Friday, July 31, 2009

Read 180 Professional Staff and Students Finish Another Successful Summer

15 students from all elementary schools completed a voluntary summer enrichment course in reading on Thursday morning at Hoboken High School's Computer Lab. The students were also treated to a celebratory breakfast (no expense to the district) and received certificates of completion for their work this summer. 

The students were part of a pilot reading class utilizing state of the art technology and instructional materials call READ 180. READ 180 is an intensive reading intervention program that helps educators confront the issue of reading on multiple fronts, using technology, print, and professional development. READ 180 is proven to meet the needs of readers whose reading achievement is below proficient level. The program directly addresses individual needs through differentiated instruction, adaptive and instructional software, high-interest literature, and direct instruction in reading, writing, and vocabulary skills. 

READ 180 was first brought to the district by Ms. Jennifer Lopez (NCLB Coordinator) and Dr. Petrosino in early 2008 and has operated as both an after school program as well as a voluntary summer school program. To be clear, READ 180 was not designed to be the primary reading program in any school setting but it rather, supplemental. For 2009-2010 there is a planned expansion into some high school grades as well as more fully incorporated into some of our elementary schools. READ 180 along with the SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory) has enabled the Hoboken School District to better leverage technology, assessment and learning theory into day to day practice. READ 180 follows the Six Components of Success to a solid reading intervention program: 


To truly succeed, a systematic program of reading intervention must incorporate six crucial elements.

1. Scientific Research Base

The scientific development of READ 180 began in 1985 when Dr. Ted Hasselbring of Vanderbilt University developed breakthrough software that used student performance data to individualize, adjust, and differentiate the path of reading instruction. Research continued through the 1990s as it was put to the test in Florida's Orange County public school system.

2. Proven Results
READ 180 is proven to work. Students who enter the program unable to read proficiently experience success and become readers. After ten years of research in association with Vanderbilt University and over six years in schools, READ 180 has brought significant gains in reading proficiency for the students who need it most.

3. Comprehensive Instruction
READ 180 includes a Teaching System that equips - and trains - educators to deliver effective reading, writing, and vocabulary instruction to struggling readers. Teachers receive a rich and engaging curriculum of skills instruction, point-of-use professional development, a variety of assessment tools, and reports that link to resources for differentiating instruction. The Teaching System makes it easy for teachers to cover essential skills while meeting individual needs.

4. Purposeful Assessment
READ 180 gives you the power to track and analyze student performance at every step. A variety of instruments accurately assess students to identify their most urgent needs, enabling the program and teachers to adjust instruction accordingly.

5. Data-Driven Instruction
READ 180 is the only program of its kind that uses assessment data so effectively to differentiate instruction. The READ 180 Software continually adjusts the level of instruction based on student performance. Actionable reports and periodic checkpoints alert teachers to students' needs and direct them to resources for individualizing instruction.

6. Professional Development
Scholastic has designed a comprehensive implementation training, an online course, and teaching materials that integrate professional development to provide educators with the background, teaching routines, and instructional support they need, when they need it.

Picture: The READ 180 staff. Standing left to right - Jennifer Lopez, Patricia Poore Tedesco, Raymond Donovan. Seated Louise Willis, Carol Musarra, Gwendolyn Rodriguez

Thursday, July 30, 2009

2009 Summer Curriculum Committee Day 11

The following self reported and verified activities were conducted by the Hoboken Curriculum Committee on July 29, 2009. -Dr. Petrosino

Technology- Today we finished integrating the technology standards into language arts. We completed several more units in 8th grade. Tomorrow we will finish revising 7th and 8th grade and print all units for the bind.

Social Studies- We are proud to say that we are finished!  We feel we have created a sound curriculum that will serve to elevate the level of study in the area of Social Studies for years to come.   

World Language- Today, we revised and reformatted the rubrics for the Diploma Program.  We began to write district wide assessment for grades 1 to 5. 

Mathematics- Today July 29th, we have finished the midterms for grades 4 - 8.  Grades 1 - 12 are all in the new format and in their perspective folders.  We cleaned up the folders and organized both new and old formats.

Disclaimer: The 2009 Summer Curriculum Committee is roughly 50% the size of the 2008 Summer Curriculum Committee (29 teachers vs 60 teachers) and the budget allocated is approximately 2/3 less than the allocation for Summer 2008. Dr. Petrosino has explained numerous times that this represents a significant reduction in both expenditures and faculty involved with the curriculum project.

Picture: 6th and Monroe St after a summer afternoon shower. July 26, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Six Essential Components of Reading

The five essential reading components are the core of national K-3 reading programs. New Jersey has added a sixth important strand. Teachers, tutors, reading coaches and parents all need to be very familiar with all six components. As you work with the components, please reference the reading strands in the newly revised NJ Language Arts Literacy Core Curriculum Content Standards and Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read from the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL).

