Monthly Guide - February 2015

Show #9 Watch Feb. 1

Autism Project - Future educators at Cranford High School are providing resources for teachers and parents about the autism spectrum. Teacher Barbara Narus is the advisor for the Future Educator’s Association at the school and in addition to providing real insight into the teaching profession, her students research important topics that they determine can impact parents and teachers. This student-driven club brings in special speakers and plans field trips. As part of the Autism Project, the students compiled resources that are housed in the school library. They also conduct workshops for teachers, parents and community groups.

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Recipe for Reading - Get kids to read so they can develop stamina and fluency and you will create successful students. That is the philosophy of Penny Kittle who wrote “Book Love.”  Woodstown Middle School has adopted that philosophy and the district believes that the English language teachers are making dramatic headway with developing an independent reading culture. Their methods are being led by Jen Kelly, a former Salem County Teacher of the Year. The school has been practicing this philosophy for about a year and the results have transformed the school.

Petway Pride - Public schools teach more than the three R’s - they support the social, emotional and ethical development of students. Pauline Petway Elementary School in Vineland has done such an exemplary job with character education that it was named a 2014 National School of Character by the Character Education Partnership based in Washington D.C. The philosophy of Petway is to help students learn how to be their best selves and do their best work while making school a place where they can feel comfortable and able to work. The activities vary from a school-wide live morning announcements to mentoring programs that involve students with students, dogs with readers and seniors with students.

Poetry for Teachers – Teachers from across the state attend the 15th Biennial Dodge Poetry Festival. Newark’s downtown art district is taken over by internationally known poets. During the four-day festival, one day is dedicated to educators who want to enhance their poetry lessons in the classroom.   After the festival, Lewis Lazarow of Moorestown High School, shares the lessons from the festival with his students.

Show #10 Watch Feb. 8

Poetry Meets Percussion - Young Audiences helps schools recovering from Superstorm Sandy restore their spirits through an afterschool program called Sandy Relief Arts Education Program. Samsel Upper Elementary School students in Parlin meet once a week for 16 weeks to work with professional artists on percussions and poetry. The goal was to get children to talk about their experiences with the storm and the losses that they suffered. The program encourages and hones in on students’ original creativity, confidence and performance. The Young Audiences Arts for Learning is the nation’s largest arts in education learning network. That organization provides the artist, and an NJEA Pride grant pays for the materials for the percussions and other items.

Exchange Student - German exchange student Anouk Elias made a lasting impression on her teachers and fellow students at Middletown High School. While her European perspective was giving her classmates a broader view of the world, she grew to appreciate the more personal teacher-student dynamic found in American schools, the different types of classes offered, and the inclusion of all students in the classroom, including those with special needs. Irvington High School teacher John Amberg and his family helped to make Anouk’s exchange year possible by hosting her during her time in the U.S.

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Earth & Space Science - The Paterson Great Falls is not only a tourist attraction; it is also an amazing place for students to learn first-hand how to solve real life problems.  Ahmed Salama, trigonometry teacher at the PANTHER Academy, shows students how to measure the height of the falls by using trigonometric functions and Parallax. The students then visit the planetarium to demonstrate how they use parallax to measure the distance from Earth to other planetary objects. The school was formerly associated with NASA; and they hope to regain their relationship once more so they can allow students more opportunities.

Our School Museum - Students at New Egypt Primary School learn to be curators at a school museum. Students will create exhibits containing artwork, writing, scientific materials and cultural artifacts. The purpose of the museum is to celebrate students' work in a place of honor – the school entry way and hallways. During a family fun night, the children will host the gala opening. This project is funded through a Frederick L. Hipp Grant.

Show #11 Watch Feb. 15

Peacemakers - Recent news reports of bullies in the workplace and bullies in high school have ended in tragedy. But elementary educators believe that teaching children at a young age to deal with conflict can often change the way they deal with it later in life. At North Boulevard Elementary School in Pequannock Township, Yvette McBain (Morris County Teacher of the Year) has developed a peer mediation program whose theme is “A Bridge to Success,” which includes the 1st through 3rd grade Peacemakers, and the 4th and 5th grade Heart Club peer mediators.

Squan-a-Thon – At Manasquan High School, nearly 300 students take part in the "Squan-a-Thon". The event aims to raise more than $40,000 to assist children afflicted with cancer. On the surface, the event functions as a dance marathon requiring that each student stay up all night without caffeine. On a deeper level, this challenge intends to foster a sense of empathy and concern for the hardships of others among the student body.

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Breaking the Chain - Evan Robbins is spearheading fund-raising and consciousness-raising on the issue of human trafficking with his students at Metuchen High School. The high school students present lessons about life in developing worlds to students at Campbell Elementary School. A more hard-hitting lesson on trafficking will be presented at an assembly back at the high school.

Change the World - Sixth grade social studies teacher Matthew Marciano encourages his students at Long Valley Middle School to change the world. Each year students are challenged to think of a way to change the world and they must make good on the promise by the end of the year. The project is based on the movie and novel Pay It Forward. The list of projects ranges from raising awareness about a variety of diseases from cancer to vascular tumors, showing kindness to seniors, the homeless or underprivileged, and honoring heroes including the military.

Show #12 Watch Feb. 22

Graphic Communications - Learning real-world skills while gaining hands-on production and business experience is the goal of the Somerset County Vocational Technical High School Graphic Communications Program. The program has two shop areas – one for design and the other for production – with a business office in between to sell products and services. Students learn to use industry-standard software such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign while learning color theory, design, typography, and other skills needed to create professional graphics. They also operate screen printing and offset printing equipment to produce finished products for their customers. All while working directly with clients, managing projects, and running a business.

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Empathy & Dialogue - With all of the complexities of the Middle East, it’s difficult to understand the politics and consequences of activities in those countries. But the students at Bergen County Academies in Hackensack are not just learning about the Middle East, they are engaging in a program called “Empathy and Dialog in the Middle East.” The school has project time which is dedicated to engaging in learning that is multidisciplinary and technology infused. During a Skype session, the New Jersey students hear personal stories from young Israel students.

Instructional Strategies – Tens of thousands of educators from across the state attend the NJEA Convention where they keep up to date on all the topical issues of teacher evaluation, testing, assessment and the common core curriculum standards. Commissioner David Hespe meets with teachers and shares his goals concerning the common core.

Something for Everyone – A misnomer of the yearly NJEA Convention is that it is a Teacher’s Convention. It is the world largest educational event of its kind and it for the entire educational family. There are workshops for bus drivers, school secretaries, school nurses, retired teachers and future teachers.  Come one, come all, and join us at the NJEA Convention!

Excellence through Equality - Excellence through Equity is the message that Finnish teacher and scholar Pasi Sahlberg delivers during the NJEA Convention. Sahlberg believes that Finland’s schools succeed because they address the inequalities and diversity of their students. Finland is a relatively poor nation, but the Finish Dream is that all children, regardless of family background or personal conditions, have a good school in their community.