Curriculum Corner

North Merrick School District - Fall 2020

Continued Integration of Instructional Technology into the Classroom

Since the beginning of the new school year, the North Merrick faculty have been busy attending training sessions to further integrate instructional technology into their classrooms. Christine Talbot, the district's technology coordinator, has facilitated this professional development, including a multi-part course through the Teacher Center called "All Things Google" in which participants developed their own ready-to-use activities for their students across many Google platforms - like hyperdocs, slide decks, forms and sheets. Teachers also receive support from Joanne Donovan, trainer for the BOCES Digital Age Technology and Education Model Schools program, who meets virtually with them in small groups a few times a month to review programs, troubleshoot issues, and brainstorm ideas. In addition, North Merrick teachers prepare and lead after-school workshops for their colleagues, such as "The Bitmoji Classroom" (creating a personalized virtual classroom with bitmojis), "Discover with Kahoot!" (a game-based software to review and reinforce knowledge), and "Ask Anything with Quizizz" (a new creative software using quizzes).

New Kami App and Seesaw Platform Implementation

With the Kami collaborative and annotation app, K-6 students can transform existing documents into a fully interactive experience. Kami easily integrates with Google to draw, split or merge pages, and fill out forms online.

Kindergarten through second grade classes also have access to the Seesaw platform, which allows these youngest students to easily use interactive tools to complete virtual activities. They can select from a variety of drawing tools, voice recordings, photos and more. Teachers are also providing feedback to students in voice recordings and text. Explains Ms. Talbot, "The platform is very user friendly for students, and teachers love Seesaw!"

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Using Padlet for the Latest Library Challenge: Disguise the Turkey!

North Merrick teachers have been using Padlet as a digital bulletin board to brainstorm ideas and provide students with multiple ways to respond through photos, text, video, voice recording, uploads and more. This month, library teachers at Camp, Fayette and Old Mill are using Padlet as the vehicle for their Turkey Disguise Challenge in selected grades. Students download the turkey image in order to dress the turkey as a book character or historical figure. They are encouraged to utilize their craft skills with fabric, construction paper, yarn, ribbon, glitter, buttons, feathers, or other materials. They then need to snap a picture and upload the image by November 20. See the flyer below!
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Signature Hands-on Science with a Dash of Mystery

The district's beloved hands-on science program has been reimagined as a virtual experience thanks to the talent and dedication of long-time consultants Dan and Brenda McCann and North Merrick teacher Lindsay Corrado. Last month, the McCanns shared beautiful videos and live feeds to enable second graders to observe marine life in their habitats. Ms. Corrado, second grade virtual teacher, has curated the videos, links and activities into a digitally interactive slide deck to use in all second grade classrooms for the marine life science unit, whether they are learning remotely or in school.

Additionally, the district has introduced Mystery Science, in which students pose a question and "Mystery Doug" enthusiastically explains the phenomena using videos and diagrams. Doug stops every now and then to pose a thoughtful question so that teachers may pause the video and have a discussion with the class. After the answers are revealed, there is a quiz to assess students' understanding. Many of the lessons have follow-up and hands-on activities to delve deeper into a topic. All lessons are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and support the Common Core curriculum. "This is a popular program with our teachers. I know from my experience with Mystery Science that the students really enjoy the videos and the bonus features at the end of each lesson," says Ms. Talbot.

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One Plus One Equals More: Reflex + Savvas Math

The Fastt Math K-6 program, which was discontinued, has now been replaced by Reflex Math, an individualized curriculum for each student as he or she progresses through the levels toward mastery of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Students complete tasks at their own pace, and teachers can monitor their progress and give virtual rewards for success!

Additionally, EnVision Math for K-6 has been renamed Savvas Math. Teacher leaders (Lisa Drewes and Stephanie Schreibman for K-2; Tara Sumberac for grades 3-4; and Alissa Palen for grades 5-6) received training on the new features that they are now turnkeying to grade-level colleagues. "The program is rich in content and rigor and integrates beautifully with Google Classroom," notes Ms. Talbot. Because there are so many components, training will continue throughout the year, and teachers will be sharing their best practices and tips and tricks with one another.

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Traveling Virtually on Field Trips

North Merrick students will have the opportunity to take field trips virtually this year to make their classroom learning more meaningful, when they "visit" such places as the North Merrick Library, the Cradle of Aviation Museum, or the Library of Congress. Ms. Talbot has been compiling a list of virtual field trip opportunities so that teachers can select the ones most relevant for their classes throughout the school year.
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