Curricular Circular March -- May

A Curriculum and Instruction Newsletter for VTSD Faculty

The purpose of this Curriculum & Instruction circular is to help raise awareness of common instructional trends, provide you with classroom tips and tricks and work towards establishing a shared understanding of strategies, resources, and a familiar C&I lexicon. It was designed specifically for VTSD faculty in mind.
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Picture: Turn and Talk Anchor Chart - Discussion Starters; Mrs. Jen Sousa, LHMS, Grade 5, Language Arts/Social Studies

Have You Read? Professional Reading

  • The AD/HD Book by Beth Ann Hill & James Van Haren


  • Discipline with Dignity: New Challenges, New Solutions by Curwin & Mendler


  • Rethinking Small Group Instruction in the Middle Grades by Nancy N. Boyles

Small Group Instruction

How Your VTSD Colleagues Across the District Are Using Small Groups

Mrs. Longchamp - VTHS - English

"Our class uses small groups to take an in-depth look at poetry. Each group of four members is assigned a different poem by a particular poet which connects to our current unit of study. Each member has a specific role such as performer, describer, interpreter and evaluator. There are also two group wrap-up questions. The group members decide amongst themselves which roles they will take. They then answer questions related to their particular task and create a brief presentation to share with the class, which includes a song of their choice that connects to the poetry. Because each role utilizes a different skill set with varying degrees of difficulty, poetry becomes accessible to learners of all abilities and allows our class to examine several poems at the same time. Also, the activity builds vocabulary, critical thinking, cooperative, communicative and analytical skills. In the larger context, the activity creates a lens for the students to make connections to both the novel they are reading and to the world in which they live. This month we are studying the work of Langston Hughes, jazz poetry and the Harlem Renaissance in conjunction with The Great Gatsby. The students really enjoy working with each other and we have a lot of fun with the presentations!"

Setting the Stage for Small Group Instruction

To organize small group instruction, consider the following:


  • What's the purpose?
  • Who would benefit from this focus?
  • What kinds of texts should I use?
  • What resources will I need for teaching and assessing?
  • How do I implement this?
  • How do I measure students' success?


Taken from Re-thinking Small Group Instruction in the Intermediate Grades.

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Picture: Small Group, Daily Five Instruction, Mrs. Rizzo, Grade 5

Common Core Idea of the Month

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Readers and Tasks

Even many students on course for college and career readiness are likely to need scaffolding as they master higher levels of text complexity. For example, many students just entering grade 2 will need some support as they read texts that are advanced for the grades 2-3 text complexity band. Although such support is educationally necessary and desirable, instruction must move generally toward decreasing scaffolding and increasing independence, with the goal of students reading independently and proficiently within a given grade band by the end of the band's final year.


Taken from Appendix A of The Common Core Standards

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Picture: Playbill Word Wall, Mrs. Lindsay McAloney, VTHS, Drama Teacher

Teacher Spotlight - CSI Comes to VTHS

The students in Ms. Kuplin’s Forensics Science Class conducted a lab in which they investigated a crime scene. Students were required to map the crime scene and analyze the evidence, which included a murder weapon, blood evidence and a written note. The emphasis in this Syracuse University class is on scientific methods specifically relevant to crime detection and analysis. Syracuse University has a well-developed Forensics program, and this introductory course provides a thorough overview of the field. Students can earn 4 Syracuse University credits.

C&I District Highlights

  • Over 20 teachers in the Fine, Performing, and Practical Arts Departments along with representatives from the Math and Science Departments have been working with Edmentum, an online resource that empowers teachers to use blended and flipped instructional models and also to supplement and differentiated their current instruction for individual students.


  • Jenn Krott (VTHS) has been selected as a Music Theory AP test reader and will be going to the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati, OH from June 12-16 to grade exams from across the county.


  • The New Jersey Department of Education Office of CTE announced that Kathie Belli (VTHS,) Mike Moschella (WRPS,) and Erik Villanueva (LHMS) have each been chosen to serve on the Standard 9 Career Ready Practices Curriculum Consortium. Kathie, Mike, and Erik were chosen as one of only a select few in the state based on their expertise at their respective grade levels, their subject area, and their exceptional leadership skills. They recently went to​ Trenton to draft Career Ready Practice resources that will be available to districts across the state.


  • For the third year in a row Mr. Falkowski and Mr. Trokan (VTHS) took the Model UN Team to St. Peter's College in Jersey City for a 2-day competition and took home more awards than any other school. Vernon is the only Sussex County school that attends and competes against mostly Bergen and Morris County public and private schools.

One Last Thing Before You Go

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