Curriculum Matters

MTSD / Volume 3 / Issue 7 / April & May 2017

MTSD Office of Instructional Services

Deborah Sarmir—Assistant Superintendent

Fiona Borland—Director Instructional Technology

Corie Gaylord—Director Academic Counseling Services

Damian Pappa—Director Assessment/Data/Accountability

Ron Zalika —Director Curriculum

Lucianne Smith—Executive Assistant

MTSD Content Area Supervisors

Jessica Glover—OHES/VES Mathematics & Science

Naoma Green—MHS Physical Education & Health

Christopher Herte—LMS/UMS Mathematics & Science

Melissa Hodgson—MHS Social Studies

Amy Monaco—OHES/VES Language Arts & Social Studies

Heather Pino-Beattie—MHS Technology, Business & FCS

Alma Reyes—World Languages & ESL

Jennifer Riddell—MHS Mathematics

Lisa Romano—LMS/UMS Language Arts & Social Studies

Karen Stalowski—MHS Language Arts

Jason Sullivan—MHS Science

Adam Warshafsky—Visual & Performing Arts

The Benefits of a Documented Curriculum

When thinking about the need for a documented curriculum, the acronym "CCR" comes to mind. Does this refer to the band Creedence Clearwater Revival or to an educational term such as College and Career Readiness? Actually, "CCR," when used in this context, stands for Consistency, Collaboration and Reflection.

  • Consistency within curriculum structure, standards, and expectations
  • Collaboration between educators as they see their colleagues as resources
  • Reflection on the strength and effectiveness of the curriculum by comparing it alongside strides in student growth and proficiency

We invite you to access all of our curriculum guides through THIS LINK. Doing so will give you the opportunity to view our collaboratively written curricula, which is based on the adopted learning standards for the state of New Jersey.

From the Office of Instructional Services

The MTSD Curriculum Matters newsletter communicates our curricular happenings and instructional activities across grade levels and content areas to educators, parents and students. It also provides a closer look at the some of the unique learning experiences and outcomes that our students undertake. Please browse through these updates provided by our talented team of educational professionals.

OHES/VES Mathematics & Science

This year Montgomery Township has partnered with NGSSPD Consultants in a District Partnership Program involving statewide professional development and in-district classroom observations. Four selected teachers from first to fourth grade attended training and individually hosted participants to develop best practices utilizing the three-dimensional learning approach of the NJ Student Learning Standards in Science.

Three-dimensional learning consists of joining Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas to bring out the scientist in our students. Through professional development our teachers developed ways to increase modeling, data driven instruction, and argumentation with evidence within their classrooms. These methods have not only fostered instruction but our students love for science.

Lead by our district’s NJ Student Learning Standards in Science Lead Teacher, Mrs. Loiacono, teachers had to apply what they have practiced in training to in-class experiences. Our first lesson observation was in Ms. Giambertone’s 4th grade class. Here our students used compiled data to inform their reasoning on why piranha attacks on humans have increased in a South American rainforest community. Mrs. DaBronzo’s 2nd Grade Class used paper, clay, balloons, and water to model with evidence on how a change is reversible or irreversible. Our final classroom observation with Mr. Sletteland’s 1st grade class encourages our students’ argumentation with evidence as they observe the structures of various creatures and their unique functions.

Through this experience our teachers have sparked a science curiosity in our students and are continually finding new ways to develop scientific questions and reasoning. As our entire district continues to embark on the transition to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Science that encompasses Next Generation Science Standard practices, we are excited to share these lessons and build the support of our grade level science leaders.

For more information on the shifts in science learning, please visit our district science site.

MHS 21st Century Life and Careers

Students in Mr. Mylowe's Engineering Design & Material Fabrication II class are really mixing things up this year, building fine furniture pieces from the classic Adirondack chairs to heirloom roll top desks. This course, which was featured in The Montgomery News earlier this year, is for those who are serious about fabricating material into lifelong projects. Starting with raw material, students size, join, and finish every piece to perfection. A great deal of time is spent understanding the natural aspects of woodworking and the beauty of fine grade furniture. All students walk away from the course with not only an heirloom piece, but with the ability to appreciate safety and understanding of tools and machinery in a workshop setting. The students learn life-long lessons as future home buyers that will tackle do-it-yourself projects for years to come!

LMS/UMS Mathematics & Science

Let’s Do… Review! (Geometry)

Students in Geometry take turns creating additional review/study materials for their peers. As a result of this students have created Kahoots, Google Slides, documents and other resources. One student reported that it was a lot of work to create a Kahoot for Geometry with the diagrams but they learned a lot from creating it and their peers were challenged as they reviewed for a unit test. They shared that it was a great and fun way to study as well as helping others.

