Recently we were asked if it was possible to record a CTE Program class for a student that was facing a medical issue that is preventing them from attending the class on a regular basis in the traditional fashion. Our immediate response was, “Sure!”. Then we started asking questions and learning more about the classroom set up and the technology the student had access to at home. Of course, our CA BOCES Distance Learning Tech Support, the CTE Program administration and the course teacher were involved every step of the way. In addition, the students in the class and the effected student also played integral roles. This was a true team effort!
I am proud to announce that we succeeded, albeit after several tried attempts! We have a system in place that is user friendly for the students and teacher, capitalizes on the technology available to our CA BOCES region and the student is able to learn the theory and see the practical skills being taught...however as soon as the student is able to return to the classroom, he/she has to catch up on practicing the practical skills they were able to be exposed too but not able to practice or tested on.
Basic equipment needed for such a venture include: a computer, a speaker, a microphone and at least one camera. We used Zoom software to connect and record the videos and are using Office 365 Sharepoint link to share the recorded sessions. In addition, the recorded video links, teacher created PowerPoints and other documents are available to students via Moodle.
How can we use distance learning to overcome obstacles in student learning?
By: Karen Insley, CA BOCES Learning Resources
It has been a busy summer and start of the school year for the Distance Learning Team at CA BOCES and our districts that purchase the 420 CoSer. We are hosting or receiving ten video conference courses that involve ten of our CA BOCES regional schools, one school from Erie 2 BOCES and two schools from Central New York. Installation of Zoom video conference equipment from the 2017 RUS Grant is complete along with upgrades within buildings as requested.
Two highlights from Distance Learning Makeovers in districts:
Scio has two different, but very similar systems. They made over their Polycom Distance Learning Room with a Zoom Room featuring two 55” screen displays and Zoom video conference equipment. In addition they made over their Polycom portable carts with a Zoom Cart which also has a dual display and the Zoom video conference equipment. Scio is offering and receiving four video conference courses this fall. The pictures below show the Zoom Room equipment in the made over Scio Distance Learning Room.
Belfast has remade their Polycom Distance Learning Room with a Zoom Room and has installed equipment and is utilizing Zoom video conference software in three additional classrooms. These makeovers allow Belfast to host and receive five video conference courses this fall. Pictures below show two Belfast classrooms that had a makeover using Zoom.
Like most home remodels, a Distance Learning makeover it isn’t always on time or without its challenges. Our tech support has been instrumental in helping overcome hurdles and challenges. That said, we are also learning how to best use Zoom to enhance learning and teaching. Kudos to our CA BOCES tech support for doing research and finding solutions and to our distance learning teachers across the region for taking a risk and innovating their classrooms as the technology available to them enhances learning.
By: Karen Insley, CA BOCES Learning Resources
We have been busy with two new improvements in Moodle this summer.
First, we have upgraded our Moodle site to version 3.6. New features in Moodle include:
Second, we have partnered with Intelliboard to provide Moodle instructors with a dashboard that will display course information. Intelliboard offers an abundance of instant data from your course which provides instructors with real time data on student progress, completed assignments, and a big picture view of the course. Reports can be generated that provide detailed and specific information about the course and the participating students.
Both of these improvements are value added to our already free Moodle site.
You can learn more about any of these at our Moodle Users workshop on Wednesday, August 28th or contact Karen Insley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To register for the workshop, have your district representative register you at: www.register.caboces.org.
By: Karen Insley, CA BOCES Learning Resources
For the 4th year in a row, several teachers from our CABOCES region worked in collaboration during our week long Writing With Video Institute. From middle school to high school, from Art to English and Social Studies, from classroom to online teaching, these dedicated educators took the opportunity to become students. They were led by Dr. David Bruce from the University of Buffalo’s Graduate School of Education and Dr. Sunshine Sullivan, Chair of the Education Department at Houghton College.
Technology is changing the way we teach, and the way students learn. With this in mind, the teachers spent time looking at curriculum and lesson plans, and chose a way, or ways, to insert video as a way to engage their students. Certainly, this isn’t something that has to be used every day or every week, for that matter. But it is a tool that many students can easily latch onto and use to lend voice and images to their demonstration of learning.
