Curriculum Newsletter 6-12

January 2023


Different Ways to Integrate Technology into Physical Education

There are many ways to include technology in any lesson or subject area to to enhance a lesson, provide more efficiency, and most importantly, promote student engagement. Here are some examples of technology and how you can use them in your classes.

Smart Apps

Now a days, you can find an app for just about anything. What about fitness? Both MapMyFitness and MyFitnessPal provide nutritional guidance in addition to movement tracking. Another idea is to use Google Earth to show students distances and challenge them to walk those distances—for example, the height of Mount Everest or the distance between their home and another location.

Video Resources

Sites such as YouTube and Vimeo offer a wide range of tools for educators. My content creators have provided multiple media resources during their time in remote to assist in a variety of PE activities. If an educator wants to teach something such as dance or yoga, there is a wide variety of how-to videos that can apply to any age group. Additionally, some educators create video projects where student groups create an instructional video to teach something to the rest of the class.

We are One to One

We are one to one now! Why not allow students to utilize the aforementioned with their devices. Students can download applications and work independently at stations during PE or set goals and continue to work at home. Students can also utilize application like EdPuzzle or Pear Deck (student paced) to not only complete a fitness task, but also document their completion or process of the skill or reps/time of a fitness task.

Adapting to new technology can be challenging for instructors. Sometimes, physical education instructors can feel as if technology does not apply to their subject. However, by embracing technology, physical education teachers create a more varied and dynamic classroom. They are also able to appeal to the interests of many different students and ability types. Using technology to teach physical health allows educators to create more activities and show how important their goals are.

Tips for Preparing Ells for Standardized Tests

Standardized tests have become an important part of instructional programs. For students who are still learning English, any test becomes a test of their English language proficiency. This results in a large achievement gap between ELLs and English-proficient students. Students need to know what a multiple-choice test is and how to avoid errors that have nothing to do with their knowledge of the subject.

There are several ways that teachers can prepare students for standardized testing to ensure that ELLs are familiar with above all how to take the test and what it looks like. First, include test-like structures into everyday instruction. Scaffold the kinds of instructions students will hear in the testing situation. This will help ELLs become familiar with the terminology, and it will not be additional potential vocabulary that may be misunderstood when tests are given. Second, encourage the use of academic language throughout your daily lessons. Some examples of this are to extend student vocabulary by creating word families, playing synonym/antonym games, commenting on multiple meanings, and helping students make connections to their native language.

Finally, offer all allowable accommodations for standardized testing on assignments prior to the scheduled test. If students are able to use paper dictionaries on the standardized tests, be sure to have them used prior to testing. While these suggestions might not close the learning gaps completely for English learners on standardized tests, they will certainly help students with being able to concentrate more on the test content more effectively.

When are we ever going to use this?

How often do we hear students ask, “When are we ever going to use this in real life?” As math teachers, we hear this way too many times in our careers. Some teachers come up with clever responses for their students and others try to avoid answering the question altogether. The truth is, math is extremely important in our everyday lives. Of course there are higher level math concepts that you may not come across unless you have a very specific career where it is necessary. Learning math in general will help students to think logically, reason, and problem solve; these are useful skills for anyone to have.

It is important to have students explore math through real-world applications and allow them to experience different situations where math is essential. Encourage parents to stress the importance of math outside the classroom when they are with their children. Some everyday uses for math are:

  • Managing money

  • Balancing the checkbook

  • Shopping for the best price

  • Preparing food

  • Figuring out distance, time and cost for travel

  • Understanding loans for cars, trucks, homes, schooling or other purposes

  • Understanding sports (being a player and team statistics)

  • Playing music

  • Baking

  • Home decorating

  • Sewing

  • Gardening and landscaping

Here are some amusing ways to respond to your students that might not only answer the question of why we need math, but peak their interests in a fun way as well.

Maintaining a Library Collection: What Every Librarian Should Know

A library collection is a vital part of any library and school because it gives students access to resources that can help them learn and improve their academic performance. A library collection can include books, magazines, newspapers, audio-visual materials, and digital resources such as databases and e-books. With access to these materials, students can explore topics in greater depth, develop their research skills, and better understand the world around them. A library collection can also provide a place for students to relax, explore their interests, and find peer support. A well-maintained and up-to-date library collection is essential for library success.

