Pixar in a Box Meets Khan Academy
We are storytellers. Notice that I used “we.” Some people prefer sharing stories through writing, others through video, and others through song. Regardless of the medium, we are all storytellers--every one of us.
The question then becomes, “How do we go about telling our stories?” To find the answer, look no further than Pixar’s collaboration with Khan Academy, Pixar in a Box. While the curriculum contains 15 units, The Art of Storytelling is central to story creation and development and is bolstered with six modules to help anyone guide their storytelling much like Pixar has done for over three decades.
The Art of Storytelling
Model Schools Coordinator, Rob Miller, and I first explored The Art of Storytelling curriculum this past March at the South by Southwest EDU (SXSW EDU) conference with Elyse Klaidman, co-leader of the team at Pixar that created, developed, and promoted Pixar in a Box. In her two-hour, hands-on session, Elyse shared her recommendations for utilizing the curriculum on Khan Academy in the middle-high school classroom (disclaimer - I must have been so engrossed in learning that I excluded a piece of the puzzle and numbered incorrectly):
English Language Arts Collaborative Learning Community
After returning from SXSW EDU, Rob and I shared our learning with the Professional Development team at CA BOCES. Seeing our enthusiasm and a clear connection to the NYSED ELA learning standards, Sarah Wittmeyer and Brendan Keiser collaborated with us to include The Art of Storytelling in the next Middle School/High School English Language Arts Collaborative Learning Community (MS/HS ELA CLC).
Educators from Allegany-Limestone, Bolivar-Richburg, Cattaraugus-Little Valley, Friendship, Portville, Salamanca, Scio, West Valley, and Whitesville school districts followed a process similar to the one I experienced with Elyse by working through the Getting Started with Pixar in a Box: The Art of Storytelling document in conjunction with the available video lessons over the course of approximately two hours. However, The Art of Storytelling could be easily extended to one week, one month, or one marking period (or longer) if desired. This process could even be developed into a course to include not only storytelling, but also design, effects, simulation, animation, character modeling, and more.
Maybe you aren’t convinced that you are a storyteller; perhaps you feel like you don’t have what it takes to write, produce, or create something valuable. If that really is you, I think the Introduction to Storytelling with Pixar in a Box can help. If that isn’t you and you are interested learning more about Pixar, or if you are looking to expand your storytelling strategies, you can start there, too.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
The 3rd Southern Tier Annual Film Festival was held at Allegany-Limestone Central School District on May 9th, 2019 under the direction of Suzan Snyder and was another amazing success. Teachers, parents, administrators, and students gathered together, watched student films, and awarded the trophy to the winning district, Cuba Rushford Central School. Participating districts included Alfred-Almond (@AlfredAlmondCS), Allegany-Limestone(@ALCSGator), Cuba-Rushford (@CR_REBELS), Fillmore (@FillmoreEagles), Olean (@OleanHighSchool), and Whitesville (@wcsbluejays).
As a teacher who loves to see the creativity of my students, to witness the brilliance of a new generation, to be part of collaborative communities, I look forward every year to the professional development that spearheaded the film festival. It is an ongoing experience that continues to bring teachers together–those that were there first and new faces that join each year.
Three years ago, a group of teachers gathered together for professional development offered by CA BOCES (@CABOCESit), bringing Dr. David Bruce from University at Buffalo and Dr. Sunshine Sullivan from Houghton College to guide us in our efforts to learn to use digital media in our classrooms. We left that experience armed with new ideas for our classroom, exciting project-based assessments, our own creative pieces, and with a vague idea that we wanted to come together at the end of the school year and showcase our students’ efforts. We met periodically and fleshed out an idea for a film festival—a good spirited, but competitive event that would allow students to try to win a trophy for their school, and provide recognition among their peers and throughout their communities. We also wanted our students to create the artwork to advertise the festival so they could own this event alongside their teachers.
That vague idea became a fully developed festival. Now, each year towards the culmination of the school year, students enter their best work from throughout the year to a film committee. The committee picks thirty of the best films to showcase, selects winners based on specific criteria, and creates a flight sheet for one final award to be chosen by the audience at the end of the event. This year we had a wonderful artist, Jazlynn Sullivan of Olean High School, create the image for the posters to advertise the event and the programs.
