GV BOCES School Improvement
March 2023 Newsletter
Upcoming GV BOCES Featured Speakers
Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester
Title: Four-Day Science Series
The Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester is offering a regional four-day professional learning institute to support educators, and improve the learning and teaching of science and engineering in K-12 settings. This series is an integrated institute that develops teacher understanding of the Next Generation Science practices and 3D learning as described in A Framework for Science Education. Below you will find an outline of the four-day series.
Session #1: March 14, 2023
In this introductory session, participants will engage in an investigative experience as a learner with embedded metacognitive stops for reflection on student learning implications.
Session #2: March 21, 2023
This sense-making session will engage participants in deepening their understanding of 3-D Learning.
Session #3: March 23, 2023
Learning labs are in-person learning experiences that happen in a classroom setting with students. These embedded experiences showcase exemplary teaching to provide a "modified lesson study” of a 3-D, phenomenon-based lesson in conjunction with the institute sessions. The structure of a learning lab consists of 1. Planning Session (Pre-Lesson) 2. In-class (fishbowl with students) 3. Post-debrief Session
Session #4: April 13, 2023
This session will allow for reflection on the learning lab with a focus on applying the learning to teachers' own lessons and unit construction.
**Lunch is included in the cost for all four dates.
Location: Caledonia Mumford CSD
Intended Audience: Intermediate/High School Science Teachers & Administrators
Paul Andersen is an educational consultant and YouTube creator living in Bozeman, MT. Paul is an experienced educator having taught science in Montana for 20 years. Paul was the 2011 Montana Teacher of the Year, and was also one of four finalists for the 2011 National Teacher of the Year. In addition to teaching, Paul has created hundreds of YouTube science tutorials that have been viewed millions of times by students around the world. Paul has provided training for thousands of students, teachers, and administrators around the world. Paul enjoys providing meaningful professional development that can be applied immediately in the classroom. Learn more about Mr. Andersen here!
Title: Unlocking the Power of the Next Generation Science Standards
Description: This workshop will focus on the best practices of science instruction including; modeling instruction, argument-driven inquiry, phenomenon-based instruction, and the science and engineering practices contained in the New York State Science Learning Standards (NYSSLS). Special consideration will be given to the cross-cutting concepts as both a thematic and practical lens to drive scientific inquiry. Participants will engage in scientific inquiry that is guided by authentic assessments and best practices. Come and experience this form of 3-dimensional instruction with Paul Andersen as your guide. Explore the wonders of science as you rediscover the curiosity that guided your childhood. Teachers should come prepared to do science!
Date: March 16, 2023
Genesee Valley BOCES
80 Munson Street
LeRoy, NY 14482
Intended Audience: PreK - 12 Science Educators & Administrators
Investigate the Science Investigations with BOCES 4 Science
News You Can Use
Recommendations for Reforming School Discipline: NYSED
In August, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Office of Student Support Services engaged a group of key stakeholders, The Safe Schools Task Force (SSTF), to explore a broad range of issues related to school safety in New York State, including the effect of exclusionary discipline on students. The most significant goal set forth by the SSTF was for districts to acknowledge that exclusionary discipline, whether short-term or long-term suspension and/or in-school or out-of-school suspension, has long-term, cumulative, and negative effects on students—especially our students of color and with disabilities—and does nothing to solve the underlying issue(s), or root causes, that caused the initial misbehavior. As a result of the SSTF’s exploration and work, three key recommendations were developed:
restricting the use of exclusionary discipline for the youngest students, except under extraordinary circumstances;
limiting the use of exclusionary discipline for subjective, minor infractions; or limiting the length of time students may be suspended that may only be exceeded in extraordinary circumstances; and
reframing existing statutory language to shift from a retributive, punitive structure to one that helps students to learn from their mistakes and receive the supports they need to stay in class.
Below you will find several helpful links to learn more about NYSED’s vision for reducing disparities and reforming school discipline, and opportunities to engage with local regional leaders in reform discussions.
