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.
Cattaraugus and Allegany County classrooms have reached an all-time high traveling virtually across the globe. Since the start of school 2,592 students have experienced opportunities to gain real world knowledge of various cultures from around the world. Historically, December Virtual Field Trips average 20 connections, but this year, Santa came to our region and brought our total to 103 trips in 3 weeks!
CA BOCES sends monthly trip highlights out to your Curriculum Coordinators, Tech Integrators, and Principals, so keep an eye out for these exciting opportunities. Some of these opportunities included National Distance Learning Week that was held November 7-11 in conjunction with the NYS Distance Learning Consortium. National DL Week allowed districts across the region to experience fee-based trips for free so that districts who had never seen a virtual field trip before could take part in this event. We expanded on these meaningful experiences at the NYS Middle School Association by showing districts how easy it was to connect to Ghana, Africa.
What better way to develop communication skills with students helping them to express their ideas culturally and academically through media sources. Students have opportunities to engage in collaborative discussions on curriculum topics, contrast cultural differences, and build language and logic to address details in directions. Below are some examples of content based trips:
Let CABOCES help you and your students take your next field trip virtually. All you need to do is click on the link below to see what’s on the calendar for upcoming trips:
Or to search for your own classroom topic, you can do a keyword search and see the hundreds of trips available by clicking on this link:
Or, to let us search for a trip for you! All you have to do is click on this link, and we will take of the rest. You will just need to fill out the request form and we will arrange to take your students around the world, into space, or even back in time!
If you would like to learn more about virtual learning experiences, please contact Carrie Oliver at 716-376-8270 or Betsy Hardy at 716-376-8281 for more information. The opportunities are endless.
By: Betsy Hardy, CA BOCES Learning Resources
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
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.