K-5 Curriculum Newsletter

March 2018


MARCHing to the Beat of the Arts

By Danielle Tan

Arts education refers to education in the disciplines of music, dance, theatre, and visual arts. The arts stimulate students’ curiosity, foster problem-solving and creative-thinking skills, and help to bridge the gap between core subjects by finding common ground where disciplines overlap. Classroom teachers often utilize the arts to help students to access diverse curriculum in personal and meaningful ways. According to Muzaffar and Shaik (2016), the arts are a part of the cultural heritage of every human being, allowing students to explore their innermost selves and the world around them. Data from school campuses to corporate America support the belief that the arts are a significant component in fostering self-esteem and a love for learning, reducing student dropout rates, refining collaboration skills, and producing a more prepared citizen for the workplace. Moreover, the arts foster a growth mindset by instilling the belief that student abilities will improve through effort, risk-taking, and peer/teacher feedback. Therefore, providing a rich, balanced, and comprehensive arts program to all students is critical.

Youth Art Month was founded by the Crayon, Water Color & Craft Institute, Inc., in cooperation with the National Art Education Association in 1961, and was initially called Children's Art Month. Its goal was to emphasize the value of participating in art for all children. It was renamed Youth Art Month in 1969 to include secondary school students. Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSM) began as a single statewide celebration in 1973 and has grown over the decades to encompass a day, then a week, and then in 1985 to become a month long celebration of school music. The purpose of MIOSM is to raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children, and to remind citizens that schools are where all children should have access to music. MIOSM is an opportunity for music teachers to bring their music programs to the attention of the school and the community and to display the benefits that school music brings to students of all ages.

Both Youth Art Month and Music in Our Schools Month take place annually in March, when art shows, special exhibits, and musical performances become the focus of schools across the nation. The Hamilton Township School District’s arts staff take great pride in their annual Fine Art Festival and Music in Our Schools Concerts. These special events bring the entire community together to celebrate rich traditions and the value of the arts in our schools!

Tips for Developing a Mathematical Mindset with your Students

By Jennifer Marinello

"I'm not a math person!"

"I can't do this!"

"I've never been good at math."

"Math is just not my strength."

Comments such as these are most common in the math classroom. Ironically, the math class is also the place where students are rewarded for answering problems quickly and accurately the first time around. Jo Boaler tells us exactly why students are conditioned 'to fear math, hate math, or both' in her article 'The Math Class Paradox'.

"If you ask most students what they think their role is in math classrooms, they will tell you it is to get questions right."

Yes, we want students to answer questions correctly, but we want students to develop the confidence in their own ability to persevere, learn from mistakes, justify their thinking, and take risks. There is an art to mathematics; mathematicians don't rush to find an answer, but rather ask questions and make connections to number.

So, how do we cultivate this mindset within our classroom? Here are a few quick tips to get started...

  • Everyone is a Mathematician!
  • Develop the Standards for Mathematical Practice within daily instruction. Refer to the SMPs throughout the learning process.
  • Praise students wisely.
  • Provide specific feedback related to misconceptions.
  • Provide opportunities for students to reflect on the steps they used, their process for thinking, and what they can learn about themselves as a mathematician.
  • Plan for inquiry-based learning in your classroom, rather than a focus on rote procedures.
  • Invite students to use manipulatives and models to explore the concepts.
  • Provide opportunities for students to collaborate and share ideas in a safe environment.
  • Provide ALL students with a challenge!

Interested in learning more? Be sure to check out the following resources....

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Teaching Young Pups New Tricks: The Science behind Growth Mindset

By Kirsten Pendleton

We tell our students to ‘keep at it’ and ‘work harder’, but often that still leads to frustration. How do we develop the stamina in our students to try new? Research shows that teaching students about how their brains work and grow improves their ability to adjust to a growth mindset. The more a person challenges herself, the more neural connections she makes in her brain, and the stronger those connections become. Use the analogy that “the brain is a muscle, and it gets stronger the more it is used. This video for teachers describes what active rats and London taxi drivers have in common when it comes to overcoming challenges.

ClassDojo has a great series on the growth mindset, beginning with how the brain works and grows. For the upper elementary grades, there is an excellent video on neuroplasticity.

And even old dogs can learn new tricks, as this gentleman discovered as he learned to ride a reverse bicycle.

Redos, Retakes, and Do Overs

By Erick Shio

The role of a teacher is multifaceted. Teachers manage classrooms, develop lesson plans, foster the social-emotional well being of a student, grade papers, and much, much more. One of the main focuses of a teacher is student learning. As educators, we develop presentations and engaging activities to help students learn and apply concepts in various content areas. In order to effectively provide instruction, teachers use a variety of formative and summative assessments to assist with shaping a student's learning.

Quizzes and tests are often used as assessment methods. These assessments can provide a glimpse into a student’s understanding. Tests are merely a snapshot of student learning at that moment in time and should not be used as a sole predictor of the future.

As educators, we must remember that making mistakes is a part of learning and it’s through these mistakes where students further develop their understanding. As we continue to educate our students and continue to prepare them for the “real world” we should reflect on what Rick Wormeli, author and educator, stated in Educational Leadership (2011), “adult professionals actually flourish through redos, retakes and do-overs.” Watch the video Redos, Retakes, and Do-Overs to reflect on assessments and student learning.

