BOCESLeads Summer Book Study, and anyone that expressed interest in participating in the book study was invited to join the group.
We met in person once, at the beginning of the book study, to distribute copies of the book to the participants, and to outline the dates and the layout of the Facebook page itself: We would meet online, from 8:00-9:00 on the Facebook page, Tessa and I would post questions from a few chapters at a time, and they could respond and share ideas and questions with one another, with Tessa and I there to help moderate and facilitate discussions.
The support and discussion from the participants were highly overwhelming! The amount of ideas shared and questions posited to one another were powerful, and really made this an interesting and unique experience for professional growth. The response from the participants was also noteworthy, as they liked being able to chime in from wherever they were at the time, and if they missed the discussion window, they could still go to the Facebook page and comment or discuss between the arranged question-posting days. The flexibility and freedom were lauded from those who took part!
Once the book was completed, we were excited to commence upon the final aspect of the book study: a live chat hosted on Zoom with author Jay Billy! Participants were able to take part in an online discussion forum with Jay himself, who answered their questions, shared advice, and helped spur more creative ideas for those who were able to join in. The session was also recorded and posted on the Facebook group page for those who were unable to make the meeting, so they could view it at a later time.
Overall, this experience was a phenomenal new approach to combating some logistical issues that we all experience: wanting to take part in something, but time and location not cooperating to allow it to happen. The discussion was rich and powerful, and multiple great ideas were shared and collaborated upon throughout the course of studying this excellent book. One of the most impactful results from this book study? The request to keep the discussion going over the course of this school year through the online group page and with regularly scheduled meet-ups for those that can attend, bringing that flexibility and freedom even further into the process. We look forward to continue documenting the journey of the region in regards to building and supporting the students of our schools through a positive and caring school climate and culture. When all else fails, lead with culture!
By: Ryan McGinnis, CA BOCES Professional Development
What if instead of going to math class, English class, or science class, students went to school? Would they be able to say things like “I don’t like math” if they were unable to differentiate between math class and history class? While this idea may seem like an impossibility, a team of 8th grade teachers at Genesee Valley Central School hopes to make this vision a reality.
On paper, Mark Levine, Kelley McGinnis, and Donna Slawson can be identified as a technology, English, and history teacher, respectively, but in reality, innovator, risk-taker, and enthusiast would be more appropriate. This team of 8th grade teachers, in conjunction with Chris Gyr and Lindsay Simpson, technology integrators at GVCS, has implemented an interdisciplinary teaching and learning model, referred to as STEAM 8, with a focus on increased student learning by reevaluating time and relevance.
Buying Back Time
Possibly the most important concern for educators, time structures were re-examined. Hypothetically, if all 8th grade students, for instance, have either 1st period technology, 2nd period ELA, or 3rd period history, do they all need, say, 40 minutes of each period? What about the students who need 10 minutes for a quiz and others 20 and others still 40? How can we effectively ensure all students are productively and continually meeting learning targets at all times? With their new learning model, the teachers at GVCS decided to embrace these challenges.
By eliminating the “I have 40 minutes to teach ____” barrier, teachers recognized they now have 120 minutes to teach everything for the three content areas. Now, the students’ learning needs drive how time is allocated. For example, the 15 minute science lesson just allowed 25 more minutes to have a more meaningful, in-depth round-table discussion of the Battle of Gettysburg. Another option is to redistribute time as shown in the weekly schedule below in which students were teamed in group A, B, or C.
Why Do I Need This?
Beyond better use of time, STEAM 8 teachers have built greater connections between and stronger relevance in the curricula. For example, the first unit of instruction of the year for this team of teachers covers the Civil War. Consequently, Mr. Levine, Ms. McGinnis, and Mrs. Slawson use the Civil War as a means of meeting all learning targets. This approach as allowed students to review the Civil War holistically while simultaneously learning how to research, write, solve algebraic problems, and so much more; and although STEAM 8 isn’t comprised of your typical “STEM” teachers, they are undoubtedly addressing each strand of STEAM education.
Pine Grove Middle School
STEAM 8 is, in part, a product of the work with GVCS and Jason Fahy, middle school science teacher at Pine Grove Middle School. Jason was able to experience, first-hand, how changing both the physical environment and the instructional approach can heavily impact student learning. However, one glaring difference worth noting between East Syracuse Minoa Central School District and Genesee Valley Central School District is the focus on physical environment. ESMCSD was able to vastly change the manner in which learning took place due to its extensive structural changes; GVCS has made similar instructional changes while making minimal changes to the physical building.
Do not underestimate the importance of this difference. Often times we allow ourselves to get discouraged in thinking “I don’t have enough space,” or “we don’t have the right technology to do that.” Yes, GVCS did repurpose some of its space and has updated that environment, but as any successful educator can attest, good pedagogy supersedes good stuff.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Simply put, trauma is toxic to the brain as well as the body and learning. There has been vast amount of research conducted on the brain and its function over the last 30 years. In the midst of extreme stress our bodies are forced to respond in a state of heightened alert. When children are exposed to stress, the brain shifts from development to stress response, this can have a lasting effect on LEARNING!
The brain need 9 things to be HEALTHY FOR LEARNING and GROWING!
Based on Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom by Kristin Souers and Pete Hall
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Coordinator for Professional Development
Seventh graders at Randolph Central School were given a unique opportunity to participate in a year end activity that combined the activity of geocaching with the mind puzzles of a BreakoutEDU! Geocaching requires participants to use a hand-held GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) device to follow specific coordinates to an exact location. A BreakoutEDU activity has participants solve a number of clues to unlock several different types of locks as they work to open a box. Seventh grade teacher Erin McLure used combinations of these two different activities to prepare an afternoon of fun to close the year out.
Students were brought to Weeden Park where they were divided into groups of four different colors, and then separated again into smaller groups of five students. Each group was given a hand-held GPS, a writing utensil, and a clue sheet. They were given a set of coordinates and then worked together to enter them into the GPS and work their way to the destination. Once they found the cache, then needed to solve a riddle and figure out their next clue. Various thought provoking prompts were collected by Mrs. McClure from her other seventh grade colleagues to be given to the students. The grade level team also assisted in supervision and carrying out the activity.
Once all the clues and riddles had been solved, and a final Mathematical problem completed, the answer enabled the students to receive a ‘cool’ prize that was a welcome relief from the war summer day. This unique experience was a tremendous way to combine elements of different activities that students had experienced throughout the year in a memorable activity that was enjoyed by all.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development