As an English teacher, I am constantly amazed at the writing that comes out of these projects. Teachers ask students to tell a story, to shed light on an issue or a poem, to be a magician with images, to create a parody or satire, and they deliver at the film festival with glowing outcomes and to genuine applause. When we ask our students to put themselves in the spotlight, we are asking them to be vulnerable, to be real, to be exceptional. And they do not fail. Students create comedies and tragedies, extrapolate meaning from a poem through image and sound or investigate the way color is used in writing. Sometimes they look at what it means to be a teenager, magnifying difficult issues like bullying, violence, and trying to find their identity. Students are investigating the deep issues of their lives and sharing it with their teachers and then a wider audience so that we can search for answers or laugh or be afraid along with them.
Sometimes our students bring tears to our eyes. Sometimes the adults in the room go back in time, spend three minutes as the adolescents that we once were. That is what happens every year at this film festival. Every year another group of students radiates their authentic selves and ask the adults and companions in their lives to go with them on that journey.
This small film festival is growing every year. This year there were over 110 attendees. The students propelled the hard work of a small group of teachers into something great. For all the future festivals, we hope more teachers throughout the region will attend the five-day summer professional development opportunity and begin making digital projects and films in their classrooms with their students. We can’t wait to see the work of the students next year. Maybe it will be your students that win your district the trophy.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
The second Southern Tier Annual Film Festival (S.T.A.F.F.) was held at the Cuba-Rushford Central School District auditorium on Friday, May 18. Participating schools included Allegany-Limestone, Belfast, Cattaraugus-Little Valley, Cuba Rushford, Fillmore, Olean, and Whitesville.
Administrators, teachers, parents, and students gathered together to watch and vote on student productions to see which district would take home the trophy.
Leading up to the event, Courtney Brisky, a student at Olean High school, created the artwork for posters to be distributed throughout districts across Allegany and Cattaraugus counties to advertise and promote the festival. Student submissions for the festival were due in mid-April and the finalists for the event were decided by graduate students at the University at Buffalo.
Audience members watched forty-three films, voting in a mere six films as finalists.
Finally, the moment came for the audience to choose the winning film and they selected a parody of the popular television sitcom, “The Office.” Students DeAndre Ahrens, Gabby Dutton, Hannah Erwin, Cody Findlay, Dana Hatch, Colston Saulter, Jonah Williamson, and Trenon Zeager took home the trophy for Cuba-Rushford. The trophy was previously housed at Fillmore Central School District and will now spend the year at Cuba-Rushford until next year’s festival.
Teachers have been preparing for this festival throughout the year by attending ongoing professional development offered by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES and presented by Dr. David Bruce at the University at Buffalo and Dr. Sunshine Sullivan at Houghton College. At the ongoing events, teachers hone their skills, brainstorm, and develop curriculum for teaching students to craft narratives, investigate the correlation between images and narrative, develop writing and media skills, and tap into creativity.
The first film festival developed out of a week-long summer professional development opportunity offered to English teachers through the region through a partnership by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES, Houghton College, and the University at Buffalo. This opportunity culminated with the creation of the Southern Tier Annual Film Festival by teachers because they wanted to offer their students the same kind of enriching experience in the classroom and give students the chance to present their work to a live audience.
“Writing with Video: Rural Voices” is going to be offered this coming year to teachers in every discipline to hone their skills, collaborate, and plan future film festivals. If you have interest in bringing this unique opportunity to your students, look out for the upcoming summer institute as well as for future film festivals.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
This year at Whitesville Elementary, we have focused our monthly breakfast club theme on Barbara Gruener's book, “What’s Under Your Cape? Superheroes of the Character Kind.” The book is a wonderful character education resource book for elementary educators. It is filled with ideas, activities, and suggested children's literature which teachers can use as they help to instill good character into the hearts of students.
Our monthly themes follow the acronym of SUPERHERO. Each month during the 2017-18 school year, the students in grades k-4 learn about character education with a mini lesson and a call to action.
