Curriculum Matters

MTSD / Volume 3 / Issue 5 / February 2017

MTSD Office of Instructional Services

Deborah Sarmir—Assistant Superintendent

Fiona Borland—Director Instructional Technology

Corie Gaylord—Director Academic Counseling Services

Damian Pappa—Director Assessment/Data/Accountability

Ron Zalika —Director Curriculum

Lucianne Smith—Executive Assistant

MTSD Content Area Supervisors

Jessica Glover—OHES/VES Mathematics & Science

Naoma Green—MHS Physical Education & Health

Christopher Herte—LMS/UMS Mathematics & Science

Melissa Hodgson—MHS Social Studies

Amy Monaco—OHES/VES Language Arts & Social Studies

Heather Pino-Beattie—MHS Technology, Business & FCS

Alma Reyes—World Languages & ESL

Jennifer Riddell—MHS Mathematics

Lisa Romano—LMS/UMS Language Arts & Social Studies

Karen Stalowski—MHS Language Arts

Jason Sullivan—MHS Science

Adam Warshafsky—Visual & Performing Arts

The Benefits of a Documented Curriculum

When thinking about the need for a documented curriculum, the acronym "CCR" comes to mind. Does this refer to the band Creedence Clearwater Revival or to an educational term such as College and Career Readiness? Actually, "CCR," when used in this context, stands for Consistency, Collaboration and Reflection.

  • Consistency within curriculum structure, standards, and expectations
  • Collaboration between educators as they see their colleagues as resources
  • Reflection on the strength and effectiveness of the curriculum by comparing it alongside strides in student growth and proficiency

We invite you to access all of our curriculum guides through THIS LINK. Doing so will give you the opportunity to view our collaboratively written curricula, which is based on the adopted learning standards for the state of New Jersey.

From the Office of Instructional Services

The MTSD Curriculum Matters newsletter communicates our curricular happenings and instructional activities across grade levels and content areas to educators, parents and students. It also provides a closer look at the some of the unique learning experiences and outcomes that our students undertake. Please browse through these updates provided by our talented team of educational professionals.

LMS/UMS Mathematics & Science

In Grade 5 Science, students are tackling the subject of water. Hypothetically, if all of the water on earth could fit into a 1-Liter bottle, the use-able drinking water would be approximately one drop from that bottle. Students created and presented commercials on the “Importance of Water Conservation and Steps We Can Take to Conserve Water.” This performance assessment was differentiated by interest and the product that students chose to create. Students chose the format for their commercial and created their own props for their presentations/commercials. Students then compared their personal water usage with that of New Jersey. A variety of water conservation steps were presented with several novel ones like reusing water to boil pasta and using cooking water to water household plants.

In Grade 6 Science, students were shown a phenomena consisting of two pictures of the beach near Mrs. Ryan’s home. The first image was a picture of the beach and a staircase

over the dunes. But in the second image, the beach was gone! What happened to the beach? Students investigated their ideas by creating physical models with available materials. They were given a paint tray, a container of sand, some water bottles, a straw, stones, little plastic houses and other items. Students created models in a variety of ways - some tested out wind erosion by blowing through the straw across the sand and water to see its impact. Other 6th Grade scientists created rain by having water fall from holes in the water bottle cap. They noticed how this created flooding near the homes and how some of the sand washed from the beach. Other students created waves that washed up on shore and in some cases took the houses out to sea. Several groups placed stones on the beach in front of the homes to protect the homes and beach from the waves. This activity exemplifies the revisions made to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Science, in which students now explore and create their own solutions rather than learn step by step approaches provided by a teacher.

