Curriculum Matters

MTSD / Volume 3 / Issue 4 / January 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

Curriculum Matters...Live!

Tuesday, Feb. 21st, 6-7pm

375 Burnt Hill Road

Montgomery, NJ

MTSD is happy to present instructional information sessions hosted by our Director of Curriculum, Mr. Ron Zalika. Please join us in the UMS Media Center on Tuesday the 21st at 6PM as we engage in meaningful dialogue regarding instruction, curricula, and assessments!

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

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.

MTSD Curriculum - Guaranteed & Viable

MTSD has a never-ending commitment to creating and maintaining a guaranteed and viable curriculum that will ensure our students' academic success. 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.

OHES/VES Mathematics & Science

Ever wonder what it would take to forecast the weather? Thanks to a PTA Grant written by Village Elementary School’s technology teacher Jim Dolan, our 3rd graders learned just that! Tuesday, January 24, Meteorologist John Marshall, from Channel 2 News, New York visited Village Elementary School with his mobile weather studio.

In a full STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) immersion our students had the opportunity to become a weather forecaster for the day. With a mobile forecasting station 3rd graders learned about the instruments used to predict the weather and the science behind our 5-Day Forecast. Through an interactive presentation, students experienced different types weather, the water cycle, and the reason for seasons.

Our favorite part? The mobile weather studio. Here, student volunteers met Green Screen Technology. Students took turns reporting the weather, catching snowflakes, and even “escaping” a tornado!

We cannot thank our PTA enough for funding this phenomenal experience, and look forward to Meteorologist John Marshall’s visits in the coming years.

MHS English

On Friday January 27th, approximately 700 9th grade English and USII students had the privilege of attending a presentation of the Holocaust Council of Metrowest Survivors Speak program. The program aligns well with Holocaust studies in both classes. USII students study the time period in the historical lens, and English 9 students made connections with their study of Night by Elie Wiesel and, in the case of the honors courses, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Bringing the assembly to our students was a joint effort between the MHS English and Social Studies departments, but special thanks goes out to the MHS PTSA for generously funding the assembly, and to Ms. Jessica Doyle, Ms. Evangeline Thornton, and Ms. Melissa Fattorusso from the English department who invested a great deal of their time in making this experience a truly memorable one for our students.

In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, which happened to fall on the day of this assembly, students held up signs stating "#WE REMEMBER" in solidarity with the social media movement asking supporters to post photos featuring the hash tag phrase.

The program itself consisted of two speakers who were eyewitnesses to the Holocaust (survivors, liberators, POWs) and a moderator. The speakers, chosen for the diversity of their experiences during the Holocaust, first shared their personal experiences and memories from the time and then, after a short break, answered student questions in a Q&A session. Afterward, students were invited onstage to meet and take selfies with the speakers.

MHS Mathematics

Algebra students used their knowledge of linear functions to create a bungee line for a Barbie doll to allow her the most thrilling, yet safe, fall from the MHS second story balcony. Students collaborated in small groups to collect data for the experiment. With the use of the online website, Desmos, each group was able to display and analyze their data in order to make the best prediction for the number of rubber bands needed for the bungee line. All groups were able to test out their prediction by having their Barbie jump off the balcony by the main entrance. Students enjoyed working in groups and competing to see which group had the most successful drop.

After completing exponential functions unit, Algebra students worked on a college tuition performance task where students used their knowledge of exponential growth models to connect to real world situations. Students were tasked with the role of a financial planner who had to help a real family figure out how much money they would need to save for their child’s college tuition. Students looked up historic tuition data in order to calculate average annual percent increase for the specific college that the family chose. After calculating the average annual percent increase, students came up with a model that allowed them to predict future tuition in order to make their final recommendation to the family.

OHES/VES Language Arts

OHES students are getting back into the swing of things in reading and writing after winter break! Grade 1 students are embarking on a new reading unit this year, titled “Readers Get to Know Characters by Performing their Books.”

In this unit, first graders will be focus on the characters in their books, using the pictures and words to get to know how a character is feeling throughout the text. Students will be using their growing fluency skills to read their books and acting as their characters, reading characters’ dialogue or imagining what a character might say at various points in the text. Finally, toward the end of the unit, students will be working together in book clubs, focusing on a particular character or series and preparing for a final presentation, during which they will share all they’ve learned about getting to know characters by performing their books!

MHS Science

The MHS Science Department is in full swing with competitions, contests, and summer science programs. The MHS Science Olympiad Team has extended its winning streak to 3 straight tournaments (capturing 1st place at Cornell, Yale and the South Jersey Regional Tournaments). Students recently sat for the US Physics Olympiad and will be competing in the USA Biology Olympiad and the ACS Chemistry Olympiad in February and March respectively.

Independent research projects are beginning to take shape in iSTEM, with many of the projects either extended or preparing future summer research. MHS students have been busy applying to many summer programs and collaborating on Problem Based Learning teams with InvenTeams and CleanTech among the many opportunities.

