Sunday, November 30, 2008

IB Diploma in Some Detail

The following is a brief description of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (Grades 11 and 12) which is currently implemented in Hoboken High School. The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (MYP) is implemented in Grades 5-10 and is not part of this post. 

What is the International Baccalaureate?- The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IB) is a rigorous preuniversity program leading to assessments or tests in six subject areas. The two year IB Diploma provides a coherent and demanding educational experience across the full curriculum. Beyond coursework, IB students are also required to engage in community service, individual research, and an inquiry into the nature of knowledge. The IB Diploma is accepted in 102 countries and is offered at 1, 217 schools in 113 countries.

What is the IB Diploma?- The International Baccalaurate Diploma was designed to provide students from all countries an education crediential that could be understood by universities in any country. IB assessment is varied, authentic, and takes place over the entire course of IB instruction. In culminates in a series of exams in the the following areas: Language A, Language A2, Individuals and Societies, Experimental Sciences, Mathematics, and Arts. In addition, Full IB Diploma candidates must fulfill three central requirements: 1) An externally assessed course that contrasts ways of knowing in all six subject areas (Theory of Knowledge); An externally assessed, independent research project of 4,000 words in one of the six subject areas (Extended Essay); and active involvement in a minimum of 150 hours of community service, artistic, and physical activities (Creativity Action Service). These assessments are scored on a 1-7 scale- a student must achieve a minimum score of 24 points without failing any conditions to achieve an IB Diploma.

Who creates the IB examinations and how are they graded?- The IB final grade of 1-7 consists of two major elements. Between 20%-50% of the grade is based on internal assessment, classroom work done during the IB course and graded by IB teachers. The remaining 50%-80% of the grade is based on external assessments, developed by an international board of examiners and IB teachers from around the world. The external assessments are graded by an international body of 3, 500 trained IB examiners and master teachers. The scoring is moderated by an external examining board with the results being issued each year in July.

How do colleges and universities recognize IB courses and the IB Diploma?- The IB Diploma is increasingly being viewed as a strong indicator of academic promise and achievement. IB course and exams are recognized for the purpose of advanced credit and/or placement at over 900 North American colleges and universities.

What similarities exist between the Advanced Placement and IB programs?
1) Both are rigorous programs devoted to educational excellence; each program sets high performance standards for students and faculty.
2) Both programs involve dedicated and teachers committed to their students and their discipline.
3) Both programs attract highly motivated students who wish to excel academically and attend the most selective colleges and universities.
4) Both programs provide for articulation with middle-school curricula, IB through its Middle Years Program (MYP) also implemented in all of Hoboken's K-8 schools.
5) Both programs have attracted the attention of educators, policy makers, and the general public as ways to improve the quality of education around the world.
6) Both programs value students doing independent research, thinking, and writing.
In support of the academic programs, both AP and IB offer extensive professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators worldwide.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Brief Comments about the Dual Language Program from Dr. Petrosino

Interested readers of this blog should point their browsers to the following posts where you will find documentation on the discussions centering around the Hoboken Dual Language Program (a.k.a. HoLa).

May 28, 2008
October 1, 2008
October 8, 2008
October 24, 2008
November 1, 2008
November 18, 2008

In these posts, readers should find a reasonable account that documents the evolution of the communications between the district and representatives of the HoLa Partnership. These posts, like all posts on this blog, are intended to inform and document curricula and instructional efforts underway in the Hoboken School District. Discussions with the partnership was a long and vetted process and was brought formally to the Superintendent after months of discussions, e-mails, and meetings on a semi monthly basis.

Addressing some concerns:
The survey that was undertaken: Comments concerning "thesis like quality" at the Board of Education meeting referred to the efforts undertaken by the HoLa partnership in doing a quality stratified sampling of the parents of families of school age children in Hoboken. We were satisfied that the surveys conducted did a very good job of sampling the population along numerous demographic groups in the city. This does not mean every family was asked but by using statistical principles of sampling, a reasonable approximation of public sentiment was obtained. The quality of this sampling was on a par with that for dissertations and publications. 

The expertise of the HoLa Partnership LLP: Concerning the characterization of the members of HoLa and their expertise-- the members of HoLa display a significant degree of specialized skill derived from experience and knowledge about dual language and literacy. They have spent hundreds of hours in conversations with, writing about, reading, and debating the benefits and challenges of dual language literacy. They have conducted an excellent review of the relevant literature and have an solid handle on both the qualitative and quantitative studies done in the area.

