Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tools of the Mind- NY Times

The following is an article about TOOLS OF THE MIND, the new curriculum that is being used in all of the Hoboken Public School District's Pre-K classes and will be used by all District Kindergarten classes beginning in the 2009-2010 school year:

A group of educational and cognitive scientists now say that mental exercises of a certain kind can teach children to become more self-possessed at earlier ages, reducing stress levels at home and improving their experience in school. Researchers can test this ability, which they call executive function, and they say it is more strongly associated with school success than I.Q.“We know that the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until the 20s, and some people will ask, ‘Why are you trying to improve prefrontal abilities when the biological substrate is not there yet?’ ” said Adele Diamond, a professor of developmental cognitive science at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. “I tell them that 2-year-olds have legs, too, which will not reach full length for 10 years or more — but they can still walk and run and benefit from exercise.”

Executive function involves three important skills: 1) the ability to resist distractions or delay gratification to finish a job (i.e. to finish the book report before turning on the television), 2) the second is working memory, the capacity to hold multiple numbers or ideas in the mind, — for example, to do simple addition or subtraction without pencil and paper, 3) the third is cognitive flexibility, the presence of mind to adapt when demands change (i.e. when recess is canceled, say, and there’s a pop quiz in math)

Researchers can rate these abilities with some precision by giving young children several straightforward mental tests. In one, youngsters sit in front of a computer and when a red heart appears on the left side of the screen, they strike a key on the left, and when it appears on the right screen they strike a key on the right. Most of them do well on this. But when scientists change the rules, and have the children strike a key on the right when the symbol appears on the left, and vice versa, the test gets harder. The number of errors they commit, and the time it takes the children to answer, are considered measures of their ability to regulate themselves. Other similar kinds of tests can track improvements in working memory and intellectual flexibility. Researchers have designed school-based curriculums intended to improve each of these abilities. In a study published in 2007, researchers compared one of these programs — called Tools of the Mind — to a standard literacy curriculum, in several preschools in the Northeast. The Tools program features a variety of exercises, including a counting activity in which children pair off.

“The activities are specifically designed to promote self-regulation, and they are embedded in the teaching,” said Deborah J. Leong, an educational psychologist and professor emerita at Metropolitan State College of Denver, who designed the Tools program with Elena Bodrova, principal researcher at McREL, an educational research group in Denver. The program also focuses on pretend play with a purpose, namely dramatic role-playing in which children decide beforehand what their roles are and must stay in character — an exercise that draws on all aspects of self-regulation. The 2007 preschool study tracked 85 preschoolers in the Tools program and 62 in the basic literacy curriculum. After one year, teachers in one school judged that the children in the special program were doing so well that all students were moved into it. After two years, and factoring out the effects of gender and age, the researchers found that the students in the Tools of the Mind (self regulation) program scored about 20 percent higher on all of the demanding measures of executive function. “Although play is often thought frivolous, it may be essential,” the study authors concluded.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cosmetology Classes Begin at Demarest

The A.J. Demarest High School Administration and Faculty are pleased to announce that Cosmetology classes have begun for the 2008-2009 school year. Students learn basic cosmetology skills as set by the New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology. Under the direction of Ms. Isabel Diaz, students train to become a licensed cosmetologist including haircutting, coloring, perming, and styling as well as manicuring, pedicuring, and facials. In addition, students learn retail cosmetic sales, salon development and practice those skills in a model salon/lab setting. The students are working with “Milady’s Standard Cosmetology Curriculum” published by Thomson Delmar Learning. Much of the curriculum centers on an integrated approach emphasizing the core discipline area of the biochemical and health sciences as well as applied mathematics. The classes are available to all students at Demarest High School.

To become a cosmetologist-hairstylist you must:
1. Be at least 17 years of age.
2. Provide proof of successful completion of high school or its equivalent.
3. Provide proof of successful completion of 1,200 hours of instruction in cosmetology and hairstyling at an approved school in New Jersey, another state or a foreign country. Training completed in another state or a foreign country must, in the opinion of the Board, be substantially similar to that offered at licensed schools within New Jersey.
4. Take and pass an examination administered by the Board.

If you have any questions, Please contact Thomas Fitzgibbons, Principal @ (201) 356-3742.

For more information on State requirements:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Drawing Analogies and Contrasts with Current Events

As the economic events of the past few weeks establish themselves as a permanent fixture on the headlines of our local newspapers, 24 hour news coverage, and numerous Internet blogs and news sites, we are reminded of the importance of drawing analogies and contrasts to other critical times in the economy of the United States. Incorporating current events is a wonderful way of grabbing and sustaining student interest. While the current economic situation we face seems to pose more questions than answers at the moment, the incorporation of historical narrative, presidential history, civics, sociology, basic economics and human behavior can create thoughtful and engaging educational and curricula opportunities.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tortorella Welcomes Wiley Volunteers

Today Principal Charles Tortorella welcomed the 2008-2009 Wiley Reading Volunteers to Wallace School. The program is in it's sixth year of existence and has been a collaboration between John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and the students and teachers of Wallace School. Over the years, Wiley volunteers have logged in more than 2500 hours of their time (about 500 hrs a year) to read to Wallace students and have been instrumental in engaging our students with a passion for reading. The program is done in coordination with Wallace teachers to complement existing curricula objectives- each volunteer is paired with a teacher and a small group of students. The Wiley Reading Volunteer Program is one of a number of ways in which the company has been engaged with the Hoboken School District.

