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posted: Thu, May 4th, 2017
A sample math problem with the wolf theme

Wolves keep kids engaged in afterschool program 

STARS, the district’s afterschool academic support program, was given a fresh, innovative structure this year that centered all activities around a single theme – wolves. The new curriculum and focus of the 16-week program kept students engaged and excited to learn. 

STARS is an acronym that stands of Students and Teachers Achieving Rigorous Standards. The program was designed for elementary students in grades 3-5 who need extra help in meeting today’s tough standards in language arts and math.

The wolf theme was incorporated into both subject areas in every imaginable way. In language arts, for example, students read literature and informational articles to compare the ways that wolves are portrayed in fiction versus their real-life behaviors and characteristics. In math, students completed word problems that incorporated wolves and wolf facts into the narratives.

“Kids of this age think wolves are fascinating,” said Tinc Road teacher Kathy Diefes, facilitator of the program. “They loved the lessons and learning about the wolves. It kept them motivated and engaged as they worked on their language arts and math."

As a culminating classroom activity that allowed them to hone their computer skills, students completed projects to show off what they had learned about wolves over the course of the program. Some students developed Powerpoint presentations while others chose to show off their creativity with novel projects such as the wolf Jeopardy game created by one group. 

As an incentive, students with high attendance were allowed to be a part of an end-of-the-program field trip to the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Colombia, New Jersey.

STARS was run at each of the four elementary schools. In total, 75 students and 10 teachers participated. Sessions were held twice per week, for an hour each.


Olivia Alvarez and Parker Davidson show off their Sacagawea journal entries

Putting themselves into history

Students in Samantha Darnesto’s fourth grade class recently put themselves into history. The students imagined they were Sacagawea, the Native American guide who aided Lewis and Clark on their famed journey. They each then crafted a fictional diary entry written in the first person that expressed Sacagawea's thoughts about her adventures traveling across what is now the continental U.S.

The class had read a lengthy informational story about Sacagawea and her role in some of the most important moments of the transcontinental expedition. The diary assignment helped reinforce that information by asking students to internalize the historical accounts and then use what was learned in a unique way. Many students focused their entries on the relationship between Sacagawea and her husband, Charbonneau, the expedition's official translator. That gave the pieces a very personal tone.

“When kids put themselves in the shoes of a historical figure, it really helps them understand and appreciate that person’s role in shaping the world,” Mrs. Darnesto said. "They enjoyed picking up on the emotions of various events."

The fourth-graders wrote their entries on computers and stylized the pages in some way to simulate aging. Some found parchment and antiqued paper templates online; others used crayons, colored pencils, and good old-fashioned crumpling to give their assignments a weathered look. 

Earlier in the year, the students wrote short biographical sketches which compelled them to see the world through the perspectives of other people living in other time periods. The Sacagawea project asked students to use some of those same skills but in a more subjective and creative way.


Incentive program encourages kids to stay active

Mighty Milers is back. The running program, now in its third year at Tinc Road, is encouraging kids to get moving and recognize the importance of physical activity as a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle.  

About 150 students in grades 3-5 are participating in Mighty Milers, a program developed by New York Road Runners (NYRR), the organization that sponsors the New York City Marathon. The participating students set goals to run and/or walk a certain distance and earn rewards along the way for their personal achievements.

Physical education teachers Lauren Bretzger, Mike Guli, and Robin Rozembersky coordinate the program here and keep track of the distances that students run during warmups in gym classes. The teachers enter the data for each student into a website run by NYRR. (If kids run or walk over weekend or afterschool, parents can write notes or emails with the details and the miles will be credited to the students.) 

An important part of Mighty Milers is its interactivity and incentive program. Students can log into the website and track their progress toward reaching milestones and achieving their individual goals. The incentives for hitting various milestones are all provided by NYRR and include sunglasses, tee-shirts, certificates, picture magnets, wristbands, and pens. 

The physical education teachers also stress the cardiovascular benefits of running in every gym session. Each class has a running time challenge that gets longer as the year progresses and the students increase their physical fitness. 

Fun Run/Walk for Africa on May 24

A year-end fun run/walk will be held on Wednesday, May 24 for students in grades 3-5 to celebrate their dedication and enthusiasm in Mighty Milers and with the running challenge. (Parents and guardians are invited to attend.) 

As part of the fun run, a fundraiser and collection drive will be held to benefit poverty-stricken orphans living in Kenya. Donations of materials listed below can be dropped into the large cardboard box in the gym hallway during the month of May or at a donation station at the starting line of the fun run. Cash contributions can be made to Ms. Rozembersky, whose mother will be traveling to Kenya this summer to personally deliver the materials to the children.

Donation list:

  1. Used or new Frisbees, jump ropes, soccer balls, kickballs
  2. Used or new boxes of crayons, markers, coloring paper, small note pads, sticker sheets
  3. New or slightly used flip flops
  4. New or slightly used nail polish
  5. Cash donations, which will be used toward purchasing bedding, water purification systems, and livestock to help the local foster families take care of the orphans 

If you have questions about the donations or programs, please contact Ms. Rozembersky at rrozembersky@mtoliveboe.org or Mr. Guli at mguli@mtoliveboe.org.

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Tinc Road School
24 Tinc Road Flanders, NJ 07836
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