Written by Superintendent East Williston School District DR. Elaine Kanas Thursday, 21 November 2013 00:00
I am writing this newsletter to you from San Antonio, Texas. I am currently at a Superintendents’ Summit that I was nominated to attend, at no cost to the district, sponsored by the District Administrative Leadership Institute. I am here with 64 superintendents from across the country and it has been an excellent opportunity to share and get new ideas from colleagues from many different states. For example, last evening I was part of a small roundtable group that included a Superintendent from Connecticut. He is utilizing online resources for an elementary STEM initiative that he will share with me for our own elementary science curriculum exploration. This afternoon I participated in an exciting Google presentation that provided rich resources and ideas to explore for our own district’s use.
This was an important day for us to continue to move our curriculum and instruction initiatives forward. Teachers and administrators participated in a rigorous day of staff development and curriculum development. As you know from previous newsletters, our school district sets instructional goals each school year (see 2013-14 District Goals on website at www.ewsdonline.org > click on Our District on the red horizontal navigation bar > click on 13-14 Goals) and we closely tie all staff development to accomplishing those goals designed to increase student achievement.
The fifth grade continued work with the literacy consultant they have been working with from LitLife as they continue to implement a reading and writing workshop classroom format for literacy instruction. This approach focuses on providing students with authentic and in-depth literacy practice in reading and writing. Just like the musician becomes a stronger player by practicing, research shows students become stronger readers and writers the more they “practice” actually engage in the act of reading and writing.
As part of a year-long curriculum that balances fiction and non-fiction, the fifth-grade students are currently engaged in a Fantasy unit. Their teachers prepared for the upcoming non-fiction unit, reading and writing evidence-based editorials, which will start during the month of December.
Along with building administrators Principal Stephen Kimmel and Director of District Curriculum Information Services & Middle School Life Danielle Gately, I had the opportunity to spend the day working and learning alongside our committed and caring fifth-grade team.
At the elementary school, teachers focused on the elementary portion of our academic vocabulary list, identifying grade level specific words. Classroom and special area teachers collaborated on a master list. Activities, creation of charts and posters were worked on to immerse our students in an environment rich with these words. I will let you know when a final list is ready for posting on the district website.
North Side’s mathematics portion of the day focused on continued in-depth study regarding the Engage NY math modules currently being implemented in the elementary school and how these math modules directly support the Common Core Standards. The importance of students developing fluency, focus and perseverance in the Common Core Standards was a point of emphasis.
The physical education, health and family consumer science staff attended various workshops at Hofstra University and Adelphi University. Our own physical education teachers, Herman Lim and David Burke, were presenters at one of the workshops, Use of iPads and Smart Technology. Mr. Lim and Mr. Burke demonstrated many of the great ideas they utilize in our district to promote physical education.
Among their activities, the middle and high school Social Studies Department worked on developing and improving teacher websites in an effort to further utilize technology for student learning and improve student, parent and teacher communication. The department collaborated on specific student skills in research and writing to support student success on the 10th-grade English research paper and the 11th-grade Social Studies research paper.
Work in the grades six-through 12th-grade English Department included a continuing crosswalk between common core goals and Department mission as well as ways to successfully monitor student performance in both. Work also continued in aligning the structure of the 10th-grade research paper to reflect new Common Core requirements.