The Six Essential Components of Reading:
Phonemic awareness
Reading fluency
Vocabulary development
Reading comprehension strategies
Motivation and Prior Knowledge

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

2009 Summer Curriculum Committee- Day 9

The following self reported and verified activities were conducted by the Hoboken Curriculum Committee on July 27, 2009. -Dr. Petrosino

Social Studies: Today for the Social Studies Curriculum: Kevin finished the district assessments for K-8. Damian and Chris worked on the assessments for Grades 9-11. About 98% complete with the entire Social Studies portion of the curriculum. Remaining task: Print out entire curriculum, check for typographical errors and formatting issues. Complete suggested Media materials for the each unit. Add 3-4 assessments for two units in Grades 10-11.

World Languages: Today 8 units were typed, revised and transfered into the new MYP planner format by the World Language group for the 6th and 7th grades. For grades K to 5 and 9 to 12 the folders from the L drive were cleaned up by removing older versions of the unit planners and transferining them into a new folder.

Technology: We continued integrating the technology standards into the content area units. Completed areas are World Languages, Performing Arts and Music. Some of the content area groups will be inserting their own standards based on the the completed documentation spreadsheets we gave them. Social Studies, Physical Education/Health and Math will insert their own standards. We have assisted the Science group by inserting the high school level for them, leaving them grades 1-8 to complete. We will be working with Visual Art and Language Arts to insert standards into their units. We have completed updating almost all technology units in grades 6 and 7 to the new MYP format using UBD concepts.

Mathematics: Today July 27th, the math group finished transferring the old format to the new format. The 8th grade mid-term is done (under 8th grade assessment folder) and we are working on the 7th grade mid-term. All new formats are in their corresponding grade and in individual folders labeled final format.

Science: Completed revision of 7th grade MYP Planner; Initiated 8th grade MYP; Completed 2nd grade edits and revision of Drafting Design sheets

Language Arts: On Monday, July 27th. Martin and I finished revising the 8th grade curriculum. As of today the middle school (6-8) LAL curriculum is complete and in proper format. I feel that this curric. can be implemented in September given every school has the materials needed. Martin and I also feel comfortable explaining the material to our colleagues. (Unfortunately, I don't know who is teaching Language Arts 6th or 7th in Wallace yet but as soon as I do, I can help them in any way.) As for today, we are planning to create assessments for these grades. We were figuring that there would be two assessments per year. One in November and one in late February.

Disclaimer: The 2009 Summer Curriculum Committee is roughly 50% the size of the 2008 Summer Curriculum Committee (29 teachers vs 60 teachers) and the budget allocated is approximately 2/3 less than the allocation for Summer 2008. Dr. Petrosino has explained numerous times that this represents a significant reduction in both expenditures and faculty involved with the curriculum project.

Picture: Bike lane along Grand Street near Hoboken High School.

Monday, July 27, 2009

2009 Summer Curriculum Committee at Halfway Point

The 2009 Summer Curriculum Committee is at the halfway point with 2 of 4 weeks completed. We are currently ahead of schedule in terms of edits to the curriculum and transfering over to the new MYP format. For the reamining 2 weeks we will concentrate largely on district wide assessments, implementation strategies, and distribution. In short, we are on or ahead of schedule in all areas. In terms of the budget, we have currently committed significantly less than the amount appropriated (under 50%) so it appears we will also come in under budget. This is due in large part to some circumstances that made it impossible for members of the committee to particpate this summer (illness to self and family members, unforseen scheduling conflicts). The group is excited and moving forward.
Picture: The 99th celebration of the Feast of St. Ann's

Professional Development in Understanding by Design

In the late Spring of 2009 I administered a survey to all participants (n = 34) of the Understanding by Design workshop. Participants included curriculum committee members and district administrators. Here are the results of one question in particular I asked which focused on professional development, specifically, utilizing the Understanding by Design (UbD) format. The specific wording of the question was: We are considering entering into a 1-3 year commitment with ASCD for district wide professional development in Understanding by Design. Specifically, for teachers/administrators who were NOT involved with the curriculum committee. This will include multiple and progressively more involved workshops over a single year for multiple years. What do you think?

In total, 90.9% of the respondents agreed that Understanding by Design and entering into a professional development agreement with ASCD was a good idea.

American education reform: Stranded on islands of excellence

What follows is the edited text of a speech given at an Arizona charter schools event on May 17 by Craig Barrett, who retired as chairman of Intel Corp three days later. It's quite long and involved but I believe this speech conveys much in terms of how corporate America views and understands education in the United States and specifically the role of teachers, excellence, the public vs private sector as manifested in the charter school debate, and the idea of curriculum in it's many formations. -Dr. Petrosino

This will be my last speech as chairman of Intel, and I want to do three things tonight: (1) put education into the international context; (2) look at data and see if we are making progress; and (3) offer five suggestions to honestly improve American education.

