Friday, December 26, 2008

Presidential 2008 Message for Hanukkah

Presidential Message

The story of Hanukkah recalls the miraculous victory of a small band of patriots against tyranny, and the oil that burned for eight nights. Through centuries of exile and persecution, Jews have lit the menorah. Each year, they behold its glow with faith in the power of God, and love for His greatest gift -- freedom.

This Hanukkah we celebrate another miraculous victory -- the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. When President Harry Truman led the world in recognizing Israel in May of 1948, many wondered whether the small nation could possibly survive. Yet from the first days of independence, the people of Israel defied dire predictions. With determination and hard work, they turned a rocky desert into fertile soil. They built a thriving democracy, a strong economy, and one of the mightiest military forces on earth. Like the Maccabees, Israel has defended itself bravely against enemies seeking its destruction. And today, Israel is a light unto the nations -- and one of America's closest friends.

This evening, we have the great privilege of celebrating Israel's 60th anniversary and Hanukkah in a very special way. Thanks to the generosity of the Truman Library, we are fortunate to light the menorah presented to President Truman in 1951 as a symbol of friendship by Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.

A decade after President Truman received this gift, he visited Prime Minister Ben-Gurion for one of the last times. As they parted, Ben-Gurion told the President that as a foreigner he could not judge President Truman's place in American history, but the President's courageous decision to recognize the new state of Israel gave him an immortal place in Jewish history. Those words filled the President's eyes with uncharacteristic tears. And later, Ben-Gurion would say he rarely had seen somebody so moved.

And so tonight I'm deeply moved to welcome the grandsons of these two great men -- Clifton Truman Daniel and Yariv Ben-Eliezer -- to light the Truman menorah together.

Laura and I wish all the people of Jewish faith a happy Hanukkah and many joyous Hanukkahs in the years ahead.
Thank you

Presidential Message: Kwanzaa 2008

Presidential Message: Kwanzaa 2008
George Bush's White House Presidential Office (R) posted a Press Release on December 24, 2008 | 12:00 am - Permalink - Comments
I send greetings to those observing Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is the celebration of African culture, community, and family traditions. For more than 40 years, millions of people have come together to reaffirm Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. These principles emphasize unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.


President's Christmas Message

I send greetings to those celebrating Christmas.

During Christmas, we gather with family and friends to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. As God's only Son, Jesus came to Earth and gave His life so that we may live. His actions and His words remind us that service to others is central to our lives and that sacrifice and unconditional love must guide us and inspire us to lead lives of compassion, mercy, and justice.

The true spirit of Christmas reflects a dedication to helping those in need, to giving hope to those in despair, and to spreading peace and understanding throughout the Earth. As we share love and enjoy the traditions of this holiday, we are also grateful for the men and women of our Armed Forces who are working to defend freedom, secure our homeland, and advance peace and safety around the world.

This Christmas, may we give thanks for the blessings God has granted to our Nation and in each of our lives. May the joy of the holidays renew our commitment to working together for a future of peace, opportunity, and hope.

Laura joins me in wishing you a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.


President-Elect Obama's Holiday Message

Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama
Holiday Radio Address
December 26, 2008

Good morning. This week, Americans are gathering with family and friends across the country to celebrate the blessings of Christmas and the holiday season.

As we celebrate this joyous time of year, our thoughts turn to the brave men and women who serve our country far from home. Their extraordinary and selfless sacrifice is an inspiration to us all, and part of the unbroken line of heroism that has made our freedom and prosperity possible for over two centuries.

Many troops are serving their second, third, or fourth tour of duty. And we are reminded that they are more than dedicated Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard - they are devoted fathers and mothers; husbands and wives; sons and daughters; and sisters and brothers.

This holiday season, their families celebrate with a joy that is muted knowing that a loved one is absent, and sometimes in danger. In towns and cities across America, there is an empty seat at the dinner table; in distant bases and on ships at sea, our servicemen and women can only wonder at the look on their child's face as they open a gift back home.

Our troops and military families have won the respect and gratitude of their broader American family. Michelle and I have them in our prayers this Christmas, and we must all continue to offer them our full support in the weeks and months to come.

These are also tough times for many Americans struggling in our sluggish economy. As we count the higher blessings of faith and family, we know that millions of Americans don't have a job. Many more are struggling to pay the bills or stay in their homes. From students to seniors, the future seems uncertain.

That is why this season of giving should also be a time to renew a sense of common purpose and shared citizenship. Now, more than ever, we must rededicate ourselves to the notion that we share a common destiny as Americans - that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper. Now, we must all do our part to serve one another; to seek new ideas and new innovation; and to start a new chapter for our great country.

