Technology in Education: Extending Professional Development Experiences for District Representatives at the Annual NYSCATE Conference
When we think of technology in education, many make mention of SMART Boards and iPads, but technology in education has taken on new forms. At this year’s annual NYSCATE conference, a statewide consortium dedicated to the exploration of technology resources and innovation in tech-focused classrooms, several of our component schools were able to see the new wave of technology that could become a part of today’s 21st century classrooms.
As a part of the Eisenhower Consortium, several districts elected to send representatives to the annual conference to engage in and learn more about the innovation and inquiry that can stem from the infusion of tech tools in the classroom. Teachers, technology integrators, and other district personnel from Genesee Valley, Cuba Rushford, Pioneer, and West Valley became immersed in a world of technology and the innovation that can stem from a vast array of resources.
NYSCATE, which offers a self-directed conference experience, highlighted sessions on coding in the classroom, iPad implementation in a 1:1 environment, and Chromebooks in educational settings K-12. The theme of this year’s annual event was ReThink, ReImagine, ReCreate, inspiring educators to think beyond the scope of a traditional educational setting and reimagine the ways in which we deliver a high-quality educational experience to all.
Jason Latimer, who served as one of the all-inspiring keynote speakers at the 2014 event, incited participants to think about the power of a question as the gateway to transforming the educational system we offer to today’s 21st century learners. Latimer, who believes that knowledge is built upon the questions we ask, encouraged conference attendees to use questions to drive their classroom and use questions to drive the way in which technology is used in education. “The illusion of knowledge is what causes you to stop asking questions.” Latimer’s words resonated in the minds of many as the conference took hold. His ideals seemed to inspire the sense of wonder that comes with how we shift the mindset of modern-day education. “The world was not shaped by its answers; it was shaped by its questions.”
Anne Cater, staff specialist for Professional Development with CABOCES and curriculum coordinator for both Belfast Central School and Genesee Valley Central, spoke to her own personal NYSCATE experience. “I felt like a kid in a candy store, learning about all the great innovations that can help our students learn. Today’s students are much attune to the role technology plays in society, so in bringing innovations in technology to the classroom, we can help to not only prepare students for the future, but inspire them to ask questions and think beyond the everyday curricula.”
NYSCATE 2015 may be a year away, but all are encouraged to attend this unique conference experience. For more information about the organization, please visit http://www.nyscate.org/. Until next year, consider how technology can serve as a force of innovation to drive questioning and inspire teachers and students to ReThink, ReImagine, and ReCreate.
By: Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES
On Thursday May 15, I entered Kirsten Grubes’s room at Cattaraugus Little Valley school. Ms. Grube had a substitute and since I was entering a kindergarten classroom we had to forgo any introductions and attempt to match the activity level of about 14 six year olds. I never did get the name of the substitute.
As a helper at one of the centers, I teach students the fundamentals of programming using the app called Kodable. At the kindergarten level, Kodable requires students to follow directions, which is good but even this can be a bit of a struggle with this age group. I know this because I am pretty sure Kyle was not supposed to march around the room, growling like a monster while gently banging his crayon box on top of his head. Oh well, we won’t tell Ms. Grube.
These students get so excited when they see me enter the room with iPads. I often hear “He’s here. He’s here,” upon entering. With Kodable students have to make their “Smeeborg,” which I call a fuzzball, move across the screen and eat coins. Grechen Huebner, co-founder of Kodable, describes the game like this, "Kids have to drag and drop symbols to get their fuzzy character to go through a maze so they learn about conditions, loops and functions and even debugging," The code is read in order and it does not execute until the student pushes the play button. If the student has the code correct, he or she gets all the coins, completes the maze and goes on to the next level. If the student is “off the mark” then the student is prompted with an “oops” and asked to try again. Students are learning a great deal of valuable skills
We have just been using the free Kodable app but there is a pay version, which is $6.99. It seems like, as of now, the free version is working just fine. It may be necessary for the pay app someday, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. For schools who want to buy the app and are part of Apple’s volume purchasing program (v.p.p.), if the school district buys 20 or more apps then they get them for half price. And now, with how the v.p.p. is set up, the school district owns the app and can deploy it to different iPads anywhere in the school, as long as they don’t use more than what was purchased.
