New Programs and Innovation

4th grade students teach coding to Kindergarten

Literacy Programs Through Social Studies

This year the Social Studies department introduced the long-range goal of creating a literacy driven social studies program in grades K-12. Both 1st and 2nd-grade curricula will be rewritten this summer, and in place of traditional textbooks, standards-based primary and secondary source readings will be used. The curricula will be also closely tied to the grade level goals of each Language Arts curricula.

This program will complement the present Reading and Writing Workshop program by selecting resources that satisfy varied reading and interest levels continuing the differentiated instruction approach. Literacy instruction and development of the necessary skills are also integrated into the Science and STEM content areas.

At the high school and middle school levels, the enhanced focus on literacy is being achieved by modifying many of the social studies assessments to include greater use of source analysis and interpretation.

Digital Literacy

In addition, students have also been working on their digital literacy which builds upon the traditional forms of literacy and has become a focus within the district. Students now have the opportunity to move from being passive consumers of information to active creators of products as they read and then write, communicate, and create via the iPads and online applications.

Students in Ms. Murphy's and Mr. Zipeto's Language Arts classes participated in a Skype chat session with author Christopher Myers. The students had previously read some of his poems and his verse novel, Hate that Cat, and completed related writing activities. They then prepared questions for him prior to the Skype session. Students were able to interact with Mr. Myers via the Skype app, the iPad, and the Smartboard while asking him questions and conversing with him about his life and work as an author.

Virtual Reality

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Thanks to a generous NPEF Grant, Google Expeditions Virtual Reality Kits have been integrated into a variety of interactive lessons across different content areas in all four schools.

  • 1st graders went on an Ocean Safari and saw whales, dolphins, sharks, ancient turtles and more. They learned about the creatures' habitats, communication, diets, and lots of interesting facts.
  • 2nd graders were able to enter a bee's hive safely without worry of getting stung! They learned about how the different types of bees (workers, drones, queen, etc.) work together to pollinate flowers and make honey.
  • Students at different grade levels have taken virtual trips to the Statue of Liberty, the San Diego Zoo, and the Rainforest. Others have gone to the moon or back in time to the Civil War.
  • 5th Grade students studying Ancient Egypt traveled to the ancient Egyptian Pyramids. Lead by their teacher, students got to learn about these ancient structures as if they went to Egypt to see them in person!
  • The high school Guidance Department used the glasses to take students on virtual college trips with over 300 colleges now providing virtual tours of their campus.
  • In Biology, students took a tour of a photosynthesizing leaf while in Biomedical Engineering, students took a trip through the heart and examined the role of heart valves in the heart function.

As the students say..."They are pretty cool!"

3D Printing

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This school year 3D printers have been gradually incorporated into the instructional program at various grade levels.

Fourth-grade students in the STEM electives have used the 3D printers to redesign and produce earbud holders. The students used Tinkercad software to create 3D diagrams of a commercially available earbud holder. After an analysis of the effectiveness of the holders, students used design thinking strategies to suggest improvements and redesigned their own holders using the software. Students then printed their designs on the 3D printers in the STEM classrooms.

At the high school, Biomedical Engineering students printed the component parts of a prosthetic hand. The files were obtained from Enabling The Future a global network of volunteers looking to give the world a 'helping hand'. As the students become more acquainted with the process, they are hoping to be able to produce and donate prosthetic hands to those in need.

The Project Lead The Way STEM courses have also been using the 3D printers and laser cutter, provided by an NPEF grant, to supplement the design and production process in their courses.

Gifted and Talented

The Gifted and Talented (G&T) program has been redesigned this year to provide students an opportunity to engage in a variety of enrichment activities including coding, engineering, percussion, forensic science, screenwriting, the learning brain/learning styles, and passion projects.

The passion projects allow students to explore specific areas of interest while also designing and creating presentations congruent with their learning style and comfort zone.

