In August 2020, ELA teachers from our region were invited to join Angela Stockman, author of Hacking the Writing Workshop and Make Writing, for a two-day institute on multimodal writing instruction face-to-face and across the distance. Through synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities, Angela led teachers in designing writing units and lessons that encourage students to use and explore hands-on approaches to writing.
As a continuation of this work, Angela is will be supporting the region in strategy sessions that are targeted towards specific grade bands, with rotating offerings for Elementary, Middle, and High School levels. Each of the strands will have a focus for that particular level with an overarching theme of multimodal instruction in face-to-face and distance learning situations. Teachers will engage in three one-hour sessions during the course of the school year and will have access to a variety of self-paced professional development lessons created specifically by Angela for our teachers.
Kicking off this series was the Middle School Strand that met after school on November 18, 2020. A handful of regional English teachers convened on Zoom with Angela around a focus on “Defining Structure and Form and Seeking Conventionality.” The next Middle School Session will be on January 27, 2021. Between now and then, teachers can access and work with Angela’s asynchronous resources.
An outline of the remainder of the series is as follows:
Multimodal Composition in the K-5 Writing Workshop
In each session, participants will examine explicit curriculum design methods, tangible writing tools, and instructional strategies specific to narrative, research and information, and opinion and argument writing.
December 2nd: Story Making
January 20th: Building Texts that Teach
March 31st: Composing Opinions and Arguments
MIDDLE SCHOOL STRAND
Multimodal Composition in the Middle School Writing Workshop
These sessions will challenge writing teachers to pursue and elevate the complexity of students' creative and academic writing. Each session will leave participants equipped to coach critical thinking, multimodal composition, and an iterative process, in service to more sophisticated thinking, learning, and written work.
November 11th: Defining Structure and Form and Seeking Conventionality
January 27th: Strategies for Coaching Critical and Metaphorical Thinking and Writing
April 14th: Lifting the Quality of Revision and Editing
HIGH SCHOOL STRAND
Multimodal Composition in High School Writing Classrooms
Participants in these sessions will learn how to leverage important constraints and help writers distinguish formulaic writing from coherent, sophisticated, and authentically influential work. All will leave with explicit strategies that move writers past mere replication in order to generate compelling compositions in every content area.
December 9th: Equipping Writers to Assume a Professional Posture
February 3rd: Tinkering with Structure and Using Conventions for Effect
April 21st: Elevating Complexity and Scaffolding with Careful Intention
Any teacher who may be interested in participating in this series can visit register.caboces.org to sign-up.
For more information Angela Stockman, visit http://www.angelastockman.com/.
By: Sarah Wittmeyer, CA BOCES Professional Development
Together, we can do better. All students, school districts, families and communities have equitable access to rich resources to improve student learning, strengthen families and create healthier communities. School and community partnerships are empowered and connected in meaningful ways, problems are solved and resources are used effectively. The bi-annual Community & Schools Together Conference, is one example of how the vision of the Community Schools CoSer has been fulfilled. The conference has enabled school and community partnerships to develop, enhance and align.
On November 16th, Community Schools hosted the second virtual Community & Schools Together Conference, which appropriately, focused on relationships and resilience. Despite the fact that the conference was an all-day, virtual event, over 100 participants attended, and stayed the course of the day. This is a true testament to the quality of regional educational leaders and expert community leaders that presented at the conference. Presentations were intentionally structured in strands, starting with self-reflection and care and moving towards taking care of staff and prioritizing staff wellness and relationships. Next, sessions focused on students, parent and family engagement and finally, community partnerships and organizations. Presenters shared a variety of information, ranging from best practices, models of intervention, program evaluation and personal resilience.
In addition to the professional learning and growth that the day was centered around, personal reflection, connection and overall wellness were of equal importance, in terms of intended outcomes. One participant shared that they appreciated “addressing the 'real' issues with empathy and care, as so many people are suffering in their own ways. Information was presented in a way that really made you want to engage, listen and be active.”
Keynote speaker, Ali Hearn inspired participants by sharing her expertise on self-care. She demonstrated to participants that self-care can be replenishing, draining, or relaxing. Replenishing self-care requires people to truly identify self-care practices that are sustaining such as staying hydrated, exercise, and eating healthy foods. Additionally, Ali connected the importance of self-care practices of staff as a benefit for students stating, “If your staff isn’t OK, then students probably are not OK.” Participants were provided with many strategies for daily check-ins as a support for staff, relationship building between staff members, and connecting with families.
Thank you to all presenters, participants and districts that were represented at the recent event. You will find the “presenter profile” below, that provides a snapshot into the collective expertise represented on November 16th. We look forward to the next Community & Schools Together Conference, which will be held on March 22nd, 2021. Please stay tuned for information about the upcoming event.
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools and Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development
Are you looking for an interactive, fun, and different way to engage your students online? Do you want to tap into your student’s curiosity and increase their capacity to inquire, ask questions, and think more deeply? How about trying the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) with the use of the online tool, Padlet.com?
If you’re not familiar with Padlet, Matt Miller, author of Ditch that Textbook, explains it as “a web app that lets users post notes on a digital wall. The uses for this site in the classroom are virtually endless!” From bellringer activities, to notetaking, creating presentations, and more, Padlet is a great tool to help students collaborate in a virtual space. In addition, Padlet can be used both synchronously and asynchronously, as students simply need to have the shared link in order to access and post in the space. If you’re worried about students writing inappropriate things when you aren’t on the page, there is a “Require Approval” setting that can be turned on. With this setting, before any post a student makes appears on the page, you as the instructor and creator of the page will have to approve the post. If you are using Padlet live with your students, you also can delete any post made at any time. With a free account, you can have 4 Padlet’s at a time though you are able to endlessly delete one and create a new one if needed.