Finally, we are a data driven district and becoming more so with each passing day- we would like to believe we have a healthy skepticism about educational reform efforts and new programs that claim to be innovative and/or helpful without clear evidence. Any recommendation for a new or an expansion of existing programs should be done with due diligence.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

President Bush’s Thanksgiving address

WASHINGTON - The following statement by President Bush was released today by the White House Press Office:

PRESIDENT BUSH: Good morning. This week, Americans gather with loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving. This holiday season is a time of fellowship and peace. And it is a time to give thanks for our many blessings.

During this holiday season, we give thanks for generations of Americans who overcame hardships to create and sustain a free Nation. When the Pilgrims celebrated their first Thanksgiving nearly four centuries ago, they had already suffered through a harsh and bitter winter. But they were willing to endure that adversity to live in a land where they could worship the Almighty without persecution. When President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, the United States was in the midst of a terrible civil war. But in that hour of trial he gave thanks - because he believed America would weather the storm and emerge into a new era of liberty.

During this holiday season, we give thanks for those who defend our freedom. America’s men and women in uniform deserve our highest respect - and so do the families who love and support them. Lately, I have been asked what I will miss about the presidency. And my answer is that I will miss being the Commander-in-Chief of these brave warriors. In this special time of year, when many of them are serving in distant lands, they are in the thoughts and prayers of all Americans.

During this holiday season, we give thanks for the kindness of citizens throughout our Nation. It is a testament to the goodness of our people that on Thanksgiving, millions of Americans reach out to those who have little. The true spirit of the holidays can be seen in the generous volunteers who bring comfort to the poor and the sick and the elderly. These men and women are selfless members of our Nation’s armies of compassion - and they make our country a better place, one heart and one soul at a time.

Finally, I have a special note of thanks to the American people. On this, my last Thanksgiving as your President, I am thankful for the good will, kind words, and heartfelt prayers that so many of you have offered me during the past eight years. I have been blessed to represent such decent, brave, and caring people. For that, I will always be grateful, and I will always be honored. Thank you for listening.

President Elect Obama's Thanksgiving message

The full-text of Barack Obama's radio message is below.

Good morning.

Nearly 150 years ago, in one of the darkest years of our nation's history, President Abraham Lincoln set aside the last Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving. America was split by Civil War. But Lincoln said in his first Thanksgiving decree that difficult times made it even more appropriate for our blessings to be - and I quote - "gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people."

This week, the American people came together with families and friends to carry on this distinctly American tradition. We gave thanks for loved ones and for our lasting pride in our communities and our country. We took comfort in good memories while looking forward to the promise of change.

But this Thanksgiving also takes place at a time of great trial for our people.

Across the country, there were empty seats at the table, as brave Americans continue to serve in harm's way from the mountains of Afghanistan to the deserts of Iraq. We honor and give thanks for their sacrifice, and stand by the families who endure their absence with such dignity and resolve.

At home, we face an economic crisis of historic proportions. More and more Americans are worried about losing a job or making their mortgage payment. Workers are wondering if next month's paycheck will pay next month's bills. Retirees are watching their savings disappear, and students are struggling with the cost of tuition.

It's going to take bold and immediate action to confront this crisis. That's why I'm committed to forging a new beginning from the moment I take office as President of the United States. Earlier this week, I announced my economic team. This talented and dedicated group is already hard at work crafting an Economic Recovery Plan that will create or save 2.5 million new jobs, while making the investments we need to fuel long-term economic growth and stability.

But this Thanksgiving, we are reminded that the renewal of our economy won't come from policies and plans alone - it will take the hard work, innovation, service, and strength of the American people.

I have seen this strength firsthand over many months - in workers who are ready to power new industries, and farmers and scientists who can tap new sources of energy; in teachers who stay late after school, and parents who put in that extra hour reading to their kids; in young Americans enlisting in a time of war, seniors who volunteer their time, and service programs that bring hope to the hopeless.

It is a testament to our national character that so many Americans took time out this Thanksgiving to help feed the hungry and care for the needy. On Wednesday, I visited a food bank at Saint Columbanus Parish in Chicago. There - as in so many communities across America - folks pitched in time and resources to give a lift to their neighbors in need. It is this spirit that binds us together as one American family - the belief that we rise and fall as one people; that we want that American Dream not just for ourselves, but for each other.