At the outset, let's contrast U.S. college education with U.S. K-12 education. America has a bi-modal system--we are generally regarded as having the best university system in the world, and we are generally regarded as having one of the poorer K-12 education systems in the world.

How do we explain this dichotomy? It's simple: The university system competes--for faculty, for students, for research contracts, for everything. In K-12, there is no competition, for anything.
The difference in outcomes between those two approaches: simply dramatic.

I discovered a long time ago that the ultimate source of knowledge is Chinese fortune cookies, and my favorite one says, "If you want to win, you have to choose to compete."

You all know the huge transformation the world has seen in the last decade or so. India, China, Russia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America have all entered the global free market economic system. In rough terms, 3 billion new capitalists came into the world's free market economy in a span of about 10 years.

To compete and win in this now much more intensely competitive world, there are only three levers a country can pull to improve its position: smart people, smart ideas, and smart governmental policies.

Smart people. Every economic correlation you see--per capita income, gross domestic product, whatever you look at--is in direct proportion to the education of a nation's citizens. If you don't have a well-educated population, you cannot add value to what you do, and you cannot be globally competitive. Your economy will decline. Period.

Smart ideas. That's a short way of saying you must invest in research and development. You must invest in innovation. You must invest in creativity. If you are going to add value to what you do for a living, you need to invest capital to add that value.

Smart policies. What is the right environment to invest in innovation? It includes important things like intellectual property protection, attractive corporate tax rates, a trustworthy judicial system, and a minimum of government bureaucracy.

Smart policies will accelerate new venture creation. They let smart people get together with smart ideas to do something wonderful, to start great new corporations, to add value to what they do, build the economy, build the wealth, build the gross domestic product, build the per capita income. This is what everybody in the world is striving to do today.

I travel to about 30 countries a year, talking to business leaders, government leaders, and education leaders--and everybody is talking about the same thing: how to stimulate growth … with the exception of one country.

You got it--America! We are talking about many other things, but not how to improve the standard of living for future generations.

An intellectual decline

Tonight, of the three levers, I am only going to talk about smart people. Fundamentally, if you do not have smart people, the other two levers don't make any difference. You need smart people to be able to do great things.

Let's look at college education. Because smart people are important, college education should be important, and a country should be focusing on graduating more of its people from college.

In the past few decades, the United States has gone from being No. 1--having the highest percentage of our population with a college education--to now 13th or 14th place in the world.

Guess what? You fall behind in this category, you fall behind in smart people, and you fall behind in the ability to add value to what you do. And how do you justify the highest standard of living in the world if you cannot add value? It doesn't work.

Another important metric is what fraction of our students graduate from high school. On average, 30 percent of the young people in America do not even get a high school diploma--the dark secret of American education.

Our workforce is constrained by the fact that 30 percent of our adults do not get a high school diploma. I'm not arguing about the quality or the value of a high school diploma. I'm just saying, whether a high school education is valuable or not, 30 percent of our children never get there.

So, we have 30 percent of our workforce without even a high school diploma. At the same time, we see the rest of the world increasing the fraction of its workforce with a college education. This isn't good news for Americans.

If you start to look at internationally benchmarked tests that measure the performance of U.S. students versus those of other countries, out of 30 industrialized countries we rank 25th in mathematics; in science, 21st; in reading, 15th; and in problem solving, 24th.

For a country that wants to maintain the highest standard of living, wants to be the most entrepreneurial country in the world, and wants to add value to everything it does, being ranked academically in the lower quintile compared with other developed countries just doesn't work. Our position in the world is unsustainable--we don't have enough smart people anymore, comparatively. It is a prescription for decline.

You would think that these data would make headlines in the daily newspapers. But in America, our intellectual and academic decline is a non-event.

Are we crazy?

Let's look at the international data in more detail. Let's look at our students' reading and math scores from the early 1970s to 2008.

In reading, our kids scored 285 in 1971 and they scored 286 in 2008. That is nearly 40 years of flat performance, while competition around the world is increasing.

In mathematics, our kids scored 304 in 1973 and 304 in 2008--absolutely flat for the last 35 years. And on an international scale, our ranking is in the bottom 25 percent of industrialized cuntries.

Looking at our own internal performance improvement over the last 35 years, you see exactly zero on average. I would think this would generate some comment from the press. Let's put this in the context of what we are seeing today.

We have an investment banking meltdown, and hundreds of billions of dollars are thrown at the investment banks. An automobile company meltdown, and tens of billions of dollars are thrown at those almost overnight. The head of GM was fired, and total restructuring of two major industries in the United States occurred, on the basis of short-term results--and here we have 35 years of stagnation in education and not a whimper. It's not a crisis; it is readily accepted by the press … readily accepted by the institution that creates it … and readily accepted by the population of the United States. Are we just crazy?