One highly effective way to utilize Padlet is by trying the QFT. The Right Question Institute describes as a tool that “helps all people create, work with, and use their own questions — building skills for lifelong learning, self-advocacy, and democratic action.” The QFT is a rigorous yet simple, step-by-step process that facilitates the asking of many questions. The seven steps include 1) a question focus (QFocus), 2) the rules for producing questions, 3) producing questions, 4) categorizing questions, 5) prioritizing questions, 6) next steps, and 7) reflection. By utilizing a Padlet, each of the steps can be clearly defined ahead of time for students.
When the link for your Padlet is shared, all students with access will be able to make original posts as well as react and comment on other students posts. Having this ability makes interactions between students during the QFT process not only possible but highly engaging and productive. If you are interested in trying the QFT in your remote learning space, I’ve provided a template via Padlet that you are free to copy and use for yourself. As we navigate the remote instruction waters, now is a great time to try something new and see if it works for improving the educational experience of your students.
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Professional Development
As schools look to create a more inclusive setting for all students, co teaching is a model that is frequently used. This collaborative approach allows all students to remain in the general education classroom. This model of inclusive education helps to ensure that all students have access to the general education curriculum. The following defining characteristics identify the unique relationship of co teaching.
(Friend & Cook, 2003)
Co-teaching relationships represent a significant change in the working conditions and day to day activities if school professionals who are often used to work in a more independent manner. Professionals should consider the defining characteristic of co-teaching and their own professional strengths as they initiate co teaching relationships.
Here at CA Boces, we can help you with your co-teaching ventures by providing professional development, as well as peer coaching with feedback to improve implementation and instruction. Some topics of the professional development could be:
By: Corey Wilson, CA BOCES Professional Development
Virtual restorative circles are the antidote for a great way to stay together when we must be so far apart. CA BOCES has been working with teachers across the region to focus on self-care, mindset, and the importance of positivity by providing virtual restorative circles. Virtual circles provide a place for teachers to connect, share ideas, and support each other through challenging times. It is also an opportunity for teachers to experience the social and emotional benefits of circle process and how this can transform into opportunities for supporting SEL with students through face-to-face, hybrid, and remote instruction.
The Restorative Practice Self-Care Circles followed the Kay Pranis circle process which includes an opening ceremony, mindfulness activity, establishing norms and guidelines, check-in rounds, guiding questions, and a checkout rounds. BOCES facilitators modeled through experiential practice with educators how these components could be present in instruction with students. We have all heard the popular phrase in education “Maslow before Bloom,” which is typically used to communicate that humans need their basic needs met before academic learning can be fully embraced. Self-Care Restorative Circles allows educators to embrace this phrase while embedding social emotional learning within the content they are teaching. Child psychiatrist Pamela Cantor told Edutopia in 2019 that “When we’re able to combine social, emotional, affective, and cognitive development together, we are creating many, many more interconnections in the developing brain that enable children t accelerate learning and development.” Allowing time to integrate social emotional learning into academics and content areas allows schools the opportunity to build relationships and make connections with students.
Restorative Practice Self-Care Circles model instructional approaches for educators to learn different ways to build connections with students during each component of the circle process. For example, educators might choose to start their day with an opening ceremony. This could consist of a morning greeting, short story, quote, poem, or even a song. Many of these could also be used during what is called a closing ceremony or ending a lesson. Educators also had opportunities to practice multiple mindfulness activities for all ages including deep breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, and opportunities or self-reflection. All of which could be transferred to instruction with students. The most common component to educators was establishing group norms and guidelines. Most educators start each school year off with this. The restorative self-care circles model for educators how to provide 2-3 non-negotiable guidelines while encouraging the students to develop additional guidelines that could be transferred to any learning platform. Participants also engaged in a wide variety of check-in and checkout strategies including the Fist-to-Five, Emotional Weather Report, and much more. Many might ask where does academic content fit into the circle process? Academic content is embedded in each component, but most visible within the guiding question rounds. During this time educators can check for understanding, introduce new vocabulary, discuss homework, build schema for introducing new lessons, and much more.
Below are a few reactions from participants across the CA BOCES Region that participated in Restorative Practice Self-Care Circles:
“I loved the gratitude session! I have an app on my phone that reminds me to list something I am grateful for everyday and I love it.”
“Enjoy these meetings every week! Love seeing others feeling the same as me. Great hosts!”
“I enjoy this every week! Allows one to feel accepted and important!”
“If I could give this professional development 10 stars I would!!! This is the one session that I look forward to attending every week. It is very organized, provides essential and necessary information, and always makes me feel good!”
As educators we must make the commitment to prioritize self-care to successfully be able to help others. It’s like the saying goes “You must put on your own oxygen mask before you can take care of others.”
By: Jillian Putnam, CA BOCES Professional Development
I am sure you will not be surprised to hear that Microsoft Teams is the learning management system (LMS) of choice for nearly every CA BOCES component school district with the exception of very few. Teams is a dynamic application that allows educators to work productively in a digital environment.
Want a platform that can monitor student participation? Teams Insights has at-a-glance data. Need to video conference with one student, groups of students, colleagues, parents or guardians, or other stakeholders? Teams meetings “include audio, video, and screen sharing,” and “they're one of the key ways to collaborate in Teams.” Want students to submit their work but you struggle to store and keep track of physical papers? Teams Assignments are the solution you need. Whatever the problem may be, it is likely that a solution can be found in Teams.