That's the spirit we must summon as we make a new beginning for our nation. Times are tough. There are difficult months ahead. But we can renew our nation the same way that we have in the many years since Lincoln's first Thanksgiving: by coming together to overcome adversity; by reaching for - and working for - new horizons of opportunity for all Americans.

So this weekend - with one heart, and one voice, the American people can give thanks that a new and brighter day is yet to come.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Summary Report on Hopkins Expansion- November 26th, 2008

The following is a summary of the communication between Ms. Hillenbrand and Dr. Petrosino concerning the expansion efforts with the Johns Hopkins Program. Final acceptance decisions are expected to be made by the middle of December.

•Students were taught math and language arts to familiarize them with questions from Hopkins exam. Completed on 11/20/08
  • 81 students Tested on 11/21/08 ranging from 3rd grade to 6th grade. 7th and 8th graders have to sit for Sat to get into program. However those who passed in January 2007 when they were in 5th and 6th grade (and are now in 7th and 8th grade) will be given an exception for one course.
  • Computer improvement and changes discussed with David Bailey and his team. Should be ready by 12/12/08.
  • Test results for 81 students should be ready within 2 to 3 weeks if all test registration forms are in and PO number given. Then Hopkins team will start the process of grading. PO order will be in today to them.
  • Teacher postings have been in for a while and principals have been requested to ensure that their teachers see this. We should be hearing about applications soon.
  • We will be sending out enrollment forms to register students who have passed in January 2007 on Monday next week a to start the process. We will get the number for payment and have the PO number over to Hopkins.
  • We are working on seating arrangements for the children, what classroom, etc. We have to see what the numbers are going to be.

  • picture: mapping of new mathematics K-12 curriculum

    Saturday, November 22, 2008

    Hoboken Curriculum Committee- Saturday Nov 22

    Members of the Hoboken Curriculum Committee met on Saturday, November 22 to continue work on the curriculum revision process. Here is a brief summary of there accomplishments:

    Social Studies: Today we set forward to complete the 4th grade and tackle the 3rd grade. The former is done and the latter is nearly there. With the help of our new recruits, Kathleen and Jenny, the Social Studies group was able to make positive strides.

    Mathematics: Today was a very productive day for the Mathematics Committee. As a group we were able to complete the curriculum for eleventh grade (Algebra 2) math. Also, we were able to complete the curriculum for one of our senior mathematics course College Algebra. So far we have complete the curriculum for grade 1-11 and have begun the final stages for grade 12 and IB diploma courses.

    Science: Today, the grade 2 unit planners were revised and completed. In grade ten, the concepts and skills were revised to align with the HSPA Biology end of the course exam and big ideas statements were completed for unit planners 1-7. We also initiated the big idea form for unit 1 in grade 10. Finally, all of the files from the L drive were updated and saved onto the jump drive as a back-up resource for the science team for grades 1-7.

    World Language: As we concluded another day of our curricula journey, The World Language troopers are pleased to let you know that today, Saturday, November 22, 2008 we printed the MYP and the UBD units for 9th grade honor and 9th grade regular Spanish 1 classes as well as the MYP and UBD units for the 10th grade regular Spanish class. In addition, we successfully completed the MYP and UBD for the 10th grade honor class and we were able to type a couple of these units as well. We are getting closer and closer to our final destination.

    November 22, 1963

    Today marks the 45th Anniversary of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The assassination of John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, took place on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, USA at 12:30 p.m. CST (18:30 UTC). John F. Kennedy was fatally wounded by gunshots while riding with his wife Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in a Presidential motorcade. In North America and around the world, there was a stunned reaction to the assassination. Schools across the U.S. and Canada dismissed their students early, and 54% of Americans stopped their normal activities on the day. In the days following people wept, lost their appetite, had difficulty sleeping, and suffered nausea, nervousness, and sometimes anger. The event left a lasting impression on many people. It is said that everyone remembers where they were when they heard about the Kennedy assassination, like with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 before it, and the terrorist attacks waged on September 11, 2001 afterwards.

    Remarks Prepared for Delivery at the Trade Mart in Dallas
    President John F. Kennedy
    November 22, 1963

    "The link between leadership and learning is not only essential at the community level. It is even more indispensable in world affairs. Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country's security. In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America's leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem."