We have had quite a few studies on this topic. "A Nation at Risk" in the early 80s said our educational system was subpar, and we had to do something. That was the study that said if another nation wanted to destroy the U.S., it would do what we are doing to ourselves with our K-12 educational system.

In the early 1990s our governors met at the National Governor's Association and said our math and science performance was subpar, and they made a pledge: Within 10 years, our kids would be at the top of the world in math and science performance. That was about 15 years ago.

"Before It's Too Late." That was the title of a report from the Glenn Commission, which met in the late 90s and issued its report in 2000. Regarding K-12 math and science, the report basically said, "We're in big trouble; we ought to do something."

"Rising Above the Gathering Storm," a 2005 report from the National Academy of Sciences, reached the same conclusion: "K-12 education is in real trouble; we ought to do something."

And "Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World Class Education," from the National Governor's Association in 2008, made the same point as well.

So, America has had 30-plus years of high-quality reports, all saying the same thing: K-12 education is in serious trouble. Yet nobody has done a thing. The system has not done a thing. Our children are where they were nearly 40 years ago--with flat results and declining abilities relative to an increasingly competitive world.

No more excuses

So, what did these reports say? It's no big secret: Your education system is only as good as the quality of the teachers in it. Makes sense, right?

Another conclusion from these reports is: If you don't have high expectations, you get nowhere. Sounds logical, no?

So you need good teachers, and you need high expectations, and what else do you need?

You need a little tension. What is tension? It comes from the feedback loops and performance metrics you have in place. If kids, teachers, or schools have problems, then you need feedback loops to help them. If teachers do a good job, you reward them. It's like any other business on the face of the earth. You need a little tension to spur performance.

Unfortunately, America has become No. 1 in the world at one thing--making excuses for failure. Everybody has an excuse; everybody has to study the problem.

Before I came down here tonight, I wondered how many references there were in Google to educational reform. There were 22 million entries. Twenty-two million excuses out there for why American kids' intellectual performance is flat over 40 years and declining relative to the rest of the world.

So here are my suggestions. No more excuses; the answer is simple: Put good teachers, high expectations, and a little tension into the system.
Good teachers

How do you get good teachers?

If you go to Finland or Singapore or Taiwan, any place that has a good K-12 education system, where do they recruit their teachers? They recruit them from the top 10 percent or 20 percent of the college graduates.

Where do we recruit our teachers? We recruit them from schools of education. Objectively, schools of education represent the lower quartile of our college graduates in intellectual capability.

I care less about the pedagogy of teaching than I do about the content they are going to bring into the classroom. This is what makes education successful: teachers who are content experts, first and foremost; that's what makes them successful in the classroom. They are not education experts, first and foremost.
Teach for America is another way. Teach for America is a simple program, put in place to recruit top college seniors who are not education majors to commit a couple of years to teaching in poor economic areas in the United States.

Teach For America takes academic achievers--the top 10 percent to 20 percent in history, math, chemistry, physics, biology, English; kids with top grades from great universities--and in six weeks of boot camp turns them into very good teachers.

Here's a suggestion: Maybe we should blow up all undergraduate schools of education in the United States and start over.

High expectations

Why does every state have its own measure of success when we are competing in an international marketplace? Why not have a national testing program we will use to measure progress?

Of course, if you talk about national testing in the United States, it's a difficult conversation. Republicans refuse to recognize the word "national"; Democrats refuse to recognize the word "testing."

You cannot have a discussion of national testing in the United States. OK, so disguise it, call it "international benchmarking." And doesn't it make sense that if we want to compete with the rest of the world, we measure our educational performance on an internationally benchmarked test comparing our students to kids in every other country?

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps does not say, "I am from the United States; I can swim slower and win." In the business world, we do not say, "We are from Intel; we can make a crummier product and win." But from an educational standpoint, we say, "We can set lower achievement standards and be OK." It's plain crazy.

Pay for performance

What could be more obvious: Put tension in the system, and pay for performance. I don't know of any other business in the world where if you put forward a higher quality effort than your peers, you do not get rewarded for it...or quit.

We know there is no correlation between a high-quality education and anything other than a high-quality teacher. We can be like California and legislate smaller class sizes at a higher cost to taxpayers with no increase in quality, or we can do the opposite, which says higher quality teachers can have larger class sizes and still get great results...and also get paid more, because they have more students. The improvement pays for itself.

But until the system decides to pay for performance, why would anyone want to bust his or her butt to do a good job? There is always self-motivation, self-drive, and personal integrity--but eventually most people would say, "I am working hard, and that guy over there is not working at all, yet we are getting paid the same." I tell you, that does not work in my business. It does not work in any business that I know of, other than the U.S. education system. Maybe Detroit, too, but...