Don’t let the title of this institute fool you, though. Writing can be demonstrated and used in all types of curricular areas. In these past few years, we’ve had students introduce themselves with “Me in 6 Words”. Students demonstrated knowledge of various types of angles by videoing them as they exist in our world. We’ve had Spanish students video themselves acting out vocabulary. We’ve had students put together video, detailing trips to Gettysburg. The options are limitless. Words are often much more powerful when paired with music and images.
If students are struggling with voice or approach learning from a non-traditional angle or have a flair for technology, we owe it to them to provide resources and ideas to move them forward on their journey of discovery. Let’s be teachers of students, not simply teachers of content.
Join us as we continue to work with this project and offer new ways to impart information. If you have any questions or want to find out more, please reach out!
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
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
Teachers and students in Cattaraugus-Little Valley are exploring 3D pens and their possible uses in the classroom. Imagine students being able to instantly draw their learning in the air! Students can draw geometric shapes, bridges, and music notes in a matter of minutes. A lot of schools and classrooms have experimented with 3D printers. They can be expensive, and prints can take a long time. With a 3D pen, students can create 3D drawings in a matter of minutes.
Freshman ELA students in Ms. Lobello’s class are using 3D pens to create tools for characters in a story they have written. In Mrs. Purdy’s Art class, students are learning to design bridges and animals with a 3D pen. Some students have requested to borrow the 3D pens to complete self-paced genius hour projects. The 3D pens come with simple designs for students to develop skills. They learn by creating cubes and large structures with triangles and squares.
The pens work as a manually operated 3D printer. Heated filament made from plastic is extruded through the pen’s tip, which quickly cools down to form a stable 3D object.
The possibilities are only limited by a teacher or a student’s imagination. Here are a few ideas that teachers can explore:
By: Rob Miller, CA BOCES Professional Development
Ms. Pelligrino’s 7th and 8yh grade students are bringing literature to life by creating virtual reality reenactments of their favorite scenes. Virtual Reality is a 3d generated image or video that makes users feel like they are actually inside that environment. Users can view virtual reality through the use of head mounted viewers (Google™ Cardboard).
For this lesson the students chose a scene from a book they are reading or recently read. The students chose a part of the book that they wanted to share with other people. After choosing the scene the students examines the visual elements in the story, the character’s interactions with the environment and the critical elements. After noting these the students got to work creating their virtual worlds.
We used a free website called cospace.io. The students got a quick tutorial in the software and quickly created. The students were able to build the scene and use computer code to create interactions. Dialogue for the characters was created using thought bubbles.
Creating Virtual and Augmented Reality could be easy for students. Here are a couple free resources teachers and students and teachers could use to create content:
By: Rob Miller, CA BOCES Professional Development
In order for a student to be considered college and career ready, a few of the essential overarching skills they need to embody include: creativity, problem solving, and collaboration. At Pioneer Middle School, the Pioneer MineCraft club, led by advisor Gio LoBianco, provides students with the opportunity to practice these essential 21st century skills in a game based environment.
The Pioneer Minecraft Club meets once a week in the Library Media Center. This club is exceptionally popular, and often times, has a wait list of two to three weeks. Over forty different students have joined the club this year alone. So, what exactly is Minecraft? Minecraft is often referred to as a “sandbox game,” meaning that the world students create within the game is based on their own imagination; there are no levels and no directions. Students break down and mine resources (blocks) that allow them to build personalized structures that look and function in the ways they desire. The more resources a student gathers, the more elaborate the structure they can build. Additionally, they can create circuits to build working machines such as automatic doors that open and close when the character approaches it, or creating a catapult. Ownership and self-efficacy are developed within this student driven, constructivist environment.
Every week students can play in different ways. The only hard and fast rule is that students cannot destroy something another student has made. Students set personalized or collaborative goals and depend on the expertise within their peer group in order to teach one another. The club also supports the development of social skills, as students work together in an environment that relies on communication, resilience and decision-making. Another exciting aspect of this gaming environment is that many students who aren’t traditionally successful in the classroom, have found engagement and success in this learning environment, and positioned themselves as leaders with their peers.
There are multiple opportunities for classroom teachers to extend the learning derived from the Minecraft Club and integrate it into the classroom curriculum. Teachers could create assignments for students to demonstrate understanding of the setting within a novel, develop math challenges, or represent geography skills by utilizing Minecraft as an instructional or assessment tool. “Minecraft develops creative thinking in the same way that chess develops logic and systems thinking- by promoting intense, focused mental engagement” (Spencer, 2017). In this digital age, Minecraft provides a platform for students to construct personalized understanding, utilize their creativity, partner with their peers, and foster creativity. What an outstanding opportunity for Pioneer students!
