Rigor and Relevance in PBL – How do we get there?

© OCM BOCES Instuctional Support

I was in a coaching session with a team of middle school teachers that had been trained in the Buck Institute for Education’s (BIE) model of Project Based Leaning (PBL) and we were reviewing their PBL plan when a teacher asked, “How do we know if the products we are thinking of would be the best choices for this project?” As a visual learner, I quickly thought of an easy way to show the importance of the alignment between the standards, the driving question (DQ) and the public products in PBL. To get to a Gold Standard level of PBL, we know that this is an important aspect of creating an engaging project that is rigorous and relevant for students. Continue reading

Professional Learning Communities

Several years ago, I was introduced to the concept of Professional Learning Communities (PLC) when I attended a PLC at Work conference in Syracuse in July, hosted by OCM BOCES. My colleagues and I saw how PLC would address so many of the issues in our district. We were pumped with this new information and could not wait to get started. In fact, we were so anxious to get started we worked a week in August with the intent to roll out a PLC in September. I realize now that we were rather naïve in our thinking of PLC—treating it like a thing, a quick-fix strategy—and that we were ready to implement without planning for implementation and how to sustain growth in our organization. If I were to go back in time and work with my former colleagues, I would recommend that we collaboratively plan using the following questions proposed by Solution Tree around foundational PLC themes: Continue reading

Math Fluency-Is There a Speed Limit?

When I was in elementary school in the 1950’s there was a reading program called SRA. Looking back after all these years, the intent of this program, it seems to me, was to increase reading speed and comprehension. My buddies were a level ahead of me, so I tried to read faster to catch up with them, but my comprehension suffered. The faster I tried to read, the more frustrated I became. As a result, during my career as a high school math teacher, I was very apprehensive of anything that even hinted at doing something fast. Continue reading

Meet the Mid-State RBERN Team!

Dear Educators of ELLs,

We hope that the start up of the 2016-2017 academic school year has been successful. We at Mid-State RBERN are incredibly excited about the new year. This year promises to be a year of great opportunities as Mid-State RBERN strives to explore ways to better support your districts’ ELL-specific needs. New pathways that have opened so far this year include the establishment of a satellite office at BT BOCES ISC to serve the Southern Tier region as well as being identified as a NYSED CTLE sponsor. In addition, Mid-State RBERN welcomes new resource specialists Carla Miller, Mikian Royer, Mandi Sanchez and Sara Peters.  Our new team members bring a wealth of expertise and knowledge. I have listed their bios and photos for your reference.

miller_carla_300pxCarla Miller: Teacher Trainer
Carla brings ENL expertise from within the Southern Tier Region along with a background leading ENL research and Professional Development on Continue reading

How to Cultivate a Curious Classroom

How do we harness kids drive to know, to understand, and to engage in the world and its ideas?  That is a question posed by Wendy Ostroff in her new book Cultivating Curiosity in K-12 Classrooms. She states, “Curiosity is about being aware and open, checking things out, experimenting, and interacting within one’s surroundings. In a classroom grounded in curiosity, teachers have the unique opportunity of being able to mine students’ deepest held wonder, making their attention natural and effortless, and allowing them to fully engage.”

I have often heard teachers Continue reading

Public Discipline Systems Need To Go!

In a Responsive Classroom, we believe that “discipline” should be associated with the positive (acts of learning) rather than the negative (punishing). We believe we need to set children in our classroom up for success by providing direct instruction and guided practice in pro-social and academic skills. We use many proactive strategies such as interactive modeling, role-play, morning meeting, positive teacher language, democratic rule creation, interactive learning structures, guided discoveries, academic choice, energizers, closing circles, and others.   These teaching practices develop positive learning communities that are developmentally responsive and effectively managed so that engaging academics can flourish.  Responsive Classroom teachers spend a majority of their time and energy in the proactive side of discipline. (Being proactive is one of the habits of highly effective people, according to author Steven Covey). When we respond to misbehavior and are reactive Continue reading

Teaming with Paraprofessionals in Your Classroom ~Or~ “What Do I Do With All These People?”

A new school year has begun and you are getting to know your new students. Many teachers are also getting to know their Supplementary School Personnel (Teaching Assistants, Teacher Aides and 1:1 Aides). While some teachers may not have the support of a paraprofessional, others may be struggling with the sheer number of adults in their classrooms.

As educators we received little or no training in working with or managing the other adults in our classrooms. Additionally, the role(s) of paraprofessionals, especially Teaching Continue reading