Real incentive

I also think we need a stick in this country to get kids to finish high school. We have mandatory school attendance until age 18. That doesn't seem to work very well, if 30 percent of students are dropping out. But if you think about it for a minute, what is it that would really drive kids to get a high school diploma?

How about this for motivation: To keep a driver's license, you must either be in school or have earned a high school diploma. Let's tell students we're serious, and let's tell them there are some ramifications--immediate ramifications, not long-term earning potential. You want a driver's license, you either stay in school or graduate with a high school diploma, period. I can't wait until I hear from the ACLU.

More competition

We need more charter schools, more alternatives to the public school system, and more competition to the public school system.

The most visible alternative education program in the U.S. was just killed: the scholarship program for the 200 or so students in Washington, D.C., who were given the chance to leave arguably the worst public school system in the U.S., which spends $14,000 a year to educate each kid. Given $7,500 scholarships to attend private schools, those kids are now ahead of their public school peers. Why did it get killed in the stimulus package?

We all know why it got killed...a political debt to a powerful constituent.

Even though our president and our secretary of education say, "Nothing will get in the way of giving kids a good education," the first official act of the current administration was to kill the most visible alternative education program in the U.S., which was successful and saving money.

Political will comes in a variety of categories. It really helps if you have the president and the secretary of education on your side--not only saying the right words, but doing something. President Obama and Secretary Duncan are saying the right words, but their one and only act so far has been contrary to their words.

We need political will in the administration, but we also need political will among the 50 governors and their chief education officers. We need political will among the presidents of every U.S. college and university.

Most importantly, we need the will of the American people. We need the will of the American people to say, "Hey, there are only three things we can do to compete with the rest of the world--and one of them is to improve our educational system."

The average American kid is sub-standard, performing below the average level of most other developed countries. How we--as the biggest economic power, with one of the highest standards of living in the world--can tolerate that is absolutely beyond me.

Charter Schools and Teacher Unions- NY Times July 27, 2009

The following excerpt from an article entitled "As Charter Schools Unionize, Many Debate Effect " appears in the Monday, July 27th edition of the NY Times and is written by Sam Dillon. The full article is much more detailed and certainly worth the effort. The article brings up a very controversial issue centering around unionization and the effectiveness of charter schools. -Dr. Petrosino

Dissatisfied with long hours, churning turnover and, in some cases, lower pay than instructors at other public schools, an increasing number of teachers at charter schools are unionizing. Labor organizing that began two years ago at seven charter schools in Florida has proliferated over the last year to at least a dozen more charters from Massachusetts and New York to California and Oregon.

Charter schools, which are publicly financed but managed by groups separate from school districts, have been a mainstay of the education reform movement and widely embraced by parents. Because most of the nation’s 4,600 charter schools operate without unions, they have been freer to innovate, their advocates say, allowing them to lengthen the class day, dismiss underperforming teachers at will, and experiment with merit pay and other changes that are often banned by work rules governing traditional public schools.

“Charter schools have been too successful for the unions to ignore,” said Elizabeth D. Purvis, executive director of the Chicago International Charter School, where teachers voted last month to unionize 3 of its 12 campuses.

President Obama has been especially assertive in championing charter schools. On Friday, he and the education secretary, Arne Duncan, announced a competition for $4.35 billion in federal financing for states that ease restrictions on charter schools and adopt some charter-like standards for other schools — like linking teacher pay to student achievement.
But the unionization effort raises questions about whether unions will strengthen the charter movement by stabilizing its young, often transient teaching force, or weaken it by preventing administrators from firing ineffective teachers and imposing changes they say help raise achievement, like an extended school year.

“A charter school is a more fragile host than a school district,” said Paul T. Hill, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington. “Labor unrest in a charter school can wipe it out fast. It won’t go well for unions if the schools they organize decline in quality or go bust.”

Picture: Picture Credit to Sally Ryan for The New York Times

Saturday, July 25, 2009

2009 Summer Curriculum Committee Day 8

Day 8 of the 2009 Summer Curriculum Committee marked the end of the second week of meetings for the group. Today 3 units were typed into the new MYP planner format by the Science group.  Units 1-7 were revised and typed to meet the UbD and MYP formats.  All ofthe  previously scanned PDF files were uploaded into their appropriate units for grades 6 - 8.  The 10th Grade MYP assessment criteria rubrics were revised to create generic MYP assessment criteria rubrics for grade 9.  All of the rubrics were typed and organized into appropriate grade folders.  For grades 10 - 12, the grade level folders from the L drive  were cleaned up by removing older versions of the curriculum documents into separate folders in order to make the files user friendly. For the High School, Grade 9 still needs to be revised and updated. 

Today, the World Language group continued to revise, type and convert the planners.  They completed the revisions for the UBD planners for grade12 Standard level and completed the revisions for the UBD and MYP planners for grades 11 and 12 Higher  Level, and began to work on the 12 Standard Level.  Technology continued it's identification of technology integration in the subject areas. 