By: Colleen Root, CA BOCES Professional Development
High School ELA students in Jessica Brassard-Moore’s ELA class in Cattaraugus-Little Valley decided that they would use it to solve problems. After reading Bram Stroker’s “Dracula” the students determined a character as their custome and used the engineering design process to create a solution for that customer. Most of the students chose Van Helsing as their customer and designed products that would help him defeat Dracula.
The students individually brainstormed solutions and then worked on designing. The used a free 3d modelling website called Tinkercad (https://www.tinkercad.com/) to design their projects. Some students were given a quick tutorial, but soon became experts in the program sharing their newfound 3d design skills with each other. When students finished designing their projects, they were able to 3d print an actual product and “pitch” the products to their teacher and classmates.
The lesson idea originated form the website http://www.novelengineering.org/. In a Novel Engineering lesson: “Students use existing classroom literature – stories, novels, and expository texts – as the basis for engineering design challenges that help them identify problems, design realistic solutions, and engage in the Engineering Design Process while reinforcing their literacy skills”. Novel Engineering can be used for many different types of literature and across all grade levels. This is a great way to integrate STEM/STEAM lessons and the engineering design process into ELA classrooms. They provide many examples on their website
These students used a 3d printer but any materials for making or designing could be used to develop a solution.
By: Rob Miller, CA BOCES Professional Development
BOCES and eleven regional school districts have been awarded the USDA RUS Distance Learning Grant, totaling $466,686.
Last week District Superintendent Lynda Quick, Esq. learned that Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES has been awarded a grant for $466,686 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The grant, known as the Rural Utility Service (RUS) Distance Learning grant, will be implemented by Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES and eleven area school districts to upgrade video conferencing equipment and other technologies.
The equipment upgrades will provide all three Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES Career and Technical Education (CTE) Centers, as well as Belfast, Bolivar-Richburg, Cuba-Rushford, Franklinville, Friendship, Genesee Valley, Hinsdale, Olean, Salamanca, Scio, and Wellsville Central School Districts, with new portable, high definition video conference capabilities that schools will use to provide students and teachers with a variety of distance learning opportunities including videoconference courses, virtual field trip experiences, and expanded access to nanotechnology capabilities.
This is not the first USDA RUS Distance Learning grant received by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES and component school districts. The Distance Learning Team at CA BOCES has been applying for and receiving RUS grants since 1997, resulting in eight previous awards and millions of dollars in equipment for our schools.
“Over the years, USDA funding has built a virtual school in our region," stated Lynda Quick. Over forty virtual classes connect via video conference every single day, allowing schools to share the instructional expertise of their outstanding faculty members. Additionally, hundreds of students to take other online courses because of this funding. These virtual courses are critical in expanding offerings in small rural schools that, over time, have been stripped of the ability to offer many (or any) AP, college credit, or elective courses to their students.
Lynda Quick also shared, "This award helps put a dent in leveling the playing field. It helps our students build a transcript that can be competitive in the post-secondary arena." Grant implementation will begin immediately.
In an effort to the meet the ongoing math needs of our district, Learning Resources is currently working with a vendor called CueThink. In a nutshell, here’s what it is.
Funded by The National Science Foundation, CueThink is an innovative application and a pedagogy focused on improving critical thinking skills and math collaboration for students in grades 2-8. Their mission is to foster a growth mindset and empower students to see challenges as opportunities.
Students apply mathematician George Pólya’s 4 phases of Understand, Plan, Solve and Review to slow them down and explain their thinking. Students unpack the problem by answering the questions: "What do you notice?", "What do you wonder about?" and "What is your estimate?" We help them "Choose a strategy" and "Write a plan". Once they have created their solution, CueThink provides checklists to help them review their math and their recording.
In CueThink, students create "thinklets" or video vignettes of their solutions using the drawing and writing tools we provide. They record their voice as a think-aloud or a presentation. The teacher then uses these digital artifacts to highlight errors and missteps as well as illustrate effective solutions. Individual student solutions become part of the learner's digital portfolio, showcasing growth and change over time.