Preparing for 3-8 NYSED Assessments
Preparing for Computer-Based-Testing
As the New York State Education Department (NYSED) continues to transition to computer-based testing (CBT), schools are making efforts to provide opportunities for students, teachers, and administrators to become familiar with the testing system, prior to full-scale implementation. The Question Sampler is one resource that allows such familiarity and offers practice with specific tools such as the Equation Editor Drawing Tool. Here, students can practice using the tool to "draw your work" to provide an answer for math-constructed responses (Find a quick reference guide here). Of note, Questar is universally supporting touchscreens, in conjunction with an allowed stylus, as input for iPads, Windows, and Chromebook devices. The model and timeline for NYSED’s planned implementation are shown below.
Continued Professional Learning
The School Improvement (SI) newsletter strives to continue providing professional learning for school administrators, teachers, and staff that fit your district's needs. This section of the newsletter will provide readers with timely and relevant learning aligned with evidence-based practices. If you would like more professional learning on topics outlined in the newsletter, please contact the SI department. Our contact information is located at the bottom of the newsletter. Enjoy!
Supporting Schools As Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT Become Prevalent
Christopher Harris, EdD
Director, School Library System, Model Schools Technologies,
Online Learning for Genesee Valley BOCES. Le Roy, New York
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is shorthand for a Chatbot-based Generative PreTrained Transformer. It uses a back and forth conversational chatbot interface, thus the Chat in ChatGPT. The GPT part means that the program behind the AI is generative in that it can create new content by mimicking sources from its vast repository of data on which it was pre-trained. ChatGPT doesn’t pull directly from the internet, but rather it uses the dataset on which it was trained. That dataset was closed in 2021, so ChatGPT is not great with current events. The pre-training also helped the programmers guide the learning for the AI so that it can avoid learning inaccurate or harmful information that can be found online and can disrupt AI usefulness.
The best way to prepare for ChatGPT is to have introduced a comprehensive curriculum around computational thinking five years ago. The second best way is to introduce computational thinking instruction today. It is imperative that staff and students understand how generative artificial intelligence (AI) works and how we can most effectively use it to advance our work. Professional development should focus on the computational understanding aspects of state computer science and digital fluency learning standards. Instruction for students should focus on the ethics of using AI to assist with work. Finally, it will be critical to include parents as partners in learning about this new technology so they can reinforce messages about the ethical use of the AI at home. What we don’t want is for students or staff to come to rely blindly on the AI to plagiarize their work. Instead, districts need to adopt policies and practices that set expectations for use, establish clear limits, define responses for infractions, and allow a level of flexibility for changes that are sure to come in the near future as generative AI expands.
Below you will find the full article & a short video to use at your schools for discussion.
School Improvement Spotlights
Write Like… Me!
This past Superintendent’s Conference Day, teachers at Caledonia-Mumford (Cal-Mum) High School reimagined the purpose, instruction, and selection of mentor texts with enhancements from direct instruction. This focus intended to shift the practice of selecting and analyzing published works to modeling and composing authentic teacher-created, curricular examples. This change was also intended to offer students greater-utility in their own composition by developing a focus on sentence-level skills as opposed to developing literary element and technique knowledge.
Making a switch to having a focus on sentence-level work is extremely beneficial to teaching the writing process. As Hochman and Wexler say, “A writer who can’t compose a decent sentence will never produce a decent essay-- or even a decent paragraph. [...] Sentence-level writing shouldn’t be dismissed as something that’s too basic for older students to engage in” (2017, p. 10). Furthermore, when layered with the content of the curriculum, sentence-level strategies can also be complex formative assessment tools.
Many students have already gained significant exposure to Language Functions across multi-disciplinary curricula. Language Functions refer to what students do with language as they engage with content to interact with others. The active use of language for a specific purpose connects to: expressing ideas, communicating with others, and showing understanding of content. The most frequent purposes in academic settings, which are also cross-cutting elements, include:
Justify, persuade, argue
Inform, explain, compare
Retell, describe, summarize
These functions (i.e. rhetorically highlighted as the purpose) should be part of the direct-instruction, think-aloud and planning processes, before prewriting and planning even begin. If it does not happen explicitly, fortunately these considerations may occur implicitly through knowledge-building and encoding strategies of curricular content.
