6-12 Curriculum Newsletter

June 2019

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Unplug. Unwind. Relax. Read for pleasure. See a movie. Go to the beach. Take time to reward yourself for a job well done. If you don’t take the time to recharge, you can’t hit the ground running the next year. For those of you with an interest in professional reading, check out the suggestions below.


These 6 Things: How to Focus Your Teaching on What Matters Most

Teaching is a very rewarding profession. Educators are shaping the community around us. However, with all of the professional responsibilities, additional state mandates, and ever changing educational best practices, teachers can sometimes be left with the feeling like they are treading water. Teachers are the ones who are in the thick of it and expending a ton of energy navigating professional responsibilities while increasing student performance. This continued struggle leads to overwhelmed teachers and underperforming students in a school.

These 6 Things: How to Focus Your Teaching on What Matters Most, written by Dave Stuart Jr., brings to the reader’s attention the need to reflect and refocus our teaching in order to increase student achievement. Throughout the book, the reader will explore ideas such as focusing on what is important to teach, how to increase motivation, and interventions and strategies to reach unmotivated students. This book is a must read for all teachers from novice to experienced. If you have a free moment over the summer months, read this book and return to school in September with a renewed focus on teaching the essential skills that matter most.

Text Dependent Questions: Pathways to Close and Critical Reading

Close reading is an effective strategy to use when students are faced with complex text. Close reading provides students with a structure that allows for a thorough analysis of text through multiple readings for different purposes.

If you’re interested in incorporating close reading strategies in your classroom, pick up a copy of Text Dependent Questions: Pathways to Close and Critical Reading (Grades 6-12) by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey. The authors show how text-dependent questions can address much more than ‘right there’ type questions. Close reading strategies help students to understand what the text doesn’t say, how the text works, what the text means, and more.

The book is chock-full of step-by-step guidelines and concrete examples that span many content areas. Included are questions about vocabulary, structure, author’s craft, and key details that you could easily adapt/use in your classroom.

This professional resource will not disappoint!

Teaching Science is Phenomenal: Using Science to Engage Students in Three-Dimensional Science Performances Consistent with the NRC framework and NGSS

Don’t be fooled by the long-winded title!! It’s actually a really good read and full of useful resources. The book uses the 5E instructional model, intertwined with the Gather, Reason and Communicate (GRC) student performance sequence, as a way to structure teaching and learning in the classroom.

Authors Brett Moulding and Roger Bybee provide practical examples of phenomena for every grade band, aligned to the standards, as well as a breakdown of student performances linked to science practices. There is an especially useful table to demonstrate the difference between evidence and argument in science (p.51) as well as another connecting cross-cutting concepts, phenomena and explanations (p. 69).

Finally, there is a companion website and google drive where you can find phenomena based lessons aligned to the standards for all grade bands. Happy reading!!

Phenomenal GRC lessons

How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?

It’s an old story, but a very poignant one for budding performance artists. A man wandering around New York City is looking for the great concert hall built in 1891 known as Carnegie Hall (actually located on 7th Avenue). The hall is known for being the ultimate venue for performance artists--if you make it to Carnegie Hall, you have done the best anyone can do. The man stops a passer-by and asks the question: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”, hoping to get physical directions. The person walking by stops, looks at the man, and instead answers the question with one word: “Practice!”

We’ve all heard the phrase that starts:”Practice makes _____ .” Most of you probably completed that phrase with the word “perfect.” But those of you who experience the process of arts practice on a daily basis know the completion of that phrase to be “Practice makes permanent!” Repeating something over and over again doesn’t necessarily make it perfect, but will almost assuredly make it ingrained as a habit that may be hard to break. Summer is a great time to practice your art whether it is a fine or performing art. But be sure to invest time and energy into instruction that moves you forward as an artist, not just repeating what you have done in the past. Summer is also a great time to find the exemplary artists and musicians that inspire you. Emulating one or more of your inspirational figures is often a great way to begin to find yourself as an artist.

