Monday, May 21, 2018

March Snackness

During the month of March, our Health students in grades 4-6 at Lincoln Annex are competing in the second annual March Snackness event.  

This event was modeled after the NCAA basketball tournament, also known as March Madness, a competitive bracket style tournament. During the tournament, all 4th grade classes competed against each other, all 5th grade classes competed against each other, and all 6th grade classes competed against each other.  The judges picked a winner from each grade level to move onto the March Snackness Finals.

Unfortunately, due to school closures, half-days, etc. we couldn’t go into a semi-final round and had to go straight to a final round. Nonetheless, the students are really having a great time creating fun snacks and seeing those created by others.  

The judges created a rubric to judge all the snacks. Snacks are judged based on taste, whether all components of MyPlate are included in the snack, and a write-up(LAL) that includes a math piece (nutritional facts) and historical significance.

Through this event, students showcase the ability to work as a team, learn about the importance of eating healthy, how easy it is to eat healthy, and how fun it can be to create new/healthy snacks.

There is definitely a buzz in the air at Lincoln Annex, and surely the competitive spirit that our students have is driving their creativity and we are seeing the most creative snacks yet!

Steven Louka
Supervisor of Physical Education, 
Health, and Wellness

Friday, May 18, 2018

Updates from the Gifted and Talented Program!

5th Grade Elemental Superheroes

Students selected an element they were interested in from the periodic table, and completed a research hyperdoc on properties and facts about the element. They sketched a superhero and had to make explicit connections between the chemical and physical properties of the element to the superpowers they designed. Using a choice board students selected 2 project options to share their superhero. They had to either dress up as their superhero or create a comic book cover. The secondary options included making a theme song, comic strip, interview, cartoon animation, or student proposed. Students needed to demonstrate understanding of the unique properties of their element.

4th Grade Colliding Marbles 

(Science used to introduce new math unit) Using Question Formulation Technique students developed questions to investigate after viewing phenomena of colliding marbles. They then planned tests to make marbles move without touching them (some utilized gravity as a force, created wind- which connected back to erosion in the beginning of the year) others tried magnets and discovered the marbles were not magnetic. Lastly, we used a second marble to move our marbles. They filled out "Power Bars" to show the energy transferred from one marble to the other. Students realized if we started with 100% (ten parts shaded) it could be distributed among the two marbles, but we would never have more energy unless they added another force (push or pull). We connected this to our math learning about fractions and created fractions to represent this change. Then we developed repeated addition and multiplication equations with unit fractions and whole numbers to represent the energy each marble had. Connecting tenths in fractions, we started to think about how to represent this information in decimals by viewing where the tenths and hundredths place values are, and discussing what we thought this meant.

6th Grade Scavenger Hunt (cellular respiration) 

Students were asked, "When we lose weight, where does the matter go?" They made predictions utilizing what we learned in our "Hangry" unit. Students read articles to discover that most matter is actually breathed out, and that we never lose our fat cells they just expand or shrink. We were left wondering, what happens in our cells from glucose entering in order for us to get energy from it, and breathe out carbon dioxide? Students were provided clues and pieces to collect in order to create a chemical equation representing what happens in our cells. Students utilized what they knew about respiration and digestion to develop the reactants and products involved in cellular respiration.

Evelyn Mamman
Director of Title 1 and Supplemental Education Programs

Thursday, May 17, 2018

2018 NJECC Annual Conference

The NJECC Conference on January 9th was a great opportunity to increase my knowledge in specific areas, as well as network with colleagues from a variety of professional backgrounds. This was my first time at an NJECC event, but it will hopefully not be my last!

Our team of New Brunswick educators at the NJECC Annual Conference


My first workshop was “Navigating the Copyright Maze,” which was presented by librarians Yvonne Roux of William Paterson University and Victoria Wagner of Rutgers University. We discussed copyright law, fair use and how it applies to the school and library. As the Middle School librarian, I am often having to explain the issue of copyright to students who come to the library to print out pictures and other materials for class. I learned that Fair Use allows for exemptions for educational and non-profit institutions, but there are specific ways to determine what is considered Fair Use and what is infringing on copyright law. We were provided with links to important resources, as well as a Fair Use Evaluator tool to help ourselves and our school community.  (Copyright Resources for K-12 Schools)


“Being a Librarian in the Age of Alternative Facts” was a workshop that discussed various “hot topics” that librarians deal with today. Lead by Elissa Malespina, the librarian at Somerville Middle School, topics included banned books, net neutrality, digital citizenship and library advocacy. A big focus was on how we can make our libraries welcome and safe spaces for our students. One simple idea I have already implemented is hanging up a funny sign to tell students not to eat, as opposed to having signs that just say “no.” I am also looking into the idea of creating a flyer or a bookmark (such as the presenter created) to help students find books on sensitive topics, such as mental health issues, that they may feel uncomfortable asking about.