S - Service
U - Unconditional Acceptance
P - Perseverance
E - Empathy
R - Respect
H - Honesty
E - Enthusiasm
R - Responsibility
O - Obedience
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
The ROBOTC for VEX training at Pioneer High School was led by Jesse Flot, a Research Programmer & Senior Software Engineer for the Robotics Academy at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and Josh Jarvis, the lead developer for CMUs CS-STEM Network. In attendance were nearly thirty participants from various districts across the region (Allegany-Limestone CSC, Andover CSD, Belfast CSD, Bolivar-Richburg CSD, CA-BOCES Belmont CTE, CA-BOCES ISS, CA-BOCES ISS, Cattaraugus-Little Valley CSD, Cuba-Rushford CSD, Ellicottville CSD, Franklinville CSD, Fillmore CSD, Genesee Valley CSD, Hinsdale CSD, Pioneer CSD, Salamanca City SD, Scio CSD, and Whitesville CSD).
What is a robot, and what can we can we teach with it? These were the first two questions that Jesse Flot used to open the ROBOTC for VEX training. The first question is fairly direct: what is a robot? Perhaps you define a robot as something like Wall-E, or maybe to you a robot is Arnold Schwarzenegger from the Terminator. The definition is as simple as SPA: a robot is a device that has the ability to sense, plan, and act. What can we teach with a robot? This second question is more difficult to answer unless we first reflect on how we teach rather than the content of our teaching.
When teaching Algebra 1, my students would struggle with the concept of completing the square to rewrite quadratic expressions. Rather than using the skill of completing the square as a tool to accomplish a goal, I made the skill the learning goal; ultimately, it was not until I provided students with the necessary tools and shift my focus (using GeoGebra) that they were able to better understand the process of completing the square, how to use it, and when to use it. Similarly, “project-based learning (PBL) involves learning through projects rather than just doing projects,” says John Spencer. In other words, the goal of PBL is to focus on the learning process rather than a culminating project. Jesse explained what can be taught with robotics in the same way; he said, “the Robotics Academy at CMU uses robotics as a tool to teach programming; however, you can use robots to teach many other subjects and skills such as mathematics, physics, communication, teamwork, and time management.”
With these questions answered and an understanding that the VEX robots were a tool used to help teach programming, Jesse and Josh led participants through two days of hands-on training with the programming of ROBOTC as well as the hardware of VEX robots. Participants explored intuitive and basic commands using the block coding features of ROBOTC in conjunction with the physical features of the VEX robot the first day, and on day two, participants made the progression to virtual reality with Robot Virtual World software (RVW) and explored how the text commands of ROBOTC differ from its block coding commands.
In addition to Jesse’s 16 years of experience at CMU (12 of which being in professional development), the Robotics Academy’s research-based practices helped guide the hybrid training model. From anticipating participant questions to providing examples of student questions that participants should anticipate, Jesse and Josh led participants through a highly productive two days of learning. Jesse and Josh will continue this hybrid training online from mid-February through March in which participants will gain additional knowledge of the ROBOTC language, continue to track their progress with CMUs learning management system, and explore additional features of VEX robotics.
By: Mark Beckwith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Teachers Across Cattaraugus-Allegany Counties Prepare for Student Video Submissions
Many teachers committed to the Writing with Video: Rural Voices Summer Institute over the past two summers and now attend quarterly reunions throughout the year in order to plan, collaborate, and write about the upcoming Southern Tier Annual Film Festival (S.T.A.F.F. Awards).
Teachers from the institute are invested in including digital audio and video assignments in their classrooms throughout the year in order to help students solidify their writing process through planning, pre-writing, and reflection. Students complete a variety of video projects including research, narrative, poetry, remix, vocabulary, and themes that they will then present to their classmates, publish, and screen to a larger audience.
Students who have created video projects across the region are invited to submit original films. The submission deadline is April 13, 2018. All student films will be judged by University at Buffalo graduate students in the education program.
Students whose films are chosen will have their films shown at the S.T.A.F.F. Awards which will be held at Cuba-Rushford Central School District this year on Friday, May 18th. Students will have a chance to see student-produced films from across the region, eat snacks, vote alongside the entire audience, and help choose a winning entry. The winning student or team will take home the traveling trophy to their school.
