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Fiction Brings History to Life at Middle School

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Not only are seventh-graders becoming stronger readers, but they are also learning about the past at Edmund W. Miles Middle School. English language arts teacher Katie Pallini recently launched the historical fiction unit through Reader’s Workshop.

The district has adopted the literacy initiative through Columbia University Teachers College which gives students the opportunity to read books based on their interests. Ms. Pallini and her co-teachers Suparna Basu and Alyssa DelGiorno opened the lesson with book tasting, in which students could sample dozens of historical fiction books before choosing one to read. While characters are typically fictitious, the stories are based on actual historical events.

In a follow-up lesson, Ms. Pallini read excerpts from Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Book Chains,” stopping periodically and asking students to share their thoughts with each other during turn-and-talk discussions. She also demonstrated jots, in which a reader pauses and writes down their thoughts about a text. Students are asked to note their feelings, predictions and questions, as well as any personal connections to a story. 

Jots, which are kept in reader’s notebooks, are used for their own reflections and to spark class discussions. The readers make connections to each other’s independent books.

“Students are not only deepening their analytical stills, they’re deepening their understanding of different historical time periods,” she said. “They are also learning how to communicate with their classmates by engaging in discussion about the topics and issues presented in the books.”

Middle School Students Analyze Dr. King’s Legacy

Middle School Students Analyze Dr. King’s Legacy photo
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American Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped ninth-graders make connections to international events in their global studies classes at Edmund W. Miles Middle School.

Co-teachers Jack Zider and Charles Martine engaged students in discussions about segregation in other parts of the world, past and present. The ninth-graders also made comparisons between non-violence movements in the United States and India. In small groups, students created and shared their own definitions of non-violence.

“Our curriculum is ancient history, so we have to make it something that they can relate to,” Mr. Zider said.

In Michele Rudden’s eighth-grade social studies classes, students analyzed Dr. King’s dreams for equality and discussed whether or not they felt his dreams had come true. They made connections between the Civil Rights era and modern society. Students used Chromebooks to access a hyperdoc, which had links to articles, passages and videos about Dr. King.

Ms. Rudden explained that by eighth-grade, students know about Dr. King and his accomplishments, so she wanted them to perform a deeper analysis of his legacy by using the online resources and their knowledge of current events.  

Student Musicians Tapped for Regional Ensembles

Student Musicians Tapped for Regional Ensembles photo

Several students from the district have been chosen to participate in regional music festivals.

Amityville Memorial High School sophomore Alex Diaz and Edmund W. Miles Middle School seventh-grader Madeline Shingleton were selected to Long Island String Festival Association ensembles. Alex played the viola with the secondary school orchestra on Jan. 12 at St. John the Baptist High School. Madeline will showcase her skills on the cello with the seventh- and eighth-grade orchestra on Jan. 27 at Hauppauge High School. 

Dr. Fran Fernandez, the district’s director of fine and performing arts, said the selection process for LISFA ensembles was extremely competitive. Students were chosen based on their New York State School Music Association evaluation scores from the spring 2018 festival and on teacher recommendation. 

Alex and Madeline were also among six Amityville students selected for the Suffolk County Music Educators Association’s All-County music festival in March. Alex will represent the high school while Madeline will join bass clarinet player Donovan Graham McRae from the middle school. Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School choral students Tiffany Asbell, Sydney Carter and Brianna Cuevas will share their vocal talents.   

Music teachers for the students include Megan Ashe, Michael Bonasera and Bianca Ferrante.



Ninth-Graders Get a Taste of College Life

Ninth-Graders Get a Taste of College Life photo

Although they are few years away from applying for colleges, ninth-graders from Edmund W. Miles Middle School recently learned about the expectations for higher education. More than three dozen students attended College Awareness Day at Adelphi University.

There were presentations on the admissions process, study abroad opportunities and summer pre-college programs, as well as pep rally, panel discussion, question and answer session, lunch and campus tour. It helped students gain an understanding about the decisions they need to make in high school to be accepted in the colleges they desire. The 39 Amityville students who attended were chosen based on essays they submitted about honoring veterans and members of the armed forces.

Saturday, February 23, 2019