Science Professional Development (Grade 3 & 5 teachers)

Five educators: Mrs. Benz, Mrs. Bilik, Mrs. Loiacono, Ms. Uhaze and Dr. Herte participated in the Spring Shorebird and Horseshoe Crab Festival at the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor. They attended workshops on horseshoe crabs and how the largest population in the world is right here in southern NJ in the Delaware Bay area. There were workshops learning the connection in the ecosystem between horseshoe crabs (HSC) and shorebirds. They took shorebird guided tours learning about migration, nesting and feeding. Additionally they participated in Return the Favor where they turned over horseshoe crabs that were stuck on their backs and exposed to predators. Did you know that horseshoe crabs are important in the medical industry as well as being an important component of the shorebird migration? Through the activities teachers will be able to facilitate lessons that look at ecosystems as well as concepts in the NJ Student Learning Standards in Science such as Structure & Function, Cause & Effect and Systems and System Models.

The Wheels on the Bus…(Science Club 6)

Mrs. Ryan, the advisor of the Grade 6 Science Club, challenged her students for their last meeting with a problem:

"The Route 518 Bridge is out! Our student engineers needed to construct a bridge that will hold a school bus or emergency vehicle across a span of 12 inches".

Students were provided with a couple of sheets of 8.5x11.5 paper some tape and the opportunity to explore! Students were able to design and create bridges that supported a vehicle using a variety of strategies. Here the NJ Student Learning Standard of Engineering and Engineering Design was highlighted as well as Structure and Function.

Math and Science Contests

We are ending the season of Math and Science competitions and the annual Mathematics and Science Awards Night 5-8 will be held on June 15th at 7:00. Students will receive their invitations shortly. Students who competed on the Science Olympiad Team, Mathcounts Team and those students who won awards or places in the various math & science contests will be honored. The champions will receive trophies and the other awardees receive academic medals. The contests our students participated in are: 24 Game, Mathcounts, Math Olympiads, AMC 10, and National Algebra I contest. The science competitions include: Science Olympiad Team, Grade 5 Science, Grade 6 Science, National Physical, General Science, and Life Science.

MHS English

Our 9th grade students are in the midst of their study of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet and they are getting creative and going digital! In an effort to better understand the intricacies of Act II, students are creating digital storyboards that will depict three scenes reflecting the rising action of the play. To accomplish this task, students are utilizing the web resource "Storyboard That" which is a web-based visual communication tool that allows users to create digital storyboards. The website provides students with access to thousands of images in an extensive image library that will allow them to truly personalize their work. What a fun and exciting way to bring literature to life!

MHS Science

Several MHS Students have earned recognition during April and May for achievement in scholastic competitions. Juniors Alex Liu and David Xue achieved advanced status in the Chemistry and Physics Olympiads respectively. Their work placed them in the top 5% of students participating in the competitions nationwide. Sophomore James Yim earned several awards at the New Jersey State Science Fair for the development of a robotic hand. He followed this up by earning the top place, along with fellow MHS student Aaron Fan, at the 1st Annual Monty Hack-a-Thon. Monty Hacks brought together approximately 70 New Jersey HS students for a day of planning, designing, and developing computer programs designed to address environmental , educational, or human health issues. The daylong event was a collaboration between the MHS Computer Science Club and the MHS Young Entrepreneurs Club. The MHS STEAM Board collaborated with the MHS National Art Honor Society and the MHS PTSA to host Ms. Susan Hoenig. Susan is detail oriented and very knowledgeable about the habitat and needs of these animals. She calls her works "New symbols for social change". The May 10th lecture covered a number of works that are now on display in the MHS Main Lobby Art Exhibit.

In the classroom, students began final preparations on long-term research projects in iSTEM and several AP Classes. This year several students have taken their projects to the next level. Junior Jason Wu established a company to market his open source low-cost microcentrifuge. Jason designed and manufactured the device and you can find more details on how to support his work with Double Gene by clicking this link. Monty Students are amazing. Come out and see the work of Jason and dozens of Monty STEAM projects on June 10th from 9-12 at MHS. The 2nd annual Monty STEM Day will feature student work, guest speakers, and demonstrations. Stay late and join the Monty MakerSpace session following STEM Day. Check out the MHS STEM (STEAM) Board website ( for upcoming events and science talks.

MHS Health

Through hands-on learning, students in Grade 11 Health practice lifesaving skills such as recognizing the signals of a heart attack, CPR, and how to use an AED. Additionally, they are learning and practicing how to react in an emergency and recognizing vital clues to assess the needs of an individual in need of medical care. This might include breathing emergencies, shock, sudden illness, injuries to muscles bones and joints and how to control bleeding for a variety of wounds.