Many of these students can’t tie their shoes yet so why are we teaching them to be computer programmers? "Ninety percent of schools just don't even teach it [coding or computer programming]. So if you're a parent and your school doesn't even offer this class, your kids aren't going to have the preparation they need for the 21st century," says Hadi Partovi, co-founder of the nonprofit Code.org. "Just like we teach how electricity works and biology basics, they should also know how the Internet works and how apps work. Schools need to add this to the curriculum." At Cattaraugus Little Valley we are taking some initial steps in adding these important computing skills into the curriculum.
By Rick Weinberg, CA BOCES
You may wonder what the phrase, “All Schools Day” means. Well, if you are a guidance counselor or principal in one of the Cattaraugus-Allegany school districts you will know immediately that this designates a collaborative day whereby schools can choose from hundreds of Distance Learning/video conference classes from all across New York State in which to enroll students for credit. Student enrollment across our region will vary from those with a niche interest for courses such as Game Design, Business Law, Hot Topics in Science, or Latin. Then to reach students requesting high level High School courses, they can take advantage of Physics or Mandarin. Then to broaden their depth of transcript, a wide variety of college credits from JCC, ASC, GCC, Syracuse University, SUNY Albany, are available in Psychology, English, U.S. History, and more. The course opportunities for students are endless.
At the All Schools Day, after a discussion of how Distance Learning can save teacher jobs, bring revenue to a district, and greatly expand elective and core offerings, the counselors explore the Regional Database of courses and have the opportunity to “claim” receiving or hosting of a course/connection. Working together, the counselors talk across the room and via videoconference to other school officials from across New York State. Classes and times are discussed...but we all know that before the start of school each year, many changes and minor tweaks will be made before satisfied students begin their semester-long or half-semester courses.
To see the full list of course offerings that are shared throughout NYS, go to: http://dlcourses.e2ccb.org and login in with UN: distance and PW: distance
By: Betsy Hardy, CABOCES Learning Resources
Jennifer Smith, Speech Therapist, Andover, collaborates with a very flexible 3rd grade teacher, Faye Shay, to login to the student publishing program, Voicethread, and integrate her custom-designed therapy for one particular student with the whole class of students.
Students practice vocabulary, spelling and creative writing during this lesson on the meaning and use of the word, exaggeration. Ms. Smith had a picture of “Pecos Bill” in the Old West projected on the screen in Voicethread and each student could choose his or her method of commenting on the picture (microphone or typing) and begin a story (an exaggeration) of how the “Andover Ponds” were formed. What Ms. Shay noticed was that the students who have very little to say in class, were very involved and lengthy in their explanations of how the ponds were formed – all based upon background knowledge from class and checked later for spelling and punctuation. Creative stories about the ponds and their formation were anywhere from Pecos Bill lassoing animals to push the dirt away to the digging of holes one after another with intervention from a magical being. Ms. Smith also had the students owning their own learning as she communicated to them and displayed on the big screen how their individual comments come to her in an email from Voicethread.
By: Maggie Jensen, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Heather Brubaker, teacher in Whitesville, prepares 9th, 10th and 11th grade general education students for Regents exams using the Promethean Board in the Resource Room. She self-assigns the public, Regents questions she chooses within Castle and projects them on the board for a whole class review of multiple choice or constructed response answers. Another way she uses Castle Learning is to put several students on computers with assignments she has selected while she works and assists others individually on paper worksheets she has printed from Castle. She finds this method of working on the computer keeps the students engaged and not distracted until she is freed up. The assignments Mrs. Brubaker sets up for those on the computers can be be assigned as “open” – giving the student two attempts at the correct answer and a hint before going to the next question. With immediate feedback for students, they are more likely to continue studying, make use of their time, and continue preparing for the exam.
By: Maggie Jensen, CA BOCES Learning Resources
A Friendship elementary teacher, Paul Braun (grade 3), incorporates BrainPop, Scholastic News, and National Geographic in one very active lesson on habitats.
Mr. Braun starts the period with a timed three-minute sprint for math fractions (a nice review). Additionally, he models this by actually doing the sprint on screen, starting just after the students begin. As they go over the answers together the kids shout out, “Yes”, to indicate they have the correct answer. Partially invigorated by the mild shouting, the students are immediately on their feet to do jumping jacks, sit-ups and other exercises for about two minutes with Mr. Braun and a student leading the routine.
It is obvious that this is no ordinary classroom. The student desks are facing each other and not the front of the room, although they can easily turn to see the Smartboard and the short BrainPop Jr. animated film about habitats – kicking off the main lesson for the day. The videos are based on the characters of Tim and Moby with questions following. Mr. Braun can print the worksheets from BrainPop or project the questions on the board. He told me later that he uses Brain Pop Jr. regularly and that the most useful activity available to him within the program, besides the video, is the vocabulary word wall activity. “It’s the best.”