    Excerpted from article on Click here for full article

    View Original Broadcast of CBS's Assassination Account Here

    Friday, November 21, 2008

    Johns Hopkins Program Testing Continues

    Testing for the Johns Hopkins Program expansion effort continues today in Calabro and Connors Schools. Testing is being overseen by Ms. Hillenbrand (Johns Hopkins coordinator) and results are expected back to the district within the next 3 weeks. The expansion of the Johns Hopkins program will be incorporated as an after school academic program for the spring semester. Preparations are also being made concurrently to update technology and infrastructure support needed for the expansion efforts at each school location.

    picture: Interview by Cablevision anchor Doug Henning with the Hoboken Dual Language Program founders and Superintendent Raslowsky on November 20, 2008.

    Curriculum Committee Meeting- November 20

    Approximately 20 members of the Hoboken Curriculum Committee met today at the Brandt Professional Development Center from 3pm-4:30pm. Dr. Petrosino met with each group individually and surveyed the progress that has been made using a color coded rubric he developed for quick overall assessment of progress. Progress was made by the Mathematics, Science, Early Literature, and the World Languages Group--and discussions were undertaken for addressing meeting needs of the Physical Education Group who has had some difficulty in meeting this semester. Additionally, part of today was spent backing up all electronic data files onto portable "gig" hard drives. The group will reconvene this coming Saturday for a full day session.

    Thursday, November 20, 2008

    John Hopkins District Wide Testing

    District wide testing for admission to the John Hopkins Program was begun today and will conclude on Friday November 21st as the district prepares for a major expansion of the existing Hopkins program. District wide testing will include students from Calabro, Connors, and Wallace Schools.

    Eligibility: CTY invites enrollments from students who are in grades two through eight (or age equivalents for home-schooled students) and meet the following academic requirements:

    -- Achieve scores at or above the 95th percentile or higher on a nationally normed test.

    -- Earn scores at advanced levels (advanced proficiency, distinguished, honors, etc.) on state tests

    -- Demonstrate superior academic performance.

    Picture: Screen Shot Example of Interactive Whiteboard Used by Johns Hopkins University—Center for Talented Youth for Synchronous a Teacher-Student Interaction

    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Academic Program Committee Meeting

    Today the Academic Program Committee met for their weekly meeting from 12:30-1:45pm). On the agenda were updates on the Middle Years IB Program (Kate Dominique), Saturday U (Gary Enrico), and NCLB (Jennifer Lopez).

    IB/MYP- Class of 2009 enrollment for the IB Diploma program is currently 6 for Full Diploma (all IB courses) and 36 for Certificate (1 or more IB courses). Class of 2010 is currently 16 for Full Diploma and 60 for Certificate. Attrition is an issue historically with the Diploma program and efforts are underway (study hall, informal discussions with IB teachers, increased communication concerning expectations and preparation) to retain an increasing percentage of students in both the Diploma and the Certificate programs. For MYP, the personal projects are advancing and a list of all projects is currently being compiled. There is a fundraiser underway for a Personal Project Retreat (sale on a cookbook which was featured on Cablevision News on 11/19) headed by IB teachers in Hoboken High School. Finally, a discussion was begun on efforts to bring more emphasis on inquiry based pedagogy into practice and ways to clearly articulate Essential Questions.

    Saturday U- Course descriptions were discussed for both the Academic track and Enrichment track. Also, discussion of a start date in early January and running approximately 16 weeks is being considered. Discussion was also made on expanding the grade levels for participation in the program although no final decision was research and will be a topic for the next meeting of the group.

    NCLB- Preliminary discussions were undertaken on what might happen to NCLB under the incoming administration and the role/funding levels for Reading First. Some discussion on Read 180 was made as well as the the progress made by LitLife in early grade professional development in writing.

    Hoboken Dual Language Program Approved by Board of Education

    On the evening of November 18, the Hoboken Board of Education voted to support development and funding for the Hoboken Dual Language Program (also known as HoLa). The vote was preceded by a formal presentation on dual language programs in general, and the Hoboken Dual Language Program in specific by Camille Korschun Bustillo and Jennifer Hindman Sargent of the HoLa Leadership LLP. After the presentation, there was a question and answer period moderated by Board President Kearns and Superintendent Raslowsky which included thoughtful and sometimes spirited comments by parents, citizens and community leaders. The Hoboken Dual Language Program will join a list of other programs in the district including, but not limited to, The John Hopkins Gifted and Talented Program (Grades 3-7); the Middle Years International Baccalaureate Program (MYP) (Grades 5-10); and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (Grades 11 and 12).