That is the spirit that will guide my Administration in the New Year. If the American people come together and put their shoulder to the wheel of history, then I know that we can put our people back to work and point our country in a new direction. That is how we will see ourselves through this time of crisis, and reach the promise of a brighter day.

After all, that is what Americans have always done.

232 years ago, when America was newly born as a nation, George Washington and his Army faced impossible odds as they struggled to free themselves from the grip of an empire.

It was Christmas Day--December 25th, 1776 - that they fought through ice and cold to make an improbable crossing of the Delaware River. They caught the enemy off guard, won victories in Trenton and Princeton, and gave new momentum to a beleaguered Army and new hope to the cause of Independence.

Many ages have passed since that first American Christmas. We have crossed many rivers as a people. But the lessons that have carried us through are the same lessons that we celebrate every Christmas season--the same lessons that guide us to this very day: that hope endures, and that a new birth of peace is always possible.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Emergency Response Team- WABC TV

Today the Emergency Response Team (EMT) of Hoboken High School was visited by WABC-TV and producer Diane Oates as part of a news segment to run on January 31, 2009 sometime between 7:30PM-8:00PM. More details will follow when available. The Hoboken High School EMY includes 20 students and a number of faculty members. Students take EMT as an elective course during "zero hour" (before the normal start time of school for most of the school) and earn credits toward graduation. The program incorporates health science education in a very real world and applied context. Ms. Melanie Komar is the faculty advisor to the group.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies

On Friday, Dr. Petrosino took part in a conference phone call between members of the Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies and the Education Development Center, Inc (EDC) concerning the possibility of incorporating some Ford PAS modules in the District's secondary schools. The next step will be a conference call with some additional district administrators as details such as professional development, alignment with the revised curriculum, and general interest is assessed and evaluated. The Ford PAS program is intended for high school students.

The Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies (Ford PAS) is an academically rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum and program that provides students with content knowledge and skills necessary for future success—in such areas as business, economics, engineering, and technology. The inquiry- and project-based program offers a series of modules that links learning in traditional academic subjects with the challenges students will face in post-secondary education and with the expectations of the workplace they will face as adults. These links are forged through community-wide, cooperative efforts and innovative partnerships that join local high schools, colleges and universities, and businesses. Through coordinated, real-world learning opportunities, Ford PAS provides experiences to help students make decisions about their future education and careers.

Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) is one of the world’s leading nonprofit education and health organizations, with 325 projects in 50 countries. EDC brings researchers and practitioners together to advance learning and healthy development for individuals of all ages and institutions of all types.

Picture: Piazza Monte San Giacomo- outside display

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Meeting with the Deputy Commissioner of Education of New Jersey

On Thursday, December 18th, Dr. Petrosino met with Ms. Willa Spicer, Deputy Commissioner of Education of New Jersey, concerning progress to date on the Curriculum Audit of July 25, 2007 (the two met previously on January 4, 2008). At today's meeting, Dr. Petrosino briefed the Deputy Commissioner on efforts undertaken in the last year to address: curriculum mapping, the revised curriculum, development of assessments, QSAC progress, and implementation issues. The Deputy gave informative and helpful feedback, specifically centered around efforts at incorporating the "Understanding by Design" framework and "big ideas" specifically. Petrosino also briefed the Deputy Commissioner on Hoboken High School's recent recognition in New Jersey Monthly (2nd most improved High School in NJ) as well as by US News and World Report (Bronze Award designee). The two also discussed some recent districtwide program efforts and testing data. The meeting was productive and there were tentative plans made for an update later in the spring.

Biography: Willa Spicer is the Deputy Commissioner of Education of New Jersey. Prior to this post, Ms. Spicer led the New Jersey Performance Assessment Alliance as Project Director. In addition to her considerable policy experience, she served as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at South Brunswick Township Public Schools. Ms. Spicer has coauthored several publications dealing with assessment and has served the United States Department of Education as a site visitor and a member of the review panel for the Blue Ribbon Schools Program. In New Jersey, she served on a variety of professional committees and is a board member of Young Audiences and the Princeton Center for Leadership Training. She has been recognized as an outstanding educator by the Rutgers Graduate School of Education and Rider College and given an Ernest Boyer Distinguished Educator Award by the New Jersey Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Overview of January 4, 2008 meeting: click here

Monday, December 15, 2008

Physical Education/Health Curriculum Update

Due to some scheduling conflicts, the Physical Education/Health Group will meet on Monday and Wednesday of this week. Today the group completed the health curriculum for the 11th grade. This is a notable accomplishment. It is anticipated that on Wednesday the group will examine the 9th grade health curriculum and review the MYP objectives for that year. The group is anticipating getting most of the 11th grade Physical Education curriculum completed on Wednesday as well.

