Still Waiting [for §3012-d]


At the end of May, the advice about §3012-d was to get ready, but not to start. For the most part, the advice at this point, the end of August, remains the same.

The past few weeks have seen a number of resources from SED, including guidance, SLO guidance, and a couple of plan examples (resources are collected here for your use). Despite these resources, the prevailing wisdom is that it is still too early to start on your new APPR plan. Rather, the best strategy, at this time, Continue reading

OCM BOCES-Responsive Classroom® Blog: August! A Time to Plan

The First Six Weeks of School“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things…”

This is the beginning paragraph of Continue reading

The Power of Formative Assessment in Shaping Mindsets

Many of us have spent much of the last year reading about and discussing mindsets. Based on Carol Dweck’s work, we have come to learn that there are actually two different mindsets: fixed mindset and growth mindset. Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence is fixed. Therefore, students (and adults) with a fixed mindset that fail simply think they don’t have the intelligence, talent, or ability to do any better. They feel helpless to overcome any setbacks. Those with a growth mindset, however, believe that talents and abilities can be altered and that with perseverance, they can learn from mistakes made.

I recently came across a commentary in the June 2015 ASCD Update, “Why Glorify Failure to Enhance Success?” written by Thomas Guskey. In his commentary, Guskey qualifies the difference between failure and mistake. According to Guskey, “Failure implies the ultimate level of nonsuccess,” referencing examples such as failed peace talks, failed marriages, and failing a grade level, suggesting there is little to no chance of coming back from these setbacks. Guskey contends that learning does indeed involve errors and mistakes along the way, but that seeing these setbacks as failures invokes unnecessary negativity. Guskey points out an important qualitative difference between “I made a mistake” and “I failed,” explaining that the first suggests, “There’s a problem, but it can be fixed,” while the second suggests, “I bombed. I crashed and burned. I flunked.”

What do formative assessments have to do with all of this mindset talk? Well, according to Guskey, there are three important things teachers must do to help students experience success and avoid failure. The first one occurs during our lesson planning, before we even interact with our students. We must first anticipate any learning difficulties students may have and address those directly in our lesson plans. Second, we need to routinely use formative assessments to uncover additional unanticipated misunderstandings and remediate these difficulties as early as possible within the learning sequence. Which means we must also intentionally plan for formative assessments as we develop our lesson plans. Third, we must assist our students to develop and maintain a growth mindset, and an understanding that learning and success are within their own control.

In summary, it is our responsibility as educators to help students recognize errors in their learning early on and then guide them to correct those errors before they become major issues or “failures.” Utilizing formative assessments is one important way to accomplish this. As effective teachers, we must be very intentional in our instruction to plan for and consistently use formative assessments to not only guide our instruction, but to help with shaping growth mindsets in our students. Fulfilling this role as teachers will help students to see that academic success is within their reach. How are you using formative assessment in your classroom on a daily basis to help craft a growth mindset in students? We’d love to hear your ideas!

Mackey_Kim_WEBKim Mackey
Special Education School Improvement Specialist

Teaching Social Studies = Comfort with Discomfort

As Summer 2015 winds down and we start to look forward to a new school year, I thought that this blog from last December still had some thoughts that would resonate with those of us who are:

  1. Mapping our curriculum, planning units and designing lessons to align with the NYS K-12 Social Studies Framework.
  2. Exploring the Inquiries on EngageNY or C3Teachers.
  3. Anxious about change.

Change is hard. Change is good (and inevitable), but change is hard. We are in the midst of change in Social Studies in New York State and it is both exciting and difficult. Continue reading

Jimmy vs. Michelle: And the Winner Is…………

As the beginning of another school year quickly approaches, I thought I’d throwback to a blog from the past that I really enjoyed writing. I hope it inspires you and your kids to move more—and makes you smile as well!

I hate to be the one to break the news to you….but, summer is almost over.

Almost time to go back to school. Even though I am a 12-month employee, I have taken full advantage of the longer days and spent many an evening working up a sweat on the Erie Canal Trail or at our beautiful state parks. Summertime in Central New York is heaven for those of us who like to stay physically active! Like mine, hopefully you and your kids’ summer has been filled with lots of physical activity… swimming in the pool or at the beach, riding bikes, playing ball or tennis, taking extra-long walks , running in some of the 5K races going on all around CNY, or participating in a grueling potato sack race. Continue reading

PBL BLOG: The TOP Viewed OCM-PBL Blogs Since 2012

Summer time is a great time to catch up on some great professional reading! The PBL team at OCM BOCES has been producing PBL Blogs since the fall of 2012. I was curious, as I went to write this blog, as to just how big of an influence we have had on the Project-Based playing field. In true PBL Gold Standard form, I decided to do some in-depth inquiry to see just how much of a reach we have had over the years of writing the PBL Blogs as a team of trainers and coaches. The basis for the top 10 list I generated is the number of views to each individual blog post.

The Top 10 will offer you some great Continue reading

Reflections – Expectations, Goals, and Engagement

In the middle of a wonderfully hot and sunny summer week,   I took the opportunity to revisit the blogs I authored over the past 12 months.   It seemed that a couple of themes shone through the entries. I would summarize the themes as expectations, goals and engagement. For example, highlighted in March was the theme of expectations and the need to have and communicate and support high expectations. In December setting goals and having clear outcomes communicated was the theme. Engagement was the focus of January thinking about how if we don’t plan and design for relevance and engagement everything else loses power.   What have been some themes in your thinking in the past year?

Radicello_Lynn_WEBLynn Radicello

Getting Excited – New Science Standards are Coming

New York State is in the process of adopting new science standards based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (NGSS Lead States, 2013). While the state standards are not complete, representatives from the Department of Education have indicated that the standards will mirror the NGSS. These standards offer us the opportunity to reform our instructional practices and curriculum materials to develop high quality science learning experiences K-12, based on the field’s current understanding of how students learn science. Additionally, the standards are providing the opportunity for us to include K-12 science education in discussions about what science learning experiences students need for college and career readiness (Pruit, 2015). These standards bring to the fore front the importance of science learning experience K-12. Continue reading