If you would like more information or would like your student to submit a video entry, please contact Christina McGee at email@example.com.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
Creative Professional Development turns into Collaborative Life-long Learning, Innovative Curriculum, and a Regional Annual Film Festival
This summer I played, and I learned simultaneously. I had the opportunity to attend the Writing with Video: Rural Voices Summer Institute with Dr. Sunshine Sullivan, associate professor of education at Houghton College, and Dr. David Bruce, associate professor of learning and instruction at the State University of New York at Buffalo (University at Buffalo) Graduate School of Education. Under the guidance of Tim Clarke, Senior Program Manager for Professional Development at Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES, this summer institute was presented to area teachers throughout Cattaraugus and Allegany counties for two consecutive summer sessions.
During the week-long institute, I worked alongside many other English teachers including Lacey Gardner (Whitesville), Michelle Grillo (Cuba-Rushford), Brendan Heaney (Fillmore), Michelle McGraw (Cuba-Rushford), Micah Rust (Fillmore), Suzan Snyder (Allegany-Limestone), Stephen Sorensen (Olean), Louis Ventura (Olean), and Sally Ventura (Olean). We collaborated, learned to use digital media on the fly with guidance from Dr. David Bruce and Dr. Sunshine Sullivan, and then created our own projects including narrative sequences, “Me in Six Words/Images,” video vocab, multi-genre e-publications, and “This I Believe” digital essays. These projects became model projects for our students when we incorporated similar projects into our curriculum. These models would help students use media alongside written reflections and heuristics to present their understanding of content and concepts.
The whole week was one of the most rewarding, challenging, and engaging professional development opportunities that I’ve been fortunate enough to attend – and it was difficult work. As Sally Ventura, a teacher at Olean High School said, "Rural Voices has been such an energizing experience! It has been as fun as it has been challenging. It has been a pleasure working with smart, creative colleagues in the area.”
The days at the institutes were packed and I was always surprised that it was time to go home. The amazing thing was that I didn’t stop learning and thinking when I walked out the door. Instead, I continued ruminating on the drive home. I tinkered with ideas at home. I filmed at home. I reworked difficult pieces. I researched. The entire week, from the moment that I woke up until I went to sleep, was spent planning, collaborating, developing, creating, and reflecting – exactly the kind of experience I want for my students. As Brendan Heaney said, “The work being done at the Institute is revolutionary. Teachers will learn how to truly incorporate technology in a way that enhances student literacy and composition skills. If you buy into this and utilize it in the classroom you will see student engagement go through the roof. You will also see some of the best quality work you’ve ever seen from students.”
Out of this experience, a project was born. Brendan Heaney worked tirelessly to help organize the First Annual Southern Tier Film Festival, an event where students from five districts competed for a prize for the best film. All the teachers involved in Rural Visions collaborated to help plan, develop, and contribute to this amazing event. The film festival was advertised regionally through social media, local newspapers, and radio stations.
On the night of the event, parents came to see their children’s work and creativity. Teachers attended to see their student’s efforts. Administrators attended to see the work of their teachers and their students and to have an opportunity to relax and enjoy some great film. It was truly a community event where students showcased their videography skills, thoughtfulness, and ingenuity to a real audience and competed for a chance to bring their school home a traveling trophy.
The film festival showcased thirty student films over the course of three hours with breaks and refreshments offered between each of the hour sessions. The audience voted for their favorite films with one final vote at the end to determine the school winner.
Out of this amazing grass-roots effort, came a multitude of class projects which culminated in an annual film festival. This year’s Southern Tier Annual Film Festival will be held tentatively at Cuba-Rushford toward the end of the school year.
Many of the teachers involved in the summer institute went on to present their learning experience using digital video in their own classrooms at the New York State English Council ( NYSEC) Annual Conference in Albany, NY held in October this year. Projects ranged from research thesis statements to video poems, documentaries, film class projects, and six-word memoirs. Dr. Sullivan remarked, “It was a privilege seeing our teachers present what they are doing in their classrooms as a result of our summer institutes and how well received it was by their audience at NYSEC. Our teachers are becoming teacher leaders in the field in writing with video. We are also looking forward to seeing our teachers attending and presenting at NCTE in St. Louis later this month.”