Students become teachers as they view each other’s solutions. They offer thoughtful, intelligent feedback through annotations and also reflect on and revise their own work. The goal of CueThink is to foster digital citizenry and build a community of social math learners in the classroom.
We are demoing CueThink for all districts this year, for all students in grades 2-8. Please contact me if you would like to know more or if you would like me to come out to your district to roll this out. Let’s make math social!
Alexandra L. Freer, CABOCES Learning Resources
When students and teachers are browsing Jody Thiel's library in West Valley School, they can expect an interactive experience to learn about her students' favorite books. Visitors can point their phones or tablets at the book Pig Pug by Aaron Blabely and a student video will "pop up" to give viewers a summary of the book. You can virtually explore 20 different books in her library.
West Valley students in third grade created "Augmented Reality" book reviews of books they recently finished reading. The students created props in the Library Makerspace to use on their summaries. To prepare for the video recording, students read their books and wrote a review that included the book's authors, the setting, the storyline and their favorite parts of the book. Some students listed similar books that piqued the interest of others.
Augmented reality is putting a computer-generated layer in a real-world environment. The layer is not seen by the user until they view it through the lens of an augmented reality viewer on a phone or camera. The students used the cover of the books as "targets" and placed a video of their summary on the cover.
The videos were recorded on iPads. We then used an app called Aurasma (https://www.aurasma.com/) to put a new video layer on the books. When a patron or another student in the library has the Aurasma app, they can point their tablets or phones at the books to view the student created videos.
By: Rob Miller, CA BOCES Professional Development
Welcoming West Valley students into the school library this year is a new space designated for S.T.E.A.M. activities. Jody Thiel, SLMS, is offering students the opportunity to explore coding, collaboration, and creativity with $500 raised through Donors Choose. Mrs. Thiel purchased over ten interactive resources to engage student learning and encourage a growth mindset (See photo).
A struggling middle school student recently demonstrated growth mindset as he was putting together circuits. When a bulb failed to light, he blamed it on dead batteries – several times. Mrs. Thiel did not offer correction on his design but simply told him the batteries were new and encouraged him to try again. The student figured it out and was so proud of himself! Taking risks in a safe environment allowed for experiencing success.
For younger students, Mrs. Thiel purchased the FisherPrice Code-a-Pillar. This is a colorful robotic whose pre-coded segments are put together by the student. Once segments are connected the Code-a-Pillar crawls across the floor to find a predetermined target. Quick feedback allows for student correction. Additional segments can be purchased for increased challenges.
Elementary and middle school students enjoy the Code & Go Robot Mouse and no doubt high school students and adults will too. Similar to the design of a BeeBot, Robot Mouse can be programmed to find a block of 'cheese' within a maze. The maze offers a variety of design challenges to engage “steamers” of all ages. and provides small groups with collaborative opportunities to problem solve.
Displayed among the LittleBits, Magformers, and Snap Circuits was the Osmo. This product utilizes an iPad, stand, mirror, and apps to teach coding, letters, words, numbers, and drawings. I tried the drawing app which uses a mirror to project an image onto a piece of paper that can be traced. Lettering is also available to make attractive thank you notes or sayings. (See photo). The tools available to use with the Osmo clearly makes an interactive tool for students K-12.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
When Microsoft originally announced that they were going to offer the Office 365 suite and its components free of charge to all schools who wanted access, it was seen as a “game-changing move” for education and learning in schools as we know it.
With the focus of today’s technology moving to cloud-based computing, storage, app access, and more, it made sense for Microsoft to offer these services to school districts to ensure that their software suites were still relevant and useful for students. Especially when factored in that competition in the education space has heated up between Google, Microsoft, and Apple, with all three offering enticing services to find their way into contracts with schools across the country.
This summer, school districts from Fillmore to Portville, and even administrators themselves, have been taking part in Office 365 Trainings offered by CABOCES. With a focus on what is Office 365, what features are included in the suite, what can be done with the programs, teachers and administrators have been upping their familiarity and comfortability in using the resources available to them in Office 365.