Another major shift in the revised NJ Student Learning Standards in Science is the inclusion of engineering design in Science instruction. Grade 8 Science students were given the task to create a device to measure the temperature of water as accurately as possible. Each lab group of students was given materials to select and develop their device. Students learned about the history of thermometers and measuring temperature as well as devices that do this on a regular basis. They were given ice water and boiling water to create the extreme ends of their devices. Using proportionality, students marked equal increments along a glass tube so they could determine the mystery temperature of a warming pot of water. Working in teams, students solved this problem in a variety of ways and then reflected on the strengths and weaknesses of their designs. Students wishing to show their learning in an alternate manner captured their learning on video.

Feel free to watch it below!

Lesson 4 Engineering Lab--Making A Working Thermometer

MHS Social Studies

As part of the Middle East Foreign Policy unit, US in a Modern World students drafted a proposal outlining the suggested foreign policy between the US and Afghanistan. The policy proposals were directed at the new US president and State Department officials. Students included historical, political, and military evidence into their policies to support their proposals. This task is part of a larger unit where students explore the relationship between the US and various Middle Eastern countries in the post-9/11 world.

OHES/VES Mathematics & Science

Ever wonder why something works? Or have an idea for a new piece of technology? Maybe there’s a scientific theory that needs to be put to the test? That’s exactly the type of questions our 3rd-8th graders pursued at the 2017 Science & Invention Convention on Feb. 11 in the MHS Commons.

Here our students put their STEAM (Science, Engineering, Technology, Arts, and Mathematics) skills to work. Student projects included solar ovens, robotics, memory tests, the study of GMO’s, growing gummy bears, and a demonstration of stomach digestion. Just to name a few of the over 100 projects on display throughout the day. Project presenters did a marvelous job displaying their hard work and dedication towards the sciences fostering their collaboration and communication skills.

Beyond student demonstrations, That Physics Show challenged natural phenomena which expanded our scientific wonder. The Montgomery Science Clubs had full displays in the lobby and there was also a chemistry demonstration provided by Princeton University.

Final thank yous are needed to everyone that helped to make the day a great success. Thank you to the day’s director, Mr. David Zhang, did an amazing job organizing the event. Thank you to our PTO and PTA for making this event possible. We also need to thank the dozens of parent, student, and teacher judges who volunteered their time.

The entire day was a true celebration of student innovation and curiosity. We look forward to seeing all that our future scientists can accomplish!

OHES/VES Language Arts

Our VES readers are ready to head into March and new reading units! Third graders are excited to begin a unit on Research Book Clubs and will be working collaboratively to research animal topics and collect information on selected subtopics. After completing two rounds of research in their book clubs on two different animal topics, they will work to compare and contrast their research and develop theories about their topics. They will conclude the unit by considering ways to use their research to solve a real-world problem!

Fourth graders will be taking on the American Revolution in reading, writing and Social Studies! In reading, students will be reading texts on this time in history, focusing on reading strategies such as using text structures to organize notes, synthesizing across texts, considering perspective, and developing strategies for reading primary sources. Later in the unit, they will prepare to take on the viewpoint of either the Patriots or the Loyalists for a debate and reenactment of the Second Continental Congress! Students will be focusing on specific subtopics in both reading and writing, so consider conducting some research at home on subtopics such as the Boston Massacre, the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, the Boston Tea Party, etc.!

MHS Science

The MHS Science Department is actively working on achieving River Friendly Certification through the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. The program encourages schools to adopt environmentally sound practices and complete projects designed to positively influence the health of our local water systems.

The MHS Science Department is working with together with the MHS Environmental Club to identify projects that will help us work toward the certification status. One of the first projects involves a collaboration the Rutgers University Environmental Sciences program, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed, and local nurseries to create an educational rain garden in an area surrounding the Board of Education Offices. This high profile, environmentally sound project will not only beautify the main entrance area, but also provide an educational resource for students of all ages.

The MHS Science Department and the Environmental Science Club have numerous additional project ideas that will only be possible through collaborations with community members and all MTSD Stakeholders. If you have time, talents, or resources that could assist us toward the goal of River Friendly Certification and also a larger District Initiative involving NJ Sustainable Schools, please contact Jason Sullivan via email ( or phone (609-466-7602 x6569).

LMS/UMS Language Arts & Social Studies

How can it be that nobody is bickering while the entire Middle School Language Arts Program is knee deep in an Argument Unit? The answer is because our unit, The Art of Argument, is about developing perspective rather than entering into a disagreement.

Students across grades 5-8 are researching complicated matters that are present in their everyday lives. As students read about these topics through varying perspectives, they are challenged to suspend personal judgment as they clarify for themselves the issues at hand. As students read for knowledge, they are forced to organize information from multiple sources. Inquiry becomes a key practice in their information gathering. Students synthesize and analyze texts as they drive their thinking by searching for answers to their own lines of questioning. As students evaluate the usefulness of their information, concepts such as bias and manipulation begin to rise. Now, steeped in research, students begin to formulate their own perspective regarding the stated issues.

The development of sophisticated literacy skills doesn’t stop here. At this point, students are charged with the responsibility of presenting their results to an audience. Students strive to inspire their audiences to a call to action while at the very same time they continue to acknowledge the complexity of opposing viewpoints.

Throughout the communication process, students engage in debate, compose essays, and deliver motivating speeches. As with the study of any art, the critical thinking embedded in argument enables our students to perceive their worlds and the issues surrounding them through a new and exciting lens!

MTSD World Language & ESL

Intermediate and Advanced MHS French students squared off against their peers from across the state at the annual East Brunswick High School Language Tournament and Spelling Bee on Saturday, February 25. Our students competed with numerous schools from central New Jersey and were judged on their skills in pronunciation, expression, mastery of the language, artistry in performance, and selection of poem, song, play, or historical / literary piece.

The competition provided students the opportunity to delve deeply into the work of their performance category and fine-tune the quality of their speaking while perhaps earning recognition such as receiving certificates or book prizes and mention on the tournament Google site. The contest offered students the unique opportunity of putting their French to the test before a panel of distinguished judges composed of Rutgers University French Department professors. During the awards ceremony, French professors discussed college and career opportunities with students.

In addition to academic recognition, the event gave both students and teachers the chance to meet and be among friends who are also passionate about French!

MHS students who earned distinction were:

  • Poetry: Angelina Han - 1st; Prianka Nadkarni, Disha Ravikumar (Honorable Mention)
  • Spelling Bee: Angelina Han - 2nd
  • Classical French Song: Akshara Kannan - 2nd; Oliver Yao (Honorable Mention)
  • Play/Skit: Soham Dutta, Kyle Li, Andrew Xia, Grace He, Evelyn Shiang - 1st

MHS Health & Physical Education

The Montgomery High School's Health and Physical Education Department is going through Adventure Education training this school year to expand their knowledge and wisdom in Cooperative activities, low level activities, and high ropes training. The Physical Education Department is looking to expand their curriculum with new Adventure Education activities that will help our program grow from the ground up. We have high hopes to build confidence in this area of education so our students can learn how relevant Adventure Education is to life skills such as communication, trust, confidence, resilience, and honesty.

MTSD Mission and Vision Statements

Mission Statement

Our mission as a forward-thinking community is to ensure that all students grow into confident, compassionate, successful, and self-directed learners a multi-cultural and socio-economically diverse society by providing engaging and challenging real world educational experiences in a student-centered environment.

Vision Statement

We envision a district on the forefront of public education. We focus on the needs of every child, dedicating ourselves to their present and future success. Success means that all students possess a passion for learning, develop a deep understanding of rigorous content, demonstrate cultural competence, and exhibit ethical conduct, while cultivating social skills and healthy habits that will empower them to achieve their goals and aspirations. Achieving this vision requires that the district become a learning community that continually reflects and challenges itself to effect transformational teaching and learning. We prepare our students to take responsibility for their own educational accomplishments in our global society while nurturing them in a community where each student is known and valued. We believe by embracing frontier spirit, we can create a unique organization that is recognized as a forerunner in public education.