Group members include: Ms. Melanie Alberto-Kolmer, Ms. Marni Rosenblum, and Mr. Ryan Sorafine.

Picture: 2nd Street stop of the NJ Transit Light Rail

Sunday, December 14, 2008

College Readiness and US News and World Report HHS Rating

Recently, there have been some questions relating to "College Readiness" and whether and to what degree Hoboken High School is preparing students for college. From the US News and World Report website, there is data that indicates that the Post-Graduate plans for our high school graduates to attend a 4-year college is 60% while the state average is 53.2%. Moreover, another 20% of our graduates plan to attend increasingly popular and competitive 2 year institutions. This brings the percentage of graduates with plans to attend college to *at least* 80%. Actual enrollment figures may be slightly higher or lower.

Data Source: Click here for School Matters Data Used by US News and World Report

Indeed, College Readiness is a fairly new and evolving construct on measuring success (perhaps less than a decade old) and there is no clear "industry standard" at the moment although numerous efforts are underway. Also, by no means is the District complacent with our relative success at placing our graduates in college- more information/data is needed. For instance, longitudinal follow-up tracking awarded college degrees would be invaluable- as would correlating such data with High School standardized test scores and college Grade Point Average (GPA). But, at least one measure of success in the area of College Readiness would be the data previously referenced- graduates plans on attending college.

America's Best High Schools Methodology - US News and World Report

"This was done by computing a "college readiness index" based on the weighted average of the AP and/or IB participation rate (the number of 12th-grade students who took at least one AP and/or IB test before or during their senior year, divided by the number of 12th graders) along with how well the students did on those tests. The latter part, called quality-adjusted AP and/or IB participation, is the number of 12th-grade students who took and passed (received an AP score of 3 or higher or an IB score of 4 or higher) at least one of the tests before or during their senior year, divided by the number of 12th graders at that school. For the college readiness index, the quality-adjusted participation rate was weighted 75 percent in the calculation, and 25 percent of the weight was placed on the simple AP and/or IB participation rate. Only schools that had values greater than 20 in their college readiness index scored high enough to meet this criterion for gold and silver medal selection. The minimum of 20 was used because it represents what it would take to have a "critical mass" of students gaining access to college-level coursework."

One reason the 20 score was not reached can possible be simply not enough students taking an IB Diploma test. This could lead to a score below the threshold ratio. A second reason could be that at Hoboken High School a fair number of students take IB courses (either via the Middle Years Program or the IB Diploma Program) but do not take the Diploma test during their Junior or Senior years. A third reason is that some students may choose not to go on to IB Diploma after taking IB in the 9th and 10th grades. Finally, there may be some inconsistency in how the index is calculated since the site does not mention incorporation of IB while the US News and World Report site does. Some clarification is probably needed. 

Data Source: Click here for School Matters Data Used by US News and World Report

Thank you to Ms. Irene Sobolov for some clarification. However, she should not be held responsible for any errors in this posting.

Picture: Hoboken High School Class of 2008- Graduation Day

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hoboken Curriculum Committee- Saturday December 13

The Hoboken Curriculum Committee met on Saturday, December 13th at the Brandt Professional Development Center from 9AM-3PM. This will be the final Saturday meeting for the 2008 calendar year. The committee braved frigid temperatures this morning with the mercury hovering around 25F before turning into a cold crisp afternoon. Turnout was moderate given the holiday season and the fact that a number of faculty in the arts and music area were already committed to the Hoboken District production of "Disney's Mulan Jr", directed by Ms. Paula Ohaus. A summary of the day's curriculum development activities:

