OCM BOCES-Responsive Classroom® Blog: Great Ideas for December and the Holidays in the Classroom

Once Halloween hits, we sometimes start to feel like we lose our class until New Year!   But this time of year shouldn’t be stressful for our students or for classroom teachers. The Center for Responsive Schools has many ideas for making our classroom focused on learning right up to the long break in December. I have compiled some great articles that you can use to maintain the joyfulness and learning in your classroom during December.

Holiday Celebrations
Center for Responsive Schools -December 06, 2010 Continue reading

Playing Games or Building Skills?

Does your school currently have small groups set up for students who are in need of intervention to work on certain behavior skills, such as, social skills or conflict resolution skills? These groups are one step above Tier 1 universal supports and we often call this Tier II intervention “Social Academic Instructional Groups”, otherwise known as SAIG. As a classroom teacher, have you ever wondered what students actually do within those groups? For many, it is often a “big mystery” as to what is being discussed within groups and how it is making a difference in the student’s everyday behavior within the classroom. Continue reading

Getting to know the Northern ENL PLC


Some of the members of the Northern ENL PLC. Paul Gugel, Jean Ann, Katie Knapp, Diane Garafalo (founding member), Laura Stevens (founding member), and Bruce Long Peng.

The mid-state region of New York is unique when it comes to our English Language Learner (ELL) population. We have our city schools, which are heavily populated with ELLs and often have at least 3 teachers of English as a New Language (ENL) in each building. Then we have our rural and suburban districts, whose ELL population usually garners one ENL teacher, maybe two. Our ENL teachers in these districts can often feel isolated with no one to turn to with questions or advice in teaching ELLs. I know from personal experience how hard this can be. I have never taught in a school with another ENL teacher, something that was very hard during my first year of teaching. I felt very alone, stressed, and pressured. I survived though, and got use to the isolated feeling of being the only ENL teacher, that doesn’t mean I didn’t yearn for someone to give me guidance and be my partner in crime in this ENL world though. If you’re reading this and thinking “I feel the same way”, no need to fear, the Northern ENL PLC is here! (and your trusty Mid-State RBERN). Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies = Getting to the Source(s)

In the last couple of weeks, I have had several occasions to work with social studies teachers from around Central New York as well as working with pre-service teachers in my class at SUNY Cortland. I have found an ongoing theme in many of these encounters: Teachers want to teach social studies in ways that engage students and give them opportunities to interact with history in authentic ways by using primary sources. It is what is the basis for the Social Studies Practices in the NYS K-12 Framework and is certainly at the heart of the C3 Framework and the Inquiry Arc. Continue reading

“Paper Plate” Coaching

Much like hosting a meal, coaching requires some planning, organization, and most importantly, flexibility! Although a prepared coach always enters a session with certain outcomes in mind, one never knows which direction the experience might go. Being able to stay focused and think quickly is vital; and if there are paper plates around, even better! Continue reading

Children are Watching

Like so many others in our country, I have been saddened and sickened by this Presidential election cycle and all of its vicious rhetoric. I watched at least part of each debate, even though my instincts were to flee from the room as soon as the moderator announced the candidates. I have tried to be a good, thoughtful citizen by focusing on the issues which face our nation and where each candidate stands on them. But I have found it impossible to ignore what I see as basically uncivil discourse, i.e., bad behavior. And I often have felt fortunate that I no longer have children at home to whom I must try to explain why these people are being so mean. And as an educator and counselor, I worry about the impact all of this negativity might have on all of our children. Continue reading

November Book Review

This year the Math Leadership group will have several titles offered as opportunities for collective learning. One of the titles is Principals to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All by the National Council of Techers of Mathematics published in 2014. This text begins by highlighting celebrations in math teaching and learning. However, it is noted that we must move from “pockets of excellence” to “systemic excellence.”     To achieve this goal, there are some realities that need to be addressed:

  • Too much focus is on learning procedures without any connection to meaning, understanding or the applications that require these procedures.
  • Too many students are limited by the lower expectations and narrower curricula of remedial tracks from which few ever emerge.
  • Too many teachers have limited access to the instructional materials, tools, and technology that they need.
  • Too much weight is placed on results from assessments- particularly large-scale, high-stakes assessments –that emphasize skills and fact recall and fail to give sufficient attention to problem solving and reasoning.
  • Too many teachers of mathematics remain professionally isolated, without the benefits of collaborative structures and coaching, and with inadequate opportunities for professional development related to mathematics teaching and learning. (p. 3)

Continue reading