There were some topics that created more buzz than others, such as how to set-up and use ClassNotebook to run a blended or flipped classroom in various subject areas and grade spans. Seeing teachers experiment with creating classes, adding students and learning how to share documents and classroom resources with the push of a button to student computers is leading the charge this summer toward some classrooms becoming paperless! Sway, a presentation tool that creates its products as websites that automatically scale to fit different screen sizes was also a teacher favorite for combining elements of PowerPoint and website design into a friendly and easy-to-use format. Microsoft Forms, which allows for teachers to create surveys or quizzes online and quickly share them with students, access instant results, and provide data points that can be analyzed and diagnosed deeper to assess student progress on their learning of concepts was one that most teachers say they could see themselves using on a constant basis. With Fillmore and Portville students having 1-1 devices, the possibilities for enriching students’ learning are endless!
With everything around us moving toward cloud-based architecture, it only makes sense that our schools learn and adapt at the same time. Staying current for our students and using the resources in much the same way they do every day will allow us to stay relevant in education and keep the students with the best resources available to them at the touch of a button, mouse, or smartphone screen. With the move to Office 365, students will have the opportunity to have access to their files, and their programs, no matter where they may be with the devices they are already so capable of using every day.
By: Ryan McGinnis, CA BOCES Professional Development
Connecting College and Career Experiences for Second Grade Students: Exploring Robotics and Real-World Learning Opportunities at CABOCES
College and career readiness are words that ring through the minds of many, wondering how such learning experiences can be generated to cultivate a sense of the opportunities that exist beyond a traditional PK-12 education. For many, college and career readiness is a facet embedded in the NYS Common Core Learning Standards for ELA and Math and the Next Generation Science Standards. For others, exposure to college and career opportunities is much more than what is taught in a traditional setting; it’s about the experiences and the real-world application we can create for learners of all ages.
Laurie Bushnell and Tracey Keller’s second grade students recently visited the Career and Technical Education Center in Olean, NY to highlight some of the future educational opportunities that they may have, be it as a programmer of various robotics resources, as a cosmetologist, or even as a culinary artist. The experience was intended to give students a greater sense of the opportunities that exist in the real-world, as well as an understanding of the strategies and skills that can help one to be successful.
While fiddling with robots can seem like all fun and games, for the teachers and students alike, the experience was much more. The students were able to gain insight into how robots work, solve posed problems, experience challenge, and learn how these emotions lend themselves to the real-world. Some students felt frustration in trying to accomplish a task or goal, but through their perseverance, their commitment, and ultimately their inherent want to be successful, the students learned.
For Ms. Bushnell and Ms. Keller, giving students exposure to experiences outside the walls of East View Elementary in Olean, NY brings new light to the opportunities that await them in the future. Having students feel a little bit pampered by the cosmetology department and engaged by the prospect of making robots work reinforces the need for teachers of all students to provide learning experiences that enhance exposure to college, to career, and to challenge.
By: Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES Professional Development
If it not there already, coding will be coming to a school near you really soon! But why is there so much of a push for this?
Coding has many education implications: it is a way for students to design, create, and express themselves while solving problems, creating games, and having fun. Additionally, there are many opportunities in the area of computer science that students can consider when looking at careers. Website design, app creation, business management and many other fields have jobs that require some understanding of computer code.
Learning to code prepares kids for the world we live in today. There are tons of jobs and occupations that use code directly, like web designers, software developers and robotics engineers, and even more where knowing how to code is a huge asset—jobs in manufacturing, nanotechnology or information sciences. However, career prep is just one facet.
The skills that come with computer programming/coding help kids develop new ways of thinking and foster problem-solving techniques that can have big repercussions in other areas. Computational thinking allows students to grasp concepts like order of operations and cause and effect. Much like following a recipe, coding is systematic and students can see that attention to detail and sequential thinking are necessary to create a workable code.
And then there’s the simple fact that coding is fun! Most kids play games already, so learning the code behind the games takes engagement to a whole new level.
So get ready! Coding isn’t the future….it is the present!
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CABOCES Learning Resources
While building contractors remodeled Fillmore School this summer, Fillmore teachers renovated their traditional classrooms to incorporate blended learning. Fillmore will be implementing 1:1 devices for their K-12 students, and the teachers are readily adapting their classes to incorporate technology into daily instruction.
The CA BOCES Learning Resources and Model Schools teams worked with Fillmore teachers at Tech Camp for three full-day workshops. Teachers were introduced to Nearpod’s mobile interactive presentation software, Socrative’s quick assessment tool, Moodle’s Learning Management System, iPad Apps for Elementary and High School, CA BOCES Library and Media resources, and much more.
