for Curriculum & Instruction
Forum Highlights Online Resources for Student Research
The District Education Forum held on Wednesday, January 20, featured a presentation by our secondary school library media specialists, Ann Root (Roslyn Middle School) and Karen Leon (Roslyn High School). They shared information with the parents about accessing databases for current events assignments and research for reports and special projects.
Regardless of age, the process for research can be more sophisticated and useful when students go beyond wikipedia.com or google.com. In fact, these sites can confuse or mislead a novice or uniformed person. The quality and quantity of the information can be difficult to determine because all sources are not created equal.
In contrast, the databases can lead the students to targeted resources intended for a specific research. The "pathfinders" help the student locate print material (books), Internet sources (quality government or commercial sites), and subscription databases which match content to the specific topic. There is, as well, a guide to citations for appropriate bibliographies. (http://www.roslynschools.org → Roslyn High School → Library → RHS Style Guide).
Ms. Leon pointed to the fact that there are limitations on Internet use. Highlights of this aspect of the presentation included the fact that:
• Google, or any web entity, is prohibited by law to make copyrighted materials fully accessible: only snippets are allowed.
• Internet Web sources are a mass of largely unpublished materials produced by businesses, organizations, individuals, experimental projects, entrepreneurial webmasters, etc.
• Online collections provided by libraries include materials that have been published through a rigorous editorial process. Books, academic research papers, journals, magazines, newspapers, are not accessible to someone seeking them through a browser search.
Examples also were provided for the subscription databases for both buildings. The Roslyn Middle School has databases that can be used as follows: Go to the District website: http://www.roslynschools.org → Roslyn Middle School → library → subscription databases. This leads to ProQuest / GaleCengageLearning, Issues Controversies in America History and Todayís Science. These databases have information from such material as newspapers, biographies, encyclopedias and periodicals.
There are similar websites at Roslyn High School with links to "Web Resources for Research" and electronic resources at Bryant Library. Another important feature relates to citation assistance that students may use to properly attribute the works on which a report is based.
Research skills are critically important; the process has changed. Literacy, managing information and independent learning are the essence of the library media program. Our library media specialists remain prepared to assist the students as they integrate online literacy into the content areas.
It is unnecessary to memorize the details above. You only need remember to access the school districtís website and go to the link for Roslyn Middle School or Roslyn High School. Both sites have the library website details you or your child may need.
Students Helping Younger Children
In the Roslyn School District older students often provide assistance to the children in the elementary schools. The effort includes supporting English language learners, providing child care at PTA events, assisting at the PTA carnival and helping at the family math trail to facilitate math centers. The cooperation also extends to assisting in the elementary school offices and engaging in playground activities. The most recent example of interaction occurred on December 18 when Roslyn High School students went to the Heights School to read books to the kindergarten classes.
There are twenty-four students enrolled in the Childrenís Literature course, and they represent each grade. The focus on nursery rhymes, poetry, folk tales, fairy tales, fables and novels provides the backdrop for analysis, critiquing and creative writing.
A recent outgrowth of that instructional undertaking was a lesson prepared by the high school students for children in kindergarten. The experience was related to the picture books written and illustrated by those taking Childrenís Literature, an English course elective at Roslyn High School.
When the students visited the Heights School, they read the books aloud, enabled the children to react and helped them complete a drawing related to the topic. Themes related to loneliness, friendship, isolation and cooperation were discussed in the context of kindness and sharing.
The effort promoting attention to writing skills and the outcome of reading to the children was tangible evidence of the value of interschool cooperation.
Indeed, the students served as role models for the children who themselves are authoring and illustrating books based on the Teachers College writing project.
Another dimension of this experience is reflected in the commitment to character education, an embedded program throughout the Roslyn School District. Hallmarks of the effort are respect, fairness, caring and sharing.
Good character begins at home, and it continues in school. By combining the reading and writing activities, the children receive messages that promote the value of each personís uniqueness and value. In this way the home and school are able to support each other
Social and Emotional Learning Conference
At the Board of Education meeting on Thursday, December 3, Board President Meryl Waxman Ben-Levy and Trustee Dani Kline reported on the Social Emotional Learning Conference they attended at Molloy College that day. Dr. Dan Brenner, our Superintendent, was one of the presenters.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is an education reform movement devoted to advancing the science and practice of SEL in all schools, pre-k through high school. The competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making are integral.
