Curriculum & Instruction Newsletter

Fair Haven Public Schools

November 2021 - Volume 4, Issue 1

Dear Fair Haven Families,

As the first marking period of the 2021 school year has come to a close, I wanted to continue to share a sampling of the great happenings across our wonderful school district with you. Our Curriculum & Instruction Newsletter will be published to correspond with the marking period dates and I look forward to providing our community with an inside view of classrooms and activities.

The first few months of school have flown by and it is hard to believe that we will be watching the fall turn into winter in a little over a month. It really seems that days are passing by so much quicker than I remembered as a child and I have to remind myself to stop and reflect on each day so that I can appreciate the things that make our school community so amazing. Whether I think back to hosting large scale events like our professional development day, walking in the halls and hearing students laugh with friends, or popping my head into a classroom and seeing students quietly, yet feverishly writing a new narrative, I smile and know that Fair Haven is a special place to be.


Cheryl Romano

Director of Curriculum & Instruction

Twitter: @FHCurriculum

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” Voltaire

Cells and Starbucks

What do cells and Starbucks have in common? To the surprise of Ms. Sehulster's 8th grade students, the science lab was transformed into a Starbucks (or "Cell Bucks") coffee shop, equipped with "managers," green accessories, background music, and of course, coffee cups!

During a review lesson on cell organelles, Ms. Sehulster brought creativity to the next level when she combined both her class and Mr. Fritts' class to prepare students for an upcoming quiz. Ms. Sehulster ("Kenn") and Mr. Fritts ("Karen") set up eight learning stations around the classroom for students. Each station was geared to review a different organelle. Students answered questions about each organelle as they transitioned from station to station. Learning about each organelle wasn't just linked to its definition and/or function, but to a real life comparison to everyday things we see at a Starbucks. For example, the membrane is like the front door. It lets things in and out of a cell, just as a door allows for patrons to come in and out of the store. Another example involves the endoplasmic reticulum. This organelle facilitates the transportation of proteins, just like a Starbucks cup transports coffee.

Throughout the period, students worked with their peers to make these connections and review content they have learned. Whenever students had a question, the had to "ask for the manager" for assistance. This lent an even more authentic feel to the "Cell Bucks" coffee shop.

What a fantastic way to review information about cell organelles! I am sure students will remember this for years to come!

...There's More!

In addition to working creatively to help students understand and make connections to how cell organelles work, students in Mr. Fritts' class built models of both plant and animal cells. Students used a variety of supplies and materials to construct their cells and not only do they look amazing, students continued to have fun and learn in a hands-on approach to science. Check out their cells below!
Big picture

Readers Grow Like Beanstalks

In Mrs. Albanese's second grade class, students are working on their unit "Readers Grow Like Beanstalks." In this unit, students are working hard to decode tricky words, retell the important parts of their stories, and read with expression. To gear students up for this hard work, they can practice their skills by taking "sneak peeks," doing triple checks on words, and using stop and jots.

A New "Student" at Knollwood

Knollwood has a very special new student, but you'll never guess who it is! This particular student can be anyone's best friend. She also has four legs and a tail.

If that last clue didn't give it away, our new student is Stella. Stella is a therapy dog and she belongs to our guidance counselor, Mrs. Miglin. Stella visits the school weekly to join classes throughout the day. This is a very exciting opportunity for students, as therapy dogs play a very important role in places such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.

Mrs. Miglin and Stella make a fantastic team, working to improve the lives of students (and adults) in Knollwood. Therapy dogs are trained to be gentle and friendly. These dogs are made to accept physical touch from others and support mental health. Therapy dogs like hugs and provide comfort and attention for those that need it. Just seeing Stella can brighten anyone's day!

In this picture of Stella is making her rounds at 4th and 5th grade recess.

Big picture

What Freedom Means to Our 8th Graders

Each year, our 8th graders are asked to participate in a Veteran's Day essay contest. This year's theme is "What Freedom Means to Me." Students who participate in this essay contest need to show a thorough knowledge of the theme in their work, demonstrating that they researched an issue extensively and included relevant details in their writing. Students can also relate the theme to their own experiences, providing audiences with a clear understanding of what this theme meant to them. Winning essays are then read by students at the Veterans' Ceremony on November 11th in Memorial Park.

Students in Mrs. O'Grady's 8th grade literacy class have been hard at work writing essays that speak to this theme of freedom. Students have been thinking, discussing, and writing short essays on "What Freedom Means To Me" in preparation for the Fair Haven Veterans' Ceremony. Below, you can see pictures of how Mrs. O'Grady's students start to brainstorm and get their ideas down in the early stages of their thinking process.

Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture

Steps for a Successful Halloween

Students in Mrs. Gennusa's first grade class have been hard at work learning all of the components to write a clear and detailed "how to" essay. Through guided practice and independent creativity, students have been writing how to essays on topics they know a lot about. This particular lesson tapped into students' knowledge about Halloween, which is so appropriate at this time of year. We know that's what our students are thinking about, so why not let it fuel their learning process?

After reading It's Pumpkin Time, allowing for students to highlight key details of a how to book, students had the opportunity to write their own books about a variety of Halloween topics. Students chose from how to "boo" someone, how to make a witches brew, how to make a jack-o-lantern, how to trick or treat, and how to make a ghost costume. Once students chose their topics, there was no stopping them. In groups, they discussed some of their ideas and materials and then each student began to write. Using transition words and important facts to support their books, students detailed all of these topics, showing their Halloween expertise.

As I had the pleasure of visiting Mrs. Gennusa's class during this activity, I had the opportunity to talk to students about their topics and quickly found that I am so not up to speed on certain Halloween traditions. For instance, when I think of "booing" someone, I don't view that as a positive (I always remember my mom telling me, "If you don't have something nice to say..."), however "booing" can be a pretty fun and elaborate way to surprise a friend or neighbor. Apparently, you can "boo" someone by dropping off candy or gifts anonymously at their house and if you are the recipient of a "boo," you have to pay it forward and do it to someone else. After speaking with our first graders, I would completely welcome a "boo" or two.

I also learned a lot about making a ghost costume. While students detailed the steps in the process, we also shared key tips that make "how to" writing great. Students talked about buying new sheets to create the costumes because if they used sheets from their mom's linen closet, that could get them into trouble. That's a fantastic tip!

Whether you are looking to learn more about Halloween or if you are looking to put something together step-by-step, I would suggest you talk to our first graders. They are truly the experts in this genre!

Big picture

Joyeux Anniversaire

In Madame Amabile's 6th grade French class, students are beginning to learn many of the common foundations of the French language. They talk about the date, the weather, how they feel, etc. This is all in preparation for them to be able to have simple conversations that will grow over time. In order to help students practice the date in French, students do a birthday line up. They determined where to stand based on their birthdays, starting from January to December.

What a great way to get students up and moving, begin those conversations, and have fun learning a new language!

Big picture

Pumpkin Seeds and Math Facts Go Hand in Hand

Students in Mrs. Kennedy's first grade class are hard at work on their math skills. As you can see in the pictures, they are practicing the fact fluency strategies of “doubles” and “near doubles” and they are finding many different ways to decompose a number using pumpkin seeds. What a great way to include seasonal items into our core content! You can also see students taking advantage of their classroom's new dry erase table, which provides endless opportunities for students to practice their skills.
Big picture

5th Grade Literacy

Students in Mrs. Bufano's fifth grade class take their work in literacy very seriously. As they continue working to build their stamina and skill, students take part in lessons in reading and writing that strengthen their craft and celebrate each other. Building a supportive classroom community is one of the keys to learning and Mrs. Bufano has done just that! As students work on computers writing their personal narratives, they are also celebrating each other's work with compliments. Additionally, they are reading narratives in book clubs and having high level discussions about what they've read. Mrs. Bufano has created a learning environment where students feel comfortable providing feedback to each other and working collaboratively to understand a text.

Bringing Back Tradition

Big picture
Fair Haven schools are rich in tradition that families, staff, and students cherish. This year, we are getting back to some of these beloved activities and it feels amazing! While there still may be slight differences this time around, it truly feels great to celebrate with our learning community and focus on these extraordinary things that make Fair Haven both unique and special.

One of these traditions is the Sickles Halloween theater in the round. I think Mother Nature knew what this event meant to everyone, so she held out and we celebrated with an amazing performance led my Mr. Mottern, Mrs. Schwartz, and our Sickles teachers! This year, the show was called, "Movers, Shakers, and Mischief Makers." Essentially, Loki (Thor’s brother and the Norse god of mischief) was tired of kids saying, "Trick or treat," because he only wanted the treats. He called upon all of the mischief makers from all of the world's cultures to make as much mischief as they could. This got slightly out of hand, so he tried to get them to stop. Of course there were a few mischief makers that didn't want to stop, so the students at Sickles needed to help Loki put and end to this mischief. Anansi the spider, who tricked a tiger into letting him ride on his back, Elegba, a mischief deity from west Africa and the Caribbean who tricked the sun and the moon into switching places, and Kokopelli, believed in Native American cultures to trick people into dancing and singing all night long, were the three troublesome tricksters that our students had to help put an end to their shenanigans.

With an amazing performance and one-of-a-kind songs, Mr. Mottern (aka Loki) and the students of Sickles were able to stop these three mischief makers!