Elementary School Departmentalization

Although quantitative data are not readily available, there is anecdotal evidence that departmentalization in elementary schools is on the rise (Gewertz, 2014). Similarly, there’s not a great deal of research available about the practice. There are articles that list advantages and disadvantages and there are some survey data about teacher satisfaction, but an examination of the practice and student learning was lacking.

A recent study, however, shed some light on the issue. An economist studied the issue of departmentalization from an economic specialization perspective. Traditionally, specialization brings Continue reading

OCM-RESPONSIVE CLASSROOM BLOG: Use the summer to plan your first six weeks

I feel the best gift you can give yourself is to use some time over the summer to either plan on your own or get together with your grade level colleagues to plan out your first six weeks of school. This old favorite has been majorly revised to fit today’s busy classrooms. Beautiful and in full color! There are ideas K-2, 3-4, and 5-6 for the first day of school. Sample schedules to help your plan to make that first day a smooth transition into the school year. Then learn how to apply all you learned during your Responsive Classroom training to the first six weeks. This is the perfect resource to help your apply all you learned.

Watch children’s learning blossom all year long when you lay the groundwork with the help of this classic, comprehensive guidebook for K–6 teachers. Day by day and week by Continue reading

The Power of Why?

Image: CC U.S. Army.

When children are little, they often ask, “why?” about everything.

“Why is the sky blue?”
“Why did my pet die?”
“Why do centipedes have all those legs?”
“Why do I have to go to bed nooooowwwww?”

Children are naturally curious and they remain that way, it seems, until adults train them not to be.

Admit it, what parent or teacher does not at times get annoyed at the child who seems to be asking a million questions?  Some of which we do not know the answer to….and some that do not really seem to matter to us! We just want them to simply comply, to sit and Continue reading

What does the word fail mean to you?

Do you perceive it to be a negative or a positive event? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines failing as “a weakness or problem in a person’s character, behavior, or ability.” Wow, this sure seems like a negative connotation! Should it be? Or should we look at unsuccessful attempts as: opportunities, second chances, and important life lessons that are needed to develop perseverance?

Lucky for us that Thomas Edison didn’t believe in failure. When asked about his 10,000 failed attempts to create the light bulb he responded, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies = A Balancing Act

I am recycling again! I first posted this blog last October, but as I am preparing for a week of social studies professional development, I find that the ideas are a constant theme when we are working with the Social Studies Framework. Let the balancing act begin!

I have been doing far too much thinking this week, and by Jove it’s got to stop! I have been working on a presentation for the CNY Council for the Social Studies Fall Conference and it has led me to cogitate on the idea of the balance of content and skill that is at the heart of the NYS Social Studies Framework Continue reading

For some of us, the summer is a time to re-group, re-fresh and re-energize from a school year filled with many demands. Time with family and friends dominate the hours and before you know it, you are preparing for another school year without experiencing any of the refreshment that you longed for. So, before the time gets away from you, take   a   deep breath, notice the beauty around you and be grateful for this moment. Continue reading

Why Instructional Coaching?

Many educators may not know that OCM BOCES offers instructional coaching support through two pathways: networking and capacity building to district based instructional coaches through an instructional coaches collaborative and directly supplying coaching experiences through Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment (CI&A) department. Why do we offer the dual approach? It is because research shows us that too often in education there is a knowing and doing gap. Educators may read research, learn techniques, discuss instructional design and delivery yet implementation is not always consistent. In fact, as with any new learning or adaptation, it is easy to revert to the known when time is short, challenges emerge, exhaustion sets in or colleagues go a different path. Further research indicates that coaching support can help to off-set the knowing-doing gap. Actually, we have known this for over 15 years as research from Bruce Joyce and Beverly Showers in 2002 indicates professional development design has five primary delivery approaches: Continue reading

Professional Book Review

The Core Six:
Essential Strategies for Achieving Excellence
with the Common Core

Attention Content Area Teachers, Literacy Coaches, Grade Level Team Members, and Administrators: What might the conversation below about the NYS Common Core Literacy Standards look like in your school?

“I am not a reading teacher; why do I have to teach reading? Isn’t that what English teachers do?”

Teacher: Continue reading

Science for all students really means science for ALL.

The New York State Science Learning Standards (NYSSLS) were presented to the Board of Regents in June, with an anticipated adoption this fall. These new standards, based on the NGSS (NGSS Lead States, 2013) and embodying The Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (National Research Council, 2012), were designed and intended to be for all students. This might not seem new, but in fact it is. The previous science reform initiatives, in the post-Sputnik area, had a focus on creating more engineers and scientists. The new and explicit goal of science standards for all students is articulated frequently in the Framework and NGSS. In fact the topic has a dedicated chapter in the Framework and Continue reading

Two First Year ENL Teachers Reflect Back on Their Experiences

Jennifer Riesbeck, ENL Teacher

Jessica Ambrose, ENL Teacher

This month we interviewed two first year ENL teachers, Jessica Ambrose from Fayetteville-Manlius School District and Jennifer Riesbeck, from the Binghamton City School District. We asked them to provide some insight about their first year in the ENL classroom. The following is an excerpt from those interviews. 

Looking back, what were some of your highs and lows during your first year teaching? Continue reading