    Dual language is a form of education in which students are taught literacy and content in two languages. The majority of dual language programs in the United States teach in English and Spanish. Dual language programs use the partner language (in this case Spanish) for at least half of the instructional day in the elementary years, HoLa will use the partner language in approximately 90% of the instructional day. Dual language programs aim for bilingualism (the ability to speak fluently in two languages), biliteracy (the ability to read and write in two languages), academic achievement equal to that of students in non-dual language programs, and cross-cultural competence.

    Helpful Links

    Saturday, November 15, 2008

    Curriculum Meeting: Saturday November 15

    The Hoboken Curriculum Committee met from 9AM-3PM at the Brandt Professional Development Center. The following is a summary of their activities: 

    The History group, (Tara Donnelly, Kevin Metcalfe, Damian DiBennedetto, assisted by Kathleen Kelly) met today with Sherod Bostwick of the Hoboken Historical Museum for input into the 4th grade curriculum, which emphasizes local history and government. Her input was quite useful. The group has completed the lion's share of the 4th grade social studies curriculum.

    HOLOCAUST/SPECIAL: We had made needed adjustments to the 1st grade curriculum. We researched supplemental literature for the 3rd grade curriculum, and completed April and May of the 2nd Grade curriculum.

    WORLD LANGUAGE GROUP: Today we revised the 9th grade honors MYP and UBD planners. We wrote the MYP and UBD planners for the 10th grade and made significant progress in the MYP and UBD planners for 10th grade honors. Also, we typed all the UBD and MYP planners for the 10th grade.

    SCIENCE GROUP: Today, unit planners were typed for units 1 – 9 the third grade were completed. The ninth grade unit planners, assessments, and big ideas were completed. For the 10th grade, all of the units 1-7 were initiated and we completed filling out the time frame and duration, and the significant content and skills for each unit.

    MATHEMATICS GROUP: The group worked a little on finishing the MYP for 11th grade. There is only 1 more lesson plan to complete and then it is on to finishing up the 12th grade electives. The group also went through the NJ clarification document to see if our units are in sync with the states suggestions and things look good.

    MUSIC GROUP: submitted by Ms. Safko--- As of today, we revised all of the mapping for MUSIC 9-12. Ms. Safko divided the mapping into three categories. (CHORUS, BAND, and MUSICAL ARTS). I saved it on a zip file, and Howard McKenzie will transfer the document to the Mapping on the L Drive sometime this week. Also, I completed all of the units for CHORUS 9-12. This week, I will work on BAND and MUSICAL ARTS 9-12. I should have them completed soon, and then all of the units will be complete from grades 8-12.

    Friday, November 14, 2008

    Would You Like to be Able to Post Comments to this Webpage?

    For the past 14 months, the Hoboken Curriculum Project website has been a "post only" blog providing information to the general community about curricula and instructional efforts underway in the Hoboken School District. There has been some discussion centered on permitting comments to be posted. How do you feel about this? At the top of the left hand column you will find a simple poll. Please take a moment to answer- the Poll will end on November 15th.

    Reader Comments Allowed on this post

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Academic Programs Group

    Today members of the Academic Programs Group met to discuss ongoing initiatives within the district. Specifically, Mr. Gary Enrico (Saturday U), Ms. Kate Dominique (IB-Middle Years Program), and Ms. Jennifer Lopez (NCLB). The meeting centered on plans for expanding some aspects of the Saturday U program in terms of both inclusiveness as well as course offerings. A number of different ideas and proposals are being discussed with details to follow soon. MYP implementation is being monitored and assessed and progress is being discussed. Other programs that are a part of this group but were not discussed include LitLife; Read 180; and the John Hopkins Program. 

    Sunday, November 9, 2008

    Dedication of WWII Memorial

    Hundreds of Hoboken residents were on hand today to take part in ribbon-cutting activities for the city's new World War II memorial on the waterfront. The ceremony, which was open to the public, began at 1 p.m. just south of Sinatra Park. The event featured family members of the 159 Hoboken residents who died in World War II. In attendance were also many veterans of foreign wars, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, a Hoboken resident, State Senator Brian Stack, Superintendent of Schools Jack Raslowsky, the Hoboken City Council, Mayor David Roberts and a performance by the USO Liberty Belles. Students from the Hoboken Public Schools had the greatest honor of all as they read the names of the 159 fallen soldiers followed by a single bell after each name. In addition, the Hoboken Band performed a number of patriotic songs during the ceremony. The memorial, designed by Dean Marchetto architects, is set against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline and features a small park and a bronze statue of two soldiers supporting each other. Helmets sit on top of 21 rifles behind the statue. A number of moving speeches were presented during the 2+ hour ceremony which at times was accompanied by a driving rain storm. The event at times was both solemn and celebratory as the sacrifice these young men paid resonated throughout the audience.

