They’re ambitious and committed to their calling as teachers and innovative writers. Local educators gathered in the Forsyth Learning Commons at Houghton College this summer for a week-long writing with video seminar, reinforcing more than a year of learning and expanding their digital skill sets.
After the success of last summer’s introductory session, these teachers from Allegany-Limestone Central, Cuba-Rushford High, Fillmore Central, Olean High, and Whitesville Central School have remained connected throughout the year, sharing their experiences and successes from implementing what they have learned in their English, language arts, and history classrooms. Seeking to better integrate digital literacies into their existing teaching plans – from planning and producing film trailers for novels and units of study, to encouraging students to create their own videos – they asked for more time as a professional learning community to craft, share, and critique their own works.
Dr. Sunshine Sullivan, associate professor of education at Houghton, and David Bruce, associate professor of learning & instruction at the State University of New York at Buffalo (University at Buffalo) Graduate School of Education, were happy to oblige and continue their partnership with Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES. Participants composed multiple digital endeavors, including a “This I Believe” video and their own “Me in 6 Words/ Images” projects.
As a result of these seminars and the sharing of knowledge, participants have seen increased engagement from all of their students. Lacey Gardner (Whitesville), Michelle Grillo (Cuba-Rushford), Brendan Heaney (Fillmore), Christina McGee (Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES ISS), Michelle McGraw (Cuba-Rushford), Micah Rust (Fillmore), Suzan Snyder (Allegany-Limestone), Steven Sorensen (Olean), Louis Ventura (Olean), Sally Ventura (Olean), and other teachers developed the Southern Tier Film Festival to showcase student video productions, which was attended by parents, teachers, administrators, and community members from across the region. Heaney and Grillo co-led the planning of the newly inaugurated event.
Sullivan, who has a passion for improving educational opportunities for rural teachers and helping transform local communities, is pleased with the camaraderie of the group and their ambitions to provide the most effective learning experience possible. “This past summer institute was incredibly powerful and empowering,” she remarks. “Hearing their classroom stories and planning for this coming year energized me for the work ahead of us.”