If you have an interest in entering student work in this year’s Southern Tier Annual Film Festival or attending the festival in preparation for next year, please look out for upcoming announcements at your school district or contact Christina McGee at firstname.lastname@example.org or (716) 376-8281.
If you would like to learn more about the Writing with Video: Rural Voices Summer Institute, please contact Tim Clarke at 716-376-8321 or email@example.com.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
As the new school year approaches, teachers in several districts (Cuba Rushford, Andover, Franklinville, Whitesville, Olean, Fillmore and Cattaraugus – Little Valley) learn the importance of helping students improve a set of thinking skills known as executive function skills. “Human beings have a built in capacity to meet challenges and accomplish goals through the use of high-level cognitive functions called executive skills. These are the skills that help us to decide what activities or tasks we will pay attention to and which ones we’ll choose to do.” (Hart & Jacobs, 1993) These functions are a set of cognitive processes, such as focus, memory and self-control, which enable us to manage information and complete tasks.
CA BOCES provided professional development opportunities for teachers to improve how students learn and develop executive function skills during their K-12 education and beyond. Teachers were informed how to recognize students who struggle with executive weakness, and what strategies can assist students in developing these skills.
Knowing Cognitive Capacities
In order for teachers to target specific executive function skills, they must first be able to identify them. Our teachers researched and developed strategies for the following list of executive function skills:
Teachers reflected on how these skills might exist in the classroom. For example, Students with weak working memory are unable to remember and apply crucial information in order to move to the next step of a task. They often struggle when a task requires them to remember a series of directions, generate ideas in response to the directions and then express their ideas. Information just doesn’t “stick” for them. Once the teacher recognizes a student needs to work on working memory, they can develop a list of strategies to address this learning problem.
Teachers realize it’s important to recognize that the same strategy won’t work for each student. Some students work better with visual cues than verbal cues, for instance. Teachers must differentiate thinking strategies for each student to help them meet full learning potential.
Exercises for Executive Function Skills
There are a number of exercises to help students develop thinking skills. Practices can range from computer games to improve memory skills to physical tasks such as balancing. Here are just a few examples of how teachers in our district have worked with students to improve their executive function skills.
Organization and Planning
Teachers can help students to master these tasks by encouraging students to write down important assignments in a calendar and to allocate time accordingly. Students can be taught how to make lists of homework assignments. Students can be encouraged to use brightly colored folders to take home important papers (like homework and permission slips) to and from school, so those items don’t get lost.
For short-term assignments, encourage students to picture the end result of completing the task and the positive emotion that may be attached to it. Students and teachers can brainstorm ways to make assignments more interesting.
Feeling vocabulary can be taught through books by discussing the feelings the characters had and asking the student to make connections to his own experiences. When the student begins to experience strong emotions, allow them to identify it, validate it and provide a clear direction about what could be done instead of the negative behavior.
When it comes to improving executive function skills during the school day, a step in the right direction is to set up time and programs that are devoted to these strategies. It can take as little as two minutes before class or a full 30-minute session.
The group concluded that students with well-developed executive function skills really hold the foundation to success in school, with their peers, in college and for a career. These skills are what provide individuals with the capacity to meet challenges and accomplish goals! Collaboratively we recognized the responsibility educators have to build these skills in ALL students.
If you are interested in learning more about how to enhance these skills and promoting school and social success for ALL students, please contact CA BOCES (Laurie Sledge at 716-376-8357).
By: Marguerite Andrews and Deanna Wilkinson, CA BOCES Professional Development
The Scholastic Challenge Competition will be held on Saturday, February 4 at Portville Central School. This annual event, sponsored by Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES (Student Programs CoSer #506) will host 36 teams who will compete in a Junior Division and Senior Division, for grades 6-12.
Scholastic Challenge is a fast paced contest that tests knowledge of academic trivia and current events. Teams of four students measure their ability to recall details from a wide variety of topics.
