GV BOCES School Improvement

December 2021 Newsletter

News You Can Use

Embedded in the School Improvement (SI) newsletter you will find important updates, information, and resources from the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) & your regional Joint Management Team BOCES (Monroe 1 BOCES, Monroe 2 BOCES, Genesee Valley BOCES & Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES). Below are direct links that assist with staying current regarding news and changes at the state level.

Online Examination Request System Closes December 10th

The online examination request system for the 2022 Grades 3-8 English Language Arts and Mathematics Tests and the Grades 4 and 8 Science Tests will close Friday, December 10, 2021.

Please place your request via the online examination request system before it closes. If you have been issued a username and password, you may submit your school’s online requests immediately via the online examination request system, https://portal.nysed.gov/abp

Principals who encounter any difficulty in placing their requests, or who have questions about how to do so, should call the Operations Group at 518-474-8220 or email examrequest@nysed.gov.

Upcoming Featured Speakers

Dr. Luvelle Brown

Title: Virtual Equity Series


Dr. Luvelle Brown, known for his experience in building and leading culturally responsive learning environments, will challenge participants with hard questions, and deep reflection to develop equitable, empathetic, culturally responsive, and inclusive learning environments. Participants can expect that best-practice examples from Dr. Brown's own nationally recognized work will be shared, as well as demonstrations on how to lead and activate change in your schools among colleagues, staff, and the broader community. Below is a breakdown of each synchronous virtual session.

January 12, 2022: Cultivating a culture of love, liberation, and belonging: Evaluating your system with an equity lens

February 14, 2022: Addressing unconscious bias in schools

March 23, 2022: Evaluating and creating local policy through a responsive, loving, and equitable lens

Patrice Bain

Title: Powerful Teaching

Description: Have you had students struggle to remember what was taught the previous year, semester, or even the last month? Have you had students internalize failure, thinking they won’t succeed because they’re “not smart”? There are reasons, researched reasons, why this happens. Patrice Bain, a veteran teacher and co-author of Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning, knows the rigor required for the classroom. Having worked with cognitive scientists for over fifteen years, Bain developed teaching strategies based on robust research that improves learning. Best of all, these strategies don’t add to teachers’ already filled plates but will streamline what they are already doing. In this engaging and interactive workshop, Patrice Bain will unlock the research and provide evidence-based strategies that will transform your teaching so that all students will be successful learners.

In this workshop, educators will:

  • Learn the research behind: retrieval, spacing, interleaving, and feedback-driven metacognition

  • Understand how cognitive load, working memory, and desirable difficulties play a role in learning

  • Discern learning “myths” vs. “truths”

  • Grasp how simple changes to what they are already doing will increase student learning

  • Leave the workshop with a repertoire of tools and strategies that can be used the following day

Date: February 3, 2022

Location: Genesee Community College (GCC)

1 College Rd, Batavia, NY 14020

Conable Technology Building Room T102

Time: 8:30-3:00

NYSED Continues to Support CRS-E

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) continues to support districts across New York with creating and sustaining a Culturally Responsive Framework. The Department is offering three Raising Awareness Professional Development Toolkits that can be utilized by school districts. The Toolkits include presentation slides and turnkey resources for a variety of stakeholders. Local districts can customize the presentations to meet their needs.

Continue Your Professional Learning

The School Improvement (SI) newsletter also strives to continue professional learning for school administrators, teachers, and staff even from afar. This section of the newsletter will provide readers with timely and relevant learning aligned to evidence-based practices. If you would like more on topics outlined in the newsletter, please contact the SI department. Our contact information is located at the bottom of the newsletter. Enjoy!

Is Interleaving Just Spacing by a Different Name?

While it is clear that spaced and interleaved practice can have tremendous effect on student learning (Agarwal & Bain, 2019; Dunlosky et. al., 2013; Rohrer, 2012; Willingham, 2014), it is not always clear what is different between interleaved and spaced practice. These two concepts are certainly related, however, “the difference between interleaving and spacing is subtle but critical” (Rohrer, 2012, p. 3). Clarity on the differences between the two practices, specifically regarding what, when, and how to leverage them, can increase the impact of their use as tools for learning.

Spacing is a relatively straightforward concept-- “engaging in retrieval practice multiple times, while also engaging in those retrievals over time” (Agarwal & Bain, 2019, p. 93). Spacing specifically refers to the timing of the scheduling of retrieval; additionally, it refers to retrieval episodes concerned with one concept. Interleaving, often referred to as “mixing things up” (Agarwal & Bain, 2019), differs from spacing in two important ways: it is predicated on retrieval exposures of multiple concepts (Rohrer, 2012) and it focuses on comparing and contrasting related concepts (Tait, 2020). Figure 1, from Firth (2018), provides a helpful illustration of
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interleaved practice versus the traditional blocked practice approach. To make the figure more concrete, let letters ABCD represent the operations of mathematics Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division. There is a greater need for discrimination in the interleaved example than the blocked example, which, according to current research, results in improved learning.

While “mixing things up” is part of implementing interleaved practice, what gets mixed up is pivotal. Agarwal and Agostinelli (2020) argue that, “For interleaving, it’s not the format of the practice problems that matters; it’s the underlying concepts. If you want students to discriminate carefully, interleave practice problems that look alike but require different strategies” (p. 27). From a practical perspective, the authors note something important-- interleaving needs to focus on the concept being learned, which gets away from being able to answer questions, without reading them, in a plug-and-chug predictable fashion.

