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Game On! What school board members should know about games for learning

Cover Game On! What school board members should know about games for learning

Do today's students sometimes seem more interested in playing games on their smart phones or tablets than on what’s going on in the classroom?

If so, find out why!  NYSSBA’s latest research report explores how many of today’s video games use principles of educational psychology to motivate students. Learn how to leverage that technology to boost learning, and see how New York schools are using video games to further their educational goals.

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(10 pages - 1.1 MB) 


SED's deadline for APPR looms

On Board Online • April 27, 2015

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Under fresh marching orders issued by the governor and the Legislature in their 2015-16 budget, the State Education Department (SED) is sprinting to complete a new version of New York's teacher evaluation system by the end of June.

While several members of the Board of Regents have expressed doubt that the work can be done properly within that time frame, SED staff has begun formulating the regulations required by the legislation.

"This is not going to be perfect," Chancellor Merryl Tisch said as the Regents discussed the new Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) system at their April meeting. Nevertheless, "we have been given a job to do by June 30, and I would caution us that not to do a statutory task puts the department in a very grave position," she said.

In response to a question from Vice Chancellor Anthony Bottar, who represents the Syracuse area, department staff confirmed the new regulations will have to be established on a fast-track "emergency" timeline. That will be especially challenging because the law requires SED to consult experts and practitioners in the fields of education, economics and psychometrics.

Relief in sight for 900-project school construction backlog

On Board Online • April 27, 2015

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

An $800,000 cash infusion from the new state budget will enable the State Education Department to hire engineers, architects and other professionals to start whittling down a backlog of more than 900 school capital projects awaiting review.

Carl Thurnau, SED's director of facilities planning, said he hopes to pare the typical turn-around time for local capital project approvals to about two months. Getting to that level of efficiency could take more than a year, though.

"Unfortunately, right now, we're probably at seven months or more" for completing the reviews required for approval of a project, Thurnau said. "It's pretty ugly."

Currently, SED is taking an average of 32 to 34 weeks for final engineering reviews and an average of 8 to 10 weeks for final architectural reviews.

What's Gov. Cuomo's game?

On Board Online • April 27, 2015

By Lynne L. Lenhardt
NYSSBA President

In educational circles, there is widespread mistrust of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's policies. "What's his game?" people ask. Does he want to convince people that the public schools are failing so that he can later claim to have rehabilitated them? Or is it to break the "education monopoly" by privatizing public education? Or is it both?

I am among those who resent Gov. Cuomo's overly pessimistic narrative about our public schools. It's puzzling why a governor would be so addicted to expressing dissatisfaction with the state's P-12 education system while simultaneously seeking to attract industry and development. Everything that's good in society starts with support for public schools.

Fortunately, those of us closest to public education know our schools have earned respect. We all have educational programs and services in our school district that are generating great outcomes for students, and we board members can (and often do!) speak of these accomplishments with pride as we circulate in our communities.


Amid opt-outs, uncertainty on consequences

On Board Online • April 27, 2015

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

An avalanche of state test refusals has local school leaders wondering whether the low test participation numbers will result in financial penalties or other consequences for their districts.

A reported sharp increase in the number of parents who pulled grade 3-8 students from the state math and English language arts exams in April means that many districts may fail to meet a 95 percent testing threshold set by the federal government - if not for the entire district, then at least for individual schools or student groups within the district.

While government officials have legal discretion to withhold federal funds or take other actions when a district fails to achieve 95 percent participation, no one knows if they will do so.

"The U.S. Education Department has not had to withhold money - yet - over this requirement because states have either complied or have appropriately addressed this with schools or districts that assessed less than 95 percent of students," Dorie Nolt, press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, said in a statement.

State, federal statements on opt-out consequences

On Board Online • April 27, 2015

"It is the responsibility of states to ensure that all students are assessed annually because it gives educators and parents an idea of how the student is doing and ensures that schools are paying attention to traditionally underserved populations like low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities and English language learners. The New York State Education Department takes this responsibility very seriously, and we continue to look to them to take the appropriate steps on behalf of kids in the state."

- Dorie Nolt, Press Secretary, U.S. Department of Education

Interest in new state solar program lights up among school districts

On Board Online • April 27, 2015

By Eric D. Randall

More than 250 school districts have registered an interest in adding solar power through a state program known as K-Solar.

As early as the end of the month, the state is expected to name regional companies that will install solar panels for districts and BOCES with no upfront costs.

Participating districts will sign a 20-year contract with their installer in which they agree to buy the electricity generated by the solar power system, which will remain the property of the installer until the contract expires. The company will be required to operate and maintain the system.

To determine whether solar energy makes economic sense for specific schools, registered districts are taking advantage of free site assessments and analysis by the New York Power Authority (NYPA), which co-sponsors the program with New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

3D printer becomes important tool in New Paltz art, technology classes

On Board Online • April 27, 2015

By Merri Rosenberg
Special Correspondent

Perhaps this isn't the most pressing world problem, but Sean Copeland thinks it's time for a heated golf bag.

"You lose 20-30 percent of distance when you're playing in 40-degree weather," said Copeland, a senior at New Paltz High School who plans to study material science engineering when he enrolls at Penn State University this fall.

When Copeland and three classmates in an Engineering Design and Development course started to imagine manufacturing a heated golf bag, they had access to a unique tool - a 3D printer. It creates solid objects from a digital file by laying down successive layers of plastic or other material.

The Maker Bot 3D printer, which costs $2,899, plays an essential role in helping students identify and solve design problems, said technology teacher Alexis Mallory. "As part of Project Lead the Way, we offer engineering design and development for juniors and seniors," she said. "This allows kids to see an actual prototype." Students need to consider whether the project will be practical, and how the various elements of the prototype will fit together.

Rural district explores MOOCs

On Board Online • April 27, 2015

By George Basler
Special Correspondent

One of Kim Mueller's first impressions when she became superintendent of the Wellsville Central School District in Allegany County five years ago was how isolated students could feel in the small, rural school district.

"My first thought was: How do we connect to the wider world?" she said.

The answer, in Wellsville's case, has been a major investment in technology. The investment has included making the school building Wi Fi accessible and retooling classrooms for technology, including installing interactive whiteboards and projectors in every classroom, said Emory Roethel, coordinator of curriculum, instruction and technology.

The district also placed iPads in the hands of all 1,350 students. Students use the iPads to take notes, access the Internet for research, do reports, communicate with teachers and post assignments on My Big Campus, an online learning management system set up by the school district.

Why we are using propane-powered buses

On Board Online • April 27, 2015

By Paul Nienstadt

When it comes to transportation costs, school districts throughout the state are constantly searching for ways to improve efficiency.

At Washingtonville Central School District, we found that changing our bus fuel has improved finances and positioned us as a leader in environmental initiatives and a model for the community.

We operate an 89-bus fleet to transport more than 5,000 students to 28 Orange County area schools - public, private and parochial. Currently, 18 buses are fueled by propane autogas, also called liquified petroleum gas or simply autogas. We recently ordered nine more Blue Bird Propane Vision Type C buses, which would make 30 percent of our fleet powered by an alternative fuel.

When making our initial purchase of eight buses, each bus cost about 9 percent more than the comparable diesel model. But we were able to recoup that incremental cost within one year, and our savings continue.

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