NBMS student creating a model
of DNA in the makerspace. 
My final workshop was “The 5 W’s of Library Makerspaces,” presented by Anastasia Hanneken (Shamong Township School District) and Heather Lister (former librarian and now with Mackin
Educational Resources). The Middle School has just set up a Makerspace and I wanted tips on how to proceed. The presenters stressed the need to encourage student creativity and help them develop 21st century skills. I learned how empowering it is to give students flexible supplies and space, allowing them to create and learn.

The NJECC conference was a wonderful opportunity to expand my own horizons. I would recommend it to my peers and hope to attend again next year.

Lisa Menasha,
Library Media Specialist at New Brunswick Middle School

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Apple Cohort: Engaging Primary Learners with iPad

This year in New Brunswick Public Schools, we have established an Apple Cohort to work together in exploring how technology resources can be used to personalize student learning.

NPBS Apple Cohort members at our March 14th PD
Our cohort consists of building and district administrators as well as classroom teachers and media specialists. As a cohort, we are invited to participate in regional Apple Cohort events, learning along with Apple Distinguished Educators and executives from Apple Education.

On March 14th, we hosted one of the Apple Cohort events here in New Brunswick.

This year, our focus has been on our early learners, students in grades K-2. In November, we attended a Cohort event in West Windsor Plainsboro and the topic was on supporting students in math. Among other things, we looked at how students can use the photo and drawing tools to reflect and summarize and synthesize information they are working on. 

Support from the Apple Education team
makes this important work possible!
On March 14th, our focus was on personalizing student learning in any subject area. We looked at the app, Seesaw, as a vehicle for flipping instruction.

We looked at creating recorded read alouds in Pages for students to follow along with at their own pace.  Finally, we explored Clips as a resource for students to capture image and videos and easily produce their own video projects. 

We will continue to explore ways that our early learners can use the iPads to create meaning out of what they are learning and curate artifacts to document their growth and progress.

If you are interested in joining our Apple Cohort in New Brunswick, please email me and I will get you all of the information you need!

Melissa Morris Inoa,
Supervisor of Instructional Technology

Friday, May 4, 2018

Pear Deck for all with the new Google Add-on

Looking for a way to make presentations and lectures more interactive?

Want to capture student responses on the fly during a lesson?

Looking for a tech-based exit ticket resource?

Well, the Pear Deck Google Slides Add-on might just be what you are looking for! 

You can start making slides like the ones above - and more - using the Activity Templates in the Pear Deck for Google Slides add-on.

Check out some of these new templates for math activities:  

Melissa Morris Inoa,
Supervisor of Instructional Technology

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Highlights from the January/February 2017 Technology Newsletter

New Brunswick is Becoming #FutureReady

New Brunswick Public Schools has taken the pledge to become a Future Ready school district. 

"Future Ready is an initiative lead by the Alliance for Excellent Education, a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., alongside the U.S. Department of Education and more than 50 national and regional partners, that is free for schools. Our goal is to empower district leaders to systemically plan for high-quality teaching and learning accelerated through technology. To date, more than 2,000 school superintendents have signed the Future Ready District Pledge  and have committed to taking a stand for their district." 
~Tom Murray, Director of Innovation for Future Ready 

We started our Future Ready journey in New Brunswick by completing the district self-assessment that asked us to reflect on where NBPS is currently, in reference to each gear of the Future Ready framework:

The New Brunswick Public Schools Future Ready Leadership Team: Evan Abramson, Director of Technology; Dr. Vanessa Pellington, Supervisor of Professional Development; Marnie McKoy, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources; Frank LoDolce, Director of Facility Design and Construction; Dr. Aubrey Johnson, Superintendent; Melissa Morris Inoa, Supervisor of Instructional Technology; Kathy Antoine-Smith, Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Personnel Services; Dr. John Anzul, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction; and Richard Jannarone, Business Administrator, completing the district self-assessment. 