The article, Do-Over: Teacher Tips for Handling Redos and Retakes, offers some additional insight and some useful tips in successfully implementing redos and retakes in the classroom.

ESL Connections

By Mayreni Fermin-Cannon

1. We Did A Great 'Growth Mindset' Lesson With Our ELLs this Week - Here's The Lesson Plan by Larry Ferlazzo

2. CoreLexia 6 Tips to Help Students Develop a Growth Mindset in the Classroom

Growth Mindset Read Aloud Books

By Heather Lieberman

Thomas Edison was one of America’s greatest inventors. The phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the long-lasting, practical electric light bulb were groundbreaking and life changing inventions. However, Mr. Edison was not always successful in his efforts.

“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that will not work,” Thomas Edison knew that failing was a part of succeeding. He was a stellar example of having a growth mindset. I haven't succeeded...yet.

Researcher Carol Dweck explains growth mindset this way: “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

Teachers can help students to develop this resilience in a number of ways. One great way to teach your students growth mindset is with a read aloud. There are a wealth of wonderful books available that you can use for a read aloud that teach students to keep persevering.

Be sure to check out this comprehensive list of read aloud books HERE!

Danielson Connections

Integrating Growth Mindset into the Danielson Framework

Domain 1 - Planning & Preparation:

1a: Clearly let your students know what they will be able to do at the end of the lesson (unit/semester/year) that they could not do at the start.

1b: Meet with each student individually. Discuss any challenges, past experiences, or concerns that may be relevant to their performance.

1c: Ensure that expected work outcomes EXCEED the current skills of your students.

1d: Join a PLN, work with colleagues, attend PD -- expand your knowledge of strategies and resources.

1e: Build in differentiation so that all students are challenged in relation to their current skill level.

Domain 2: Classroom Environment

2a: Create opportunities for students to support and praise one another in terms of effort. Model what you’d like to hear!

  • Great mistake! - What did you learn from that?

  • That looks like it took a lot of effort - how many ways did you try it before it turned out that way?

2b: Maximize student involvement, hands-on learning, and effort in daily classroom activities.

2c: Establish, rehearse, repeat, and reward daily classroom routines that instill self-management.

2d. Involve students when creating classroom rules and norms.

2e: Use classroom space intentionally. Place resources in an easily accessible and attractive place. Hang posters that reinforce a growth mindset.

Domain 3: Instruction

3a: Incorporate vocabulary in your classroom that complements the growth mindset. Model and emphasize the importance of perseverance, determination, effort, and participation.

3b: Increase wait time. Embrace the silence as your students formulate their thoughts.

3c: Ensure outcomes and expectations are clear! Break down tasks incrementally.

3d: Assess and evaluate on skill and knowledge as well as patience and effort.

3e: Be transparent with your students - admit that you are always learning! Be honest when you make a mistake.

Framing the Data through a Growth Mindset

By Kevin Bobetich

Reviewing data is an important way for us to figure out whether or not our students performed as we expected. The frame of reference you utilize as a teacher is just as important. For the purposes of measuring growth we want to look beyond student proficiency, and measure the growth.

We have up to 5 points of reference in Linkit! for our diagnostic data (i-Ready) and multiple points of data for our state data (PARCC, Access for ELL’s). When determining whether or not your students have shown growth, consider the following questions:

  • How did my students perform at the beginning of the year? Where are they now?

  • How did my students perform three years ago? Where are they now?

    • Were there any areas where my students excelled? If so, are my students continuing to excel? outperform?

    • Were there any areas where my students struggled? If so, are they performing better now?

(Note-When using Linkit!-Click on the select columns feature, and select the “Show growth column when comparing like assessments)

The frame of reference is also important for the child. I would suggest setting regular intervals to share the data with your parents and students. Feel free to use the data chats in i-Ready or the data protocol from Mr. Scotto to frame your conversation.

Notes from Mr. Scotto

I hope that all staff enjoyed the recent District In-Service. After reviewing the survey responses (following the October In-Service), many staff indicated a desire to have choice sessions during PD.

I'm proud to say that we ran 47 choice sessions on March 29th. In fact, 32 of the sessions were facilitated by teachers.

Initial feedback has been very positive. In the coming weeks, we will once again ask you to take a moment to complete a survey to enhance future professional learning.

Thank you.

Hamilton Township School District

Department of Curriculum & Instruction

Alejandro Battle
Supervisor of K - 12 World Language
Health and Physical Education

Kevin Bobetich
Testing Evaluation Specialist and Data Systems

Mayreni Fermin-Cannon
Supervisor of ESL/Bilingual K - 12, Family Engagement, Title I Preschool, Title III, Title III-Immigrant

Heather Lieberman
Supervisor of K - 5 English / Language Arts Literacy
Library and Media Services K - 12, ALPS, BSI, Title I & II

Jennifer Marinello
Supervisor of K - 5 Mathematics & K - 5 Technology (STEM)
BSI, Title I & Title II

Kirsten Pendleton
Supervisor of K - 12, Science, and 6 - 12 Technology (STEM)

Anthony Scotto

Director of Curriculum & Instruction

Erick Shio
Supervisor of K - 12 Social Studies, Business,
Family and Consumer Science

Danielle Tan
Supervisor of K - 12 Visual and Performing Arts

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