    Thursday, November 6, 2008

    Fall Recess- Curriculum Committee Meeting 4

    The Curriculum Committee met for a fourth time this week and consisted of members from the Primary Language, Arts, and World Language Groups. The committee is off for the next week as they take a well deserved break from their activities. Meetings will resume next Thursday afternoon.

    Primary Language: Today we are continuing to reformat Grade 4 into the Primary Unit Planners. We finished Unit 1-3. Our group still has to complete the rest of Grade 4. We have printed them and put them in the binder. We completed the Hoboken Curriculum Committee Update form to show our progress.

    World Language:Today the MYP planners for grade 9 and grade 9 honors were completed as well as UBD's for those grades. We typed those units and started grade 10 MYP planners. So far, unit 1 for grade 10 has been completed and Unit 2 in under way.

    Art: Continuation of articulation of Arts curriculum with early grades and inputing into digital form the lesson planners from earlier this week.

    City/State/National Test Scores May Decline- Here's Why

    Across the nation, far more schools failed to meet the federal law’s testing targets than in any previous year, according to new state-by-state data. And in California and some other states, the problem traces in part to the fact that officials chose to require only minimal gains in the first years after the law passed and then very rapid annual gains later. One researcher likens it to the balloon payments that can sink homebuyers. Part of the reason for the troubles was that the states gambled the law would have been softened when it came up for reauthorization in 2007, but efforts to change it stalled. This year Congress made no organized attempt to reconsider the law. The law requires every American school to bring all students to proficiency in reading and math by 2014. When it was first implemented six years ago, it required states to outline the statistical path they would follow on their way to 100 percent proficiency, and about half set low rates of achievement growth for the first few years and steeper rates thereafter.

    Among that provision’s most tenacious critics has been Robert Linn, a University of Colorado professor emeritus who is one of the nation’s foremost testing experts. He argued, almost from the law’s passage, that no society anywhere has brought 100 percent of students to proficiency, and that the annual gains required to meet the goal of universal proficiency were unrealistically rapid, since even great school systems rarely sustain annual increases in the proportion of students demonstrating proficiency topping three to four percentage points. “If, no matter how hard teachers work, the school is labeled as a failure, that’s just demoralizing,” Dr. Linn said.

    Changes to the New Jersey's elementary and middle school proficiency tests, designed to make them more rigorous, have sent some passing rates downward in both city and suburban districts. For 2008, the state is waiting for the federal government to approve a plan that would factor in the new tests and scoring. New Jersey required new tests this year in both the younger grades and in the high schools. The biggest change is in how the tests are scored. The changes effectively raised the passing score needed in both language arts and math for grades 5-7.
    Source: John Mooney, Newark Star-Ledger October 26, 2008

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    Fall Recess- Hoboken Curriculum Meeting Day 3

    The Hoboken Curriculum Committee met for the third time during the Fall recess and a summary of their activities follow:

    Mathematics: We have completed the mapping, drafting from a big ideas and the PYP planner for grades 1-5. Also we have completed the mapping, drafting from a big ideas and the MYP planner for grades 6-10. In the weeks upcoming we plan to complete the Unit Planner for grades 11 and 12. Once we have completed this we can begin editing and revising the Mathematics Curriculum grade 1 through 12.
    World Language: Yesterday after the work day concluded, Tasha Leggard and Geidy DeLa Rosa collected the MYP and IB guides, as well as the text book guide for the honors levels. With these materials, the MYP planners and UBD's for Grade 9 Language B were completed by Tania Trinidad and Geidy DeLa Rosa. Units 1-3 MYP planners and UBD'S for Grade 9 Honors were also completed today by Rosangela Perez and Tasha Leggard.
    Social Studies: Today, we met with Ms. Sherrard Bostwick from the Hoboken Historical Museum. We are going to schedule a future meeting within the next few weeks to strengthen the Hoboken lessons of the curriculum. Today the geography unit of the fourth grade as been brain stormed, and will be revisited when the group continues next week. Veronica Ramos was helpful with ideas in ways to approach the 3rd Grade curriculum, and she may be helpful in helping us approach the task of brainstorming and writing the units.
    Primary Language: Today, we completed unit planner of Grade 3, unit 6 rubric and the Big Idea for units 5-6. We have started to reformat Grade 4 Unit Planners since they were using the MYP format. This includes giving a subtitle to the standards since they were not done. We started to do Grade 4 Unit Planner 1 and 2. We will continue to revise Grade 4 Unit Planners tomorrow.
    Secondary Language: The LAL Secondary group completed the big ideas/unit plans for a 12th grade elective called "Contemporary Literature." The LAL Elementary group completed revisions to the 4th units, incorporating NJ ASK 4 test specifications and a variety of newly acquired reading and writing strategies.
    Science: Today we reviewed and revised the content standard and the big ideas for the first grade. The big ideas and the unit planners were typed for units 1 – 7 in the third grade. The all MYP planners were typed for units 1-6 in the ninth grade. Along with that, the unit planners and the big idea forms were completed and typed for units 1-3. We came across a minor problem with the curriculum mapping today. Apparently, there are several copes of the final mapping. Upon reviewing the science mapping to check for alignment, it was noticed that the mapping was incorrect on the final copy of the curriculum mapping. The mapping has to be complied together so that there is only one final copy and not the multiple copies that are present now. Before doing this, we suggest that all subject teams check their mapping to make sure it is correct before it is combined together.

    Recession Nation: 49 States at Risk

    What started out as a housing problem in a few states a coupl eof months ago has now exploded into a full-fledged recession, with a majority of states now in or dangerously close to recession. At the end of September, 30 states were in recession, according to Moody's Back in March, only five states were in recession: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada.
    Even in the last month, the picture has grown more concerning. By the end of the summer, 27 states were in recession and a few were still expanding. But now, Moody's has determined that Hawaii, Minnesota and Utah have fallen into recession. Colorado, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire and Texas are also no longer classified as expanding economies. They now are at risk of falling into recession as well. Only Alaska has a still-expanding economy. (The District of Columbia, with its government and government-related jobs, also has an expanding economy.)

    The causes of a recession along with aspects of implications such periods have on communities, states and nations are aspects of the revised Hoboken social studies curriculum currently under development. One improtant lesson is the cyclic nature of economics and it's impact on social structures.

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Fall Recess- Hoboken Curriculum Meeting Day 2

    The Hoboken Curriculum Committee met today for the second day of activity over their Fall Break. A summary of their activities follows:

    Language Arts: Today we completed the Big ideas for World Literature IB and Unit 1 for both Media Literacy and Contemporary English. Brainstorming was completed for all three subjects. MYP unit planner for units 1 and two are complete. We will continue working on these courses tomorrow.
    Early Language Arts: We completed two of the last three units in Grade 3. Unit 4 rubric and unit 6 big idea have also been completed. Tomorrow we will complete the last unit planner of Grade 3 and will also complete unit 6 rubric. We will then begin working on Grade 4.
    Mathematics: Today we took a giant step towards completing the Mathematics Curriculum. We completed the Drafting for a Big Idea every grade and also the mapping for every grade is complete. Today we also completed the PYP plan for all four units of grade 3. We have to complete the PYP plans for grades 1, 2, 4, and 5 and the MYP for grades 11 and 12.
    World Language: Today the World Language Curriculum Team finished writing guiding questions for all units. We then divided by grade level to more effectively address the drafting by design and MYP Unit Planners. Tania Trinidad and Geidy DeLa Rosa developed the ninth grade Language B Units one and two. Tasha Leggard and Rosangela Perez created ninth grade units one and two for Language B Honors.
    Science: Today the science team completed the big ideas and unit plans for the second grade. The third grade unit plans and big ideas were completed and we also revised the core curriculum content standards for those units. We edited units 3, 5 and 7 for grade 5. All of the units for grade 9 were completed and units 1-5 were typed. Finally, we completed typing the big idea for unit 1 in the 9th grade and initiated the completion of unit 6.

    "America is a place where all things are possible..."

    US President-elect Barack Obama spoke to the world from his home city of Chicago as he became the first black president of the United States. Here is a short introduction to his speech:

    Hello, Chicago
    If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
    It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.
    It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled, Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    Fall Recess- Hoboken Curriculum Committee Meeting 1

    The Hoboken Curriculum Committee met today at the Brandt Professional Development Center from 9AM to 3PM. This was the first day of the district's fall recess. Nonetheless, over 20 teachers attended the curriculum writing meeting today.

