K-5 Curriculum Newsletter

September 2022

Big picture

Reestablishing Math Routines in the Elementary Classroom

The beginning of the school year is a time to establish routines and expectations, and a time to promote a positive learning environment in order to set your students up for a successful year. There are many ways to establish math routines that will promote positive thinking and encourage mathematical practices. In addition, these routines will help students realize that making mistakes helps them to learn and grow.

To get the most out of the first weeks, consider the following suggestions:

  • Play math games that incorporate the skills you want to assess. Students will enjoy games or activities that incorporate math skills. You can observe the skills a student possesses and what assistance they may need.

  • Use a performance assessment task to understand students’ thought processes. How are they reading the problem? What will they do first? What methods will they use to solve the problem? You may find out more about a student by how they solve a problem than you would with a variety of worksheets. Find an activity where the students get hands-on experience with manipulatives.

  • Increase conversations about math using a routine such as “Which One Doesn’t Belong?” (WODB) or “Would You Rather?” WODB problems encourage students to participate in a discussion with minimal anxiety that an answer will be wrong. The problems are designed so that students can find a way to justify that each answer has a reason not to belong. “Would You Rather?” problems develop students' ability to use their intuition and reason what makes sense in different scenarios.

  • Create a positive math environment by asking students about their personal experiences with math learning. Ask questions like “What makes a math person?” or “What are your feelings about math?” Have a conversation about your expectations regarding making mistakes, telling students that it’s okay to make mistakes because we expect them, respect them, and will correct them. Teach students about growth mindset and how their brain grows every time they make a mistake.

Launching a Writer’s Notebook

I​​t’s a Place

Ralph Fletcher

Why am I keeping this notebook?

Because it’s a place where I

can keep track of my life.

It’s a place where I can observe closely

And where I can store

little pieces of strength.

It’s a place where I can keep

the elements of Life

(lightning, fire, ice, time and space)

and Writing

(poetry, words, eyes).

It’s a place where tales weave.

All in all

it’s a place for ME.

All writers need a place to write, reflect and develop their craft as a writer. Author Ralph Fletcher noted in his poem “It’s a Place” the significance of his notebook by saying, “it is a place for me” (line 14). Therefore the writer’s notebook is an essential component of writing instruction. A writer’s notebook is a place where students can store and develop their writing skills and techniques. This notebook is a teaching tool that students and teachers alike can utilize to move student writing forward. It is not only the students who should utilize writing notebooks, but the teachers as well. Teachers need to model utilizing their own writing notebooks throughout the writing process.

To launch using a writer’s notebook, begin with the conversation of why writers use notebooks. Then make a list of these reasons to set a purpose for the writer’s notebook. Students also need to show ownership of their notebook. The students can personalize their notebook by decorating the outside with pictures, drawings, or words that represent themselves. The outside of their notebook can also serve as future inspiration for their writing in the images and words they selected.

The inside of the notebook is where students collect their ideas, try out writing techniques, and draft out their writing. Teach students the notebook is a place to store all of their thoughts throughout the writing process. A main use of the notebook is a place to collect “seeds”. Seeds are ideas for future writing pieces that could be in the form of lists, images, sentences, or even paragraphs. The goal is for the students to store and collect many seeds in the prewriting process that will eventually grow into well developed writing pieces.

During the mini lesson, teachers should model diving into their notebook to pull inspiration or try out ideas. This becomes a place where teachers can show examples of their own writing. After teaching the skill to the students, ask them to go into their notebook and try the skill they just learned. Another great way to utilize the notebook is during a writing center. Provide the students an opportunity to choose a “seed” idea and write about it. The notebook needs to be something the students refer to again and again. Providing students a place for themselves in a writer’s notebook will enhance and elevate writing instruction in the classroom.

Back to School Instant Activities

Instant Activity is a classroom management teaching strategy that gives your students a task to start immediately when entering the gymnasium. No more roll call in squad spots, warm ups, and then introduction to a lesson. Involve your students in a meaningful instant activity that is an anticipatory set for your PE lesson.

Instant Activities can jump start your class by allowing your students to warmup their bodies and also getting the blood flowing to their brain. Multiple studies have shown, lead to focus and allows your students to better understand lesson topic more effectively. Not only does applying an instant activity routine get your students moving quickly, it allows you to complete beginning of the lesson housekeeping items, like attendance and individual student check-ins.