Science- In grade ten, the big idea form for unit 1 – 7 were completed. The grade ten unit seven unit planner was completed. Also, Possible assessments for the various units in grade ten were researched. Furthermore, the drafting by design units 1-5 were typed and saved onto the L drive.
World Languages- Today the World Language team develop three units for the 11th grade IB Standard Level. Also, we typed the MYP planners for the 10th Honors and began typing the UBD planners for the 10th grade. We research and compiled the materials that we will use for the 11th and 12th grade IB Higher Level classes.
Social Studies- Today was very productive. The group completed the 2nd grade unit planners; finished the 3rd grade “Big idea” sheets; and organized the curriculum binders. In addition, there was discussion with Dr. Petrosino on interactions with the Hoboken Historical Museum and the Hoboken Public Library.
Mathematics- Today we complete grades 11 and 12 IB courses. All curriculum is complete from K-12. All that is left to finish is cross referencing the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards for senior elective courses and the IB grades 11 and 12.
Curriculum Mapping (H. McKenzie)- After meeting with the various subject matter teachers to review the curriculum mapping, I corrected several errors and combined the various versions of the mapping on the network curriculum folder into one. In particular the world languages were corrected from grades 9 through 12 and several science topics were also adjusted. There were several typos that were noticed previously and corrected. Only social studies 9-12 need to be checked. There is now only one file of the curriculum mapping on the computer for individuals to view and edit. The three other versions have been moved to a temporary folder in the curriculum network folder to be deleted at a later date.
Technology-On Saturday Robin and I completed all but two of the big ideas forms for grades 6-8. While she worked on that, I began reviewing unit plans in Science to see where technology is being used in the unit or could easily be added in an organic fashion. You will recall that the standards for grade 4 in 8.2 (Technology Education) actually refer to science standards 5.2 and 5.4. So I am recording those correlations and making note of easy additions of technology. I am also noting where 8.1 (Technology literacy) can easily be added or currently exists. All of the documents I found from the NJDOE in my research indicate that technological literacy (8.1) needs to be integrated rather than taught in isolation so I think we need to document where we are integrating it. I think the obvious places to look are science, language arts, social studies and finally math.
Visual Arts- The Visual Arts Cir. Com. went back to the primary year’s program finishing 10 units under headings of My Body, My Feelings and My Actions. The Kindergarten is now finished and in the process of completing the 1st. grade.

The Hola Team- Background and Experience

The following is a detailed description of the Hoboken Dual Language Team, also known as Hola. The team includes the founders along with the Advisory Board. Short bio's follow with some detail as to each person's background, experience, and expertise. 

The Founders
The co-founders of the Hoboken Dual Language Program bring a range of varied professional, academic and life experience to the development and implementation of the program, dovetailing in their passion for education and their common belief in the multi-faceted value of bilingualism. In their role as the HoLa Leadership Team, they will continue to commit their full time and singular focus to making the program a success.

Jennifer Hindman Sargent holds a BA in Psychology/Anthropology from New York University, as well as an M.S.Ed. in Counseling from Hunter College (CUNY), where she first explored the benefits of bilingual education, and through which she worked as a counselor in two public high schools in New York City. In addition, Jennifer brings 15 years of marketing, advertising and project management experience to The HoLa Leadership Team, including launching and managing her own freelance copywriting business, counting Bloomingdale’s as a primary client since 2003. In 2005, she and a small group of like-minded parents created and implemented a weekly cooperative pre-school program for their own two-year-olds, where the parents rotated planning, teaching and assisting responsibilities; in 2007, when their younger children reached the same age, Camille Bustillo joined them for a successful recreation of the original program. Jennifer learned Spanish as an adult, largely through extensive travel in Spain and Latin America, including participation in an immersion program at La Universidad Antonio de Nebrija in Madrid, Spain. She is currently an elected member of the HOPES Head Start Policy Council.

Camille Korschun Bustillo earned a BA in history from Yale University and an MBA from Columbia University. Camille comes to The HoLa Leadership Team from the world of marketing and communications, most recently from the International Marketing Group at Maybelline, where she brought products from research and development to retail. Her first entrepreneurial experience was with Delia's, a teen-focused retailer, where she worked in various roles to develop the fledgling company from start-up to public offering, culminating in a position as Editorial Director. Camille grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio and Montreal, Quebec, where she benefited from opportunities to participate in academic content-based immersion classes at St. George's High School. Her mother’s career since 1990 as a teacher, then Principal of a successful French immersion elementary program has provided Camille with invaluable insight that has informed her and inspired her to bring such a program to her own community. She received a certificate in French Language from La Sorbonne in Paris, before taking up Spanish at Yale, where she met her husband, a native Spanish speaker. Because she and her husband have both experienced first-hand the benefits of bilingualism, personally and professionally, they have chosen to raise their children in a bilingual household.

