K-5 Curriculum Newsletter

April 2023

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Get Your Students Talking In World Language

There are many challenges in education to get our students speaking to classmates that are not their friends, collaborating verbally in groups, or speaking in front of an entire class. This can be an even bigger challenge in a World Language classroom where a student is speaking another language that is not their native tongue. The following are some playful learning strategies that can help students overcome language anxiety while having fun.

Draw it out:

In this activity, students get to play a fun game of Pictionary while learning new vocabulary. Students draw a representation of a vocabulary term, and a partner tries to guess the word they've drawn. Organize students into small groups and give them a list of challenging vocabulary words and phrases that relate to the lesson's topic. Students explain their vocabulary terms to their partners and discuss their illustrations in the target language.

Inner circle, outer circle:

This exercise is great for getting students to interact with each other and share their thoughts on various topics. Students choose a partner and form two concentric circles, with one student in the inner circle and the other in the outer circle. Present a question to the class and have pairs discuss it for a set amount of time. Then, the outer circle of students rotates, allowing each student to speak with a new classmate.

Fortune teller:

Repurpose a childhood favorite and use paper fortune tellers to get students talking. Students choose a color and a number to determine the question they'll discuss in the target language. In pairs, one student operates the fortune teller while the other student chooses a color and spells it aloud, then selects a number to determine the flap to lift and reveal the question.

Role-play as influencers:

This activity allows students to practice their language skills by role-playing as influencers. Students work in small groups to create fake TikTok videos based on prompts provided. Each student plays several roles within the group, such as writing the script, operating the phone camera to record, and directing the student who would play the influencer. At the end of class, students submit their videos to the teacher for viewing. This can be completed on flipgrid.

Fostering Student Leadership in Math Centers

Creating student leadership in elementary math centers can be a great way to promote engagement, collaboration, and academic success among students. Here are some steps you can take to foster student leadership in your math centers:

  • Establish clear expectations: Set clear expectations for behavior and academic performance in your math centers. Let students know what is expected of them and what they can expect from you. This will help create a sense of structure and accountability that can be essential for successful student leadership.

  • Provide opportunities for leadership: Provide opportunities for students to take on leadership roles in your math centers. For example, you might designate a group leader for each math center activity or rotate leadership roles on a weekly or monthly basis.

  • Model leadership behaviors: Model leadership behaviors for your students by demonstrating things like active listening, collaboration, and problem-solving. This will help students understand what it means to be a leader and how they can use these skills to be successful in math centers.

  • Provide feedback: Provide regular feedback to your students about their performance in math centers. This can help them understand where they excel and where they may need to improve, and can also provide motivation to continue working hard.

  • Encourage reflection: Encourage students to reflect on their leadership experiences in math centers. Ask them to think about what they learned, what challenges they faced, and how they overcame them. This can help them build confidence and become more effective leaders in the future.

Overall, creating student leadership in elementary math centers requires a deliberate effort to provide opportunities, support, and feedback to your students. By doing so, you can help your students develop valuable leadership skills that will serve them well in school and beyond.

Self Assessment in the Writing Process

Throughout the writing process, students are often asked to assess in order to enhance their current writing piece. Revising and editing does not just happen once the piece is completed, but it should be an integral part of the daily writing process. Self assessment on their writing is a representation of their understanding of the concepts and skills. This provides students and teachers alike with valuable data on how students are progressing towards the standards.

A student centered classroom community promotes reflection and empowers students to provide honest reflection on their learning. Reflection helps students identify what they have learned, what they still need to work on, and how they can improve. With the mindset cultivated through self assessment, students are inspired to act on the feedback they receive. The students can take ownership in their learning and understand learning is a lifelong process.

Here are ideas on how to utilize self assessment in writing:

  • Set clear learning goals: At the start of each lesson or writing unit, make sure that students understand the goals and expectations. Provide multiple examples and clearly defined rubrics to help students evaluate their own work.

  • Model self assessment: Teachers can present their own writing to the students. Model how you reflect on your own writing by thinking aloud the process. Show students how you use a variety of resources to support your work.

  • Make reflection a regular part of the writing block: Set aside time for reflection at the end of writing. This will help students understand that reflection is an important part of the learning process and that their feedback is valued.

  • Celebrate progress: Celebrate students' progress and achievements. Ask students to share an area they improve and celebrate their growth. This will help them stay motivated and engaged in the learning process.

How to Include ESL Parents in our Schools.

