Curriculum Newsletter 6-12

October 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT

Building a Better Tomorrow ... Together

Adding Engagement to your Screencasts

Screencastify has been a great go to resource for all of our staff members in all gradespans and departments. The beauty of a screencast is that you can capture anything on your computer or tablet screen. When creating that mini lesson, you have to think of what kinds of materials you want to use as instructional tools to support your students while they work from home. Google Slides is a great choice for presenting content in a linear fashion. Here are some more ideas:


  • Audiovisual feedback: Getting the same question over and over again? Are there common mistakes in your students’ work? Provide a quick screencast providing clarity on a topic, addressing an error, or refocusing on a concept. This may be more useful than extensive written responses.

  • Tutorials: Screencast how to access materials, use an app or program, or navigate to and through a website that may be helpful for students.

  • Integrate digital tools with instruction: Support your content with digital resources. See below for examples:

Health and PE:

  • G-W Health Textbook

  • Swork It Fitness App

  • EdPuzzle

  • Pear Deck

World Language:

  • Conjuegemos

  • EdPuzzle

  • Pear Deck

Remote/Hybrid Learning & Arts Integration

More than ever, students and families are getting a taste of how the arts support wellness, bridge the disconnect of social distancing, and increase critical thinking. Any teacher can successfully integrate the arts in their hybrid/remote lesson plans as it does not require artistic talent from teachers or students. The practice isn’t intended to create artists; it’s about nurturing the whole individual.


To get started:

  • Select one arts standard and one of another content area.

  • Explore essential questions and big ideas that are common between the standards.

  • Develop a project that investigates the standards while incorporating critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

  • Consider the outcomes:

    • What are the end goals and objectives?

    • What data collection methods will analyze student comprehension?

Why?:

  • The arts engage students and provide an outlet/escape during difficult times.

  • The arts are a vehicle for connections.

  • The arts strengthen real-world problem solving and decision-making skills.

  • There are no “wrong” answers in the arts.

Elections: Teaching Civic Duty To Our Students


As the presidential election approaches, it is important to discuss the democratic process and positions of the candidates on issues important to the future of America and the world. Regardless of our personal views and feelings about this election, we need to create a non-partisan atmosphere that respects human rights and offers the opportunity for students to cite facts to support their ideas. No matter if we are discussing issues at the local, state, or national level, it’s important that students learn about voting and elections, and develop the civic competencies to fully engage in the democratic process. As many of our adolescent students approach voting age, we can make a difference in helping develop our next generation of citizens to be kind, thoughtful, and engaged!


When discussing the election and the importance of this civic duty, it’s imperative to remember two things:


Stay In the Neutral Zone: Regardless of the subject area, it’s okay for teachers to inform our students of their civic rights and duties. However, it is not okay for teachers to push their own beliefs or try to get students to vote in a particular way. As educators, we should not care which way our students vote, only that they do, indeed, vote.


Show Different Perspectives: Students are very aware and can often infer how a teacher feels about a particular topic. Regardless of a particular stance, it’s important that educators present all sides of an argument equally. It’s vital that students are presented with facts and are encouraged to form their own opinions.

Maximizing Participation During Class Discussions

Whole class and small group discussions are a hallmark of any Language Arts classroom. To optimize these discussions during hybrid instruction, consider some of the following tips:


  • Establish protocols: Make sure students know what to do if they have something to say. Should they use the ‘raise their hands’ feature? Should they stay muted or keep microphones on? What kinds of verbal or written responses are appropriate? As always, modeling the type of response you’d like will increase the likelihood of thoughtful replies.

  • Utilize written responses/chats: To ensure maximum participation, offer the option for written responses whenever possible. Create a question in your Google Classroom (under Classwork); students can respond directly to the question or comment on classmates’ answers. Or, try using the sticky note option on Jamboard or Padlet. For short answers, AnswerGarden may do the trick. Yoteach! is another backchannel option (similar to the now defunct Today’s Meet).

  • Utilize the new Q & A feature in Google Slides: When presenting in Google Slides, check out the new Q & A feature. While teaching, students can comment/ask questions. Students can click on the banner, visible across the top of the presentation, to communicate with you. Use two screens to more easily navigate this option.

  • Utilize Google Meet’s breakout rooms: Pair/create small groups that mix in-school and remote learners. Utilizing this feature will foster a sense of community and allow those students who are not comfortable responding in a whole-class setting to participate.

  • Share questions ahead of time: To reduce the pressure of having to think on the spot, consider sending students a question or two ahead of time. Ask them to jot down some notes, and then share their responses with the whole group or in Google Meet breakout rooms.

