Curriculum Newsletter 6-12

October 2022


Chat Stations for Class Discussions

Looking for ways to increase class discussion and student engagement? Use chat stations! Chat stations are a simpler approach to stations/centers with less prep and possible complication.

Here is how to get started:

  • Write questions down and place them around the room

    • (ie- breakup a possible worksheet you were planning to work on in a lesson)

  • Group students in small groups (2-4)

  • Give each group a worksheet that is aligned with the questions to the activity (This can assist in student accountability).

  • Groups will rotate from station to station to discuss questions and record their answers.

    • The teacher can decide to time stations or add additional stations so groups may work at their own pace

  • Students will return to their seats for whole class discussion.

  • Call on each group to discuss their findings.

Advantages of chat stations:

  • Improvement of whole class discussions

  • Gets students up and moving

  • Allows students to be better prepared to discuss topics in class because they have had an opportunity to delve into the topics beforehand

  • Increases more peer to peer discussion

  • Less time consuming for teachers, as little prep work is involved

College and Career Readiness & Business Education

College and Career Readiness is about the basics of preparing students for adulthood. In order to ensure College and Career Readiness, we must establish a strong academic foundation for our students. Business courses prepare students to be productive consumers and citizens, and many concepts and skills in business are applicable to general life. Students who take business classes learn how to navigate and make informed financial decisions. Business courses teach students about economic conditions that contribute to a sound economy, and foster an appreciation for and understanding of Entrepreneurship in our economy. Moreover, students gain valuable knowledge of the legal system and how business law impacts commerce.

While the work that Business teachers do is very serious, that doesn't mean the coursework has to be!

Business concepts can be taught in a fun way! Refer to the bullets listed below for some ideas!

  • DREAM BIG- task students with making a detailed budget for their fabulous life after graduation.

  • ASSUME THE ROLE- break students into small groups of financial analysts. Provide each group with a copy of a business’s 10-K filing and then have each class present to the group whether they would like to invest in the company.

  • THEATRICS- arrange the class into groups and assign each group a scenario. Instruct students to determine adequate business interactions centered on ethical behavior in the workplace. The students may act out the scenarios with two alternate endings to involve all class members in deciding which ending is the appropriate action taken when facing a difficult business position.

Don’t forget, business teachers are not only teaching students; but they’re also helping to create a vibrant economy by generating a powerful workforce of skilled employees and entrepreneurs!

Spark Authentic Writing in your Classroom Using The Learning Network

If you’re looking for ways to incorporate authentic writing activities in your classroom, check out The Learning Network (a division of the New York times that publishes hundreds of teaching resources each year). Every school day, The Learning Network posts a Student Opinion Question based on a recent New York Times article. Featured articles are specifically chosen, taking teenagers’ interests into account. For example, recent questions have ranged from What is the Purpose of Teaching US History and How Diverse Is Your Community to Have you Ever Been Ghosted and Should Public Transportation be Free?

Each Student Opinion activity includes introductory questions to spark interest, the article, and several possible writing prompts. Depending on the article, prompts might ask students to make an argument, provide a jumping off point for debate, or invite personal writing.

To learn more about it, please click on this link for a three-minute SOQ tutorial or read the article linked under Additional Resources.

Make Space for Arguments

Almost daily, social media is presenting ideas that are communicated as fact, but are actually an opinion supported by data that is either misleading, out of context, or just plain false. How our students effectively differentiate between fact and fiction? One method is by engaging in a rigorous, evidence-based critique of ideas, using authentic data and real-world scenarios.

Scientists and engineers must use available evidence to construct explanations and design solutions. In science and engineering, “argument” is not an angry exchange, rather, a set of reasons given with the purpose of convincing someone else about an interpretation. Reasoning and argumentation allow scientists to critically analyze their own work and the work of other scientists. Engineers use argumentation to arrive at the best design solution. In engineering, argumentation often considers aspects of design solutions including costs versus benefits, risks, aesthetics, and market demand.

Students should be able to construct scientific arguments using data and critique their own arguments, as well as those of others. They should understand what constitutes a scientific argument, how scientific knowledge is judged by the scientific community, and how scientific arguments are presented, both by scientists and by the media. In the classroom, students should be expected to present and defend their scientific explanations, using data to support their reasoning. Students should also be given the opportunity to question and critique scientific explanations, including their own, their peers’, historical explanations, and modern scientific understandings.

Dear Data Guy

What do the numbers mean on the NJSLA Content Standard Roster Reports?

I recently attended a data meeting at one of our schools. They were having a little confused by the scoring on the content standard roster reports (Principals have access to them in the NJSLA Spring 2022 Data and Reports folder).

The light blue score represent the “NJ State Average Percent Points Achieved” whereas the dark blue score represent the “Student Percent Points Achieved”. Scores range from n/a or 0 to 100. If a student receives an n/a for a score, this means the standard was not assessed. A score of 100 means the student scored 100%.

The NJSLA had two different forms and the form type is located on the “Core Form” column. The report is further divided into subscores and standards.

I would suggest using this report in a data meeting to pick out a low, mid, and high score and to talk about the students in the context of the student’s classroom performance and the depth of the instructional units. For example, here are some questions to ask in a grade level meeting or through vertical articulation:

What was the student’s level of understanding when I taught the units?

How would I plan and teach the unit/lesson differently next time?

Should I spend more or less time on this unit/standard?

Challenges for ELLs in Math

All teachers know that math is not numbers. There are considerable challenges for English language learners in math. In addition, there are challenges for teachers of mathematics, too. Many ELLs use different processes to arrive at answers or do not have the background in numerical literacy. Problem solving is not just language and literacy but a thought process. Students from other cultures may be more concerned with getting the correct response than with the process. They may not be able to justify their answers. The problem may not always be language but cultural funds of knowledge with regards to the process of learning math in a different way.

Oftentimes ELLs may have challenges understanding the following: formation of numbers, use of decimal point and comma vary from measurement system, estimating, rounding, algebra, and geometry. Certain concepts are not often taught as early in other cultures and be mindful that mathematical terms do not always translate well. Subsequently, mental math may be the norm; therefore, students may not show work in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division or they may show work in a different way.

If you are struggling with your ELLs and math learning, try some of these techniques when it comes to math and ELLs: Discuss the student's goals with him/her before getting started; ask students to repeat what you have just said to show understanding; use of manipulatives; if a student has trouble understanding you; use lots of repetition; use plenty of examples; finally, develop peer study groups or tutoring sessions after class.

Notes from Mr. Scotto

As you know, we have a four year New Teacher Induction Program. This year, we are running four cohorts within the program.

Staff that are enrolled in Cohorts II, III, and IV are working on an Action Research/Passion Project. These staff members have selected (or are about to select) a professional topic to strengthen their practice and positively impact students.

If you are not currently enrolled in the program, I encourage you to touch base with our new hires. Ask them about their topic; perhaps you have a wealth of knowledge (linked to the topic) and would be willing to share some information and/or resources.


Domain IV (Component 4D) focuses on Participating in the Professional Community.

The highest rating in this area is defined as:

"The teacher’s relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation, with the teacher taking initiative in assuming leadership among the faculty. The teacher takes a leadership role in promoting a culture of professional inquiry. The teacher volunteers to participate in school events and district projects, making a substantial contribution and assuming a leadership role in at least one aspect of school or district life."

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

Tracey 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