    Theatre: Completed course mapping development of IB Theatre Arts (Grades 11 and 12). Aims, objectives, assessments and course requirements for these diploma level classes differ greatly from those of the MYP and needed to be articulated prior to developing units. (See attachment "1" for a map of the course components and how they relate to the objectives; see attachment "2" for details on assessment) The next step is taking this map and creating the units around its components.

    Visual Arts: Began research for 9-10 grade material to be incorporated into the MYP unit plans. The information collected will better equip the team in creating meaningful units.

    Primary Language: The Primary Language Arts group finished the Big Idea for Unit 11-13 for First Grade, Unit 3-5 for Third Grade. We will complete Units 6-7 including the Big Idea. We will start to check standards for all Units to make sure it satisfies state standards completely. We are working diligently to make sure that the Units coincide with the Big Ideas.

    World Languages: With our district French teacher present, we were able to revise and broaden our high school World Language Curriculum mapping. Vicky Chodos found the Scope and Sequence for the French texts online to assure alignment within the discipline. The hand copied high school mapping was typed up and added onto the L drive by Tania Trinidad. We allotted space in the mapping for IB exams both external and internal so that teachers following it would not have to squeeze instruction around the testing.

    Social Studies: It was a relatively quite day in the Social Studies camp, although Kevin and DeBenedetto managed to get some important things accomplished. We finished typing the last unit of the 11th grade into the MYP planner, thus completing high school (barring any future revisions). We also checked over the middle school years (which we concluded were good), revised a 5th grade unit, and brainstormed a major unit for the fourth grade. Overall, it was a day of tying some loose ends and planning a strategy with which to approach the 1st through 4th grades.

    Mathematics: Today was a very productive day for the mathematics group. We completed the Drafting for a Big Idea from the understand by design for Intro to Calculus grade 12. Also, we have complete two thirds of the Drafting for a Big Idea for IB Mathematics SL. Our goal for tomorrow is to complete the IB Mathematics SL and complete IB Math Studies SL.

    Science: For the second grade curriculum, the team completed units 5 and 6 and initiated unit 7. We also revised the curriculum mapping for the third grade and completed units 1 and 2a and initiated 2b. The science team also worked on the ninth grade curriculum and completed the MYP planners for units 1-3 and initiated unit 4. All assessments for the units in grade 9 curriculum were established. The core curriculum content standards were revised for grades 6 and 7.

    picture: Brandt auditorium

    Saturday, November 1, 2008

    Post Halloween Curriculum Development Saturday

    On Saturday, November 1 the Hoboken Curriculum Committee met in the Brandt Professional Development Center from 9AM to 3PM. Highlights of the day included collaboration between the mathematics and science curriculum committees thanks to the efforts of Supervisor Howard McKenzie; significant advancement by the Social Studies group on the 11th grade units; and an informal afternoon meeting between representatives of HoLa and the World Languages group (see picture).
    World Language: Today we finished revising the mappinig for the World Language Curriculum from the 9th to the 12th grade. We used Avancemos levels one and two for the Standard level of IB and Encuentros Maravillosos for the Higher level of IB. We were creating guiding questions and planning alternative assessments when we were visited by
    ¡HOLA! representatives Camille Bustillo and Jen Sargent. We spent the remainder of the day in a spirited and thoughtful discussion on the benefits of two way immersion.

    Social Studies: is 75% finished with the 11 grade MYP units. We will continue with the last unit on Mon 11/3. We will also start writing the units for Grade 4 during the sessions on Monday - Wednesday.

    Science: Completed grade two – units 1-4 ; Initiated grade two- unit 5; Revised and found assessments for grade 9 – units 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Immediate plans include: Complete grade 2 units 5-10 and big ideas for all units; Complete the MPY units plans for grade 9 and the big ideas; Find assessment for the scientific method unit; Initiate grade 10 units

    Language Arts: Today the language arts team completed the Big Ideas for the second grade and had completed the big ideas for grades 3 for unit 1 and 2. They will work towards completion of the Big Ideas for the third grades, thus completing the Primary school curriculum for Language Arts. The middle and high school Language Arts curriculum is complete through eleventh grade.

    Theatre: Fully completed all Big ideas and Unit planners for the 19th grade. Entered those units into the “L-Drive.” Began planning for 11th and 12th grades Diploma Program.

    Visual Arts: The team organized all prior work done for grades 6 and 7. Started MYP Big ideas and unit plans for 8th grade.