Robbinsville's Quarterly Curriculum Newsletter
Dear Robbinsville Community,
We’re excited to introduce our first Robbinsville curriculum department newsletter! We hope to deliver this quarterly “publication” to share all of the wonderful things that are happening in our classrooms and some of our district-wide initiatives. This inaugural issue is all about literacy! In Robbinsville, we utilize a balanced literacy approach, a methodology that incorporates various aspects of literacy such as reading workshop, writing workshop, guided reading, grammar, and word study/vocabulary. Please see the link below from our recent Literacy Night for more information about the approach and all it entails. We were thrilled to connect with our parent population, answer questions, and disseminate information about what literacy looks like in each of our three buildings.
As you read further down, you'll learn even more about our ELA program and some of our recent professional development experiences. Special thanks to our K-8 Literacy teacher coaches, Pete Klapsogeorge (SES), Marissa Rosol (SES), Stacey Cammarano (PRMS), Kelly Kosch (PRMS), Nicole Rokoszak (PRMS), RHS ELA teacher Carolyn Bonifazi, and Amanda Carpena, K-8 Supervisor of Curriculum and Professional Development, for contributing to our newsletter. As always, thank you for supporting Robbinsville schools! You can find us on Twitter by using the hashtag #robbinsvillek12 and please join us for our Summer Reading Kick-Off on May 14th from 5-8pm at the Barnes and Noble in Hamilton Marketplace (more information is at the bottom of this newsletter).
Dr. Kimberly Tew
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction
Grades K-5 Professional Development
K-5 teachers have been working hard on further strengthening their craft with reading and writing instruction. During our October and February Professional Development Days, the Sharon and Pond Road staff focused on Guided Reading and other balanced literacy work.
Our October Professional Day was focused on using reading assessments and planning guided reading groups. Guided reading is an important piece of balanced literacy instruction. Readers work in small groups to receive direct instruction from their teacher to develop the necessary comprehension and fluency skills to move up to their next reading level. Groups are fluid and often change throughout the year. Guided reading sessions always begin with a text introduction that captures the reader’s interest and attention. Groups then focus on using a certain comprehension strategy that will be needed to successfully conquer the day’s text. Throughout the session, the teacher takes notes on reading behavior, fluency, and comprehension. These notes are used to develop an additional teaching point, or focus, for the students to transfer into their own reading.
Our February Professional Day further strengthened this instruction, while building onto other pieces of balanced literacy. We focused on additional ways to use reading assessments to guide our instruction in forming Strategy Groups, which focus on using a specific strategy to tackle a new reading skill.
Teachers also explored ways to teach reading and writing strategies in both the large group and small group settings through shared reading/writing and interactive reading/writing. We’ve enjoyed working together as a school community to further foster a love of reading!
Grades 6-8 ELA Classes
Students in grades 6-8 have been working to enhance their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills through the reading/writing workshop model. They have been practicing reading and writing strategies that can be applied to their own independent work. Students are choosing books for themselves and setting reading goals to help them grow as lifelong readers. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders build writing stamina by writing freely on various topics and then revise their free writes to strengthen their work. Students’ vocabularies are expanding through a consistent “Weekly Words” program, where students are studying new words, applying them in their writing, and noticing how they are used in the real world. Finally, they are becoming more aware of writing conventions through targeted grammar units that focus on specific skills.
In addition to growing as independent readers of fiction, sixth graders have been practicing their nonfiction reading skills to complete research on a current social issue. They then use their research to craft a problem/solution essay, and finally to develop a digital Social Issue Advocacy project to present to their peers. Seventh graders are currently exploring the Science Fiction/Dystopian genre and building on their skills of analyzing character perspective, setting, and theme. Next, they will hone their research skills as they craft an argument piece. Eighth grade is busy working on creating speeches around a subject they are passionate about, which they will deliver to their classmates. This unit will help develop their research, writing, and speaking skills.
Grade 9-12 ELA Focus-College and Career Readiness
Our core curriculum standards also ensure focus on college and career readiness. Critical thinking, then, drives the focus of the 9-12 ELA curriculum development as we continue to develop balanced literacy at the upper levels. Independent reading strategies facilitate independent practice through coaching methods such as iPICK and guided choice to ensure students are selecting a text at their reading and interest level. Varying writing prompts allow students to organize their ideas for a purpose in addition to creating their own voice and style. Informal and formal writing practice give students a new form of self-expression in addition to giving them a platform for rigorous analysis and evaluation. We continue to develop core skills through presentation exercises that pose text-dependent questions that branch out into larger discussion topics. These exercises prompt students to respond thoughtfully to multiple perspectives. Students also synthesize the comments of others with the knowledge and evidence they have accrued from independent practice.
Finally, the high school continues to emphasize reading, writing, and creative thinking in diverse genres. This month we're highlighting poetry. See the link below for information about our poetry open mic celebration.