To a far less degree, students do not typically receive as robust instruction on the English Forms, which clearly benefit their sentence development and syntax variation, not to mention their success in communicating simple to complex ideas. The forms, also known as English structures, are utilized in order to communicate different functions (or purposes). Forms can vary depending on proficiency and practice. Consider the variation and sophistication of the following forms, that all have the same general purpose (of informing/explaining)…
The water is hot. It is not boiling.
The water is hot, but it is not boiling.
Although the water is hot, it is not boiling.
As each form essentially contains the same information, there is an apparent increase in the level of sophistication and control as we progress down the list. Knowledge and variation of forms assists in achieving this writing goal. Forms often vary, depending on the audience of a piece, but they can also be integrated and combined to create syntactically interesting and developed sentences. Having working knowledge of both functions and forms greatly assists students in their planning and drafting stages of composition. So, where is a natural place to draw increased attention to this level of instruction? Mentor Texts.
A nationally recognized strategy that also became popular across the region to many ELA instructors is Kelly Gallagher’s (2011) three-step approach of: Reading, Analyzing, and Emulating a mentor text. This older approach still echoes in more contemporary instructional strategies, such as Dollins (2020) E.A.S.E. strategy. See Figure 1 to identify the two overlapping pedagogical approaches:
From an analysis level, there are many positive instructional qualities to both of these strategies. However, when considering the yield in which the analysis offers to student composition, the strategies become increasingly less effective. When literary elements and techniques are highlighted as the piece for analysis, students often identify narrow opportunities for emulation. Looking back at Dollins (2020) example, most English teachers would agree that a student selecting to “[make their writing] funny and fast,” has very little utility and application other than short and shallow dives in creative writing. Truthfully, such an envisioned emulation plan does not (positively) move the barometer very far when considering the standards-based and 21st-century-inspired prompts, which direct students to engage in: narrative writing, informational writing, persuasive writing, argumentative writing, criticisms, lab reports, inquiry responses, professional letters, digital communication, and newsletter articles, and assessment writing, to name a few.
Therefore, instead of focusing on knowledge attainment of literary elements and techniques (e.g. alliteration) during a writing lab, which alternatively can be studied through Tier-3 vocabulary, teachers should consider how to “revolutionize” the usage of mentor texts and shifting their purpose to analyzing English Forms (i.e. sentence structures) instead. Observe Figure 2 (below) to compare the traditional use of analyzing techniques and elements compared to identifying and creating specific sentence types:
Within their study, teachers learned a variety of English Forms, how to identify or create them, how to explicitly teach students to emulate them, and how to model composition from both published or in-the-moment constructed examples by using Hochman’s and Wexler’s (2017) The Writing Revolution sentence-level strategies. Ultimately, teachers identified more powerful instruction with less preparation time.
In making this shift, an older Gallagher philosophy also was resurrected as a guiding principle. Cal-Mum educators acknowledged the adage that:
“I am the best writer in my classroom. You are the best writer in your classroom. Our students don’t need the best writer in their classrooms to assign writing; they need the best writer in their classrooms to sit smack dab in the middle of those rooms and model the wrestling match we go through to produce worthwhile writing.”
With this mindset and knowledge and attention to explicitly teaching English Forms (through a variety of sentence structures), educators were prepared to make their writing the center-point of the classroom to offer children the high-utility writing moves they desperately need to become better at planning, drafting, and composing.
Leadership Institute 2023: Registration and More!
Every year, the Genesee Valley BOCES Professional Learning Services, in conjunction with the Superintendent Instructional Sub-Committee (SISC), plan and design a regional leadership opportunity. The event, well-known as Leadership Institute, will take place at Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville, NY, on August 2nd and 3rd. Please click the link below to learn more about the registration process, keynote speaker, event agenda, team accommodations, and much more.
School Improvement Professional Learning for 2022-2023
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.
Location: 80 Munson Street, Le Roy, NY, USA