Fourteen school districts will be participating in the double-elimination contest this year. This translates to about 200 students and coaches. Throughout the day, several thousand questions will be read aloud to these ambitious teams. Spectators are encouraged to watch the competitions. It’s exciting to see the students combine an impressive display of intelligence with camaraderie, graciousness and good sportsmanship.
The final matches will be held on stage in the Portville auditorium around 1:15-2:15. The first and second place teams in each division will be presented with plaques to recognize their achievements, as well as an invitation to attend the 2017 National Academic Championship.
This event requires about 40 volunteers to make the day run smoothly. CABOCES Student Programs is grateful to everyone who donates their time and experience to provide a fun and educational day for the students in our area. Scholastic Challenge could not happen without their help!
Congratulations to all the teams participating this year. Thank you to all coaches for mentoring and encouraging your students. The following school districts will be attending on Saturday, February 4:
At Whitesville CSD on Tuesday, May 10, teachers were exposed to various STEM related products and activities. Teachers explored, Little Bits, Coding Apps on the I pad, online resources through their SNAP account and a Global Design Squad activity entitled; Seismic Shake-Up with staff specialists from CABOCES. Over the past several years, STEM/STEAM has become increasingly important within the school curriculum. Research has stated, that STEM education is important for our students to be competitive in the workforce. According to the National Department of Education:
The United States has developed as a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers, and innovators. In a world that’s becoming increasingly complex, where success is driven not only by what you know, but by what you can do with what you know, it’s more important than ever for our youth to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information. These are the types of skills that students learn by studying science, technology, engineering, and math—subjects collectively known as STEM.
One activity explored with Karen Insley of CABOCES was the Seismic Shake-Up! In this activity, students/teachers think about the need for earthquake resistant structures around the world, and determine what it takes to make a structure that is strong enough to withstand an earthquake. Through collaboration, design, problem solving, testing and researching; students learn and explore what it takes a to design and build a structure that can withstand an earthquake.
A second activity the teachers dove into was Coding with Clay Nolan from Learning Resources at CABOCES. Coding is one of the hot phrases of today and is important for ALL students to be exposed to programming as early as kindergarten. According to Eric Missio of the National Parent/Teacher organization states:
Coding (also called programming or developing) is telling a computer, app, phone or website what you want it to do. Some educators and experts are calling it the ‘new literacy’--a subject so important that every child needs to know the basics to excel in our rapidly changing world. Four- and five-year-olds can learn the foundations of coding and computer commands before they can even write and spell words. Older kids can learn to code through classes, mentors and online tutorials (see below for learn-to-code resources for all ages).
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, for most kid-coding advocates, reasons for learning to code run much deeper than career prep.
Clay’s session started with the basics of human coding and advanced to applying this basic knowledge to a coding app or coding program on the ipad. The teachers began to make a code for other teams to follow in order to build a tower out of cups. The basic concepts of human code allows teachers and students to practice and understand the language of a coding program better. After the towers were built by following the developed codes, teachers explored two coding apps: Hopscotch and Code.org.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development
As our society becomes increasingly dependent on engineering and technology, it is more important than ever that everyone be aware of what engineers do and understand the uses and implications of the technologies they create. Yet few American citizens are technologically literate, largely because technology and engineering have not been taught in our schools (Pearson, 2004).
Children (and many adults) know shockingly little about technology and engineering. In fact, the vast majority believe the term “technology” refers only to electronics and computers and that engineering and science are basically the same (Lachapelle and Cunningham, 2007; Pearson and Young, 2002). To understand the human-made world in which we live, it is vital that we increase engineering and technological literacy among all people, even young children!
Children are born engineers—they are fascinated with designing their own creations, with taking things apart, and with figuring out how things work. In 2003, the Engineering is Elementary (EiE, www.mos.org/eie) project was initiated to take advantage of the natural curiosity of all children to cultivate their understanding and problem-solving in engineering and technology.
On January 29, the Pk-5 Whitesville Elementary teachers took part in a mini-workshop with Clay Nolan (CABOCES staff specialist for Learning Resources) about the new NYS science standards and how to incorporate engineering and hands on projects in the elementary classroom. Teachers were asked to design an earthquake-resistant building, integrating 21st century skills in a STEM activity.