Because Teams is so robust, it can also stir up strong reservations for educators who either struggle with integrating technology or those who need a simpler tool for their students. So if you are in one of these or similar categories, what do you do now that our school districts, for the most part, have gone all-in with Microsoft Teams? Microsoft still might have a solution for you.
Microsoft SharePointWhen you find that you are no longer struggling to keep your head above water in the midst of a pandemic trying to simultaneously teach students in your classroom and others at home, then I would strongly recommend exploring some of the other applications available through your Microsoft 365 account. My first recommendation for those of you seeking an alternative to Teams would be to spend some time in SharePoint. You can find this app by selecting the SharePoint icon (shown above) in your Microsoft 365 Home page.
SharePoint is the service that supports the other Microsoft applications. This is why you’ll see “sharepoint.com” in the URL when you share a file from your OneDrive (go try it if you haven’t seen this before). Another way to think of SharePoint is that it is a no-code, web-design tool. For example, the 3 Tools to Improve Results site was designed to replace the NYS Assessment Items OneNote file and allows members of the site to seamlessly transition from released assessment items to benchmark assessments to data analysis documents without the sync errors and delays that can often come with OneNote.
Also built on SharePoint, the Drone Education site was built with two objectives in mind: (1) to provide resources for educators seeking Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification and (2) to provide drone labs that can be utilized to teach content learning standards.
Once you are signed into SharePoint, you can create a new site by selecting the + in the upper left-hand corner of the page and then navigating through the prompts to get started.
After you pick an initial theme, you can start building your site by adding elements anywhere you find a +, or you can select the ⚙️ in the upper right-hand corner near your Microsoft 365 account initials and choose one of the options such as “Change the look” to get the theme that works best for you.
To make your site work best for you and your students, you can add a variety of media to your pages such as text, pictures, embedded videos, Microsoft Forms, and more. The best part is that your site will only include exactly what you want it to and nothing more (like that pesky Chat feature in Teams).
The biggest downside to SharePoint worth noting before you go exploring is the fact that SharePoint sites are designed to be used internally (i.e. users of the same Microsoft 365 tenant) as a means of security and protection. In order to enable access to guests such as parents, community stakeholders, or your friends at CA BOCES who may not have district accounts, you will need to get permission from your Microsoft 365 administrator who maintains the authority to change this setting.
For more help getting started with SharePoint sites, review Microsoft’s Create a Site in SharePoint resource or reach out to your friendly neighborhood CA BOCES coordinator.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Have you seen students who struggle with the following...
● getting started on their work, even though directions were just explained
● turning in homework when it is completed and sitting in their book bag
● planning out their time appropriately for long term assignments
● Cramming materials in their desk or folder
These are tasks that require executive functioning skills. According to The National Center for Learning
Disabilities, “Executive function is a set of mental processes that helps us connect past experience with
present action. People use it to perform activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to and remembering details and managing time and space.” It is quite common to have a deficit in one or more of the following skill areas: time management, task initiation, planning/prioritizing, impulse control, organization, emotional control, flexibility, working memory, and self-monitoring.
These deficits can be heightened when a student has a disability or as a child progresses in school and academic demands become too grueling. Luckily there are many strategies that can help improve or eliminate deficits and set students up for long term success. The visual below shows an example of what a deficit in impulse control could look like in the classroom and strategies that could help eliminate those issues.
When determining which strategies to implement, it is important to personalize them to the needs of the
student. We all have strategies that work for us when tackling tasks. For example, many of us prefer a paper calendar to keep track of appointments or to-do’s while electronic calendars work better for others. You may prefer to take deep belly breaths to destress while others benefit from a quick walk. Students are no different and will need strategies personalized for them and to meet their unique needs. To find a strategy that works best for your student, begin by establishing a positive relationship, trying an approach that is age appropriate and seeking student feedback. In addition, strategies should be modeled, practiced and scaffolded by the adult until the student can be independent with the approach.
As we dive into the 2020-2021 school year and contemplate how to best support learning whether brick, click or hybrid, remember to give thoughts to how explicit instruction on personalized strategies can improve executive functioning skills and set your students up for a LIFETIME of success.
For additional information on Executive Function or to set up a zoom training for your staff, please reach out to Tessa Levitt or Jessica Rose.
By: Jessica Rose and Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
Very soon the leaves will begin to fall and classrooms will begin to hum with the sounds of four and five year olds engaged in imaginary play. Although our schedules may be different and the number of children in a classroom will vary, play is still a necessity. Whether we are face to face or working virtually, children show us time and again that play is the way they learn.
It is through play that children develop necessary social-emotional skills which are linked to improved behavior, higher academic performance and better attitudes about school.
Play is at the core of development and learning. The early learning standards articulate the learning progressions for all students. Those who work with young children are charged with the task to provide intentional, experiential, and joyful learning experiences where play is the vehicle to deliver curriculum.
If you are interested in learning how to use play as an instructional tool in your classroom contact Michelle Rickicki or Corey Wilson.
By: Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development
MORE THAN JUST A GAME
Not long ago, a handful of CA BOCES regional educators inquired about eSports at a Technology Coordinators & Integrators Forum (TCIF). The murmurs were subtle and few, but they were present nonetheless. Has anyone heard about eSports? A handful. Is anyone going to get involved? A few interested. What can CA BOCES do to help? We’ll look into it.
Not long after, the buzz grew louder and more frequent, and questions like, “What can CA BOCES do about eSports?” turned into, “What is CA BOCES going to do about eSports?” Consequently, our exploration hastened and narrowed in on some key players.
