6-12 Curriculum Newsletter

Vol. 3, Issue 9 .................... May 2017

Barnegat Township School District

Our collective mission is to nurture and educate our children in accordance with all curriculum standards to prepare them for responsible citizenship and success in life.

Promoting a Growth Mindset in all Students

Educators know that attitude is everything. Students who are deeply motivated will continue working hard to overcome initial adversity. Conversely, disengaged students are likely to quit at the first sign of difficulty. That's where a growth mindset comes into play. Rather than kids believing that their intelligence is fixed at birth--and they either have it or they don't--those with a growth mindset believe that they can continually learn and grow, regardless of where their currently ability lies. Intelligence is seen as flexible, not static; students can train their brains with a 'nurture not nature' mentality.

So, how do teachers promote this attitude among their students? Katrina Schwartz provides some specific guidance in her MindShift article, "Four Teaching Moves That Promote A Growth Mindset In All Readers." She draws upon the work of Dr. Gravity Goldberg, who maintains that teachers can inspire students to change their thinking and adopt a growth mindset using these techniques:

  • MINER = To be a miner, "teachers need to step back and observe how the student interacts with [the course content], what they say about their approaches to reading, and how they feel about [the material] in order to understand what particular strategies will move them forward." While standardized assessment scores are important, there is also much to be learned from a nuanced observation of the child at work. One teacher interviewed for the article stated that, "She wanted to jump in with data from reading tests and start focusing on the deficits she saw in her students. But when she did finally step back and try to notice positives she could give feedback on first, the classroom dynamic shifted in a meaningful way."
  • MIRROR = In this technique, teachers give students feedback that promotes a growth mindset by focusing on the process, not the product. In other words, a teacher should praise the specific strategy a student is using to solve the problem, rather than just getting the right answer. This sends the message that effort matters and the journey itself is important.
  • MODEL = All effective teachers model discipline-specific strategies. To promote a growth mindset, teachers should continue emphasizing these strategies and--more importantly--help students identify ways to transfer a strategy to new learning or unfamiliar situations. This way, students will be more likely to try using the strategy when stuck, rather than simply giving up.
  • MENTOR = This approach is all about the zone of proximal development. In other words, finding that 'just right' level of difficulty where students have productive struggle and teachers act as guide and/or mentor. "Crucially, though, teachers aren’t stepping in to do the work for students. Goldberg says when teachers help too much they rob the student of the 'learning high,' that exultant feeling after getting something that didn’t come naturally" (Schwartz). Rather, teachers can help by specifically identifying for students where they went wrong or the type of mistake they made. Then, if students still require help, instead of simply telling the right answer, the teacher can suggest a strategy for the student to use.

Strategy of the Month... Write-On Tables: Tools for Communication

Teacher Chris Maldonado demonstrates a powerful way for students to use visual representation to communicate or clarify their thinking.

Literacy in Science

Our students are fluent digital natives. They know how to text, tweet, blog, snapchat, use Instagram and Facebook. It is routine for them to use a smartphone to search for answers, or even just ask Google when they need to know something. They are the most digital literate generation, yet according to research they are lacking in one fundamental skill: distinguishing fact from fiction.

Researchers at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education asked middle school, high school, and college students in 12 states to evaluate information presented in online tweets, comments, advertisements, and articles. After more than a year collecting and evaluating almost 8,000 student responses, the researchers found that many students—over 80% in some cases—couldn’t tell the difference between an advertisement and a news story, distinguish between a real and fake news source, identify bias in a tweet, or determine if a website could be trusted.

With the current proliferation of fake news on the web and in social media, it is more important now than ever that students learn to engage in argument based on evidence and to think critically. Engaging in argument from evidence is one of the eight science and engineering practices identified in the NGSS. In the science class we can incorporate literacy strategies and engage in argument from evidence in a variety of ways, two of which are outlined here:

  • Short-form science - uses close reading strategies of investigating a short piece of high quality text. Students should read, annotate, answer questions and write and discuss the text.
  • Long-form science - this is the incorporation of an extended text into a course. Examples in science include The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Martian or the Poisoner’s Handbook. Incorporating non-fiction text or a novel my provide deep immersion in science content and the opportunity for in-depth discussion.

For more information and specific strategies on how to incorporate both short and long form science into instruction see the January issue of The Science Teacher.

Were You Aware?

Everyone's heard of mastery-based learning, but how do you separate fact from fiction? Take a quick look at the article below to get the real scoop.

Notes from Mr. Scotto:


As we prepare for year-end evaluations, I encourage to reflect on your teaching (4A).

Have you taken the time to:

  • document your reflection?
  • thought about what instructional strategies have worked (and not worked)?
  • correlated your practice to student progress?
  • begun to develop a plan to improve your practice for the 17/18 SY?

If you have a few moments, please take a look at what former National Teachers of the Year think about reflection (see link below):


Office of Curriculum and Instruction

Prepared by:
  • Mr. Jim Barbiere, District Supervisor of Language Arts & Social Studies (6-12)
  • Mrs. Joanne Long, District Supervisor of Mathematics & Science (6-12)