Here are some tips to help create and maintain a library collection.

  • Know your audience before building the library collection, and understand the needs of your students. Consider their demographics, interests, and reading levels. This will help you determine which materials to include in your collection.

  • Choose quality materials that are reliable, relevant, and high-quality. Look for well-reviewed materials, cover current topics, and provide accurate information. Be sure to consider the format of the materials you select. For example, if you decide to include digital materials, make sure they are compatible with the systems you have in place.

  • Stay Up-to-Date. Consider doing regular reviews of the collection and replacing older materials with newer ones. Understanding current and emerging technologies and their potential use in the library are also essential.

  • Keep it organized and easy to navigate, with clearly labeled sections and a logical layout.

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Arts Education

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly changing the landscape of arts education, providing new opportunities and challenges for teachers and students. ChatGPT and DALL-E are two powerful AI language models that are of particular note at this time. Both models were developed by Open AI and are capable of understanding and generating natural language. These, and other, models have the potential to impact arts teaching and learning in a number of ways, such as:

  1. Providing personalized feedback: ChatGPT and DALL-E can provide personalized feedback to students on their artistic and/or musical skills, helping them to identify areas for improvement and set goals for their learning. In visual arts, a student can input an image of their artwork and receive feedback on composition, color, and techniques used. In music, AI can analyze a student's singing or playing and provide feedback on pitch, rhythm, and timing. DALL-E can also generate personal prompts for student's creative writing, music composition, or any other art form.

  2. Artistic expression: AI technology can be used to create new opportunities for artistic expression. For example, students can use DALL-E to create digital art or animations that would be difficult or impossible to create by hand. This is similar to how many artists use Adobe Creative Cloud or video/sound editing software to improve the quality of their work and save time. In music, students can use ChatGPT-powered software to generate music or lyrics for a song. ChatGPT and DALL-E can generate new content, such as music, stories, or visual art. This can be used to inspire and challenge students, and to expose them to new forms of artistic expression.

  3. Creativity: AI can enhance creativity by promoting curiosity and allowing artists and musicians more time to explore, experiment, and find unpredictable and innovative solutions to problems. Artists using AI engage in both divergent and convergent thinking throughout the creative process.

  4. Collaboration: AI technology enables collaboration in the arts by allowing students to effectively communicate and work together remotely on projects, sharing in the ideation and design process - inside and outside of the classroom.

  5. Access and Equity: AI has the ability to level the playing field and invite more participation. Many of the AI programs, including ChatGPT and DALL-E, are free and can be accessed from anywhere and on a variety of devices. Since people are often more comfortable with their electronic device than they are with a paint brush or a musical instrument, the barrier to entry is lower. People are more willing to engage and experiment, especially because AI can help compensate for unrefined technical skills. This can boost confidence and lead to a desire to enhance their newfound artistic and/or musical skills through more traditional routes.

  6. Personalized lesson development: ChatGPT and DALL-E can analyze student data and build personalized learning paths to help teachers develop learning plans that are tailored to individual student needs.

  7. Automating administrative tasks: AI can automate administrative tasks such as grading and attendance, allowing teachers more time to focus on instruction and student engagement.

While AI technology, such as ChatGPT and DALL-E, have the potential to enhance arts education, it is important to consider the potential risks and challenges that come with its use. One such risk is replacing human creativity and critical thinking with machine-generated solutions. It is also crucial to consider ethical and privacy implications of using AI. While AI presents exciting new opportunities for arts teaching and learning, it is essential that AI is used in a way that supplements and supports the teacher's role rather than replacing it.

Low-prep Strategies for a Student-centered Classroom

If you’re looking for ways to engage students, increase participation, and provide opportunities for student-centered learning, try any of the low-prep strategies listed

below. Before you know it, your students’ communication,

critical thinking, and evaluative skills will be on the rise!

Big Paper Lessons: These are a great way to increase student participation in a quiet way; all students can think, process, and contribute. Simply write guiding questions on large, poster-sized pieces of paper and place them around the room. Provide students with markers, create small groups (if needed), and ask students to go from paper to paper to add their thoughts. After round 1, ask students to return to each location to read other students’ responses and add counter-points.