HSEL & PlayVS
If you search “high school eSports” in your favorite web browser, one of the first links (if not the very first) is High School Esports League | HSEL. (Smart business move.) According to HSEL’s website, the league includes participation from over 3,000 schools and 80,000 students. Similarly, it doesn’t take much searching or asking around before you find yourself on the site of PlayVS, a league that boasts of its presence in all 50 states, over 13,000 schools, and over 80,000 sign ups.
While there are a variety of leagues to join, HSEL and PlayVS are among the most popular. Each league provides organized eSports competition across the nation with regional divisions available and smaller subdivisions arriving in the near future, and both offer a variety of benefits such as technical support, resources for coaches, families, and students, and fully unlocked features through their game licensing.
However, it wasn’t until Rob Miller, former CA BOCES Model Schools coordinator and current Director of Educational Technology & Information Systems at Salamanca City School District, suggested we explore a different league altogether that we realized we were missing something bigger.
Ultimately, the work we do at CA BOCES is aimed at improving the student experience. When you attend professional development such as Don’t Ditch That Tech! (based on the book by Matt Miller), you will likely explore a variety of technologies, but the focus isn’t on the tech. The priority is using that technology, a means, to improve your instruction and assessment for the sake of students. When you explore the Advancing STEM curriculum and STEM kits, you will see numerous activities and projects around many topics, but the activities aren’t the focus. The emphasis is to improve STEM curriculum, instruction, and assessment for the sake of students. After only a brief meeting with NASEF, we learned that their mission was very much like ours.
North America Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF)
In our initial endeavors of exploring eSports, we were able to justify purchasing equipment through CSLO (ask your tech. director if you’re interested in what this means) since most equipment is multi-purposed, used in labs, STEM spaces, or for other high-capacity software such as CAD or video editors. But how could justify a stand alone gaming event? Thankfully, we don’t have to.
The key word making all the difference both in appearance and practice: scholastic. NASEF is not just an eSports league; it is so much more.
Because the mission at NASEF is “to provide opportunities for ALL students to acquire critical communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills needed to thrive in work and in life,” eSports is simply the platform where that mission takes place. A means to an end. Furthermore, through the principal support of the Samueli Foundation, NASEF offers middle school, high school, and CTE curriculum aligned with Common Core ELA, NGSS, ISTE, and SEL standards.
If we weren’t excited enough after our first meeting with NASEF, we grew even more interested when we learned of NASEF’s COVID-19 response via Minecraft and the 14 beyond the game challenges. With our many questions answered, multiple meetings conducted, and the proper paperwork signed, we are pleased to announce that CA BOCES is among the many NASEF affiliates!
Consequently, with the fantastic support of NASEF, CA BOCES will be hosting our first semi-annual scholastic eSports tournaments at the CA BOCES Olean Main Center, tentatively December 16, 2020 and March 31, 2021. For more information regarding registration for these events, please contact Jean Oliverio (Jean_Oliverio@caboces.org), coordinator for Student Programs. For more information regarding the scholastic eSports collaboration between CA BOCES and NASEF, take a glance at the announcement on the NASEF website or contact Mary Morris (Mary_Morris@caboces.org), Program Manager for Student Programs.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
As one school year ended in an undeniably different fashion than years prior, so too is a new one set to begin under circumstances far different than the traditional expectations and norm. As schools create plans and explore various options to accommodate and connect students in both the face-to-face and digital formats, there has been a tremendous focus of time and learning dedicated to the exploration of various platforms that can effectively promote connectivity and collaboration among both teachers and students. One of these platforms is Microsoft Teams.
While Microsoft Teams is not a new product, the awareness and familiarity has become relatively new to many in the educational world as a shift to remote learning became a reality. This application is meant to enhance teamwork through enriched collaboration and communication. It has the capability of video streaming, document collaboration and sharing, one-on-one and team chat, and more. Additionally, since it is part of Office 365 suite, integration already exists with other Office products making access to cloud storage and files simple for the user.
The CA BOCES staff worked through the school closure and throughout the summer to offer varied training opportunities to cater to the familiarity and expertise of those desiring to learn more and gain deeper understanding about this application. Teams training was based on three different levels of users; Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.
Differentiation of these specific workshop trainings brought all those involved, teachers and administrators, a deeper understanding of not only the functional components and the customizable aspects of the application, but also the safety and security features that are built in as well. Through these targeted workshops that were open for any teachers who desired to participate, and through training offered to district level groups of staff, CA BOCES trainers worked to increase the ability of those using Teams across the region focusing on ways to effectively collaborate and communicate with each other and with students in an online environment. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced user of Microsoft Teams, if you’re looking to increase your ability to help your Team, reach out to your Essential Partner at CA BOCES because we are here to support you!
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Brain rules are twelve rules proposed by John Medina to help us understand how our brains work and how to use them as effectively as possible. Of the twelve brain rules, there are several that I want to explore in detail that could be used and implemented in the classroom.
Rule 1: Survival
Our survival instincts are what have helped humans evolve into the society we form today. Medina explains survival as the ability to solve problems, learn from mistakes and create alliances with other people. Thus, collaboration and group work are important for our survival. The classroom should not be any different. Teaching team work skills, active listening and developing social intelligence will not only create an environment of trust in the classroom, but also help the students lean on each other and survive the year together.
Rule 2: Exercise
Starting a class with a quick exercise is a way to refresh the brain. This can be as simple as moving our arms in swimming motions or performing deep breathing exercises. The aim is to get some oxygen to the brain. If there are two classes back to back, a break between them would be good too.
Rule 7: Memory
By recapping the material often, relating it to present day happenings or relevant day-to-day activities and tasks, students will remember more. Brains possess neuroplasticity which means that they are constantly evolving and the more we use them, the stronger they get.