INTERESTING FACT: Only a handful of surviving publishers predate Wiley. The short list of venerable publishers includes Longman (1744); Aubanel (1744); Editions Lemoine (1772); Encyclopedia Britannica (1768); United Methodist Publishing House (1789), Old Farmer’s Almanac (1792); Taylor & Francis (1798), and Thomas Nelson (1802).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

67th Annual Hoboken Policemen-Firemen Blood Drive

The Hoboken Police and Fire Departments are sponsoring a blood drive Wednesday September 24, from 6AM to 6PM at Police Headquarters. Look for the bus parked at 106 Hudson Street. Qualified donors should be 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in generally good health. Donors must present photo or signed ID and know their Social Security number. Donors over 75 years of age may donate only with their physician's note.

Any questions, please call 201-420-2100

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Petrosino named to National Geography Standards Review Team

Dr. Petrosino was named a reviewer for Geography for Life, 2nd Edition. During its 2007 fall meeting, the Geography Education National Implementation Project (GENIP) Steering Committee approved a process and a structure for preparing the second edition of Geography for Life: National Geography Standards. Development of the second edition is focused on reviewing the Six Essential Elements and 18 Standards with special emphasis on updating the knowledge statement and learning opportunities that accompany each of the 18 Standards to clarify both their content and pedagogy.

The new edition will update content and address changes in the discipline since the initial publication in 1994 particularly in terms of the growth in geospatial technologies, globalization, and global environmental change. The GENIP Steering Committee plans not to revise the Standards, but to "refresh" them so they will continue to be timely and relevant as guideposts for K-12 geography education in the United States. GENIP created a committee to discuss and develop a work plan for the updating process. Dr. Petrosino was chosen for his research and work in the area of the learning sciences and he looks forward to incorporating these new standards into the revised Hoboken Curriculum.

To view current standards: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/standards/matrix.html

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sybil's Cave Opening Ceremony and Educational Activities

Today there was a meeting in City Hall concerning the upcoming ceremonies for the official opening of Sybil's Cave and the related educational opportunities associated with this historic site. In attendance were Mayor David Roberts, Paul Drexel (Information Officer for the Mayor), Danny Gans (Hoboken Historical Museum), Katerine Kinney (Donohue, Gironda, and Doria), Geri Fallo (Director of Cultural Affairs), James Ronga (Environmental Director) and Dr. Petrosino. Integrated curricula opportunities covering history, archaeology, geography, geology, chemistry, literature and music related to the cave and surrounding area were discussed. Petrosino briefed the group on the efforts of the Hoboken Curriculum Committee and it's ongoing collaboration with the Hoboken Historical Museum and Hoboken Public Library in formulating a "History of Hoboken" curriculum and possibilities for additional community wide outreach educational opportunities.

The first mention of the cave appeared in travel journals in the 1830s. it was near Elysian Fields, a tract of land that stretched from the estate of Col. John Stevens north to Weehawken. Colonel Stevens ferried visitors from New York to attractions on the Hoboken waterfront, including the cave and River Walk. In etchings from the time (see picture), couples stroll near benches outside the cave, which sits near the shore of the Hudson.By 1871, as Hoboken’s waterfront became more industrial, the luster of Elysian Fields and Sybil’s Cave faded. Edgar Allan Poe used a real event that occurred in 1841 at Sybil's Cave as a basis for the detective story "The Mystery of Marie Roget", considered to be the first mystery .

Monday, September 15, 2008

Health Education

A meeting was held at Hoboken High School with district members Julie Ciarlone, Chanta Blue, Principal Lorraine Cella, Marie McCabe (Director of the HHS Student Center), Patricia Drumgoole (School Social Worker), Anthony Petrosino and Superintendent Raslowsky. The group met to discuss issues related to student health and health education both in the high school and throughout the district. Ms. McCabe shared with the group aspects of a health education curriculum under consideration in parts of the State of New Jersey. Discussions also included the possibility of submitting grant proposals and the importance of data and data analysis in making district wide decisions. Dr. Petrosino will share information gathered from this meeting with the Hoboken Curriculum Committee.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Least We Forget...