Pro and Con Grid: This technique helps students to develop analytical skills in any content area. For example, students could evaluate the pros and cons of a fictional character’s actions, a political decision, or a scientific or artistic technique. To facilitate, divide students into small groups/pairs. Specify how many pros and cons you’d like each group to develop. After a predetermined amount of time, create a whole class list. Combine pros/cons that are similar and tally the number of times responses recur to show majority opinions.

Tug of War: This can be a stand-alone activity or a precursor to a debate. Present students with a dilemma or scenario with opposing viewpoints. Ask students what side of the argument they're on. Students can post their answers on a Jamboard, stand at opposite ends of the room, or create a line continuum.

Thinking Hat: Assign different ‘hats’ to members of a group and ask them to look at a topic from different perspectives/points of view. For example, ask students to look at a topic from different periods of time (i.e., 100 years ago, 50 years ago), look at a global concern/event from several countries’ perspectives, etc.

Read About Science

Reading and writing are an essential part of all classes. As a science teacher, how can we find the time to support the development of reading skills in science without losing significant time to cover all of the content?

A valuable practice in supporting skill development without taking away content time is to embed supports in the content. Approach this practice by communicating your purpose and strategies. Model reading the text by thinking out loud with questions about the source material, making connections, or even summarizing as you read. Embed multiple types of sources into the activity. Provide opportunities for students to discuss a chart or infographic before diving into an article on that topic. Be sure students make connections between the two different mediums and specifically how one might support the other.

Some students can participate in a discussion on a science topic, but struggle with engaging in a reading practice. ReadWorks provides free educator access to tons of short passages in science that support readers at all grade levels. CommonLit also provides free access to educators and goes a step beyond by offering paired questions with each text. Finally, Newsela is a resource available to all educators in HTSD and is an excellent resource for teachers and students to engage in Science topics across all disciplines. It incorporates a tool to level text to individual readers and offers writing prompts that support the content presented.

Finally, Close Reading is an excellent practice to dissect a piece of text as a whole group and help students read with intent. Engaging Biology has a outstanding article to support this reading strategy in the science classroom, along with many other blog topics. Your local Language Arts teacher might be able to help here as well.

Once you get your hands on an article that works best for your students, dive right in! Start with a whole class read aloud and have students take turns reading and sharing their ideas.

Remember, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”— Dr. Seuss

Dear Data Guy

Dear Data Guy,

Where can I find resources about NJSLA assessments?

NSLA resources can be found on the NJSLA Resource Center. Here is a quick summary of some of the key documents and their definitions:

The NJSLA standards “provide clear and consistent learning goals across nine distinct content areas to help prepare students for postsecondary success. The standards clearly demonstrate what students are expected to learn at specific grade levels and bands, so that every parent and teacher can understand and support student learning.”

The NJSLA Blueprints are also another helpful document. They “define the total number of tasks and points for any given grade or course assessment.”

The evidence statements/tables “describe the knowledge and skills that an assessment item/task elicits from students.”

For all teachers definitely take a look at the writing rubrics since students write in all subject areas, as well as reviewing test items. Science resources are also on the website including the standards and constructed response questions.

Notes from Mr. Scotto

We are almost at "mid-point" for Student Growth Objectives. The NJ Dept of Education does permit instructional staff to make any adjustments (to SGOs) by February 15th.

Here are a few (optional) reflective questions to guide you:

  • Are there students you are concerned about (b/c they continue to struggle with the SGO goal)?
  • Are there students that are close, but not quite "hitting the mark" yet?
  • Are there students that are doing fine with the SGO goal?
  • Are there students that are doing exceptionally well with the goal?

Once you have reflected on the entire cohort of students, then ask yourself:

  • What obstacles/factors may be limiting student progress?
  • What steps can you take to begin to address the issues, provide additional support, etc?

Hamilton Township School District

Anthony Scotto, Director of Curriculum & Instruction


Alejandro Batlle, Health/PE and World Language

Kevin Bobetich, Testing/Assessment

Michelle Griffith, ESL K-12, ESSER Pre-K

Francesca Miraglia, English Language Arts and Social Studies

Tracy Schwartz, Mathematics and STEM/STEAM

Matthew Sisk, Science and Applied Technology

Kerri Sullivan, K-12 Visual & Performing Arts

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