Supervisors Kate Kermarsky and Howard McKenzie reviewed district assessments and linking of "Big Ideas" and Essential Question in mathematics and social studies. 

The group also took time to celebrate the end of the week with a pizza lunch and refreshments (at no expense to the taxpayers of Hoboken). 

The 2009 Summer Curriculum Committee is currently ahead of schedule and below budget. Details will follow in an upcoming post. -Dr. Petrosino

Disclaimer: The 2009 Summer Curriculum Committee is roughly 50% the size of the 2008 Summer Curriculum Committee (29 teachers vs 60 teachers) and the budget allocated is approximately 2/3 less than the allocation for Summer 2008. Dr. Petrosino has explained numerous times that this represents a significant reduction in both expenditures and faculty involved with the curriculum project.

Friday, July 24, 2009

2009 Summer Curriculum Committee Day 7

The following self reported and verified activities were conducted by the Hoboken Curriculum Committee on July 22, 2009. -Dr. Petrosino

World Languages- Today, the World Language group completed the revisions for the UBD planners for grades 11 Standard Level and 12 Higher Level of the Diploma Program.  We completed the revisions of the UBD and MYP Planners for grade 11 Standard Level and began to work on the MYP planners for grade 11 Higher Level.

Health/Physical Education- Today we completed revisions for grades 6-10 and converted all unit planners to the new form. When we reconvene the week of August 3rd, we will create assessments, add technology standards to our lessons before printing and organizing final copies of plans.

Social Studies- Today Damian and Chris focused of the unit assessments for the high school. I worked on the district assessments for both the 3rd and 5th grades. I have attached the assessments to this email as you asked. We will be continuing to work on the assessment tomorrow.

Science- Today for grade 10 ( biology), the enduring understandings and essential questions were revised according to the UbD format for units 1, 2, and 7).  Then the MYP Planner was typed and the information from the existing MYP planner was transferred into the new MYP Format for those units. For Grade 6, all of the existing MYP Planner were typed and the information from the existing MYP planner was transferred into the new MYP Format for  all the units in grade 6.  The technology standards were aligned for completed units in grade 6 and 10.

Technology- We remapped grades 7&8 MYP Technology units and continued reworking/consolidating  existing unit plans into the new MYP format. We completed writing the technology standards into World Languages units.

Disclaimer: The 2009 Summer Curriculum Committee is roughly 50% the size of the 2008 Summer Curriculum Committee (29 teachers vs 60 teachers) and the budget allocated is approximately 2/3 less than the allocation for Summer 2008. Dr. Petrosino has explained numerous times that this represents a significant reduction in both expenditures and faculty involved with the curriculum project.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2009 Summer Curriculum Committee Day 6

The following self reported and verified activities were conducted by the Hoboken Curriculum Committee on July 21, 2009. -Dr. Petrosino

World Languages- Today, the world language group continued to revise, type and convert the planners. We completed the revisions of the UBD planners for grades 6, 7 and 8. Also, we completed the revisions for grade 10 Honors for the UBD and MYP planners. We started to work on grade 11-IB-Standard Level of the Diploma Program for both planners. We decided that at the high school level, we will have two district-wide grade level assessments per year. We are discussing the district -wide grade level assessment for K-8 grades.

Technology- We remapped the MYP Technology units for grade 6 and continued revising/consolidating existing units into the new template. We inserted the technology standards we documented into the world languages curriculum. We researched ideas for a design technology class proposal for the high school level.

Physical Education/Health- The group rewrote the MYP units using the new format. They are currently finished with sixth, seventh, and eight grade. They are currently working on ninth and tenth and hope to be finished by Wednesday. At that point the group will begin revisions on assessments.

Science- Today, For grade 11 ( Chemistry) MYP Planner were typed for Units 2-7 and the information from the existing MYP planner was transferred into the new MYP Format. For Grade 6 ( Earth Science), All of the updated enruring understandings and essential questions on the big idea forms were typed. Also for Grade 6 the MYP Planners were typed for Units 1-4 and the information from the existing MYP planner was transferred into the new MYP Format.

Language Arts (Middle): Martin and I finished revising Grade 7 LAL according to UBD and MYP standards. We then began revising Grade 8. The 8th grade revisions should be completed by Wednesday afternoon, Thursday morning at the latest. After the revisions are complete, we will work on entering the curriculum on the L-Drive via the new MYP unit planners.We have finalized the mapping for grades 6-8 and are confident with the time/workload that we have settled on. Our group will be working on district-wide assessments Thursday afternoon and Monday, July 27th.

Disclaimer: The 2009 Summer Curriculum Committee is roughly 50% the size of the 2008 Summer Curriculum Committee (29 teachers vs 60 teachers) and the budget allocated is approximately 2/3 less than the allocation for Summer 2008. Dr. Petrosino has explained numerous times that this represents a significant reduction in both expenditures and faculty involved with the curriculum project.