HoLa Advisory Board
Of the many people we have conferred with throughout the research and development process, the following individuals constitute a core group who has agreed to remain involved on an ongoing basis (unpaid), through the implementation phase of the HoLa program, each according to his or her area(s) of expertise:

Dr. Victoria Hunt, Assistant Principal at P.S. 75, The Emily Dickinson School, in Manhattan (oversees the Spanish-English immersion program); consultant with Torres-Guzman & Associates; and former instructor in the Bilingual/Bicultural Program at Teachers College, Columbia University

Jennifer Friedman, M.S., Co-Founder and Director of Development, La Escuelita, a private Spanish-English immersion pre-school and after-school/summer program for children up to 3rd grade in Manhattan

Mercedes Tellez-Gil, M.A., Coordinator of Bilingual Programs and World Languages, Englewood Public Schools, Englewood, NJ

Dr. Doré Korschun, Ed.D. Principal, Glover School (French immersion), Milton, MA (Mother of Camille Korschun Bustillo)

Maria Bustillo, M.S.Ed., Bilingual, ESL and World Languages Supervisor, Jersey City Public Schools, Jersey City, NJ (Mother-in-law of Camille Korschun Bustillo)

Dr. Jennifer Austin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics, Rutgers University, Newark; researcher in the field of language development in bilingual children

Joselyn Estevez-Vargas, M.S.Ed., Director of Early Childhood & Family Services, HOPES, Inc.

Seouvan Rodriguez, Co-Director, Hudson County Boys and Girls Club

Craig Mainor, Program Coordinator, Jubilee Center, Hoboken, NJ

Mary Azzarto Ciampa, an original co-founder of the HoLa program, is now based in Cambridge, MA, where she is applying her long history of entrepreneurial and business expertise to Isabella Products, and continuing to provide valuable input to the HoLa program remotely.

Hoboken High School Awarded US News and World Report Bronze Status

Hoboken High School has made US News and World Report's list of notable New Jersey High Schools receiving a "bronze" award for 2008. Only 41 high schools out of more than 300 in the state received either a silver or a bronze rating according to Ron Zeitlinger of The Jersey Journal. This positions Hoboken High School among only 14% of New Jersey High Schools eligible for such distiction. This recognition by an independent and trusted national news magazine Hoboken High School and the administration, faculty and staff is noteworthy. Earlier this year, Hoboken High School was named the second most improved high school in the state of New Jersey by New Jersey Monthly.

In its second year, America's Best High Schools has again identified the country's top- performing high schools. The goal of the project remains the same: provide a clear, unbiased picture of how well public high schools serve all of their students - from the highest achieving to the lowest achieving - in preparing them to demonstrate proficiency in basic skills as well as readiness for college-level work.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Curriculum Committee Meeting- Thursday December 11th

The Hoboken Curriculum Committee met Thursday afternoon from 3pm-4:30pm at the Brandt Professional Development Center. There was a fairly light turnout today due to weather, a number of extracurricular events going on in the district and a gathering for the retirement of one of Mr. Patrick Pasculli, 4th grade teacher at Wallace School and former mayor of the City of Hoboken. We all wish Mr. Pasculli well and he will be missed.
A brief update:
Science- In grade ten, the big idea form for unit 1 – 5 were completed and the big idea for unit 6 was initiated. Also, the files from the L drive were updated and saved onto the jump drive as a back-up resource for the science team for units 3-5 in grade 7.
Technology- Since we last talked we met with other members to discuss technological literacy and technology education in NJ. We also met with Howard McKenzie (Supervisor of Mathematics and Science) regarding our current understandings in this area, namely that "computer skills" are to be integrated according to the NJCCCs but that technology education (the designed world, impact of tech, tech processes,) needs to be addressed in middle and high school. He is working on investigating that further. Today, 12/11, we tried to fill in some big ideas missing from grade 8. We also have some missing from grade 6, which we will complete on Saturday.
Mathematics- worked on misc. High School curriculum and creating units in Algebra. This group feels as if there are very close to a completed first draft of the entire K-12 vertical articulation for mathematics.

The committee we meet this Saturday for a full day session.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Technology Curriculum Overview Grades K-12

The following is a draft of the Technology Curriculum Overview narrative. The purpose of this document is to supply a brief but comprehensive statement of an articulated K-12 (vertical) technology education narrative for all interested stakeholders. A final version of this narrative will be due in the early part of 2009.

Technology education covers both computer literacy and knowledge of the design process. Mastery of both of these is need for students to succeed in an increasingly technological world. Computer skills are taught in the context of every class in school, and design is taught hand in hand with science and math, but can touch all disciplines.