The following is a list of Hoboken residents who were lost in the tragic series of events that occurred of September 11, 2001:

Joao JJ" A.F Aguiar, Jr.
Jean Ann Andrucki
Peter Paul Apollo
Donna Bernaerts-Kearns
Martin Boryczewski
Nicholas W. Brandemarti
Swarna Chalasani
Nelson Chanfrau
Christopher M. Colasanti
Michael Shamus Costello
Christopher S. Cramer
Gavin Cushny
Michael DeRienzo
Douglas Frank DiStefano
Neil M. Dollard
Margaret Ruth Echtermann
Meredith Emily June Ewart
Peter Feidelberg
John Roger Fisher
Jeffrey Brian Gardner
Brian Goldberg
Michael Edward Gould
Pedro Grehan
Kevin James Hannaford
Scott Jordan Hazlecorn
Robert Wayne Hobson, III
Matthew D. Horning
Joseph Anthony Ianelli
Thomas Patrick Knox
Gregory James Malone
George Patrick McLaughlin, Jr.
Michael Joseph Mullin
Marc A. Murolo
John J. Murray
Martin Stewart Niederer
Katherine "Katie" McGarry Noack
Brian C. Novotny
Keith K. O'Connor
Dominique Lisa Pandolfo
Jon Anthony Perconti
Joseph O. Pick
Beth A. Quigley
Alexander Robbins Steinman
Raymond J. Rocha
Scott William Rohner
Joshua M. Rosenblum
Nicholas Charles Alexander Rowe
Ronald J. Ruben
Richard L. Salinardi, Jr.
James Kenneth Samuel, Jr.
John T. Schroeder
Lesley Anne Thomas
Melissa Renee Vincent
Meredith L. Whalen
James Patrick White
Debbie L. Williams
Michael Robert Wittenstein

Hoboken (07030) has the sad distinction of being the zip code with the highest death rate per capita from the terrorists attack of September 11, 2001 - one out of 750 of our residents were killed on that faithful day.

For more information: http://www.hoboken911.com/html/members.htm

Monday, September 8, 2008

Interoffice Communication C3: 2008-09 Curriculum Committee

INTEROFFICE COMMUNICATION C3 was posted today by Superintendent Raslowsky throughout the Hoboken School District. The purpose of the interoffice communication is to formally convene the 2008-2009 Hoboken Curriculum Committee. Previous experience with curriculum development is required. The primary purpose of the position is to work on the creation and revision of the district’s K-12 curriculum. This position requires after-school and occasional weekend work and possibly summer work. Compensation will be consistent with the Hoboken Education Association's current contract. Qualifications include N. J. State Certification. Applications will be accepted Monday through Friday in the Superintendent’s Office. Closing date for submission of application is September 19, 2008. We will post the names of the 2008-2009 Committee and a schedule of meeting times on this site as soon as possible.

note: curriculum committee meetings are closed to the public but summaries of those meetings will be available at this site.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Initial Meetings for The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY) and Saturday U

As the first week of school came to a close a number of key meetings have taken place which will have an impact on both long range plans (curriculum development and implementation) as well as more immediate such as the Saturday U program and the online mentoring program with The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY) -aka "John Hopkins" program. Superintendent Raslowsky, Dr. Petrosino, and the Directors of Operations and Technology met to discuss the expansion of the Hopkins Gifted and Talented Program in Wallace and Calabro Schools. Issues such as computers, phone lines, and room assignments were discussed. This was followed with a meeting between Dr. Petrosino and Ms. Hillebrand to map out some specifics concerning the expansion of the program to include as much as 50 additional students and incorporate an after school component. In addition, an initial meeting was set with Mr. Gary Enrico to discuss the Saturday U program with some possibilities of expansion of offerings as well as meeting days/times. Final decisions based on these initial meetings and an expected succession of some follow-up meetings will be communicated within the coming weeks. 

Thursday, September 4, 2008

LitLife Professional Development

Summer recess is certainly over and it's back to the good work of the district on a number of fronts. On Thursday, over 20 Hoboken District faculty were involved in professional development training for the incorporation of LitLife into our curriculum. A unique aspect of the relationship between LitLife and the Hoboken School District is the long term (1 year), ongoing, and systemic nature of the professional development. LitLife is a program centered on the teaching of reading and writing- an area of great importance to the success of any middle grade student since so many other subjects (science, mathematics, history, etc...) are centered around the child's ability to read and comprehend text. Experts in professional development in reading and writing will be in the district on a regular and ongoing basis. Research shows that professional development needs to be long term, systemic and ongoing (Darling-Hammond and Bransford, 2006*). LitLife has developed an adopt/adapt/create model of professional development. Teachers need to have access to information, and opportunities to invest in the creation of their own curriculum and planning. Learning is not linear: it often takes surprising turns, and goes in many directions. LitLife helps to focus learning, create calendars and design curriculum not only for student learning, but for teacher (adult) learning too. The work of LitLife is in conjunction with and will be incorporated into the revised curriculum.

*Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and Be Able to Do. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005. Recipient of the Pomeroy Award, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 2006.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Opening Day Remarks

Today Dr. Petrosino reported to the faculty, administrators and staff of the district on the progress of the Hoboken Curriculum Committee. The meeting took place in Wallace School and was part of the District's first day of official operations for the 2008-2009 academic year. Highlights included discussions on the collaboration and partnerships with the Hoboken Historical Museum, The Hoboken Public Library, and the New Jersey Holocaust Commission in curriculum preparation as well as an update on the progress of each disciplinary team this summer. The Committee will officially reconvene early this month with an anticipated first draft expected by the end of October.