After School Gifted Programs Cut- Illinois Board of Education

The Associated Press reported the following story that echoes the impossible decisions being made all over the country when it comes to educational funding in light of difficult economic times. In this case, the elimination of after-school and gifted and talented programs as well as cuts in many other educational services. Decisions are being made all over the country between what is needed, what is wanted and what is mandated by law. -Dr. Petrosino

The Illinois Board of Education on Tuesday approved a budget that eliminates funding for after-school and gifted programs and cuts money for early childhood, reading and foreign language instruction by as much as half.

Speaking at an emergency meeting, chairman Jesse Ruiz said Gov. Pat Quinn and lawmakers had given the board no choice. They approved an overall education budget of nearly $7.3 billion for fiscal 2010, a 2 percent decrease from the $7.4 billion allocated the year before.

And while this year appears to be rough, Ruiz said, next year could be "catastrophic." He urged people to demand answers from politicians soon headed to the campaign trail.

"We need to become very, very, very discriminating in our public officials," Ruiz said. "Keep your dollars in your pocket. Give it to a school before you give it to a candidate."

Education board members also voted Tuesday to severely reduce funding for arts, agricultural education, advanced placement classes, bilingual studies and teacher certification programs. Money for the rehabilitation of truant students and the visually impaired also was slashed.

Advocates who testified at the meeting warned of consequences as dire as more children on the streets. Officials agreed that, at the least, the cuts could hurt the quality and competitiveness of education in the state.

Of the overall education budget, the Legislature set general state aid -- money allocated to school districts -- at more than $4.7 billion for fiscal 2010, up 2.5 percent, or nearly $117 million, from the previous year. That amounts to about $160 more per pupil for the year.

While they passed the budget unanimously, board members said they felt broken-hearten and dejected.

"I do not envy you," Gerald Brookhart, Peoria regional education superintendent, told them while testifying. He said the board was faced with the question of "which child are you going to throw away?"

Picture: Marcus Jewelers, Washington St. (Circa 1975)

Monday, July 20, 2009

2009 Summer Curriculum Committee Day 5

The following activities were conducted by the Hoboken Curriculum Committee on July 20, 2009. -Dr. Petrosino

Technology- Today, July 20th, the Technology Committee made significant progress in developing MYP units and revising UBD units for grades 6, 7 & 8. We were also successful in addressing NJCCCS 8.2 tech. standards.

Science- Today, for grade 11(Chemistry), the enduring understandings and essential questions were revised according to the UbD format. All revisions were typed for units 1-7. Also, Unit 1 (Matter and Change) MYP Planner was typed and the information from the existing MYP planner was transferred into the new MYP Format. For Grade 1, the enduring understandings and essential questions were revised according to the UbD format. Furthermore, Grade 6 (Earth Science) Unit 1 (Solar System) Big Ideas Form was typed according to the UbD format.

World Languages- Today the world language group made significant progress. We completed the revisions for the fourth and fifth grade UBD planners. Also, we completed the revisions for the 10th grade UBD and MYP planners. We started to work on the 10th honors for both planners. We began to discuss the district-wide grade level assessemnets.

Mathematics- Today July 20th, the math group (Louis and Gabriela Taglieri) worked on transferring the old MYP format to the new format. Sixth through eighth grades were revised and are done. Folders with new formats are located on the L drive in their corresponding folders.

Physical Education/Health- Today we converted most of the 6th and 7th grade unit planners to the new form. While making these changes, we are looking over our work and making any adjustments that we feel is necessary to improve the curriculum.

Disclaimer: The 2009 Summer Curriculum Committee is roughly 50% the size of the 2008 Summer Curriculum Committee (29 teachers vs 60 teachers) and the budget allocated is approximately 2/3 less than the allocation for Summer 2008. Dr. Petrosino has explained numerous times that this represents a significant reduction in both expenditures and faculty involved with the curriculum project.

Picture: Signs of the times in Hoboken and around the country

40th Anniversary of Moon Landing: Restored Video

In celebration of one of the greatest achievements of the 20th Century and for your viewing pleasure...the restored and enhanced footage of the first video taken from Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969.

For the full story on the new footage, please click on NASA releases clearest videos yet of 1969 moonwalk.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


The following cities and townships use TOOLS OF THE MIND as part of their Pre-K and/or K curriculum. All are located in the tri-state area, specifically, all in New Jersey. Please make note, West New York also has attempted to implement TOOLS OF THE MIND but I list it only to indicate my awareness of the program in Hudson County and not as necessarily an exemplary case. I have also included a secondary list of some major cities around the country using TOOLS OF THE MIND as well.