At a very early age, students are taught to be information literate, that is to be able to access, evaluate and use information not only to develop their own ideas, but also to create new products and solutions to real life problems. The vision we have adopted for our technology curriculum is outlined below:

Grades K-3 basic computer use
Grades 4,5,6 function of technology in learning, e.g. to conduct research and to express ideas, via documents, web pages, online portfolios.
Grades 7-8 Inroduction to specific technology for disciplines: Math: graphing calculators, Science: measurement tools, scientific probes, Language Arts: word processing software supporting the writing process.
HS: merger of technology in the content areas.

picture credit:

Friday, December 5, 2008

Curriculum Overview for Language Arts Grades 1st – 12th

The following is a draft of the Language Arts Curriculum Overview narrative. The purpose of this document is to supply a brief but comprehensive statement of an articulated K-12 (vertical) Language Arts education narrative for all interested stakeholders. A final version of this narrative will be due in the early part of 2009.

The overarching intent of language arts instruction throughout this curriculum is for students to value, appreciate, and demonstrate literacy through expressive and receptive language skills, and to understand and investigate the self, others, the culture, and the environment. We use language and logic when we listen, make observations, and remember experiences. We use language and logic when we think critically and creatively and when we convey our ideas and feelings to others. All discourse is dependent on thought and language working together. Language Arts includes reading, writing, speaking, listening, and the study of literature.

Reading instruction follows a natural progression from primary through high school. The primary curriculum emphasizes the student’s awareness of thought and language as our essential tools for learning and communicating. The curriculum units guide the students through the developmental stages which lead to the creation of proficient and fluent readers. The middle year’s curriculum not only emphasizes reading as a process, by which people gain information and ideas from within literature, newspapers, manuals, letters, contracts, advertisements and a host of other materials; but also fosters a sense of personal identity and global awareness. The high school curriculum builds on this understanding through an intensive study of ideas, societies, and eras, while examining the nature of man and the human condition. Exploring the techniques authors use to convey messages, students connect literature to their own lives and daily experiences. Enjoying literature provides a student with a lifetime of enrichment.

The ability to write clearly is essential to effective communication and is an important component of this curriculum, as is the student’s ability to create. Throughout the learning units, students will progress through the developmental stages of written communication and cultivate their creativity. Students will be able to produce documents that demonstrate planning, organization and effectively convey their intended message. Moreover, students will develop writing skills which are critical to employment and will assist them in their education beyond the high school years.

Listening and speaking skills are those most often used on a daily basis, and have been given careful consideration in the development of this curriculum. Students must be able to listen carefully, and use specific techniques to clarify what they have heard. Students then must have the skills to communicate and make their messages understood. Speaking properly and using correct grammar, sentence structure, tone, expression and emphasis must be part of the students’ repertoires. To be successful in school and in the world of work, students must be able to use written, visual and electronic resources. Units utilizing these resources are deliberately and progressively interspersed throughout the curriculum.
The language arts curriculum seeks to provide all students with the communication skills needed to function independently and inter-dependently in the global environment. Students complete studies that provide opportunities to develop the skills necessary to become lifelong readers and effective communicators in both oral and written language. The sequentially developed program offers engaging activities, tools and strategies to enhance the success of students not only as individuals, but also as members of a family, community and the human race.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

World Languages Overview Grades 1-12

The following is a draft of the World Languagese Curriculum Overview narrative. The purpose of this document is to supply a brief but comprehensive statement of an articulated K-12 (vertical) world language education narrative for all interested stakeholders. A final version of this narrative will be due in the early part of 2009.