Here are some Back to School Instant Activities:

Instant Activities Outside of the Gymnasium (In the Classroom)

Instant activities are your anticipatory sets with movement. Get your students moving to start the class with a fun bell ringer.

World Language Examples:

School Year Kickoff- Library

Running a successful school Library program requires a knowledgeable librarian with a strong dedication to the program. It means determining the essentials for a strong foundation and driving the library in a positive direction that meets the constantly changing needs of our students. For teachers and students alike, thinking about all of the achievements ahead is energizing; however, thinking of the challenges can sometimes be overwhelming.

Below is a list to help kick off the school year:

  1. Be a Role Model- First and foremost, be a source of comfort, especially for young learners. Let your students know that you missed them, share some fun things you did and books you read. Your love of literacy and willingness to share will encourage your students to read and share, as well! Then, inform students of some of the fun things which they will be doing in the Library to motivate them.

  2. Collect Data- The start of the school year is a great time to do a needs assessment for the Library. Collect feedback from students, teachers, parents, and administrators. Data can be collected through surveys, polls, social media, and informal conversations.

  3. Advocate- Demonstrate your dedication to the Library program by communicating through your school’s newsletter, social media, or website. Advocating for the program communicates why the Library program is so important.

  4. Keep Learning- Educators are always learning. Some interesting articles and ideas are linked below.

  • Be sure to keep up to date with new ideas and strategies to encourage students to explore, collaborate, and engage. HERE are some fun ideas!

  • Be well informed on new resources and methods in Information and Media Literacy, Technology Literacy, and Digital Citizenship.

  • Build a professional learning network. You’ll need to ask questions and bounce ideas with informed people, so get involved in professional organizations and associations.

Dear Data Guy

What is the purpose of Start Strong Testing?

Start Strong Testing is a diagnostic assessment tool. Diagnostic assessments are typically administered prior to a course, similar to a pre-test. The data gained from the assessment helps inform teachers, administrators, parents, state-level stakeholders, and students about learning gaps. For this fall’s Start Strong Administration choice standards from grade level English, Mathematics, and Science have been chosen by the state which represent the major preliminary standards for the grade.

Notes from Mr. Scotto

Welcome to the 22/23 School Year!

The Office of Curriculum & Instruction has made some staffing changes in the last few months. Please take a moment to review our supervisory assignments.

  • K-5 Math/Science (as well as BSI Math) will now be supervised by Ms. Karen Gronikowski.
  • K-5 ELA/SS (as well as BSI Reading & ALPS) will continue to be supervised by Mrs. Laura Leidy-Stauffer.
  • K-12 ESL (and ESSER PreK) will continue to be supervised by Mrs. Michelle Griffith.
  • K-12 Health/PE & World Language will continue to be supervised by Mr. Alejandro Batlle.
  • K-12 Visual & Performing Arts will now be supervised by Ms. Kerri Sullivan (who will be joining our team at the end of November).
  • 6-12 ELA/SS will now be supervised by Mrs. Francesca Miraglia.
  • 6-12 Math/6-8 STEAM will now be supervised by Ms. Tracey Schwartz (who will be joining our team at the end of November).
  • 6-12 Science/Applied Technology will continue to be supervised by Mr. Matthew Sisk.
  • Testing, Data, and Staff Evaluation will continue to be supervised by Mr. Kevin Bobetich.
  • K-12 Library, 9-12 Tech/Business Education, and ESSA & Perkins Grants will now be supervised by Mrs. Danielle Tan.

I am confident that the Office of Curriculum & Instruction will continue to be a trusted source for our HTSD Family!

HTSD Curriculum Department

Anthony Scotto, Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Supervisors of K-5 Staff

Alejandro Batlle, K-12 Health/PE & World Language

Kevin Bobetich, Testing, Data, and Staff Evaluation

Michelle Griffith, K-12 ESL

Karen Gronikowski, K-5 Math/Science

Danielle Tan, K-12 Library, 9-12 Tech/Business Education, and ESSA & Perkins Grants

Laura Leidy, K-5 ELA/SS