Curriculum & Instruction Newsletter

Fair Haven Public Schools

April 2021 - Volume 3, Issue 4

Dear Fair Haven Families,

This year is flying by and in a couple of short months, we will be headed out for summer break! As we head into the homestretch, I want to continue to highlight as many of the wonderful happenings in the district as possible. While my newsletters only show a small snapshot, because believe me, I can write a novel, there are so many wonderful lessons and activities to highlight each and every day. I want to continue to share my sincere gratitude for our teachers, staff, and families for supporting our schools and the education of our students in this very different school year.


Cheryl Romano

Director of Curriculum & Instruction

Twitter: @FHCurriculum

"All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today."

- Unknown

Meeting Our Favorite Authors

Ms. Piotrowski's 3rd grade class had the opportunity to Zoom with one of their favorite non- fiction authors, Kevin Kurtz. Kevin Kurtz has written many books, including Living Things and Nonliving Things, Sharks and Dolphins, and Climate Change and Rising Temperatures.

Having the opportunity to meet with Kevin Kurtz and talk about nonfiction texts is tied into our 3rd grade curriculum within our non fiction reading and writing units. Students learned about Kevin and received tips on how to be good authors in their own writing.

Ms. Piotrowski's class had a blast and loved this personalized experience with a great author!

Kindergarten Construction

Our kindergarten students are truly immersed in their new Creative Curriculum study about buildings! Between the actual construction happening at Sickles and the thematic unit taking place in classrooms, students are sure to come away with a new appreciation for all facets of building.

Pictured here, Mrs. Presser's students are hard at work in their first phase of building. Students begin their building process by sanding their wood first. Then, they will be planning and creating structures of their choice. I can't wait to see what Mrs. Presser's students build!

Did you know that there are many benefits to having students of all ages build with either toys, blocks, Legos, or in this case, wood? Students have the opportunity to work on their fine motor skills, placing tiny pieces. They also use gross motor skills using their arm muscles to sand the wood. Building helps students to work on their visual-spacial skills, which is important for reading readiness. Building also promotes thinking and reasoning. Students can use their imagination to build a structure, but they also have to use reasoning and problem solving to fix a structure that may not work the first time.

Students in Mrs. Presser's class are getting quite an educational workout through their building study!

Making Connections Through Musical Theater

Sixth graders in the music elective recently engaged in a musical theater lesson with their music teacher, Dr. Marino, guidance counselor, Ms. Miglin, and student teacher, Ms. Tews. This lesson explored themes in two songs from Dear Evan Hansen: "Waving Through a Window," and "You Will Be Found." Students analyzed "Waving Through a Window," looking for evidence of whether it was a musical theater "I Am" or "I Want" song, searching for meaning in the title and other key lyrics, and discussing how the main character, Evan, was feeling in the song. They talked about what Evan could do about his feelings, and how others could help, too. Students responded to questions about whether there might be students feeling this way at Knollwood School. They discussed what students could do if/when they were feeling this way, and what those around them could do. Students thought about who they could reach out to for support if they were feeling like Evan, or knew someone who was. Finally, they discovered and discussed what happened when the main character, Evan, reached out to others in the song, "You Will Be Found."

This lesson is part of sixth graders' musical theater storytelling unit, in which they study and analyze musical theater primarily through Hamilton: An American Musical. Students discover the elements of musical theater, explore how those elements help tell the story, and investigate why those who created the musical made the choices they did. They learn to sing a group version of "My Shot" from Hamilton, have opportunities to learn melodies from the musical on piano, and even make "costumes" like tricorn hats (pictured). Students take what they've learned and apply it to analyzing other musicals, like Aladdin and Wicked. The Dear Evan Hansen lesson described above is one way students can make personal connections to this art form. It's also a way for them to develop an understanding of how artists create art as a way to respond to their own experiences in the world.

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It's Slime Time!

Ms. Robinson's kindergarten class uses Creative Curriculum studies to make slime. How does this fit into the curriculum, it seems too fun??

Through the Creative Curriculum, students explore content through a variety of studies, this one is linked to the grocery store. As students learn about the grocery store, they explore many topics including literacy, math, and science. Students have the opportunity to practice their writing skills by making a grocery list, work with numbers through looking at prices, and learn social emotional skills while engaging in dramatic play activities that involve shopping.