The MHS Student STEAM Board maintains an active and informative website where students, parents, and community members can get updates on speakers, competitions, and programs. You can also follow the program on Twitter (@montysci).

Spring will be full of events including the 1st Annual Monty Hack-a-Thon hosted by MontyHacks on April 22nd at MHS. Volunteers and donations are welcome, please contact either Scott Pachuta ( or Jason Sullivan (

LMS/UMS Language Arts & Social Studies

In a stunning turn of events, 7th grade Social Studies students threw essay writing into the wind and launched themselves into a full blown Crusader Smackdown.

Teams of students trained for the big event by preparing arguments to support their theories as to whether or not the Crusades were a success or failure? Competitors adopted the perspectives of ancient groups such as European Crusaders, Byzantine Citizens, or Muslim Turks and Arabs. Each group then had to engage in a debate wherein students created claims, supported claims with reasons and elaborated on their reasoning. It was a battle of the century. All the while, students had to maintain calm in the face of opposition, ensure that all of their voices were heard and together, they had to create new thinking regarding the topic.

At the end of these epic battles, students were noted as saying, “We wish Smackdown could have lasted longer. We wish we could have represented even more perspectives and next time we are going to work to strengthen our arguments by acknowledging the other side and then smacking it down with our own reasoning.” The learning was a wonderful challenge had by all.

Meanwhile, across the middle grades in Language Arts, students have either just finished or they are currently finishing up their Literary Essay Units of Study.

While it is impossible to switch lives with another person, this Language Arts unit of study enables our students to utilize literature to strengthen their abilities to understand another person and the complexities of their world. In the case of our 7th grade Language Arts students, their historical fiction novels are enabling them travel in their minds to a specific time period, into the mind and soul of the protagonist. Our students feel themselves learning about some of life’s lessons without having to endure the bumps and bruises experienced by our protagonists. This unit is a fun way to walk away from a novel a little wiser, none worse for the wear.

MTSD World Language & ESL

The Montgomery Classical League (formerly, Latin Club) hosted an interdisciplinary event with Mr. Scott Mason from the history Department. Mr. Mason lead an informal discussion about Roman military tactics which related to several levels of Latin.

Latin III read about Roman warfare in the context of the Battle of Philippi. Learning about standard Roman battle formation in greater depth helped students better understand how and why these battles turned out the way they did.

The session also provided valuable insight for Latin IV students who have been reading Caesar's account of the siege of his winter quarters (from De Bello Gallico Book 5). Mr. Mason explained how the Roman camps were constructed, what a siege against them consisted of, and how a successful defense would have been mounted. Although Latin students engaged with this topic through assigned readings, lack of knowledge of the military conventions of that time could leave students with only a vague notion of recounted events. The author took for granted his audience’s understanding of the mechanics of what was happening. For instance, Caesar simply states "nostrī arma cēpissent vāllumque ascendissent (our men mounted the ramparts)" or "ūnā ex parte Hispānīs equitibus ēmīssīs (the Spanish cavalry was dispatched from one side of the camp)" but Caesar never actually explains what that entailed.

The discussion with Mr. Mason fleshed these tactics out in vivid detail for students and created an authentically captivating session (pun intended).

MHS Social Studies

The US History II classes studied the American home front during the Second World War and the sacrifices made by Americans who were not fighting overseas. These Americans shifted their ways of life in order to contribute to the war effort and learned to make-do with fewer available resources, namely sugar, meat, and raw materials such as rubber. Rationing affected every American, though most were glad to do without so the soldiers could have more. In learning this lesson, students researched the ways in which Americans on the home front changed their lifestyles to cope with food rationing. Americans at this time adjusted recipes to account for fewer ingredients available to them, yet still provide nutritious meals for their families.

Students re-created authentic recipes from the time period, shared them with their classmates, and reflected on their experience. One of the recipes discovered by a student is featured below.

Patriotic Pudding

  • 4 Tbs Flour
  • 4 Tbs grated raw potato or fine oatmeal
  • 1 Tbs Fat
  • 1/2 Tbs Jam, Treacle, or milk and water
  • 1 Grated Carrot
  • 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 2 tsp grated Orange or Lemon Rind

Rub the fat into the flour, add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the jam and carrot, heated in four table-spoons of milk and mix to a soft mixture adding more milk or water if necessary. Turn into a well-greased bowl, cover and steam for 1 hour.


LMS/UMS Mathematics & Science

Congratulations to the UMS Science Olympiad team bringing home 2nd place at Regionals at NJIT yesterday! We're so proud of our team and very inspiring and dedicated coaches, Mrs Butler and Mrs. Molinaro. Thanks to all UMS staff for their contributions to the students. And a very special thanks to Mr. Mulligan for all his support and help.

Meanwhile, in Science 6, students in their Earth Systems unit of study explored how energy on Earth flows from the sun and the Earth’s hot interior. They also investigated how water can cycle between the land, the ocean and the atmosphere. Students experienced various phenomena, questioned why and what made the phenomena happen that way, and finally developed models to explain and test their thinking.

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.