At the Roslyn Middle School these skills are emphasized to equip the children to manage the demands of the twenty-first century worker and citizen. This program is one of the primary initiatives Mr. Palmadesso has undertaken for the 2009-2010 school year with the teachers, parents, and support staff for the youngsters.
You can obtain more information about SEL by visiting this website: www.casel.org.
Professional Development Day
Regulations of the Commissioner of Education provide for superintendentsí conference days throughout the State of New York. These dates are designated by the Board of Education when the school calendar is adopted. The first one occurred the day before school opened in September. Typically, it enables teachers and administrators to prepare for the first days of class.
The second conference day was scheduled for Election Day; again this day is currently selected by districts throughout New York State as a time to provide for professional development that is related to the learning standards and assessments. A significant component of this effort pertains to curriculum development and in-service education. In Roslyn, more than 30 activities were scheduled in-district, as well as at other locations for our employees. These programs provided learning opportunities for administrators, teachers, teacher assistants, secretaries, nurses, custodians, bus drivers, monitors and cafeteria staff. Indeed, the intent was to offer opportunities for professional growth regardless of position or title.
The three elementary schools engaged in a number of activities that focused on the Teachers College writing program that has been in place for the last two years. The goal was to enable teachers to discuss ways to refine the presentation of curriculum through the writing of mini-lessons, implementation of differentiation strategies, the use of read-aloud activities, word study and the use of charts for the students at an age appropriate level. The teachers also reviewed the current memoranda of progress, and considered ways to update the reports to parents about their childrenís progress.
At Roslyn Middle School there was a building-wide commitment to the social and emotional well being of the young people. All segments of the middle school community, from teachers to support staff to parents engaged in reflecting on the shared responsibility to promote character education. This commitment reflects an awareness that mutual respect and self-respect are linked to social well being. When emotional support about oneís self and others is in place, there is better behavior. Emotional distress is reduced and student performance increases. In focusing on this important topic, groups celebrated past achievements and discussed ways to ensure that each person is treated fairly and made to feel valued and supported.
At Roslyn High School the program addressed ways to ensure positive experiences for all students. A keynote speaker with training in special education strategies reviewed ways to enhance the teaching and learning process that will have a positive effect on regular and special education students. This presentation was followed by department meetings that assessed ways the IEPs have been implemented. The dialogue between the special education teachers and regular education teachers addressed inconsistencies in the delivery of service and ways to improve the process. The day for high school teachers concluded with data review about the studentsí past performance on tests as well as curriculum mapping plans by members of the Social Studies and English Departments.
Physical education teachers gathered in two locations in the County to consider ways to promote sportsmanship and competition. The goal is to consider practical tools for coaches that will help develop the character of young athletes. Time was also scheduled for activities related to fencing and dance. Another element of character education focused on "bucket fillers" as a way to reduce bullying. (This initiative is a significant part of the program at East Hills School.)
Music and art teachers participated at three venues in the Balanced Mind program. Sessions available for our teachers included such topics as: "Using Drama to Teach Curriculum," "Creating the Illusion of Depth," "Still Life in Fabrics," "Advocacy in Arts Education," "Literacy Through Music," "Healthy Pop, R&B and Broadway Singing," "The Music of Black Composers," "Itís Not Just the Blues," and "Jazz and Improvisation for Strings."
The teacher assistants gathered with other colleagues from Nassau and Suffolk to learn more about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and other challenging behaviors. The goal was to give them more insights and skills to work effectively with young people.
Our secretaries received training in conflict management with trainers from NYSUT. The goal was to diffuse interpersonal conflict. The theme also received attention and elaboration with our school social worker, Dot McHugh, who discussed adult bullying with them.
The school nurses, too, had an opportunity to meet with their colleagues in-district. They discussed H1N1, seizure disorders and treating lice in schools.
Our custodians, buildings and grounds staff, cafeteria staff, security personnel, bus drivers and monitors attended sessions related to health and safety matters. There was attention to illicit drugs as well as the tragedy of binge drinking. The former was conveyed through the use of visuals that were available for the staff to examine. The latter was depicted in a video that gave real life insight as doctors and nurses in an emergency room tried to resuscitate a patient who was in critical condition.
Lastly, our speech teachers had time to meet to develop strategies for classroom teachers to assist students who are struggling with vocabulary, following directions, processing, sequencing and comprehension.
These activities were effective and relevant to the staff's day-to-day responsibilities. The program enabled them to grow professionally in the spirit of the guidelines established by the Commissioner.