Rule 9: Vision
Getting content across to students. does not have to be just about pages full of words. Expressing material in different ways using pictures, videos, and models allows the brain to make sense of things quickly and remember them better.
Rule 12: ExplorationSchools are a safe environment where students have the opportunity to experiment and evolve at their own pace. I want my classes to be an adventure where the students can each explore their interests to some extent and share their experiences. Inquiry-based learning is a great way to get students to do this.
If you want to learn more about Brain Rules by John Medina, check out his book. If you are interested in the 2 hour workshop with ideas around classroom implementation of the 12 brain rules by John Medina, reach out to Tessa Levitt or Jessica Rose at CABOCES.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
Teaching Physical Education Without the Gym. . . A Reflection from Portville Elementary School’s PE Teacher, Christina Matz
Field Day at Portville, like many schools, is a fun, engaging day not only to help close out the year but to give students ideas to stay active in the summer with their families. Obviously, due to the school shutdown, I had to modify Field Day, but I was not going to cancel it.
Throughout the shutdown, I was able to collaborate and share ideas with physical education teachers with whom I networked from around the country and around the world. I took advantage of the many CABOCES PE webinars and forums afforded to us, especially with learning the use of technology, which is a smooth segue to our Portville Virtual Field Day.
Before the shutdown, I had limited knowledge of Google slides, publishing to YouTube, or Facebook Live. But, I learned these skills to combine with my prior knowledge of physical education to create a Google slide with 23 Field Day events as well as 36 clickable images. The links led the students to YouTube videos of me and my family doing the various Field Day activities. I was also able to attach a scoresheet and a certificate to the Field Day slide post. Some of the activities were my own, while some were shared with me with other PE teachers from as far away as California and Australia.
One of the many challenges was how to come up with physical education activities to do without the aid of traditional equipment. To overcome this, I looked around our home for common household items present in most homes. For example, I used rolled-up socks and pillowcases, ladders, and spatulas. To help hype it up, I asked for elementary teachers and staff to send pictures of themselves with an encouraging sign for our students. Using a video editor, I put together a collage set to music for the students to enjoy.
The community response was overwhelming. On my PE Rockstar Facebook page, I asked for families to share pictures and/or videos of their children doing the activities. I had so many responses, it was hard to keep up with them all!
During the shutdown, community support and involvement is even more important than normal times and this was a great way to inspire passion and excitement for physical education.
So why did I do this? I did it to continue to interact with students but also to bring families together with physical activities designed for students, which the whole family could engage in. The passion I have for physical education is something I will always have but staying positive and learning new skills during our time at home will only enrich my teaching in the future.
I would not have been able to do this without the support of our Portville school and community, especially our elementary principal Lynn Corder, who is always supportive of my ideas for our Portville elementary PE program.
By: Christina Matz, Portville Elementary
Coordinated by: Anne Mitchell, CA BOCES Professional Development
The students in Mrs. Sortore’s Forensics class at Friendship Central School have been busy searching for clues! Two different crime scenes were created in the school area, and two teams were chosen to investigate each crime. The class consists of 21 students that are a mixture of seniors and sophomores this year. Each group included a Facilitator, Lab Technicians, Crime Scene Investigators, Photo Analysts, Crime Scene Sketch Artist, Blood and Fingerprint Analysts. The teams used their prior knowledge of Forensic Science to gather and analyze the clues. One of the critical tools to analyze hair collected from the scenes was the Amscope Digital Microscope from CABOCES. This scope allowed the students to measure the medulla to compare hair from the scene and hair collected from suspects. Without this technology our student’s ability to narrow down the suspects would have been severely hampered leading to a possible incorrect assumption. The ability to measure and view the hair at this level was a key component to solving the crime. It was inspiring to watch this group of students work together to piece together the clues. The students worked tirelessly gathering clues, piecing together evidence, and solving critical pieces between the separate scenes.
By: Mark Carls, CA BOCES Professional Development
Did you know that teaching is the 2nd highest profession that struggles with mental health? As we find ourselves in the midst of remote learning and isolation from students, colleagues, family, and friends this current situation only MAGNIFIES this struggle. As teachers we often work to build and address the mental health of others, but we tend to neglect self. We need to be sure to monitor our own personal mental health and recognize when there are dangers to our personal mental health. In doing so, you will be able to provide for self-care.
Our current work situation is more challenging to all aspects of our current life. Working and living with others who may also be stressed, can test our patience and push us to our limits, causing us to act in ways that are not our normal behaviors. Practicing Self-Care is an important activity that will help you to cognitively, physically and emotionally ‘bounce back’ each day over the long term and can help you avoid falling into the pitfalls of acting out.
We can improve our mental health through self-care by knowing the warning signs and how to identify mental health concerns, understanding how to implement self-care strategies, and identify ways to engage in positive aspects of mental health and self-care. Self-care can have many different forms, but the easiest way to implement self-care is by engaging in activities and practices that give you energy, lower your stress and contribute to your well being. Some examples of self-care are exercising regularly, eating well and fostering positive relationships. Self-care activities will be different for everyone and participating in activities regularly before a time of crisis will work to improve your mental health and well being.
As individuals we need to notice when our stress is manageable, and our physical and emotional wellbeing is enhanced. Make a commitment to your health and wellbeing for today and into the future you by identifying and implementing aspects of self-care. This will create positive habits in your life that can make self-care become a routine that positively impacts your mental health.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
When I took this photo, I had no idea that school would be closed and the world would be suffering a pandemic. My thoughts were centered on capturing the vision of growing leaders that Friendship Central School strives to achieve. The district believes that each person involved in the school has unique gifts and talents. Teachers, students, staff members and the school community have many opportunities to use their talents and grow into the person they are meant to become. In my mind, that’s the mission of education and it happens by becoming a lifelong learner.