The Classroom Chef

Interested in spicing up your classroom lessons? This book by John Stevens and Matt Vaudrey will definitely deliver on providing opportunities for you to:

  • Sharpen your lessons

  • Season your classes

  • Make math meaningful

The authors draw comparisons in planning for a lesson to preparing a fine meal. For instance, consider “setting the table” as planning the entire lesson, an “appetizer” as a warm up and “desserts” as a way to rethink formal assessment. Recipes for success in math need to be tried, tasted and adjusted.

The authors have shared their ingredients to serve up lessons that increase student engagement and help to make math more meaningful. With a little bit of imagination and preparation, you too, can be a 'classroom chef.' After all, everyone eats and can relate to the positive experience of a fine meal. Take a bite out of this book and put these simple appetizing ideas into practice!

Unlocking English Learners’ Potentials

As the end of the school year approaches, take time to reflect on how you supported English Language Learners (ELLs). At times, did you wonder why are they not participating? Was I able to make content comprehensible? How can I help my students meet grade level expectation if they are in the process of learning English? For these and other questions, I am recommending Unlocking English Learners’ Potentials as a summer read and resource during the school year.

Unlocking English Learners' Potential addresses many of the concerns we have on ways to support our students. After introducing readers to a framework for equitable teaching, this book provides tips for delivering culturally responsive lessons. Ways to scaffold and modify instruction by English language proficiency are also provided. Chapters on formative assessment methods along with teaching background knowledge, vocabulary, and academic language include strategies that can be implemented immediately.

50 Things You Can Do with Google Classroom

Twitter has many great educators that share great strategies to use in the classroom. The authors, Alice Keeler (@alicekeeler) and Libbi Miller (@MillerLibbi) provide innovative ways to use technology that expands student learning, along with creative ways to maximize productivity for both students and teachers.

A big challenge many educators face is how to add and integrate new technology to the classroom. This book will shorten the learning curve by providing an overview snapshot of Google Classroom and Google Apps For Educations (GAFE). The reader will have screen shot visuals and step by step instructions to assist in implementation. From encouraging collaboration between your students to organizing assignments and becoming a paperless classroom, Alice Keeler and Libbi Miller make it easy to facilitate a digital/blended learning environment. If you are attempting to build upon your google toolbox, this is the book for you.

Dear Data Guy

As we close out the end of the school year, I want to thank you for all of the effort you put forth for collecting and analyzing data during the year. The summer is a perfect time to look back at the school year to determine which lessons, units, and assessments were effective as well as those that missed the mark.

For those teachers who utilized Linkit! this year to enter or analyze data, here is a LINK to refresh your memory as to how to review your data.

High School teachers should review student performance for Attendance Level, PARCC/NJSLA, PSAT, SAT, Access (ESL students), and AP testing. One of the most important activities is looking at your students’ work. When you look at students’ work samples (including tests), this will help you reflect on the lessons you taught for those units.

Our middle school ELA teachers administered i-Ready three times this year. The essential question is whether or not your students have shown growth from the beginning of the year until the end of the year. This information is best viewed in our Linkit! platform by putting all three benchmarks side by side.

Have a good summer.

Notes from Mr. Scotto

School may be over, but professional learning never stops...

The HTSD Summer Institute for Professional Development is offering forty sessions that align with district initiatives. These sessions will be facilitated by teachers, administrators, and some of our vendors. Join us for some meaningful, yet relaxing, professional development.

For more information about sessions, dates, times, etc, please log onto the OASYS platform registration link.

Congratulations on completing the 18/19 SY; I look forward to seeing you over the summer.

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

Jeffrey Lesser, Visual and Performing Arts (Interim)

Joanne Long, Science and Applied Technology

Francesca Miraglia, English Language Arts and Media Centers

Erick Shio, Social Studies and Business