6-12 Curriculum Newsletter

January 2019

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Transforming the Classroom with the Five C’s

In order to fully prepare students for the ever evolving workforce, we as educators need to focus not only on the academic content but also the skills our students will need in order to be successful in the 21st century. It is imperative that we continue to shift our educational practices from teacher centered to student centered while employing the Five C’s.

  • Choice- Students have the opportunity to make choices in their learning. This increases student engagement and motivation while allowing them to use their strengths to demonstrate understanding. A teacher might consider providing a student the choice of what what material they study, what assignment they complete, or what peers they collaborate with.

  • Critical Thinking- Students analyze information from a variety of input sources. Eventually they must be able synthesize the information into a useful format.

  • Communication- People are social beings. It is important to provide time for students to talk with one another. In addition, students should be provided opportunities to utilize various media formats to effectively present information that is clear, concise, engaging, and meaningful to the student.

  • Collaboration- Through providing opportunities and guidance students work to strengthen their skills of partnership and teamwork as well as leadership and assistance.

  • Creativity- Students should be encouraged to express themselves and ideas. By infusing the opportunities for students to creatively express themselves and express their ideas and understanding in a way that makes sense to them, students are able to better communicate their knowledge in a meaningful way.

The Benefits of Exposing Students to Multicultural Literature

By including multicultural literature in ELA and Social Studies classrooms, teachers can provide their students with texts that represent the culturally diverse classrooms and home environments found in our country, our state, and our community. Exposure to multicultural literature has many benefits, including:

  • Enabling students to gain a better understanding of both their own culture and the cultures of others. This exposure may alter students’ perspectives on diversity and the acceptance of others

  • Helping students develop global awareness by introducing them to current cultural issues

  • Increasing students’ awareness of the various social practices, values and belief systems of other cultures

  • Fostering positive self-esteem and prevents students from feeling isolated

  • Nurturing respect, empathy, and acceptance among all students

  • Assisting in breaking down cultural barriers

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Why Inquiry-based Learning Works

The power of learning something new is undeniable, but how do you overcome apathy and activate student curiosity? Why is Broadway’s production of Hamilton such a huge success? The reason is, it’s a new and different way of telling an old story. The facts haven’t changed but the way they are presented has. The telling of Hamilton in a more contemporary setting is making the story more relatable.

Inquiry-based instruction is the Hamilton of the classroom - it makes concepts more concrete for students, who develop questions that they want an answer to.

So, once you have the topic/content, and you’ve activated their curiosity, what’s next?

  • Have students develop a problem statement that requires them to pitch their question using a constructed response, further inquiry, and citation.

  • Research the topic using time in class. This will allow the teacher to guide the students and model how to research.

  • Have students present what they’ve learned. This can be achieved in multiple ways (website; blog, podcast, presentation etc)

  • Ask students to reflect on what worked about the process and what didn’t. Have students focus on how they learned in addition to what they learned.

The end result is a classroom where students are presenting their findings on a single, simple aspect of the content, leading to learning thats is deeper and wider than before.

Don't Miss a Beat for Healthy Heart Month

February is around the corner and a great time to recognize American Healthy Heart Month — a time to remember our commitment to ourselves to stay heart healthy. This upcoming month is a reminder to build awareness of the importance of cardiovascular health and disease prevention.

Here are some healthy heart ideas you can bring into your school and classrooms:

  • Give heart healthy facts over during morning announcements.

  • Do daily classroom physical activity breaks. Start small and work your way up (minutes).

  • Just Dance!

  • Teach a lesson about heart health and ways to keep a healthy heart and body.

  • Host a month-long writing or art contest where students compose poems, letters, stories, artwork, etc. about healthy hearts.

  • Coordinate a day in February where your entire school wears red to promote a healthy heart (National Wear Red Day is the first Friday of the month).

  • Post photos on social media celebrating Healthy Heart Month: #HTSDstrong #(yourschoolStrong)

  • Host a Family Fitness Night and share literature about the importance of physical activity in preventing heart disease.

  • Teach students, staff and families how to manage stress. Offer a stress management workshop or meditation or yoga class.

This Heart Month, connect with the kids in your life and your school community to help ensure heart health remains a priority, not just in February, but all year long!

Engaging Math Tasks

Low Floor High Ceiling (LFHC) Tasks are those that all students can access but that can be extended to high levels. These tasks are important because all classes are heterogeneous. LFHC tasks allow students to work at different paces and take their problem solving to different depths at different times.

In order to determine if an activity is a LFHC task, consider the following:

  • Work to the problem becomes much more important than the answer itself.

  • All students can access the problem and there is room to explore math concepts at higher levels.

  • Tasks should lead to rich mathematical discourse.

There are many benefits to using LFHC tasks. The tasks allow learners to show what they can do, not what they can’t and increases growth mindset in mathematics. In addition, incorporating these types of tasks provides differentiation to all learners. You do not necessarily have to know all of the exact answers before your class begins the task. Imagine how excited your class would be to know that they found a solution that you had not!

The Importance of Assessment in Instruction

Assessment is an integral part of instruction because the teacher is able to evaluate an ongoing process with the aim to provide feedback for developing better instruction. Teachers should be continually assessing their students and transforming their practices; yet oftentimes, teachers assess their students by asking them to bubble, circle, or fill in the blank. These types of activities can be torture for right-brain personalities! Below are some engaging, challenging, and fun assessments that help students demonstrate their knowledge in an innovative way!

  • Advertisement: Create an ad with visuals and text to convey a new concept

  • Poem: Write a poem to summarize a new concept

  • Drawing: Create a drawing to summarize a new concept

  • Venn Diagram: Have the students compare and contrast a topic using a venn diagram

  • Illustrate: Read a story and allow the students to illustrate/ create a visualization.

  • 3-2-1 Exit Tickets: 3 things I learned, 2 things I found interesting, 1 question I still have.

  • Jigsaw Groups: Students work in groups to complete one piece of a bigger assignment and then share out what they learned.

  • Graphic Organizer: Have students use a graphic organizer to demonstrate relationships between facts, concepts or ideas.

  • Tech tools: Kahoot, Quizziz, Flipgrid, Google Forms

Hopefully, these assessments have inspired you to devise your own engaging assessment tools. Also, don’t forget to provide rubrics with clear expectations, descriptive feedback, and plenty of opportunities for students to self-assess!

Accommodations and Modifications for English Language Learners

On any given day one, two, three, or five English Language Learners (ELLs) enroll in our school district. Some ELLs are newcomers who speak zero to very little English while others are well on their way to develop language skills. Regardless of an ELL’s English language proficiency level, grade level content must be taught without watering down the curriculum.

Many teachers and administrators ask how to teach grade level content to students who do not speak English. One of the best strategies is to integrate accommodations and modifications during instruction. Accommodations impact how a student learns while modifications take into consideration what is being taught and expected. To get started, implement some of the strategies listed below.

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Dear Data Guy

How can I tell if my students are showing any growth?

At the high school level, we have a variety of comparison data including PARCC, PSAT, SAT, and Imagine Math data. You can view the data in the reporting dashboard by selecting multiple administrations, and then selecting the show growth button.

At the middle school level, we are just finishing our second i-Ready administration. The i-Ready software has a built in growth report. Click on the Diagnostic Results tab, and then select the test you want to analyze. Next select the prior diagnostic under the drop down and you will see your results. Besides the i-Ready reading data, you can analyze a variety of growth data in Linkit!. I would suggest viewing the year over year PARCC results, attendance data, and i-Ready data.

Notes from Mr. Scotto

As we approach mid-year review for SGOs, consider the following reflective questions:

  • Which students are below expectations?
  • Which students are approaching expectations?
  • What obstacles are limiting their progress?
  • What action(s) are needed to address the issue(s)?
  • Which students are meeting expectations?
  • Which students are exceeding expectations?

Having strong "progress monitoring" data (linked to your SGO goals) will assist with answering the aforementioned questions.

Hamilton Township School District

Anthony Scotto, Director of Curriculum and Instruction


Alejandro Batlle, Health/PE and World Language

Kevin Bobetich, Testing/Assessment

Mayreni Fermin-Cannon, ESL K-12, Title I Pre-K, ESSA Title Grants, & Family Engagement

Karen Gronikowski, Mathematics and STEAM

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