In this lesson, Ms. Robinson shares her grocery list with the students and shows them that you don't necessarily need to buy food at the grocery store. There is so much more that can be purchased there and with a few simple ingredients, a grocery trip can lead to a fun science experiment.

Students worked with Ms. Robinson to mix together several ingredients and create their own custom slime. Students observed the changes to the viscosity of the mixture as new ingredients were stirred in. What a fun way to infuse many content areas together and engage students in learning!

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Sickles Pen Pals

Mrs. Foderaro's class and Mrs. Frankel's class recently started pen pal writing. After spring break, they were able to meet together over Zoom and "see" their pen pals. Mrs. Frankel's class started the process by typing to students in Mrs. Foderaro's class. In response, first graders handwrote letters, which were then added into a Google Slide presentation to share with their pals in Mrs. Frankel's class. What a great way to make connections with our virtual learners!

Body Biographies

Ms. Oliveira's 5th grade students have been working on their Number the Stars body biography projects. After students finished reading Number the Stars, they choose a character from the novel and identified different qualities that make up the character. The class discussed questions like, "What does your character value?" "What is your character's best accomplishment from the novel?" "What are some traits that describe your character?" Students started by typing these answers into an organizer and once it was done, they hand wrote their answers on their posters and added their own style to decorate them. Even though a lot of students chose the same character, no two posters came out the same! This activity shows that reading a good book can touch people in many different ways. You can see some of Ms. Oliveira's students' ideas below.
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Fables, Folktales, and March Madness

Mrs. Albanese's 2nd grade class recently celebrated the end of their Fables and Folktales unit by dressing up as their favorite characters! They had The Lion and the Mouse, The Three Little Pigs, Red Riding Hood and Cinderella! Students worked hard throughout the unit identifying the different elements of folktales and fables including characters, setting, problem and solution, and morals. This unit was also celebrated as a whole second grade by creating a March Book Madness with some of the different books they read! At the time of this celebration, the second grade team was in the final round and waiting (not so) patiently to see which book was the winner!

2nd Grade March Book Madness Brackets

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Writing About Life Changes

In Mrs. O'Grady's 8th grade literacy class, students began writing around the question, "When was the moment you realized the pandemic would change your life?" As students thoughtfully considered this question, they recalled the moment when they realized school would be closed for the remainder of school last year. In short essays, students shared thoughts on what the pandemic did to them personally, from missing friends and family to the astonishment of what transpired because of it. Below, please find some samples of student writing about the time they realized their life had changed.
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March Math and Traditions

Miss Oddo's 1st grade virtual learners are continuing to work hard and share all that they are learning! Students have been working on halves and fourths (quarters). Pictured here, you can see that students are using objects in their every day life to show how fractions can be represented.

Students are also learning a lot about different traditions and holidays that they celebrate. As a fun activity, Miss Oddo's students created their own leprechauns and leprechaun traps for St. Patrick's Day.

In the last picture, students are showing how they can follow step-by-step directions based on "how to" writing pieces. I bet that breakfast turned out delicious with all of the writing details listed!


The students in Ms. Maloney's class began an in-depth animal study during one of the virtual snow days back in February. While students shared stories of going sledding at Tower Hill, Ms. Maloney showed students a video of pandas at the National Zoo in Washington DC. These pandas, in first grade fashion, could be seen sliding down the hills of their exhibit and rolling around in the fluffy white snow. In the hopes of seeing more panda fun, Ms. Maloney's class began to watch the pandas on the "panda cam" during snack. Students were able to observe panda behaviors, notice patterns, and generate additional questions. Students then read books about pandas and were able to draw conclusions to support their observations. Over the course of a month, students watched adult pandas, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, explore their indoor and outdoor exhibits. Students also got the chance to see their cub, Xiao Qi Ji, venture outside for the first time and climb a tree! After watching the animals for several weeks, students were disappointed to learn that there are more people living in Fair Haven than there are pandas left in the wild. With this call to action, students began to write persuasive letters in writing workshop advocating for panda conservation. While their panda study may be complete, students have continued their snack tradition by learning about a new animal each month. In March, students studied lions from the National Zoo and are currently learning about tigers at the San Diego Zoo in California! You can follow along at home by checking out live web cams at the National Zoo and the San Diego Zoo.