GV BOCES School Improvement

August 2022 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.

Upcoming GV BOCES Featured Speakers

Really Great Reading: Decoding & The Emerging Reader (Grades K-1)


Join us for a fast-paced, hands-on, activity-based professional development workshop with Really Great Reading®. This workshop provides tools that help schools build strong literacy foundations in primary grades. The professional development day features diagnostic assessments, a data-based grouping system, and state-of-the-art foundational literacy skills instruction. The approach discussed in the workshop can be used to supplement early reading instruction. Educators will develop strategies to ensure your emerging readers will establish firm foundations in the subskills that lead to strong decoding and fluent reading. Really Great Reading® specializes in helping educators teach these foundational skills to build confident decoders.

Educators will leave our workshops with:

● An understanding of why students struggle with decoding and the impact this has on long term success

● Knowledge of how to teach phoneme play, letter-sound relationships, encoding, decoding, onset rhyme, rhyming, and sight word fluency

● The most efficient methods for helping young students read developmentally appropriate unfamiliar and multi-syllable words

● Assessment tools and background knowledge needed to effectively measure decoding skills in primary students

Date: August 17, 2022

Really Great Reading: Decoding and The Struggling Reader


Join us for a fast-paced, hands-on, activity-based professional development workshop! Participants will learn immediate strategies to help struggling readers practice what good readers do naturally: pay attention to every word, read with a high rate of accuracy, and use strategies for attacking unfamiliar and multi-syllable words. This workshop will provide tools that can help schools build strong literacy foundations in primary grades and help remediate decoding issues in upper elementary, middle, and high school students, while featuring diagnostic assessments, a data-based grouping system, and state-of-the-art foundational literacy skills instruction based on the resources from Really Great Reading®.

Educators will leave the workshop with:

● An understanding of why students struggle with decoding and the impact this has on comprehension

● Tools and background knowledge needed to effectively diagnose decoding issues in students of all ages

● Resources needed to group students for instruction that will yield the greatest improvements

● Functional teaching strategies to provide effectively, age/grade-appropriate decoding instruction in grades K-12

Date: August 18, 2022

Daniel Willingham: Why Knowledge Matters


Most educators agree that the goal of education is effective thinking: being able to solve problems, engage with new ideas critically, and generate new, creative ideas. Over the last forty years, cognitive psychologists have gathered increasing evidence that these mental processes depend on and are intertwined with factual knowledge. In other words, it’s much easier to be a strong problem-solver when the question concerns a topic you know a lot about. In this talk I’ll explain the relationship between knowledge and thinking processes in reading, math, and science, focusing especially on the classroom implications throughout schooling.

When children start school, it is completely up to the teacher to see to it that students learn. But as they grow older, they become increasingly responsible for their own learning. They must learn how to read complicated texts independently, and not just for comprehension, but to remember the contents. They must learn to avoid distraction, commit content to memory, take notes, judge when they have studied enough, avoid procrastination, and more. Studies show that most college students use very inefficient strategies for most of these tasks. In this talk, he will summarize research from the last twenty years on a subset of these tasks, focusing on practical applications that can be communicated to students so that they can regulate their learning more efficiently.

Date: September 28, 2022
Click the link below view ALL of the featured speakers for the 2022-2023 school year.

NYSED Releases 3-8 Educator Guides

The information contained in the Educator Guides are designed to raise educator awareness regarding the structure of the 2023 New York State, Grades 3–8 English Language Arts/Mathematics Tests, which are aligned to the New York State Next Generation Learning Standards. The guides provide educators with pertinent information about the 2023 test development process, the learning standards that the tests are designed to measure, and the format of the testing sessions, which includes what types of questions will be asked and the suggested length of the testing. Links to additional resources are provided to further enhance educators’ understanding of the structure of the English Language Arts/Mathematics tests. Educators are encouraged to review the guides, prior to the test administration, to gain familiarity with the test format. The information presented can also be used as a platform for educator discussion on how to best utilize student assessment results to guide future instruction. Questions regarding the New York State Testing Program and test design may be addressed to: emscassessinfo@nysed.gov. Questions regarding the New York State Learning Standards may be addressed to: emscurric@nysed.gov.

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!

Focus-ing on Authentic Literacy Across the Disciplines

Disciplinary literacy can be defined as the ability to use reading, speaking and writing for the acquisition of new content in a given discipline. It focuses on the ways of thinking, the skills, and the tools that are used by experts in the disciplines (Shanahan & Shanahan, 2012). With many content standards looming, it's easy to focus only on the content we teach, as opposed to advancing levels of student literacy. Yet, the latter is imperative at aiming to improve job performance, run households, display civic readiness, and successfully conduct and attend to personal matters. If you are a math, history, science, or art teacher, where does literacy fit into your instruction? It’s common to believe that literacy instruction is solely the charge of language arts teachers, but, frankly, this just is not so.

There are many notable obstacle that interfere with effective teaching, that prevent employing disciplinary literacy. Several of those obstacles are listed below…

  • Differentiated instruction

  • Ever-present worksheets

  • Response to intervention “more popular than proven”

  • Project- or discovery-based learning

  • Excessive group work

  • Complex teacher evaluation templates

  • Excessive dependence on technology (Schmoker, 2018, p. 80-91).

Schmoker has noted that these obstacles often move to the forefront of educators’ motivation, and dilute their much-needed attention to the things that matter most: a guaranteed and viable curriculum, sound lessons, and attention to literacy-based instruction (2018). Two key resources to reimaging literacy-based instruction include employing Schmoker’s Basic Elements of Effective Teaching (p. 92) and utilizing Two Simple Templates (p.94-112). Shifting the focus to these sound curricular and instructional measures ultimately impassion student learning across the disciplines.

These concepts will be discussed, in-depth, at the Genesee Valley BOCES Leadership Institute breakout session called: “FOCUS-ing on Authentic Literacy Across the Disciplines.” We hope to see you there!

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 are the key to everyone's success!

Regional Summer Program Highlight

This summer has been a busy time for professional learning at Genesee Valley BOCES, but you wouldn’t know it by looking in the primary conference room. Instead, as Room E receives a contemporary makeover, the School Improvement Team has utilized asynchronous instruction to reach the teachers of the region’s summer programs. Starting in June, teachers or district administrators had the opportunity to enroll in one of two registration periods, depending on their summer program’s start date. Participants had the opportunity to select credit hours of interest from a diverse menu of offerings. Some sessions include: The Science of Reading, Student Engagement Tasks, Mathematics concepts and standards-based courses, Cognitive Science, as well as research-proven instructional frameworks. The School Improvement Team offered 22 sessions that yielded approximately 150 participants. Each session employed a variety of online resources, such as Smore newsletter, Loom Hybrid Workplace, and Genesee Valley’s own Professional Learning Service (gvpls.org), colloquially known as “Learn Dash”. The benefit of this method is that school districts can hone in on the professional development that is more relevant to the needs of their students, in order to implement the most-appropriate, local curriculum. In total, there were 12 component districts that partnered with the School Improvement Team to support the preparation of their summer program faculty.

School Improvement Professional Learning for 2022-2023

Don't forget to check out the PLS 2022-2023 Catalog!

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.

Need Support?

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