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Adaptation Gives Birth to Regional Effort

In science class, the term adaptation represents a change that allows an organism to function better in a particular environment. The landscape of science curriculum is changing hence driving educators to look for new opportunities to adapt and collaborate.

Sixty-six school districts outside of Rochester will embark on a new endeavor to share science resources through Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). A new K-12 science resource program is now underway through the combined efforts of the four BOCES (Genesee Valley, Monroe 1, Monroe 2-Orleans, and Wayne Finger Lakes) that comprise the Mid-West Joint Management Team (JMT).

“One of the first tasks of this new collaborative science resource program is to write regional curriculum aligned to the New York State Science Learning Standards (NYSSLS) and to begin development of new unit resources,” said Kelli Eckdahl, e-learning director at Wayne Finger Lakes BOCES.

“Had we not come together, each region would be faced with doing this independently,” commented Kathy Arminio, elementary science program director for Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES. “Because we are not duplicating efforts, it is more cost effective to develop collectively rather than individually.”

Arminio continued to note how the different experiences from rural to urban, and the variation of natural resources within those areas, will help the teachers create a richer curriculum. “By the four BOCES collaborating on the new science resources the result is a much stronger program, one that will represent many diverse voices.”

The members of the JMT will share the responsibility of curriculum writing, professional development, and the production and distribution of the new science resources. “Our vision is that the new science program is co-owned by all four BOCES,” said Marijo Pearson, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and professional development at Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES.

The four BOCES are looking forward to the adoption of the New York State Science Learning Standards (NYSSLS) by the Board of Regents. The BOCES will then work with their component school districts to implement the new standards.

According to Eckdahl, preparation for the new standards requires the BOCES to support the current standards and to plan for the impending changes. While this is a challenge, all parties are grateful for the planning time. Although New York State has moved cautiously in the adoption of the new standards, they have been committed to the process since the very beginning. New York was one of the lead partners in the development of the “Next Generation Science Standards.” Soon, New York will adopt a slightly modified version of the standards.

“I’m glad that New York State has moved cautiously,” said Pearson. “…our curriculum and science unit resources will be developed around the needs of the school districts’ in our region.”

The group is excited about the science work ahead of them.  Because of their shared goals of improving science instruction the JMT believes this collaboration can be modeled elsewhere in the state.

“The new K-12 science resource program exemplifies the power of BOCES collaborating to bring more options and resources to the districts in the Mid-West JMT,” said Jo Anne Antonacci, district superintendent at Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES.