K-5 Curriculum Newsletter

May/June 2022

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Benefits to Taking Math Class Outside

As the end of the year approaches and the weather becomes nicer, it becomes harder to keep kids engaged in mathematics. One way to get kids more involved and excited about math is to take math class outside. There are so many benefits to taking math class outside for students' academic growth and mental health.

Fresh air is good for student’s overall health. Studies have shown that there can be an increase of serotonin and dopamine in the brain which helps students become happier and less stressed. Getting outside for a hands-on math activity can also provide exercise and a chance for students to get up and move. This is a great way to engage those students who struggle to stay in their seats in the classroom.

Sometimes a change of scenery is just what is needed to help students push through to summer break. Students can have greater enthusiasm and engagement just by a change of scenery. Engaging in math class outside also help students retain more information. By working on math in a context or within a certain experience students are given an experience to ground their learning in. Creating fun memories within the math lesson helps students build a foundation that can be built upon later.

Lastly, taking math outside helps students see math in real life. Making math meaningful and relevant is an important part of student learning. If kids don’t see a reason or necessity for learning math, they will not be as motivated to learn and succeed. By giving students opportunities in everyday life to apply the skills they have been taught, students are more likely to retain the information.

Whatever your reason is for taking math outside, know there are so many benefits to having outdoor math class. You are helping your students build experiences they will remember for a long time to come.

Engaging Year End Activities

As we are rapidly approaching the end of the school year some teachers battle with the idea of doing fun activities with their students due to a lack of learning. Just because something is fun for the student doesn’t mean it has to lack depth and opportunity for enhanced learning. When planning an engaging learning experience, it is important to ensure the grade level skills and standards are being addressed in a fun, innovative way. Think of creative ways the students can showcase the various skills they have learned over the school year.

Here are some ideas for engaging activities that will showcase the learning achieved from the school year.

  • Graph Project - indicating the highs and lows of the school year. This can be just within your class are expanded to other classes within the school.

  • Letter Writing - Choose to write about your grade level to incoming students or write to your future self of all the things you would like to accomplish in the new school year.

  • Reviews - write a review for a movie, book, or TV show.

  • Create Games - make a game with the vocabulary learned from this school year.

  • Timeline - Make a timeline of the school year and major events/projects.

  • Project Based Learning - Have students work on reading/writing skills while completing a holistic project such as building a school garden, creating a restaurant, or building a business for the school.

These are just a few ideas of culminating projects that combine rigor and engaged students. End the year strong with continued high expectations and enhanced learning.

Finish the Year on a #HTSDSTRONG Note

It’s that time of year when most of us start thinking about summer vacation. It is significantly important to end the year on a positive note with students. If students leave for the summer having had a great end of the year experience, it is likely that they will quickly look forward to their return in the fall. This is a great time to try new things!

Even though you may not want to plan an all school event, I encourage you to think about what you might do differently during those last couple of weeks of physical education classes to make sure your students are not only excited about coming back to school in the fall but also are excited about staying active over the summer. The list is endless but here are a few ideas to get you started!

  • Get out some of the equipment that you don’t use often but are things students love to use. Let your students just have fun using the equipment! (The activity can assist in your inventory process).

  • Teach a few games/activities that students can do during the summer (ie- Spikeball or Bocce ball on the beach; fitness goals (Flexibility-Yoga, Cardio endurance- Running, Muscular Strength Power- Cross Fit)

  • Have students brainstorm a list of summer activities and see how that can transition into a Physical Education class.

The end of the year can present unique challenges but I encourage you to do a few different and unique activities with your students. Have the goals of the lessons embrace having fun and promote a summer of staying active!

Try something new! Link below:

End of the Year Reflection: The Arts

Teaching can be challenging at times; and without deliberate reflection and adaption, it can impact one's wellbeing. Awareness that supports resilience can help to improve wellbeing and overcome burnout. At the end of each school year, teachers should engage in a thorough reflection process because it encourages consciousness of both successful and unsuccessful practices and decisions. This process should set out to reflect upon important moments, difficult times, and accomplishments. No one likes to revisit areas of failure, but you cannot identify areas for improvement without closely analyzing weaknesses.

Through the reflection process, consider the following questions pertaining to your teaching:

  • Who am I as a teacher of the arts, and how does this shape my classroom and curricular decisions?

  • What are some of the major stressors of being a teacher of the arts, and why do these things bother me? What are some ways to overcome these challenges?

  • What were the major things I tried to accomplish? What actually occurred? How can I bridge the gap between them, moving forward?

  • How did I foster a growth mindset in my students and myself?

  • How did my lessons and daily practices teach social and emotional learning and well-being? How do my daily practices support my own well being?

In order to make the necessary adjustments to improve your practices, take a step back and think critically about your results. As you reflect and calibrate your teaching skills and lesson crafting…..

  • Put things into perspective and investigate whether your emotions alter your perspectives.

  • Brainstorm and create a mind map to draft your thoughts and possible actions.

  • Devise a specific plan for what needs to change, and set measurable goals.

Finally, track progress and consistently remind yourself of the bigger picture.

Maintaining English Language Learners Student Academic Growth during the Summer Months

The quintessential “summer slide” that educators are well aware of with their students despite well-thought out and planned summer activities can be more prevalent with English language learners. English Language Learners rely on the school to help them acquire more social and academic language throughout the school year more so than the native speaker. When summer comes, the key piece of daily practice of school-infused English is tucked away for a few months. The result is that many may lose the progress that they have made throughout the school year and spend a decent chunk of the fall months playing catch-up to help close the gaps. One of the most cost-effective and student accessible ways to not lose too much ground is to utilize a virtual learning experience with your Google Classroom. These activities can be ongoing throughout the summer and give the students a place to go and check in to know that learning their second language does not get a summer vacation. As you prepare your students to leave the classroom for the summer, offer ESL students a few activities to take with them now that will provide tremendous payoff when they return to school in the fall. The additional, inexpensive opportunities provided to your students to explore and continue to grow their second language during the summer will be a gift to both the teacher and the student.

See below a few ideas to help and or post in your Google classroom:

Speaking and Listening Skills

  • Find free learning opportunities around the community and share them with your ELL students’ parents. They could be as involved in summer reading programs at the local public library, or single weekend events at the city park.

  • Provide parents with lists of free and or inexpensive other “learning” resources in the community, such as zoos, museums, restaurants, and other public places. Have students post selfies or blog about these activities.

  • Post links to apps that students can download onto personal devices. Duolingo is one language app that is completely free.

  • Assign a few age-appropriate podcasts.

Reading Skills

  • Talk with parents about how important it is for students to read. Students can read in their first language or in English. The point is to just keep them reading over the summer.

  • Consider books that students may check out of your library and take home, and provide them with a reading list for their independent reading levels.

  • Utilize printable books that students may take home during the summer. Hamilton has subscriptions to multiple resources, such as BrainPop and Raz Kids

  • Create a word search/scavenger hunt students can use over the summer. Make it a game to match the word to items in their own environments. Students could use iPods or phones to take pictures and share findings upon returning to school, or on a student blog you can set up for them to use over the summer.

Writing Skills

  • Consider having a place on your Google Classroom with a blog or have students post to a district-approved social media outlet, for your students to interact with each other and post about their summer learning.

  • Make sure families have internet access and understand internet safety before suggesting this option.

  • Create journals prior to the end of the school year. Allow students to decorate their journals and model how you would write in them during the summer.

Dear Data Guy

It’s been some over two years since we received NJSLA Scores? When can I expect the scores for NJSLA?

Typically, the state releases the NJSLA scores to districts in the beginning to the middle of August. Once we download the scores from Pearson, we load the scores onto the Linkit! Platform. Our Linkit! partner creates custom reports for us called Navigator Reports. The reports show performance by school and grade level. We also receive similar reports from Pearson which are also shared with the schools. Prior to looking at the reports, teachers should review the links found HERE. The links will help you interpret the reports. The best way to interpret and analyze the data is in teams, whether it be a grade-level team or a building team. Every teacher took part in educating the students who took the assessments so sharing of data and discussions shouldn’t be limited to the test subject area teachers.

Notes from Mr. Scotto

We made it to June....

Thank you for the lessons you designed, the family contacts that took place, the implementation of various instructional platforms, the collaboration with colleagues, the support of district initiatives, and your commitment to student learning,

Over the next few months, take some time to relax, reflect on your instructional practices, consider participating in some summer learning, and be proud to be a member of the HTSD Family.

Enjoy your summer!

HTSD Curriculum Department

Anthony Scotto, Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Supervisors of K-5 Staff

Alejandro Batlle, Health/PE and World Language

Kevin Bobetich, Testing/Assessment

Danielle Tan, Art and Music

Dereth Sanchez-Ahmed, Interim K-5 ELA and Social Studies

Katie Mallon, K-5 Math and Science & ESSA Grant

Michelle Griffith, ESL and ESSER PreK