As all educators are aware, parental involvement is crucial to all students' success. However, overcoming language barriers with ESL (English as a Second Language) parents in the school can be a challenging task, but there are some strategies that our buildings can use if not using already to improve communication and ensure that the parents are involved in their child's education.

Use a bilingual staff member or interpreter: Having a staff member who speaks the parents' native language or an interpreter can be very helpful. This person can help with translation and ensure that the parents understand what is being discussed.

Use visual aids: Using pictures, diagrams, and other visual aids can help you convey information more easily to parents who are not fluent in English.

Simplify your language: Use simple and straightforward language, avoiding jargon or complex words that may be difficult for non-native speakers to understand.

Provide translated materials: Provide translated materials such as handouts, letters, and notices in the parents' native language.

Use technology: Technology can be an effective tool for overcoming language barriers. Consider using online translation services, language learning apps, or video conferencing tools to communicate with parents who do not speak English fluently.

Be patient and understanding: Remember that communicating with ESL parents can take more time and effort. Be patient and understanding, and try to create a welcoming and inclusive environment.

By implementing these strategies, you can overcome language barriers with ESL parents in the school and ensure that they are involved in their child's education.

The Importance of Closure

Incorporating closure at the end of a lesson is an important part of teaching in the arts. Closure helps artists organize and retain their learning; connect the current learning objective to their overall understanding of the content; prepare for the next lesson; and it provides a sense of completion. Closure should be a part of every lesson. Here are some practical tips for incorporating closure into your lessons:

  • Review the main points: At the end of the lesson, review the main points that were covered. This helps students to organize the information and to identify the most important takeaways from the lesson.

  • Reflect on the learning: Using targeted prompts, encourage students to reflect on what they have learned and think about how it connects to their prior knowledge and understanding. This helps them to make connections and see the relevance of the content.

  • Connect to future learning: Tease the next lesson and provide students with an idea of what they will be learning. This helps them to see the connection between the current lesson and the next one, and to better understand the overall content.

  • Apply the learning: Give students an opportunity to apply what they have learned. For example, in a visual art class, have students create a piece of art that incorporates the concepts or techniques they have learned. In a music class, have students perform a piece of music that demonstrates their understanding of the concepts or techniques.

  • Summarize the learning: Provide a summary of the key concepts and skills that were covered in the lesson. This helps students to recall the information and to retain it for future reference.

  • Use assessment: Closure assessment is an effective way of determining a student's understanding and retention of the information covered in class, it could be a quick quiz, a discussion, or an open-ended question to respond to verbally or in writing.

To close (), intentionally incorporating closure at the end of every lesson helps students organize and retain information, connect their understanding to the overall content, and prepare for the next lesson. It’s also a nice way to end your time with your students.

Dear Data Guy

Are we no longer administering the Start Strong Assessments this Fall 2023?

That is correct. As per the NJ Department of Education, School Districts in New Jersey are no longer required to administer the Start Strong Assessments. I see this change as a great opportunity to place a great emphasis on analyzing our own data that we collect and also ensuring we administer our fall benchmarks/assessments with fidelity. We have a treasure trove of valuable data on student performance in our multiple data systems. One of the key systems is our Linkit! Data Warehouse and test administration tool. Every district teacher has an account for Linkit! And the account is Linked to each teacher’s roster. School leaders and counselors as well as teacher leaders also have access to school level data. If you would like to learn more about Linkit! Or receive additional training, contact your building principal.

Notes from Mr. Scotto

Our Spring PD Mini Series was very successful. We certainly hope that you were able to attend one (or more) of the sessions.

We are in the planning stages of our very popular, Summer Institute for Professional Learning. Once again, we will be looking for teacher presenters.

Perhaps you...

  • have a specialized educational talent or skill;
  • are willing to turnkey a strategy that you learned from an out-of-district workshop;
  • recently completed a graduate course and would like to share a best practice or recent educational research;
  • are looking to develop your PD training experience for your resume;
  • know of a fellow colleague who would be an excellent presenter.

Look for our presenter application packet in the coming days.

HTSD Curriculum Department

Anthony Scotto, Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Supervisors of K-5 Staff

Alejandro Batlle, K-12 Health/PE & World Language

Kevin Bobetich, Testing, Data, and Staff Evaluation

Michelle Griffith, K-12 ESL

Karen Gronikowski, K-5 Math/Science

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

Laura Leidy-Stauffer, K-5 ELA/SS

Kerri Sullivan, K-12 District Supervisor of Art and Music