The districts I’m aware of in the tri-state area are:


Red Bank*

North Brunswick*







West New York


Denver, CO

El Paso, TX

Miami, FL

* direct contact with Hoboken

Recently we had district kindergarten teachers visiting Neptune for professional development and in the past have made visits to Red Bank with teachers and administrators and a multi-day workshop in North Brunswick with teachers (most have been discussed on this curriculum blog if you would like more detailed information). The program has had a successful initial year with our Pre-K program and we are on target for our September 2009 kindergarten implementation. TOOLS OF THE MIND will also greatly assist our PreK to K transition.

TOOLS OF THE MIND fits into our PK-12 curricula narrative as it incorporates self regulation and executive function as part of our early curriculum. These “tools of the mind” will become cognitive tools that will support students’ reflection and revision and help develop internal mental functioning and behavioral regulation- specifically around learning behaviors (i.e. self directed inquiry). After kindergarten, LitLife will use a similar pedagogical emphasis from Grades 1-5. After that, the MYP program, again with very similar pedagogical roots, will take students through Grade 10 (being informed greatly by Understanding by Design- another pedagogical framing similar to TOOLS OF THE MIND). I’m very excited by not only the curriculum that has been written but also by the programs we have been able to initiate and support that will greatly increase the possibility of success. I believe this is a very exciting time in the curricula and instructional life of the district. -Dr. Petrosino

How to Become an Early Childhood Advocate

I recently saw this post by Ms. Syreeta Springer and thought it would be of interest to many people who read this blog regularly. It's entitled "EC Education 101: How to become an early childhood advocate" and contains a great deal of useful information. -Dr. Petrosino

Being an advocate for children and their families is not an easy thing. You must be willing to express your thoughts on high profile issues and policy. It incorporates doing research and joining professional organizations such as NAEYC and NIEER to keep abreast of current legislative decisions regarding early education.

But most of all it involves speaking up for young children. If you embody strong convictions about how young children grow and learn and are concerned about what’s in their best interests, then advocacy is for you. So how does one become involved as an advocate?

1) Start local- it begins with the children in your classroom. At times you may have to challenge the school administrators or interdisciplinary professionals to push for services for a child. You may have to speak up at the IEP meeting, so that parents understand the process their child is going through. Remember, you are with the child most often throughout the day and therefore, understand their strengths and weaknesses.  Keep detailed notes about the child’s progress or things that need improving. You may need to be resourceful and seek assistance from outside sources to help the child and family.

2) Read literature-this helps you to become knowledgeable about current trends, research and legislation in early childhood education. That way when questioned by a parent, you are aware of studies that can back up what you say.

3) Join a professional organization-it’s a great way to get access to literature (through the organization’s professional journal or magazine) and attend workshops/conferences to extend your knowledge base as well as gain a fresh outlook on teaching.

4) Write letters to your congressman, assemblyman, senator, etc. - lobby at the local, state, and national level on issues concerning early education. It does make a difference when your voice is heard.

For more info on advocacy, check out the following links: http://www.preknow.org;

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Good News about New Jersey's Public Schools

The following post places in perspective the general overall quality of education that exists in the State of New Jersey. A large part of this overall quality is the consistent and continued support for public education throughout much of the state. This becomes actualized by evidence of the stability of the teacher work force (low attrition rates), resources for students, facilities, and a commitment to educating all students. When compared to states across the country, New Jersey consistently demonstrates it's commitment not in rhetoric but by the resources it dedicates to the children of the state. What follows is some evidence of the impact of that support. -Dr. Petrosino


Writing scores are the best in the nation: New Jersey 8thgraders rank first in the nation in writing on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
Source: National Center for Education Statistics.

Math scores are among the nation's best: New Jersey public school students score among the very best in the nation in math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Reading scores are among the nation's best: New Jersey public school students score among the very best in the nation in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Highest Advanced Placement scores in the nation: New Jersey is first in the nation in the average Advanced Placement (AP) score for public school students this year. 
Source: College Board

Public school students outperform private school students on Advanced Placement exams: In New Jersey, public school students score higher than private school students on their AP exams. 
Source: College Board

High school graduation rate as the best in the nation:New Jersey ranks number one in the percentage of students graduating high school. 
Source: Education Week

Among the best in the nation in preparing students for higher education: The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education ranks New Jersey near the top for how well its schools prepare students for college
Source: National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education

Among the nation's "Smartest States": New Jersey has been named as one of the four "smartest states" in the country based on the quality of its public elementary and secondary schools. 
Source: Morgan, Kathleen O'Leary and Scott Morgan (eds).Education State Rankings 2007-2008: Pre K-12 Education in the 50 United States. (Morgan Quitno Press: Lawrence, KS). 2007.

Leading the nation in the number of children attending preschool: New Jersey is first in the nation in the percentage of 3 and 4 year olds who are enrolled in preschool.
Source: Education Week