Turning to Scholastic News, he passes out the magazine reader but then projects the Scholastic website for more close reading of text. The inter-active website reads the definitions of new vocabulary for the habitat lesson to the class - the definitions pop up with a click. Students write down the main ideas of the article after finding them in the text.
The final part of the day finds students being assigned an animal and habitat to research. Logging on to HP Minis in groups of two, The National Geographic site is accessed from Mr. Braun’s school webpage, full of links to the animal videos, and becomes the focus of their research. The research will spill over to the next day. The students happily leave the room looking forward to learning more about their animals tomorrow.
By Maggie Jensen, CA BOCES Learning Resources
As a teaching assistant for Scio Central School, Darla Rau has found success with K-4 students in the computer lab where she engages classes in practicing reading, math, and keyboarding on a variety of student learning programs.
Approximately four years ago Darla investigated “SuccessMaker” at the Rochester-based annual NYSCATE (The New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education) Conference and requested the purchasing of this data-oriented program from the Scio Central School administration. She works with teachers to track data on individual students for either remediation or higher level placements. Darla also uses many learning games for math and reading as well as basic typing and keyboarding skills, which she implements with early learners. Some of the resources (many free) which she uses are: Dance Mat Typing, Type to Learn 4, starfall.com, coolmathgames.com, sheppardsoftware.com primarygames.com and learninggamesforkids.com.
Darla finds that students really respond to “games” for learning and has recently expanded her offerings to include the animated, grade-appropriate, movie clips in the Teacher Toolkit of Study Island ( a web-based assessment program aligned to the common core standards). To access the animated videos, teacher videos, lesson plans and other classroom resources in Study Island just log in, click on “Teacher Toolkit” on the left-hand navigation bar and search by grade level, type of resource and subject.
By: Maggie Jensen, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Photos: NASA and Bolivar-Richburg Central School
What's out there in space? How do we get there? How do you live in space? These are some of the questions that were answered for Bolivar-Richburg Elementary students. Over 300 elementary students and teachers were invited to a Virtual Field Trip Showcase event that took place in their school on Friday, March 28, 2014. Each grade had the opportunity to have the world brought to their classroom through Distance Learning. Students sat patiently as Scientists, Firefighters, and Museum experts talked with the students about space, habitats, building communities, and fire safety.
App Creation Explodes at Genesee Valley: Local high school student channels his own interests in programming to create and market an app
Candy Crush. Farm Heroes. Words with Friends. All of these applications have one thing in common: they started with an idea and transformed into a phenomenon amongst today’s iUsers. Local high school student Josh Deichmann became intrigued with technology early on, ultimately leading him to explore app development through an independent study project with Genesee Valley Central School District.
Deichmann, whose interest level stemmed from his initial exposure to such technologies and programs as Power Point, has been enamored by the world of technology. His family, which owns an organic milking farm run with the help of a robotic milking system, has also embraced the power of technology. With the innovation of farming happening in his own backyard, and his overall interest in programming, Deichmann set out with a goal: design a fully functional app and publish it to the app store upon creation.
Students and teachers (of COSER 501 member districts) can access hundreds of thousands of digital resources using CABOCES Digital Kids.
Users may login to CABOCES DIGITAL KIDS to search clips and images or pass through to:
Brain Pop (Jr., ESL, Espanol),Discovery, Learn 360, Sylvan Dell eBooks, Teaching Books, Tumblebooks, Soundszabound, Gale Cengage, Regents Review
In September, I was given the opportunity to utilize an iPad cart for my classes until February. I used this opportunity to investigate how well high school students would be able to use them in a limited setting, for a limited amount of time. My primary goal was to try to establish a web source in which I could continue to interact with them online after the iPads were gone. I found two sites very useful for that purpose: Google Drive and MyBigCampus. When I created a document for the students, I uploaded it to Google Drive. The students then used their iPads to access and open the document in an iPad app, Notability. Having accessed the document, they could then edit and take notes directly using the Notability App. Another useful app that the students used was MyBigCampus. I would create entrance or exit tickets that the students would need to access on the application and answer. This app was also helpful to share links, images, audio and video files, and to create message board type activities for the class. MyBigCampus and Google Drive are both programs that function independently of the iPads, and I can continue to utilize them for the rest of the school year.