In keeping with the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards, we believe that both communication and culture are at the crux of a well structured and sound World Language program. The two are inseparable and when constantly addressed in the classroom with an equal emphasis placed upon both, serve as an ideal situation for second language acquisition. Both communication and culture are addressed in the interpretive, interpersonal and presentational modes. For true proficiency to be achieved students need to be able to receive auditory and visual data, participate in authentic exchanges of information, and formulate ideas and express them formally in the target culture. We aim to provide them with the tools to accomplish this end.
As World Language educators we embrace perspectives, practices and products of both the home and target cultures as our own in order to make long lasting and meaningful connections for our language learners. In the early years, from kindergarten to fifth grade, we focus on the child’s base of knowledge and build upon it by associating new information with prior learning formal or otherwise. Familiarizing the students with basic greetings and identifying the world around them allows them to make sense of subjects in the target language that are already very simple to them. Also, the repetition of such things as the weather, numbers, the days of the week, colors and other frequently accessed information solidifies the learning by way of constant reinforcement.
We recognize that developmentally our young language learners will enjoy self exploration more so than anything else. As educators we address their needs for self discovery by allowing them to use interrogatory and introspective methods (i.e. surveys and journaling). The themes serve as a constant reflection of their own culture and the target culture in terms of similarities and differences through a lens of appreciation. It is in these primary years the students will acquire the vocabulary needed to express themselves on a basic level, and become acclimated to the sounds and everyday expressions used in the target culture and under what circumstances these words and phrases are culturally accepted and appropriate.
In the middle years we venture farther away from ethnocentrism with an end goal of world citizenship. Students begin to delve deeper into the immediate benefits of being worldly and can appreciate the diversity present in their own community. We begin to investigate more explicitly the economic, geographical and political circumstances under which different peoples around the world thrive, how this affects them and how we as citizens of the United States interact with said populations. Moreover, from the sixth grade to the tenth grade the district incorporates the Middle Years Programme. This program focuses on five areas of interaction; human ingenuity, community service, environment, health and social education and approaches to learning. These are lenses through which the students learn the content of any discipline in the program. Other points of consideration are the learner’s profile, and big ideas that serve as guiding questions for teaching the curriculum.
Developmentally, students begin to exhibit a more social and interactive disposition during the years under which they will be exposed to Middle Years Programme. While still providing the students with plenty of authentic realia, information and imagery, we provide students with a platform to communicate independently and encourage original communication. The themes become more complex and analytical in terms of research and exploration as students use the information learned to shape their own identities by establishing boundaries and peripheral realization. With culture as the guiding light and constant discovery as its own motivation, grammar, reading and writing find intrinsic incentive in the classroom. As needed, grammar rules, verb tenses and sentence structure are introduced via culture rich artifacts such as newspapers, magazines and even the introduction of television shows or popular music from the target culture.
While remaining cognizant of the multiple entry points that need to be addressed, we aim to constantly review the everyday phrases and typical exchanges from the target language so as to differentiate instruction with respect to each student’s familiarity with the target language. By the end of tenth grade, students will be proficient enough to follow commands and ask for information in the target language. Their level of communication will be developed enough to describe most people, places and things they will encounter on a daily basis. More complex topics or attempts at expression will also be possible via circumlocution and manipulation of the known vocabulary and grammatical structure of the target language.
Finally, in the last years of the World Language program we use the foundation built thus far to delve into the literature of the target culture and provide the language learner with a respectable repertoire of canonic writers, artists and political leaders. This will be especially helpful to those students who are interested in a diploma from the International Baccalaureate Diploma program which is an extension of the Middle Years Programme already in place in the district. All students (IB or otherwise) will be challenged with authentic materials and assessments in all modes; interpretive, interpersonal and presentational. Students will develop the skills necessary to use the target language both formally and informally, written and orally. By the end of the program we aspire to prepare our students to interpret the world with a tolerant, open-minded and enthusiastic appreciation of language and culture on their journey towards global citizenship.

Tasha Leggard
Isabel Bruno
Tania Trinidad
Geidy De la Rosa

LitLife- In District Professional Development Workshop

On Tuesday, December 2 two LitLife sessions of professional development took place at the Brandt Professional Development Center involving 23 district teachers. The workshop focused on "Essential Questions in Planning a Non-Fiction Unit of Study" and included such topics as 1) Will this unit 'stand alone' or be connected to other areas of my curriculum? 2) During the course of this study, what structures/components will contain my teaching and the independent practice of the students? 3) What will I read aloud during this study and during the rest of the year to support/further this study? 4) What, if anything, will my students produce during this study? LitLife consultants work in schools to implement innovative structures for teaching reading and writing. After a careful analysis of a school’s environment and history, LitLife works with staff members to enrich teaching methods and curriculum in reading and writing. We help teachers and administrators in realizing their goal: a happy school in which children and adults alike thrive.

Professionals who participated in the workshop:
Session 1: Marianne Insinga (Calabro), Rosemarie LoPresti (Wallace), Josephine Mazzone (Wallace), Kristin M. Kubinsky (Wallace), Jennifer Wetzel (Wallace), Christna Coccucci (Wallace), Stacy Ntansah (Connors), Camille Ryan (Connors), John Mareca (Connors), Jennifer Lopez (Coordinator), Particia Reilly (LitLife consultant/trainer)
Session 2: Jennifer Suyat (Connors), Ronnie Scappatori (Wallace), Elise Granovsky (Wallace), Stephanie Garcia (Wallace), Tammie Oberstein (Connors), Danay Gutierrez (Student teacher-Wallace/Oberstein), Rosanne Versacci (Wallace), Christy Vespa (Connors), Magen Alt (Wallace), Jennifer Lopez (Coorodinator), Dr. Anthony Petrosino (Asst. to Superintendent), Particia Reilly (LitLife consultant/trainer).