In addition, students can also engage in extracurricular activities and pull-out programs.

As G&T teacher, Ms. Paula Vieira, states the redesigned program...

"engages and motivates students and develops their learning potential".

Social Studies and the Community

This year the social studies department is developing community programs that will help bring a historical perspective to students lives in New Providence.

Salt Box Museum Partnership

As part of an expanded partnership with the New Providence Historical Society, this fall over 800 1st and 3rd graders toured the architectural and historically significant Salt Box Museum located in the center of our community.

As part of the growing partnership, we are also planning to help the society catalog its vast collection of New Providence resources. With guidance from an NPHS alumnus currently working at the Mystic Seaport Museum, our students will research the substantial holdings of the museum and investigate the origin and purpose of the tools, artifacts, and textiles in the museum’s collection. The chance for our students to do hands-on research while simultaneously helping the museum organize its collection will be invaluable to all involved.

New Providence Senior Citizens Center Outreach

High School Sociology classes visited the New Providence Senior Citizens Center this winter to engage in authentic sociological fieldwork. The students interviewed senior citizens about many topics related to societal norms and values. Discussing social attitudes on topics ranging from race relations to dating, the students explored evolving standards of behavior. Beyond the important sociological work that was accomplished, the two groups shared anecdotes and formed friendships based on warm social interaction.

Robotics and Programing

The various processes involved in the designing and programming of robots are now part of the K-12 instructional program. In the elementary grades, students use the Ozobots and Dash and Dot robots to learn the basics of coding and programming. Some of the older grades have been introducing the concepts to students in the younger grades, and high school students have visited the 5th and 6th-grade classroom to collaborate on various projects.

The middle school is now using Waterbots in the Robotics mod. These robots can be programmed to complete real-world underwater tasks and complement the work of the extracurricular Robotics club that has been busy entering competitions with their VEX robots.

The high school recently introduced EZ Robots into the Computer Science course. Students built the 12 inch high robots and are now programming them to complete a variety of tasks.

In addition, the Aerospace Engineering students have been designing, building and programming robots to complete a variety of tasks on the surface of Mars.

Professional Development and New Curriculum Initiatives

Timely and well designed professional development and curriculum revisions that address teachers needs are a cornerstone of any school district. In order to move forward with new innovative programs, teachers need the training and curriculum to feel confident in implementation. Department meetings, faculty meetings, webinars, in-district workshops, out-of-district workshops, and local conferences offer collaborative platforms for our staff to learn and share ideas while enhancing their practice and our programs.

Professional Development of note this year include:

  • K-6 were teachers trained in the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards using the new FOSS kits.
  • STEM and Science teachers were trained in Engineering Implementation by STEVENS Institute of Technology
  • 20 district teachers were trained to become Level 1 Google Certified Educators.
  • 4 Technology Specialists were awarded the designation of Level 2 Google Certified Educators.

  • K-8 Math teachers were trained in the use of online learning apps and programs.

  • Technology Specialists, Media Specialists, and STEM teachers attended the annual NJECC Technology Conference.

  • Project Lead the Way teachers attended two-week summer institutes.

Recent and upcoming curriculum revisions include:
  • Video and Advanced Video Design
  • Programming and Innovation
  • Junior Engineering
  • Architecture and Design
  • 1st and 2nd Grade Literacy driven Social Studies
  • K-6 STEM and K-6 Science

Moving Forward.....New Innovations in Math

The district is embarking on a thorough review of the Math program, including curricula offerings, methods of instruction, assessment and the sequence of courses. Collaborative discussions between administration, the department head, and teachers have already started and a recent analysis of preliminary student data has focused discussion around Calculus and Algebra readiness and enrollment. In addition, curriculum re-alignment, placement, benchmark skills, and overall K-12 instruction will be addressed. The team looks forward to collaborating to develop specific and measurable goals with the aim of providing the best possible experiences and opportunities for our math students.