What would you do if confronted with a life-threatening event?

LMS/UMS Language Arts & Social Studies

Ask most teachers and they will tell you that Spring is a beautiful time of the school year AND it has NOTHING to do with warm weather or imminent summer vacation, but rather ALL to do with the beauty that is our students and their growth as learners. At this time of year, our students are buzzing with an energy for thinking that is truly palpable.

In our Fifth and Seventh Grade Language Arts classrooms, our students are lost in the world of Fantasy. Their appetite for reading and talking about fantasy is insatiable. As our Fifth Graders contemplate the power of motivation concerning the characters within their novels, they now begin to employ similar reasoning as they analyze the historical figures at the forefront of their American Revolution studies in Social Studies. By the same token, Seventh Graders, through their reading of Fantasy novels and their discussions experienced in Socratic Seminar in Language Arts, have immersed themselves in deep thought regarding their interpretation of the human condition. This work has crossed the aisle into Social Studies as Seventh Graders begin to notice similarities in human experience apparent in even the most ancient African and Mayan Civilizations.

Sixth Grade Language Arts is alive with activism. Book clubs hum with excitement as our students empathize with and cheer on those characters in their novels who display the courage to stand up for what they believe to be right and good. Our students discuss how their own actions and their newly garnered awareness of purpose and power can be transferred into their daily lives at both home and school. In Social Studies, Sixth Graders take pride in their individuality as they prepare for our annual CME celebration and create replicas of ancient art meant to define values and interests of the individual. At the very same time, our Sixth Graders partake in the difficult task of judging historical figures such as Alexander The Great, not by their own burgeoning ideals and values, but rather through the lens of neutrality as informed historical thinkers - a very difficult task indeed.

Finally, our Eighth Graders are ready to thrive as they prepare to say goodbye to Middle School and to enter the halls of High School. During this final marking period of Language Arts instruction, our Eighth Graders have launched an independent inquiry investigation wherein they they present their thinking via a multi-genre project. The ease and beauty with which our students weave together one precious idea while integrating various images, genres, and even voices throughout their paper is truly remarkable. Across the hall in Social Studies, these talented and inspired writers are celebrating their newfound awareness of the power of reading to support historical learning. Throughout the year, as Eighth Graders studied American History, they were charged with the challenge of reading both historical fiction and nonfiction on their own to support their classroom studies. At this point in the year, these readers are proclaiming that their abilities to understand varying perspectives, to see history as life instead of an accumulation of facts, has been supported by the reading they chose to pursue on their own. These Eighth Graders are ready for the wonderful learning that lies ahead of them in High School.

It is with great pride that the Middle School Language Arts and Social Studies Departments acknowledge the tremendous learning our students have experienced throughout the course of this school year and that we wish all of our students and their families a restful and invigorating summer vacation.

MHS Mathematics

In February,the American Mathematics Competition took place across the country. MHS had many students compete with four students qualifying for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME) in March. Those students were:

  • DAVID XUE (11TH)

The USA Junior Mathematical Olympiad (USAJMO) is a prestigious event, and only 500 students from the tens of thousands of American Mathematics Competitions participants are invited to take the USAJMO. This qualification was earned by freshman Frank Wang. Congratulations to all participants on your achievements thus far!

Meanwhile, MHS Geometry students took a look at how geometry enhances popular company logos such as the Twitter Bird. The current Twitter logo is created using 13 circles. Students were challenged to find equations of the circles making up the Twitter bird using the Desmos online graphing calculator. Here's a challenge: What other logos use circles in their design?

MTSD Mission and Vision Statements

Mission Statement

Our mission as a forward-thinking community is to ensure that all students grow into confident, compassionate, successful, and self-directed learners a multi-cultural and socio-economically diverse society by providing engaging and challenging real world educational experiences in a student-centered environment.

Vision Statement

We envision a district on the forefront of public education. We focus on the needs of every child, dedicating ourselves to their present and future success. Success means that all students possess a passion for learning, develop a deep understanding of rigorous content, demonstrate cultural competence, and exhibit ethical conduct, while cultivating social skills and healthy habits that will empower them to achieve their goals and aspirations. Achieving this vision requires that the district become a learning community that continually reflects and challenges itself to effect transformational teaching and learning. We prepare our students to take responsibility for their own educational accomplishments in our global society while nurturing them in a community where each student is known and valued. We believe by embracing frontier spirit, we can create a unique organization that is recognized as a forerunner in public education.