Next, team members from NBPS joined other school districts from throughout New Jersey and other parts of the country at at the Future Ready Summit in Newark, NJ. 

We spent two full days learning about, discussing ideas, and sharing different ways for each of our districts to keep personalized student learning at the center of all of our decisions regarding: curriculum, assessment and instruction; our use of space and time; maintaining a robust infrastructure; data and privacy; community partnerships; personalized professional learning; and budget and resources. 

Dr. Aubrey Johnson, Superintendent; Melissa Morris Inoa, Supervisor of Instructional Technology; Evan Abramson, Director of Technology; Dr. Vanessa Pellington, Supervisor of Professional Development at the Future Ready Summit 

Now, members from NBPS are joining other New Jersey educators by serving on Future Ready New Jersey task forces, continuing the work that we started at the Summit, and supporting the ongoing work of our district's strategic planning committees. 

We encourage everyone to become familiar with the Future Ready gears and framework and begin these discussions in your own schools and classrooms. 

For more information about Future Ready, please visit this site: 

Digital Citizenship: 
Copywriting Creative Work

After watching this video, please share your thoughts on the video and ideas for discussing these topics with your students and their families in our Google+ Community. 

What's New in Google Classroom

  • Individual assignments - Teachers can post work and announcements to
     individual students in a class.
  • New teacher notifications - Teachers receive email and mobile notifications when a student submits late work or resubmits work.
  • Classroom user metrics - Administrators can view Classroom usage reports in the Admin console.
  • Coursework improvements for third-party developers - Third-party applications can programmatically create questions,  modify coursework, and add materials to coursework.
For more information about the Google Classroom updates above, visit this link

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Highlights from the December 2016 Technology Newsletter

Featured EdTech Resources for 
Current Events/Nonfiction:

We've had several requests recently for nonfiction and current events resources, particularly leveled resources and resources available in both English and Spanish. Please find a short list of resources we have available to us here in the district that provide nonfiction and current events in a variety of formats and multiple languages. 

Discovery Education:  
Discovery Education offers a portfolio of resources for teaching students in a digital age with digital content, interactive lessons, real time assessment, and virtual experiences.
  • NBPS access:  Full District Access, K-12
  • Resource types:
    • Videos
    • Images
    • Audio recording
    • Reading passages
    • Encyclopedia articles
    • Interactives
  •  Languages:
    • English
    • Spanish

CNN Student News:
CNN Student News is a ten-minute, commercial-free, daily news program designed

for middle and high school classes. It is produced by the journalists at CNN.
  • NBPS access:  Free website, ideal for grades 6-12
  • Resource types:
    • Videos
    • Podcasts
    • Transcripts
  • Languages:
    • English

Engaging learning games, animated movies, an d activities. Designed with relevance, depth, and humor to encourage kids on their unique learning paths.

  • NBPS access:  Freemium product -- limited access  available for free (full access district pilot in-progress)
  • Resource types:
    • Short, animated videos
    • Nonfiction reading passages
    • Primary sources (videos)
    • Learning games
    • Cartoons
  • Languages:
    • English
    • Spanish

Newsela Elementary:
Newsela is a web application which provides leveled nonfiction and current event articles for students at the elementary and secondary levels.
  • NBPS access:  Freemium product  -- limited access available for Free (full access district pilot in-progress)
  • Resource types:
    • Leveled news stories
    • Leveled nonfiction texts: biographies, speeches, etc.
    • Primary sources
  • Languages:
    • English
    • Spanish

For more information about any of the resources above, please reach out to the Media Specialist or Literacy Specialist in your building, or contact Melissa Morris Inoa, Supervisor of Instructional Technology. 


Digital Citizenship: 

Our students are becoming proficient in searching and researching online. It's also important for students to learn that their online work leaves a digital footprint which can in turn be searched by others. 

This short video can be used to introduce the idea of a digital footprint to students, start some conversations about what they do online, and what kind of (searchable) footprint they may be leaving behind.

After watching this video, please share your thoughts on the video and ideas for discussing these topics with your students and their families in our Google+ Community.


Update on Online Unit Assessments
New Brunswick Public Schools continues to work with Performance Matters in pioneering new online testing features in the Unify online assessment platform.  

We appreciate the cooperation and feedback from all of our faculty and staff as we work to develop testing environments and online assessments for our 21st Century Learners. 

To leave feedback and suggestions about the online assessments,  please visit this form

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