A meeting with Dr. Petrosino, curriculum committee members, and LitLife consultants is planned for December 18th when alignment of new curriculum and LitLife professional development activities will be discussed.

Click here for more information on LitLife

picture: Consultant Patricia Reilly of LitLife working with district teachers at the Brandt Professional Development Center.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Curriculum Overview for Science Grades 1-12

The following is a draft of the Science Curriculum Overview narrative. The purpose of this document is to supply a brief but comprehensive statement of an articulated K-12 (vertical) science education narrative for all interested stakeholders. A final version of this narrative will be due in the early part of 2009.

For the primary grades, a longer introduction to each area of science was implemented, beginning in first grade and culminating in fifth grade. Each new school year will begin by reviewing the previous grade’s end-of-year content and expanding and enhancing the prior year’s knowledge. This format enables each student to benefit from a sixth month period of intensive focus on each of the three science content areas: earth science, physical science, and life science. The fifth grade curriculum will culminate with earth science, thereby best preparing students for their sixth grade coursework.

The curriculum vision for MYP IB science entails a scaffolding approach, complimenting students’ scientific and mathematical skills which will advance each year. Based upon their fifth grade preparation, the sixth grade course will focus on Earth science to enhance their previous knowledge. The seventh grade will focus exclusively on Life sciences. The eighth grade will focus on Physical science and incorporate their Algebra 1 skills in solving complex formulas and problems.

The ninth grade focus area of Environmental science, will present new challenges and experiences in exploring global environmental issues. These global concerns will challenge students to utilize their ever-evolving critical thinking skills. The tenth grade focus of Biology will equip students with necessary scientific inquiry skills needed for the IB Diploma program. Eleventh grade students will focus on Chemistry, in either an IB or college-prep curriculum. The twelfth grade year will allow students to explore, in-depth, a content area of particular interest to them. These choices include: physics, robotics or forensic science.

picture: A rare conjunction of the cresent moon and the planets Jupiter (top) and Venus (bottom) are just to the west of the Hoboken rail station- photo taken from Pier A at twilight on December 1, 2008.

Mathematics Curriculum Overview for Grades K-12

The following is a draft of the Mathematics Curriculum Overview narrative. The purpose of this document is to supply a brief but comprehensive statement of an articulated K-12 (vertical) mathematics education narrative for all interested stakeholders. A final version of this narrative will be due in the early part of 2009. I will try to post other narrative overviews throughout this week.

The overall goal for the mathematics curriculum is to provide the students of Hoboken with the necessary tools in order to be prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century- whether those challenges are to be in higher education or embarking on a meaningful career. In accordance with the NJCCCS for mathematics, the focus of this curriculum is on achieving one crucial goal:
To enable ALL of New Jersey’s children to acquire the mathematical skills, understanding, and attitudes that they will need to be successful in their careers and daily life (D-1 NJCCCS)

Keeping this mandate as our mantra, the Hoboken Mathematics Curriculum has decided to closely align its curriculum with that of New Jersey with the emphasis on the five core curriculum standards:
• Number and Numerical Operations
• Geometry and Measurement
• Patterns and Algebra
• Data Analysis, Probability and Discrete Mathematics
• Mathematical Processes
The mathematics department is committed to teaching every student the standards by grade 12. These standards permeate throughout the k-12 curriculum.
For grades k-5, the primary focus is on helping all elementary children to understand the fundamental ideas underlying numbers and arithmetic, geometry, data, measurement and algebraic thinking. The overall goal is to invite all students into the wonderful world of mathematics providing opportunities and experiences to develop mathematical thought and proficiency.
For grades 6-8, the focus continues to be developing a deeper understanding of the number sense introduced in the earlier grades. Students have done extensive work with fractions and decimals in previous grades and are now prepared to learn how to multiply and divide fractions and decimals with understanding. They can solve a wide variety of problems that involve the numbers they see every day—whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. By using approximations of fractions and decimals, students estimate computations and verify that their answers make sense.
For grades 9-12, the problem-solving strategies learned in earlier grades should have become increasingly internalized and integrated to form a broad basis for the student's approach to doing mathematics, regardless of the topic at hand. Language and symbolism becomes a mainstay in the teaching of mathematics in grades 9-12. The student ability to communicate their understanding is critical to building a solid mathematical foundation.