The Activity; After watching Twig films about earthquakes, each group will invent an earthquake-resistant building and test the efficiency of the building according to certain criteria and constraints with the option of being reinvented. Students will also act as entrepreneurs by using job-readiness skills that enhance workplace productivity and career options based on what they learn from constructing the earthquake-resistant building. Finally, they will briefly engage with financial education and the economy in society by constructing a budget. The final activity was to reflect and collaborate their viewpoints and assess their peer’s presentation or writing.
The PK-5 teachers at the workshop reflected how engaging the activity was and how kids used various skills and content to complete the activity. Teachers noted that the students would be working and problem solving with their peers and learning the idea of trial and error, construction, mathematics, reflection and the idea that it may not work the first 5 times, but that is all part of the process of learning.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES and Whitesville Central School
Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES, Greater Southern Tier BOCES and Alfred University’s Department of Education joined forces to provide insight into a new and exciting way to teach art for over 45 art teachers in the area.
Officially known as choice-based art education, the method has grown in its number of practitioners over the last few years. Several of these teachers who have incorporated this style of teaching in their classrooms have started a group known as TAB – Teaching For Artistic Behavior. The classroom becomes a studio and the students become artists and the teacher is a facilitator of artistic experiences for each individual student.
Anne Bedrick, teacher, author and artist was the keynote speaker for this day-long seminar. Anne is the author of the e-book CHOICE WITHOUT CHAOS. In her book she includes numerous images and video clips of how she uses choice-based art in her K-4 classroom at Rye Country Day School in Rye, New York. For the seminar she gave a more in depth view of her book and its contents. Ms. Bedrick also presented her story of how she “discovered” TAB and how she transitioned into it and the trials and tribulations associated with it as it is much different from the teacher-directed learning in traditional art classrooms. Throughout her presentation she answered questions as well as a question and answer period at the end of her presentation. Also included in the seminar were presentations by some area teachers who are familiar with TAB and are currently using it in their classrooms. Andy Reddout, an elementary art teacher from Bloomfield Central School and Chris Brown, a K-12 art teacher from Whitesville Central School each gave a presentation on their own personal experiences using choice-based art education. Corrie Burdick, Art Education Professor at Alfred University, and graduate assistant Liz VanHouter also gave a brief presentation on choice-based art education and its effects over various educational settings.
After lunch the teachers were treated to a glass-blowing demonstration by Angus Powers and his students in the glass blowing studio in newly renovated Harder Hall. Teachers were also given a brief tour of the renovations. Upon returning to the Knight Club on the AU campus to continue the seminar the teachers organized into groups (elementary, middle and high school) and had a roundtable discussions on how choice could affect assessment, APPR and strategies to use choice in their classrooms. Many teachers left more enlightened about choice-based education and its principles and eager to learn more and even experiment with it in their classrooms.
This program would not have been possible without the help of CABOCES, GST BOCES, Alfred University and Corrie Burdick who has been a key figure in promoting choice-based education and its benefits to area students and teachers.
By: Chris Brown, Whitesville CSD Art Teacher K-12
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
Come into the art room at Whitesville Central School where students choose how to express their ideas. The children in elementary art class are busy making their personal works of art. The ideas and energy of these students have fueled the teaching setting of choice-based art. Every week, over a hundred students use the studio classroom and choose the material that will best express their artistic ideas.
The classroom is full of activity and the noise level is conducive to artistic thought. All the students are engaged and on task either working alone or in a small group. Children know where to find the materials and how to set up their own work space. At the end of class, each student is responsible for clean- up. Many forms of sharing, reflection and celebration take place at the end of each class.
One of the fundamental benefits of choice based art programs is the support, space and time that teachers provide children to realize and exercise freedom of thought. Choice Based Art promotes student inquiry, self-expression and creativity. This transition at Whitesville Central School has been supported by a partnership with Alfred University Pre-Service Teachers who are also engaged in Choice Based pedagogy. If you would like to learn more about Choice Based Art, please feel free to contact Chris Brown at Whitesville Central School or Corrie Burdick at Alfred University.
By: Tessa Levitt, CA BOCES Professional Development and Whitesville Curriculum Coordinator