Opening discussion each day with the Fillmore teachers included:
Wendy Clark, who built a Moodle course she named Phenomenal Fourth Grade Readers shared, “I can't wait to use all of the fantastic apps that we learned about in my guided reading lessons! When we get our iPads; I’ll be all ready to go thanks to our summer tech training days!”
Cristin Glasner, MS Science Teacher added, “I had an amazing experience this summer. I brought back a huge amount of new knowledge on new technology to use in my science class. I was especially excited to incorporate Nearpod, Moodle, WEO and Edge factor into my classroom. I am so excited about using this technology to engage my students in their STEM lessons, add in Brain breaks, and trying some flipped lessons. This technology helps me make my content more relevant to my students and draws them into the lesson. They have so much fun, ask great questions, and have a better retention of the content.”
Every teacher at Fillmore has developed a Moodle course filled with interactive items for students, including: Math modules to reinforce math concepts, STEM videos, Music exploration videos, Spanish glossaries, Art concepts, Reading surveys, English journals and forums, Quizlet flashcards, Geography maps, News feeds from historical, language, STEM and Arts sites, and much more!
Fillmore’s journey to a 1:1 classroom environment has proven to highlight some great new strategies and tools that teachers are embedding into their day. Placing technology into the hands of every student allows students access to continue learning beyond the typical school day. Shaping the future of blended learning and global citizenship within the newly remodeled walls of Fillmore Central School is on an exciting path to great success.
By: Betsy Hardy, Distance Learning Coordinator, CA BOCES Learning Resources
The Maker movement is on the rise in today’s schools. The movement, which is poised to transform learning throughan emphasis on creation and creativity, ties in closely with
the STEAM initiatives many are looking to employ in their instructional practices. One such resource that can get a makerspace off the ground is LittleBits, easy-to-use electronic building blocks that snap together to help students in their creation of various inventions. LittleBits
have made their way into Cattaraugus-Allegany schools and are beginning to take hold in makerspaces and classrooms alike.
At a recent training, districts participating in the Eisenhower Consortium were given the opportunity to explore LittleBits and their application in the classroom and school-wide makerspaces. Teachers learning about the technology were given a series of challenges and asked
to use the building blocks to create useful tools that could help provide a solution to the given problems.
Take for instance, the case where the power goes out. What would one do? Reach for a flashlight of course, but what if there were no flashlight to be found? Could LittleBits help provide a solution? Teachers engaged with the blocks and snapped them together to make a useable flashlight. With toilet paper tubes, some tape, and a series of inter-locking electronic blocks, the problem came to be resolved.
Some would argue that a makerspace takes away from the content and curriculum that needs to be taught, but with LittleBits, the connection is often seamless. For those teaching about the solar system, and the movement of planets, imagine making a scale of the solar system using the components of LittleBits. Teachers at a recent team training collaborated to build a model of the movement of the moon around the earth, creating a replication of the phases of the moon. In tinkering with the inter-locking blocks and using easily accessible materials, the model took shape.
Students thrive in environments that rekindle their desire to make meaningful contributions toward relevant issues, ideas, people and interests. LittleBits can open the doorway to inspiring that creativity and innovation we often seek in our students. Whether using LittleBits or other resources, makerspaces are here to stay, and considering how to incorporate such tools into the classroom can push students further, and inspire deep, meaningful learning experiences for all.
LittleBits are accessible through our Learning Resources department and can be checked out for use in the classroom today.
Contact Lauren Stuff for more questions or support at email@example.com.
At the end of the year districts are asked if they'd like to contribute money towards an Eisenhower fund where the money is pooled together for the following school year. When the new year starts up, these districts meet to discuss possible options to maximize these funds- called Eisenhower Funds. This year the participating schools decided on sending teachers to learn and receive either Hummingbird, littleBits kits or to learn about Project Based Learning. The photos above are from the littleBits training held at the Barn Teaching and Learning Center in Olean on Leap Day (February 29th) and were tweeted out using the hashtag #myCABOCES.