Throughout this pandemic, I have had the unique opportunity to watch teachers transform their teaching from a face to face environment where daily interactions with students are the norm to a virtual and remote world. The challenges of living in a rural area where internet and cell service are often labeled “unstable” or “not available” can be overwhelming. However, future leaders saw this an opportunity for growth.
At Friendship Central School, teachers model a life of caring for others and giving of self to better the world. They demonstrate this value on a daily basis evidenced in classroom communities. Students are taught to give a little piece of their heart each day because it brings joy to self and others. Now, in the uncertainty of a crisis, Lindsey Weaver, Kindergarten teacher at Friendship, continues to model selfless service by growing her knowledge and sharing it with others.
In the district, Lindsey was instrumental in showing teachers the possibilities available when moving to an online platform. Leadership is about being brave and taking risks when faced with a challenge. Friendship Central School allows each member the opportunity to take a risk by creating a safe environment where risk-taking is valued. Lindsey’s willingness to be vulnerable during a crisis gave many other teachers the courage to try new ways of communicating with students and families. In just a few short weeks, Lindsey presented ideas to the Cattaraugus-Allegany region as well as in specific local districts. She has inspired joy and creativity between teachers, students, and families.
Even though we are in unprecedented times, Friendship Central School is still truly a place where its members are invited to learn and grow. All it takes is the courage to move in that direction.
By: Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development
"Far too many students come to school with small vocabularies. This is a big deal: the size of a child's vocabulary is an accurate predictor of academic achievement and even upward mobility over the course of a lifetime (Hirsch, 2013)." - 101 Strategies to make Academic Vocabulary Stick.
March left districts tackling unprecedented times as they worked to transition from classroom environments to creating work packets and delivering instruction online. As teachers navigate this unknown territory, this article means to highlight three ways to incorporate vocabulary instruction utilizing the video conferencing tool Zoom. While determining which vocabulary to focus on keep in mind the following information, according to the New York State Education Department principles of effective vocabulary instruction include:
In 101 Strategies to Make Academic Vocabulary Stick, Sprenger speaks to the three stages of the Memory Process. The stages include Encoding, Storage and Retrieval. Encoding is the first stage of building long term memory and the author notes that vocabulary instruction at this stage is meant to pique the students interest, motivate and engage them. Here are three strategies (adapted from 101 Strategies to make Academic Vocabulary Stick) that focus on the Encoding process and can be incorporated within a Zoom session.
● Story Impressions
○ This is a pre-reading activity meant to spark curiosity. This will make reading the upcoming content more meaningful and help students with comprehension.
○ Choose keywords from a story or chapter, keeping them in the same order in which they appear.
○ Provide the list visually (word doc, whiteboard, etc.) for students by sharing your screen during a zoom lesson.
○ Go over brief definitions/descriptions and then either whole group, small group (breakout sessions) or individually have students use the words in a made-up story with a beginning, middle and end.
● Word Up
○ This strategy helps students hone in on their listening skills and highlight important vocabulary.
○ Zoom participants would be placed in Gallery View, so everyone could be seen at the same time (think Brady Bunch).
○ Identify 1-2 words you would like students to write separately on a piece of paper or an index card.
○ While you are reading aloud, whenever the students hear the appropriate word they would lift the paper or index card.
● Word Expert Cards
○ Before beginning new content, create a vocabulary list, including the page number where each word appears or online resources for them to access.
○ Divide your class so that there are 3-4 students in a group.
○ Give each group 2-3 vocabulary words. Students in each group are responsible for learning those words and then teaching them to the other groups.
○ Using the breakout group feature, have students with the same words discuss the best student created definition, its part of speech, the sentence from the text where it appears, illustration, and a made-up sentence by the group.
○ Move from group to group to check on accuracy. Then switch breakout groups and have those ‘word experts’ teach their words to other members of the class that had different words.
○ This will take planning ahead to determine the best breakout groups and movement by the teacher throughout the groups to encourage participation and on-task behavior.
Let's work together to help increase our students' vocabulary and ultimately have a positive impact on 'academic achievement and upward mobility over the course of a lifetime.'
For additional vocabulary strategies or questions, please reach out to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Jessica Rose, CA BOCES Professional Development
Hallmark 4 of Advanced Literacies Instruction: Academic Vocabulary and Langauge
Sprenger, M. (2017) 101 Strategies to make Academic Vocabulary Stick. ASCD
Wow! That’s about all I can say.
Our ISS team has been working around the clock to be “part of the solution” as our districts work to provide home instruction to students. We quickly realized we could help our region prepare for home instruction by doing what we do best, providing online professional development to regional educators.
Over the past eight days, we have convened job-alike educators in online sessions (viz Zoom technology) to share how districts will provide home instruction, to learn new methods and technology tools, and to serve as a "support group" for teachers who are, like their students, trying to make sense of what is happening in our world.
Our first sessions were packed with teachers working from home. And each day since, attendance has grown. So far, 2,641 participants have signed into sessions!
Working online has been so very rewarding. Our facilitators “passed the mic” to almost every teacher to build community with a large groups of strangers. It has been amazing to see our region at kitchen tables and in living rooms trying to take a step forward…and, as you know, any step forward right now feels so good. We have heard time after time the resolve that teachers have to attempt to connect with their students and to continue their learning. It has been so inspiring.
Our support will continue through this journey with new sessions starting on Tuesday (3/31). Contact your local administrator for our session schedule and connection information.