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Perhaps an easy way to conceptualize the subtle difference between spaced and interleaved practice is to consider this as a maxim: All interleaved practice is spaced, but not all spaced practice is interleaved. Employing interleaved practice in the classroom can produce significant learning when leveraged appropriately. However, there are important caveats to consider when looking to implement interleaving as an instructional tool: not everything can be mixed up, multiple representations of the same concept does not equal interleaving, and scaffolds (perhaps in the initial form of blocked practice) may need to be provided (Agarwal & Bain, 2019, Agarwal & Agostinelli, 2020; Rohrer, 2012). After considering these conditions, the best idea is to jump in and give interleaving a try...what is there to lose?

Firth, J. W. (2018). The application of spacing and interleaving approaches in the classroom. Impact: Journal of the Chartered College of Teaching, 2018(2), 23-26.

School Improvement Spotlights

School Improvement (SI) takes great pride in the work we do at the state level, regionally, and when working directly with component districts. This section of the newsletter offers insight into the work SI does and provides recognition to local districts that strive for continuous school improvement. Partnerships and collaboration is the key to everyone's success!

GV BOCES Hosts Graham Fletcher

On Friday, November 19 the Genesee Valley BOCES School Improvement Team hosted Graham Fletcher at the Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES campus in Spencerport. Seventy-five mathematics teachers and specialists from Monroe 1, Monroe 2-Orleans, Wayne-Finger Lakes, and the Genesee Valley BOCES regions were able to attend the full-day session.
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Graham Fletcher is a math teacher, instructional leader, and a math specialist who searches for ways to support students and mathematics teachers in their development of deep conceptual understanding. His expertise includes modeling instructional and assessment practices that work best to promote a healthy balance between application, conceptual understanding, and procedural fluency.

Oftentimes in classrooms students have great difficulty solving mathematics word problems because they can’t make any sense of them. They don’t trust or make use of their own thinking. They freeze up or do any calculation that pops into their head, without thinking, “does this actually make sense?” Check this video out demonstrating this exact point. Students struggle to find ways to check their work or test their assumptions. They miss key information in the problem. They don’t understand the “story” of the problem. Problem-based lessons can help students try to make sense of the math.

Graham Fletcher provided one solution for teachers: create an environment where students focus on sharing their thoughts without any pressure to answer or solve any problem. Student thinking can be gathered by way of using 3 Act-Math Tasks coupled with analyzing student work to identify where students are along a progression of conceptual learning and understanding. Graham said that utilizing 3-Act Math Tasks gives students a “license to think.” When teachers engage students with a 3-Act Task they are given a chance to make sense of mathematics and engage with the Standards for Mathematical Practice. Those standards include making sense of problems and persevere in solving them, construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others, and also use modeling with mathematics.

In order for a 3-Act Math Task to be successful, students’ mathematical thinking should be discovered by asking two questions: "What do you notice? What do you wonder?" Graham says, “we must build anticipation in our students by withholding information that may typically be provided upfront in a textbook or on a worksheet.” Once we have built anticipation through the withholding of information, we can now empower student voice and reasoning. This puts any differentiation made by the teacher on hold. The 3 Act Task acts as a pre-assessment to help teachers first find exactly what students already know and are able to do. The process of sense making begins when we create classrooms full of curious students' thoughts and ideas. We try to avoid pre-teaching rules, steps, and procedures in order to allow students to apply prior knowledge and show you what they know.

If you’ve never heard of a 3 Act Math Task, Dan Meyer explains why Math Class Needs a Makeover as he challenges teachers “to be much less helpful.”

A 3-Act Math Task is a whole-group mathematics task consisting of three distinct parts: an engaging and perplexing Act 1, an information and solution seeking Act 2, and a solution discussion and solution revealing Act 3.

  • Act 1: It’s visual. It’s perplexing. Students are asked to look at a picture or watch a video. This is followed by a teacher asking, “What do you notice/wonder?” and determine which question(s) will be immediately pursued by the class.

  • Act 2: Students gather information, draw on mathematical knowledge, understanding, and resources to answer the big question(s) from Act 1. The teacher provides any of the important information they will need to answer their questions.

  • Act 3: This is the Big Reveal! The teacher shows the answer and validates students’ estimates/solutions/answers. The teacher compares techniques and strategies used, and allows students to determine which are most efficient.

Follow School Improvement on Twitter

Don’t forget that you can follow the School Improvement Team (SIT) on Twitter. The team is often posting information about upcoming professional learning opportunities, educational resources, and strategies for the classroom. You can stay in tune with what is happening at Genesee Valley BOCES and the SIT by following #gvbocessit.

2021-2022 Regional Professional Learning Opportunities

Registration for upcoming regional professional learning opportunities can be accessed through the links below. Check out the various opportunities the School Improvement Team is offering during the 2021-2022 school year. We look forward to seeing you in the upcoming months!

2021-2022 GV BOCES Catalog Frontline (MyLearningPlan)

Direct Link To Frontline (MyLearningPlan)

Need Support?

Please direct all requests for service to the Director of School Improvement, Stephanie Burns at 585.344.7923.