Making Labs Virtual with Ed Puzzle

With remote and hybrid learning, many science teachers are wondering how they can provide a true in-class lab experience for students. One way to overcome this is to find lab demonstrations online, upload them to Edpuzzle, and use the voiceover feature to explain the concepts. Alternatively you can film your own demo and use the voice features in Screencastify to add a narrative. Once you upload to EdPuzzle, you can add in some open ended questions for formative assessment, so that students can elaborate on the concepts covered in class meets, live streams, notes, etc. This helps students see the concepts “come to life” in the demonstration, almost as if the classroom environment wasn’t really remote at all!

This can be taken a step further by having students film themselves performing some simple demonstrations using household items, and sharing them with you. Programs such as Clideo will allow you to combine multiple video clips together, and the combined video can then be uploaded to EdPuzzle and shared with the class. Students will be able to view all of the other demonstrations their classmates took part in and answer conceptual questions embedded in the video.

It’s more important than ever for us to be able to connect with our classroom communities during remote and hybrid learning. Even though you may be teaching at a distance, using the technologies available can help you stay connected with your students and allow for that in-class experience to still feel possible.

Why is Math Important?

Do you sometimes struggle to answer the question, Why is Math Important? The truth is that mathematics is intertwined into every element of our lives in both direct and indirect ways. By helping your students understand the importance of mathematics and its connections to the real world, you can teach them to value their math skills as necessary life skills and not just rules and procedures needed to pass an exam.

Helping students understand why math is important can be challenging but math skills are life skills. Consider sharing the following when working with your students to demonstrate the importance of math:


  • Basic math skills help you to solve general math problems in your life, from simple addition and subtraction to managing your finances.

  • If math is not understood you may spend your life vulnerable to being cheated, robbed or abused.

  • Practicing and learning mathematics develops your ability to think critically and to reason. It sharpens your mind and applies to all aspects of your day-to-day life.

  • Mathematics may be perceived as boring, overly abstract, uncreative, and extremely difficult to understand. However, the idea of having or not having a math brain is completely untrue. You are capable of understanding mathematics at a high level.

  • Mathematics can be applied to a variety of career fields including chemistry, programming, technology, accounting, biology, and physics.

Using Online Tools to Support Language Acquisition

When it comes to teaching online, navigating tools such as Google Classroom, Seesaw, Pear Deck, and other user friendly add ons plays a key role in how those tools will be used to support learning in any subject area. EL students, in particular, can benefit greatly by being taught how to use these tools effectively in order to help them in their daily work. Therefore, it is important to spend time teaching them how to use these tools in order for them to feel comfortable using them to display and communicate what they are learning. Small incremental steps are ideal for students to master the effectiveness of their use as well.


Besides the online tools themselves, ELs benefit greatly from routines and structures in order to enhance learning. Having a daily schedule displayed online with visuals for students to click on is key to helping ELs organize their day and put a greater emphasis on the objectives and the content of what they are learning. When students are given routines to follow, they can better grasp what is expected of them.


In addition, making sure to put an emphasis on language production is essential when it comes to ELs displaying language acquisition in hybrid and remote environments. Language production can be verbal during Google Meets or even written when posting questions in Google Classroom or chat boxes.

Dear Data Guy

Since we are at the beginning of the year, and we have begun to administer assessments and benchmarks from a remote/hybrid environment, I thought it would be good to offer some tips.

  1. Explain the purpose of the assessment to the student and how it will benefit the student and the teacher.

  2. Develop a procedure for the student to contact you if there are issues during the assessment administration.

  3. Tell students how long the assessment is expected to take. Offer extended hours for students beyond the school day to take the assessment in case there is an issue with equitable access to the internet or computer.

  4. Remind students of the rules for academic integrity.

  5. Hold data chats with each student after the assessment to review his/her performance or class performance. For any students who performed well below expectations, develop a plan for resetting the benchmark.

Notes from Mr. Scotto

We are looking forward to the (virtual) November In-Service. The focus of the day will be, "what I need." Our goal is to provide staff with as much support in areas that support hybrid/remote learning. Once the agenda packet is released, take a moment to think about your current PD needs. Perhaps it's taking another look at one of our instructional platforms or further examining online resources aligned to a particular curricular area. In the second portion of the day, staff will also have the opportunity to spend some additional time on planning and preparation.


We hope that you find both portions of the day to be productive!

Hamilton Township School District

Anthony Scotto, Director of Curriculum & Instruction

Supervisors

Alejandro Batlle, Health/PE and World Language

Kevin Bobetich, Testing/Assessment

Karen Gronikowski, Mathematics and STEM/STEAM

Sandra Jacome, ESL

Joanne Long, Science and Applied Technology

Francesca Miraglia, English Language Arts and Media Centers

Erick Shio, Social Studies and Business

Danielle Tan, Visual and Performing Arts