By: Tim Cox, CA BOCES ISS
Teachers and students in the Cattaraugus and Allegany County region have all-access to many high-quality online resources. Check out our guide. All resources can be accessed at http://resources.caboces.org Contact anyone on our team for username and password assistance.
All Access Content Includes:
What are the odds that two coordinators would schedule different lessons with the same grade level educators on the same day? While we don’t know the exact odds (perhaps a probability and statistics lesson for those of you interested), we do know that we were able to make this unlikely event happen.
With what was seemingly conflicting lessons, we then had to make a decision. Which lesson would stay and which would be rescheduled: coding or fossils? After a quick discussion and a lot of excitement, we decided something different altogether. Why not both?!
With Kevin Erickson, Cuba-Rushford Elementary School principal, and the 2nd grade team on board, we set out to make our lessons a pairing better than peanut butter and jelly (if that is even possible). Based on the response from students and teachers, we may have come close.
Students were placed in quasi-random groups and assigned with unique roles (i.e. excavation director, materials specialist, recording specialist, and site manager) to complete their task: locate anything at all from the dig site using only the appropriate tools, the excavation robot and the excavation trowel.
Once each excavation team made a discovery, each member fulfilled his or her role to ensure that the dig site was properly cared for, all team members were participating, and the appropriate materials made their way to each group’s respective work site.
Depending on what the excavation robot and trowel uncovered, each excavation team explored a variety of fossil concepts such as types, formation, and locations.
Whether the topics are technology and dinosaurs, Science and Social Studies, or Restorative Practice and mathematics, reach out to your friendly neighborhood Instructional Support Coordinators to help with your next interdisciplinary, co-teaching lesson.
By: Lance Feuchter & Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Learning Resources & Professional Development
P.s. We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to Karen Insley, Distance Learning coordinator, for her valuable assistance and Wendy Sprague, CRCS Elementary Librarian, for allowing us to utilize the necessary space to conduct such learning opportunities.
Middle school math teachers at Pioneer Central School recently tried a new problem-solving model with educational consultant, Susan Rothwell. The teachers were looking for additional instructional practices that allowed students to collectively tap their knowledge in order to solve a challenging, multi-step problem in mathematics. Over the past few years, being able to successfully collaborate with others has consistently been identified as one of the most important skills employers are looking for. This model allows students to improve upon these skills as well as develop a deeper and more meaningful understanding of what they are learning. The problem-solving technique that was introduced to the teachers and students included the following materials and steps.
Problem-Solving Model Steps: (total time is 31-47 minutes)
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Professional Development
Many districts in our CABOCES region have decided to use our ELA and Math Benchmark assessments to help prepare students for the NYSED 3-8 assessments. Mark Beckwith at CABOCES has those benchmark assessments and other documents on our 3 Tools to Improve Results site: http://bit.ly/3TOOLS.
This all came about from a discussion at Friendship with their administrative team trying to help teachers understand what they need to cover to prepare students for the 3-8 ELA and Math assessments. We used the released questions on the NYSED site and focused on the standards that have been asked the most since the Common Core tests started. CABOCES staff worked on creating parallel questions to these most asked released questions to make the benchmarks and tried to keep the overall look and feel as similar to the actual assessment as they could. The 3 Tools site has a tutorial on using the site, it gives educators the assessments along with Educator Guides for scoring the assessments and Data Analysis documents for analyzing the student results.
Next comes the quandary.....after teachers and administrators sit down to analyze these results, what do they do next? It’s great to realize where you have weakness (and strengths, it’s always good to make sure you keep doing well at what you do well), but what do you do to help students who struggle? What change in instruction happens? At Friendship teachers are going back to use the tests with each individual student and after two administrations to go back and show how much improvement (hopefully) that a kid has shown from one benchmark to the next last. Time is given in AIS/RtI and also teachers can go over it in class. There’s always room to improve and we hope they find value in getting to individual students to go over their own personal results and to come up with a plan to help them fix any gaps. We’re still looking for ideas to help close those gaps that they find from these benchmarks before the actualy New York State test.
What is the answer to that? Is it more of the same type of instruction? Is it more focused practice and if so how and when? Is it using a program like i-Ready or Castle Learning for more practice? I don’t know but would love to hear how other districts are going through this process to help close the gaps, whether you use these benchmark assessments or not. Please let me know at: Mark_Carls@caboces.org.
By: Mark Carls, CA BOCES Professional Development
In the United States, 34 million children have had at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE) -- ranging from abuse or neglect to parental incarceration or addiction. Children living in poverty are more likely to have multiple ACEs, compounding the effects of economic insecurity. In addition, the current opioid epidemic is devastating families. Many classrooms in America are touched by trauma.
Earlier this month 40 teachers and leaders from the region learned about the effects trauma has on the learning brain. In school, children with trauma are more likely to have trouble regulating their emotions, focusing, and interacting with peers and adults in a positive way.
Teachers learned how to take care of themselves in order to take care of the students in their classrooms. Teachers and leaders learned about the nine areas of self-care from Kristen Souer’s book; “Fostering Resilient Learners.” The nine areas of self-care are: sleep, eat healthy, drink water, exercise, sense of TEAM, breathe, limit screen time, challenges and gratitude.
There is some hopeful news in the research about kids and trauma. “We know enough about the science to know that teachers can make a huge difference.” The school environment is one of the places where students who are exposed to real challenges at home can find safety, predictability and consistency.
Relationship-building is an important element of addressing trauma because students rely on stable relationships.
Modeling apologies repairs relationships and develops students’ relationship skills.
ENCOURAGING RESPONSIBILITY is a sense of responsibility, it is important in trauma-informed classrooms because it fosters a belief in students that they are in charge of themselves.