The reason for the importance of these days was to explore more about the “Maker Movement” where people look to ‘make’ something to help fix a problem, help others or just because they want to make something! The importance of Hummingbirds and littleBits in that process is because they offer students a chance to easily ‘make’ or build their own ideas. After exploring different projects like creating a doorknob, a flashlight and a bubble maker, these teachers looked at finding ways to incorporate littleBits into their classrooms and spaces they have back in their district. As with the Hummingbird training in January, all of the teachers left with creative ideas for their students. We at CABOCES Professional Development can’t wait to see and hear all the neat products that the students create.
By Mark Carls, CA BOCES
On November 18, 2015 I was one of the first people to witness Kaylyn not having to write her name on a piece of schoolwork using her teeth. This day brought goose bumps to all the educators who were in the room. This piece of software was a game changer for Kaylyn. She was now able to do more work [lg2] independently. If you think about it, that’s really what we want from all of our students. We want them to grow up and be lifelong learners, contributing members to society and independent.
A special thank you goes out to Marcie Richmond, Olean’s Special Education Director, Amy Buckner, Kaylyn’s Support Aide and all of Olean’s Tech Department.
Kaylyn is a special girl and not because she can’t use her arms and legs. She is special because of her resilience, her stick-to-itiveness, and her ability to persevere. Kaylan is just like every other girl and that’s the way it should be. If she wants to dot her “I’s” with a heart or pass a note to another student in class when she should be paying attention, we as educators should do everything in our power to make that happen. I’m so glad to have met Kaylyn and extremely thrilled to call her my friend.
By: Rick Weinberg, CABOCES Professional Development
This spring, two classrooms at Cattaraugus-Little Valley have been communicating with two schools in London. Learning Resources at CA BOCES helped facilitate the connections between the two schools. The students were all very excited and eager to interact with each other.
Mrs. Christopher’s 3rd grade class connected with Mrs. Begum’s 4th grade class at Red Bridge Primary School on Tuesday, June 2nd and talked about a variety of topics. Mrs. Christopher’s students walked through slides in a PowerPoint that showcased different classrooms, teachers and activities that they have here at Cattaraugus-Little Valley. The students from London asked a variety of questions about the number of students, the school mascot and what students here did during the day. Mrs. Begum’s class in London taught the students at Cattaraugus Little Valley about landmarks in London, what their neighborhood around the school looked like, and shared information about their school. At Red Bridge Primary School there are 21 classes and a nursery. Each year the grade levels have three classes with about 30 students in each class.
Later in June Mrs. Urbanski’s 2nd grade class will also make a Polycom connection with another school in London. The teachers in London reached out and stated that they would like to continue connecting next fall.
By: Mark Carls and Kristen Meiers, CA BOCES
After school on Thursday afternoons, Pioneer Middle School LMC is the place to be. It is here that anywhere from 20-25 students in grades 5-8 gather for Maker Club under the guidance of librarian Maria Muhlbauer and teacher Gio LoBianco. The idea for a library makerspace is one that had been brewing for a couple years, and in November of this school year, Ms. Muhlbauer and Mr. LoBianco officially began recreating a section of the library into Pioneer’s own makerspace.
The concept of a makerspace is really quite simple: designate an area where students can gather to create, invent, learn, and teach others about something they are good at doing. This idea complements the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives currently underway at Pioneer, and the space allows students to work with computer programming, robotics, crafts, drawing, origami, etc. According to the Middle School Library blog, accessible at pioneermiddlelibrary.blogspot.com, the space is stocked with a wide variety of materials, including Raspberry Pi programming kids, solar robotic kits, mousebots, spinbots, squishy circuits, Makey Makey kits. District employees and community members generously donated craft supplies such as duct tape, origami paper, Legos, and more to help get the Maker Club up and running this year.
Maker Club officially kicked off with its first meeting on January 8 with 18 students attending. After an introduction to the concept and goals of Maker Club and talk of acceptable and unacceptable activities during the meeting times, students got busy creating with Legos, crafting with duct tape, weaving with plastic bands, and coding with programs such as Scratch. More recently, students have been participating in a “Robot Finch Loan Program” through BirdBrain Technologies, where students learn how to program the finches.
Looking ahead to next year, Ms. Muhlbauer, Mr. LoBianco, and teacher Ms. Brenda McKenzie applied for and were awarded a grant worth approximately $2,600 from National Grid to further support STEM initiatives at schools within the Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES region. Grant money will fund the purchase of Dash & Dot robotics kits and iPads for programming them. The app will allow students to sharpen their creative and critical thinking skills while using concepts and information learned in class to help them find solutions to complex problems.
