Social-emotional learning (SEL) is spreading like wildfire—and schools districts are starting to implement SEL in their classrooms.
There are many reasons why a school might adopt SEL, all of which have been validated by research: to increase academic success, to lower the stress-levels of students as they strive towards that success; to prevent negative behaviors such as drug use, violence, and bullying; to equip students with the “soft skills” they will need in today’s work environment; and to promote positive relationships and attitudes.
At the core of SEL is cultivating our self-awareness, which begins with an understanding of emotions. Our emotions work with our cognition in a seamless and integrated way to help us navigate the classroom, workplace, our relationships, and the decisions we make in life.
Over the last ten years, emotion researchers have found that negative emotions close us off, making us less resilient and unable to relate with and connect to others; whereas positive emotions such as gratitude, tranquility, love, and joy come with a myriad of benefits. The goal, however, is not to feel positive emotions all the time, but rather to understand how emotions, both negative and positive, impact us. Thus, if we can become aware of our emotions and learn to work with them in a healthy way-to see them as information rather than as overpowering responses that control our actions – then we can choose to respond to situations in a manner that brings out the good in us and in others. I
Social-emotional learning is generally broken down into five categories
Self-awareness is being able to recognize and comprehend one’s emotions and how they translate into our behaviors. This includes recognizing stress or negative emotions, being aware of one’s abilities and weaknesses as well as a “well-grounded sense of self-efficacy and optimism,” according to CASEL.
Self-management takes self-awareness one step further into the ability to regulate one’s feelings and behaviors. This can include controlling anger, handling stress, self-motivation, or persistence through setbacks.
Social awareness looks outward and is about empathizing with others and possessing a willingness to understand and respect the unique experiences, norms, and behaviors of others.
This section is about creating and maintaining healthy relationships through cooperation, active listening, conflict resolution, and communication.
This final section is about making safe, healthy choices that abide by one’s positive and healthy personal moral code and benefit their well-being — and the well-being of others.
For more information, check out https://casel.org/what-is-sel/ and don’t hesitate to reach out to Kathryn Mendell or Tessa Levitt for more information, strategies or professional development.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
Over the past few years the New York State Education Department has been developing new Regents exams for High School Social Studies in both Grade 10 Global History and Geography and Grade 11 U.S. History and Government. These new exams are designed to reflect the shifts in instruction that were identified in the 2014 released Field Guide for Social Studies and assess students according to the practices identified in the Social Studies Framework for K-12 instruction. The first of these new Framework exams was offered this year in Global, while the US History exam will be offered for the first time in June 2020.
June 2019 was the first administration of the NEW Global History and Geography II Regents for students in Grade 10. This new exam design has 28 MC questions that are attached to a stimulus, a Part II Constructed Response Task, and a single Enduring Issues Essay. The purpose of this new Regents exam was to align assessment to the content, skills, and practices of the Framework. Districts had the choice this past June of offering their Global students the new Framework exam, or having students take the Transition exam which continued with the older format of 30 MC questions, a Thematic Essay, Scaffold Questions and a DBQ essay. For two years there will be an overlap period where both types of exams are offered by NYSED.
One of the most noticeable changes in the exam was in regard to Part II. Replacing the Part II Thematic essay, the Framework exam Part II CRQ’s required students to both analyze and make connections between sets of provided documents.
The other major change was a move away from a DBQ format, to an extended writing response called an Enduring Issues Essay. In this writing task, students were still given documents to examine, but rather than have questions they would need to respond to that were assigned to each document, they analyzed the documents to make connections about an issue they identified from them.
Almost half of the districts in the CA BOCES region offered the new Framework exam to their Global students. The first administration was deemed a success and the consensus from teachers was that the test was both fair and indicative of the practices outlined in the Framework.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
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
The 3rd Southern Tier Annual Film Festival was held at Allegany-Limestone Central School District on May 9th, 2019 under the direction of Suzan Snyder and was another amazing success. Teachers, parents, administrators, and students gathered together, watched student films, and awarded the trophy to the winning district, Cuba Rushford Central School. Participating districts included Alfred-Almond (@AlfredAlmondCS), Allegany-Limestone(@ALCSGator), Cuba-Rushford (@CR_REBELS), Fillmore (@FillmoreEagles), Olean (@OleanHighSchool), and Whitesville (@wcsbluejays).
As a teacher who loves to see the creativity of my students, to witness the brilliance of a new generation, to be part of collaborative communities, I look forward every year to the professional development that spearheaded the film festival. It is an ongoing experience that continues to bring teachers together–those that were there first and new faces that join each year.
Three years ago, a group of teachers gathered together for professional development offered by CA BOCES (@CABOCESit), bringing Dr. David Bruce from University at Buffalo and Dr. Sunshine Sullivan from Houghton College to guide us in our efforts to learn to use digital media in our classrooms. We left that experience armed with new ideas for our classroom, exciting project-based assessments, our own creative pieces, and with a vague idea that we wanted to come together at the end of the school year and showcase our students’ efforts. We met periodically and fleshed out an idea for a film festival—a good spirited, but competitive event that would allow students to try to win a trophy for their school, and provide recognition among their peers and throughout their communities. We also wanted our students to create the artwork to advertise the festival so they could own this event alongside their teachers.
That vague idea became a fully developed festival. Now, each year towards the culmination of the school year, students enter their best work from throughout the year to a film committee. The committee picks thirty of the best films to showcase, selects winners based on specific criteria, and creates a flight sheet for one final award to be chosen by the audience at the end of the event. This year we had a wonderful artist, Jazlynn Sullivan of Olean High School, create the image for the posters to advertise the event and the programs.
As an English teacher, I am constantly amazed at the writing that comes out of these projects. Teachers ask students to tell a story, to shed light on an issue or a poem, to be a magician with images, to create a parody or satire, and they deliver at the film festival with glowing outcomes and to genuine applause. When we ask our students to put themselves in the spotlight, we are asking them to be vulnerable, to be real, to be exceptional. And they do not fail. Students create comedies and tragedies, extrapolate meaning from a poem through image and sound or investigate the way color is used in writing. Sometimes they look at what it means to be a teenager, magnifying difficult issues like bullying, violence, and trying to find their identity. Students are investigating the deep issues of their lives and sharing it with their teachers and then a wider audience so that we can search for answers or laugh or be afraid along with them.
Sometimes our students bring tears to our eyes. Sometimes the adults in the room go back in time, spend three minutes as the adolescents that we once were. That is what happens every year at this film festival. Every year another group of students radiates their authentic selves and ask the adults and companions in their lives to go with them on that journey.
This small film festival is growing every year. This year there were over 110 attendees. The students propelled the hard work of a small group of teachers into something great. For all the future festivals, we hope more teachers throughout the region will attend the five-day summer professional development opportunity and begin making digital projects and films in their classrooms with their students. We can’t wait to see the work of the students next year. Maybe it will be your students that win your district the trophy.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
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