PROMOTING REGULATION Regulation strategies such as soothing music and brain breaks allowed students to manage physical and emotional responses, which is especially important for students who have experienced trauma.
Many more strategies were shared at the workshop. If you would like to learn more about Trauma Sensitive Classroom Strategies, please feel free to check out any upcoming offerings at register.caboces.org
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
Defining what mental health and wellness is and isn’t can be extremely helpful in order to demystify cultural perspectives regarding this topic of interest. Katie Mendell, CABOCES Community Schools Coordinator, shared with Scio’s faculty and staff a wealth of information regarding mental health and wellness and what we can do in education to help our students. Understanding the continuum of well-being around mental health and educating the importance of the mind-body connection benefits all learners.
New York State Education Department (NYSED) Board of Regents permanently adopted a proposed amendment in May 2018 clarifying for schools what health education should include in all grades. Schools are required to: include mental health and the relationship of physical and mental health; and designed to enhance student understanding, attitudes and behaviors that promote health, well-being and human dignity. Many school may already be incorporating these elements in their education of health, however this formalizes the new requirements in law.
Take a moment and think of a situation where you recently felt upset; What feelings did you experience? How about a situation that made you feel happy? What were you doing? Simply defined, mental health is how one thinks, feels, and acts. The spectrum of wellness on mental health ranges and often times we associate mental health with mental illness. Katie shared a wealth of information in order to demystify and redefine mental health as how we think, feel and act. Mental Illness is a diagnosable illness that affect a person’s thoughts, feelings, and actions as well as disrupts the ability to engage in daily activities.
What can we do for our students? We can begin by reviewing and assessing our current K-12 health education curricula for alignment to new mental health education requirements; build capacity and strengthen relationships between educators and pupil personnel services (school psychologist, social worker, counselor, nurse); developing school-community partnerships with mental health professionals and organizations; identify strategies to engage families and students in supporting mental health and well-being; support a school climate “Culture of Care”; and leverage partnerships and build upon existing resources to develop a sustainable infrastructure for mental health. The following cards were shared with faculty and staff and also provided to students.
By: Jessica Schirrmacher-Smith, CA BOCES Professional Development
We are preparing students for a world that wants go-getters, decision makers, designers, creators, and dreamers. The old system of school is focused on compliance, but if our students are compliant when they leave us, they will always need to follow someone else’s rules and our society is not made for that. Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning? by John Spencer and AJ Juliani challenge our thinking about engagement in schools and push for classrooms that empower our learners.
This fall, Ryan McGinnis, Tessa Levitt, and Sarah Wittmeyer hosted a 6-week online book study on Facebook centered around the Empower text. 30 teachers from the region logged in weekly from 8-9pm to participate in discussion of the ideas presented in text.
We explored how to shift the classroom and put the learning into the hands of the students. How can we, as teachers, facilitate learning experiences that put students in control? Where can we let them take over the process? How do we do this within the parameters of curriculum, standards, the schools we work in, etc.? How do we give students more ownership in the learning process? What have we done in our classrooms to empower our students? Where do we start?
The best part of the entire discussion was learning how teachers in our region were upping the game for their students. From genius hour, to inquiry, to project-based learning, and beyond, our students are so lucky to have such creative and innovative teachers!
We will be having a “face-to-face” meeting at the end of November as a culmination to the learning and a check-in to see how things are going with empowering our students. If you are interested in learning more about our Facbeook book studies, please reach out! We will be hosting another in Spring 2020! Stay tuned!
By: Sarah Wittmeyer, CA BOCES Professional Development
On October 1, K-5 math teachers from around the region gathered for a Collaborative Learning Community (CLC) experience. The morning was jam-packed with information and resources for math with CABOCES coordinators Jillian Putnam and Justin Shumaker. Using a Think Tank model for group discussion, topics discussed included best practices when facilitating student learning, the use of technology in the math classroom, and whether math lessons should begin with teacher led instruction or students attempting to solve problems on their own. Teachers had time to discuss each and ask questions regarding their current classroom practices.
If you are unfamiliar with the Think Tank model, participants are separated into smaller groups of preferably four members where each person is given a specific role. The roles include the facilitator, time keeper, scribe, and person to share out. The facilitator ensures that all group members are heard and stay on topic. The time keeper ensures the group adheres to the time constraints of the model and moves the discussion forward when necessary. A scribe takes notes of what the group discusses while the share out person takes the small groups ideas and shares them with the full group.
Also integrated into the day was the idea around Social Emotional Learning (SEL). A point of emphasis around the region due to the new NYSED standards, SEL is incredibly important for each of us to consider. The overall well-being of our students should be one of our main priorities and also goes a long way towards helping our students be successful. A quick tip - pine cones stimulate the nerve endings in your palms. Do you have students who struggle with focus? Have them roll a pine cone in their hands! A cheap alternative to fidget spinners, simply walk outside and pick one up off the ground!
In the afternoon, Clay Nolan, STEM coordinator at CABOCES, shared with the group the latest and greatest from NYSED about the new science standards and assessment timeline. In short, the new grade 5 and 8 science assessments will start in the 2021-2022 school year. Also a point of emphasis, what makes a great exit ticket. Teachers dove deep into how to setup exit tickets in order to best inform us of the learning that took place that day. From Learning Resources, Alex Freer, Coordinator for Digital Media, also came and shared some of the resources available to the teachers through their department.
At the end of the day, teachers and facilitators were excited about the work accomplished. We look forward to working with teachers from around the region again for the next K-5 Math CLC on February 4 at the CABOCES Barn training room.
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Professional Development