New students are always welcome at Maker Club and can attend one, many, or all meetings. This is a great opportunity for students to explore activities that are of interest to them, all while learning lifelong skills and maybe – just maybe – sparking an interest that will lead them to a fulfilling career someday!
By: Amy Windus, CA BOCES and Pioneer Central School
Are you looking for creative ways to inspire your beginning readers? Maybe you have a struggling reader who needs a little bit of motivation to get through the frustration they are feeling. Reading Eggs is a wonderful online reading program geared at children ages 4-7. This program helps provide a dynamic online reading experience for your students to promote healthy reading and attitudes about reading.
Learning Resources has recently had an uptick in the amount of schools and students using this program. They find the challenges, positive reinforcements, and tangible “egg” rewards to be something very enjoyable. Reading Eggs starts the child off on a map where they must complete each level to advance to the next stepping stone – ultimately leading them through an entire level. It makes for easy mapping of a student’s progress and saves it where the student last left off. There is a placement test at the beginning of the program so your students don’t waste time on activities that are too easy for them, or get frustrated that it is too difficult.
For those who are very visual when it comes to learning, having the map helps them to stay focused on the goal. Reading Eggs is really easy to navigate, fun, and utilizes the many different approaches of teaching. For instance, when the game first starts out, a student is introduced to one letter – the letter M. After that, they learn to master the phonetic sound, identification, matching pictures to the letter, even showing how the letter is to be written through a number sequence. Because of the multiple approaches, students are also becoming better with spelling the words they are reading.
Reading Eggs is an exceptional early literacy program for children to learn how to read, strengthen reading skills, and master reading and comprehension. I would highly recommend giving this program a try if you have pre-readers, beginning readers, and struggling young readers.
By: Alexandra L. Freer, CA BOCES
Q: What do you get when you combine one Makey Makey kit, an innovative media specialist, and a dynamic music teacher with a 6th grade class?
A: Sweet, sweet music!
Karen Cawley, media specialist for Bolivar-Richburg was awarded a grant earlier this year from the CA Teacher Center. Included in the grant were ten Makey Makey kits. Along with attending CA BOCES Educating STEM series, Cawley had an idea. What if we brought in a non-traditional class to collaborate? This is when she decided to approach Jen Berg, Music teacher for Bolivar-Richburg, in using the Makey Makey kits. Together they wrote a unit that was STEAM based.
After studying Gregorian chants and musical theory and composition including note reading, Berg and her 6th grade music class wrote their own musical compositions. Next, they built their own instruments out of everyday “found” materials. Students found themselves deeply engaged in creating and executing their music using web based applications. These projects and materials are also offered to study halls in the media center for all students to explore and create. The object is to put as many materials into as many students’ hands as possible!
Cawley stated that for the future we are looking at now collaborating with our ELA, and science teachers. Walking away from the Educating STEM series with hummingbird kits and other resources is an integral part to successful implementation within our building. The creation of a STEM club is also not out of the question for next year.
By: Jen Pangborn, CA BOCES and Bolivar-Richburg Central School
Wellsville first year Spanish teacher Mr. James Neely had a desire to incorporating social media into a project for Spring break. After discussing Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. and the pros and cons of using Social Media in the class, it was determined that using the actual sites for his project could lead to cyber bullying or other inappropriate situations. Instead he worked along with the Technology Integration Coach to create a project that mimics Social Media. The result was a Spapchat style video created by students to share what they did over spring break.
Snapchat is a photo messaging application developed by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown, then Stanford University students. Using the application, users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. These sent photographs and videos are known as "Snaps". Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps (as of April 2014, the range is from 1 to 10 seconds), after which they will be hidden from the recipient's device and deleted from Snapchat's servers.
Their assignment over break was to take video and/or photos of the things they did during their vacation. When they returned from break students transferred their video/photos to their iPad, and students in the 3 classes were then introduced to about 15 apps. Here are a few:
Shake Ur Life
Technology Integration coach Kate Green then worked with the classes for the next couple of days with adding, editing, and changing their vacation into a presentable product. The assignment was to then write a minimum of 15 word Spanish caption for each of their video/photos. The teacher supported the students in their translations and gave some class time for a couple of days. Students shared the final videos to the teacher and class presentations will follow.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES and Wellsville Central School