Building and Grounds Committee Meeting Nov. 20, 2017
The Building and Grounds Committee of the Mahopac Board of Education will meet Monday, November 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Falls Building.
Four Mahopac High School seniors have been named Commended Students by the National Merit Scholarship Program for their outstanding performance on the Preliminary SAT (PSAT), which they took last year.
Ryan Butler, Hannah Teligades, Sydney Hughes, and Joseph Cox were among the top 50,000 of the more than 1.6 million students who took the 2016 PSAT.
New Visions Engineering students in Robert Stanford’s physics class learned more than just a lesson in physics during a recent class at The Tech Center at PNW BOCES. “The students are using their newly obtained calculus skills to analyze the motion of objects in one dimension,” said Stanford.
To a layman, that translates into students positioning a ball bearing on a plank, releasing the ball, and having another member of their group film the results, both with the plank lying flat and at a slant. Students then analyze what they filmed.
“These types of activities, combining calculus and physics, really help the students better prepare for engineering,” Stanford said.
His students agree. Alex Gaspar, from Mahopac, said the hands-on activities in this class help them understand the rigors of engineering. “I love this class,” she said. “The small class size and the one-on-one learning and activities are really incredible.”
“These types of activities really help with calculus,” echoed Michal Baran from Mahopac.
Fellow student Carla Vera, from Ossining, agrees. “They give us real-life examples, which really help in understanding engineering concepts.”
New Visions Engineering students at The Tech Center at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES explore the world of engineering through hands-on projects that integrate academics and engineering concepts. Students have job shadowing, internship, and site-visit opportunities coordinated throughout the school year, enabling them to see first-hand the activities and responsibilities related to various engineering disciplines.
Teachers in the Mahopac School District are preparing students to make the most of all that technology has to offer, with the district’s plan for students in grades four through twelve to have their own Chromebooks expected to become a reality in January. In Lakeview Elementary School, the fifth grade team has been fully engaging students in all aspects of the Google suite and other programs, and they are excited to teach—and learn—even more, as new programs continually make their way to the classroom. These programs engage students in technology and create community both inside and outside of the classroom.
Fifth grade teachers Mary Kurtz, Cara Bowden, Aida Nikocevic, Mary Moriarty, Andrea Whitesell, Beth Ferrigno, and Courtney Aponte and teacher’s aide Marie Trillas said that students are not only excited by the programs, but become proficient at them almost immediately.
Students are using everything from Padlets—online, interactive bulletin boards—to Google programs such as Hyperdocs (documents that link to the Internet), Maps, and Mystery Hangouts. They are also proficient at video programs such as Flipgrid and Screencastify.
Fostering this type of innovative technological proficiency creates students who have a more global perspective and furthers collaborative thinking.
Mystery Hangout, for example, is a game that classes from different schools play with each other. “Students play the game and try to figure out the geographic location of students in the other school,” Kurtz said. Programs such as this connect students not only to each other in their own classrooms, but to students in other schools.
In social studies, students have been using Google’s My Maps to create custom maps that they can share with each other. “Students have been using My Maps to do work on the Aztecs and ancient civilizations,” said Bowden. “And they have really been collaborating.”
Nikocevic said her students have been using Padlet and plan on using Flipgrid to work on writing their memoirs. Flipgrid is a video discussion platform, where students create a grid as their classroom group and share information and responses. “They make video responses, which have really been engaging them,” Nikocevic said.
Kurtz, who has a maker-space area set up in her classroom, said one of her students has been using video to film stop-gap animation for a Legos movie. “These types of activities really help in our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) directive,” she said. The student wrote the script, constructed the Lego scenes, and is working on filming the movie.
While students in grades four through twelve will have their own Chromebooks, students in the lower grades will enjoy one Chromebook for every two students. Lakeview’s fifth grade teachers say that students are more than ready to have their own Chromebooks in hand by January — and they will be ready for whatever new programs are introduced by then.
As students of all ages increase their use of social media, the Internet, and technology in general, online safety is becoming more crucial. To address this issue, all three Mahopac elementary schools participated in Digital Citizenship Week, where each school held lessons on Internet safety for every student.
Digital Citizenship Week is sponsored by Commonsensemedia.org, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children get the most out of technology in the safest possible environment.
“It is really important that students know how to behave when they’re online,” said Mahopac School District Instructional Technology Specialist John Sebalos.
Sebalos hosted a Digital Citizenship day at Lakeview, Austin Road and Fulmar Road elementary schools, along with each school’s building technology officers and staff.
“Each student, from kindergarten through fifth grade, got an age-appropriate lesson on safe, appropriate Internet use,” said Sebalos. “With Mahopac’s innovative and expansive use of technology within the K-5 classrooms, digital citizenship becomes increasingly important. It sets a model of how we want our students to behave and interact online both in and out of school while being able to collaborate and work in a 21st century learning environment.”
For younger students, talking about privacy online is particularly important. “Sharing things like your name, address, school or other personal information is never OK,” Sebalos told students.
“Through humor and interactive activities, our students were able to grasp the basic concepts of how to behave responsibly online,” said Austin Road teacher and safety presenter Tiffany Ziegelhofer, who was impressed by students’ reception of the day. “They were really attentive and motivated to learn.”
For older students, the lesson was more focused on appropriate behavior online and avoiding cyberbullying.
Addressing a group of fifth graders at Fulmar Road, Sebalos showed a film about Internet safety and then gave out game cards with prompts asking students what they would do in certain scenarios. “I wanted them to work as a group,” Sebalos said, “ so they could really discuss the options.”
Students were asked to consider what they would do if a person they did not know asked for personal information online; how to handle a fellow student making a rude comment about a teacher on a social media site; and what type of information is private versus public.
“The students did really well with their responses in class, but the real test will be how they respond when there is no teacher or friend around,” said Fulmar Road Principal Gary Chadwick, who also led a class on Internet safety.
Fifth grader Gabby said she thought people should use discretion when they are using social media. “There are some things we shouldn’t say online because they just aren’t nice,” she said.
Fifth grader Jayson said, “You can’t give out personal information online because you can’t trust someone you don’t know.”
Lakeview teacher Jenn Borst said she thought the day gave students a real understanding of what is expected of them and what is safe. “It was great hearing the children talk about their digital footprint,” she said. “They walked away with a real understanding of private information versus personal information.”
In a virtual race where behavior determines the winner, students at Austin Road Elementary School are competing to see whose bus is triumphant. Each day bus drivers will evaluate their buses, and the bus with the most rewards for the month will get a breakfast celebration. The buses are represented in miniature form on a bulletin board in the hallway, and each day buses are moved up according to behavior of its passengers.
A team at Austin Road, including Principal Jim Gardineer, Assistant Principal Bryan Gilligan, teacher Amy Morrison, and speech pathologist Rebecca Kassirer, identified the bus and cafeteria as the two areas where students can benefit the most from the positive behavior reinforcement (PBIS) program.
“We have a new Austin Road PRIDE initiative, which centers around improving behavior in the cafeteria and bus,” said Austin Road Principal James Gardineer. The school also has a new acronym—PRIDE—which stands for Positive Attitude, Respect for yourself and others, Individual Uniqueness, Difference Maker and Effort.
Kassirer, who attended a PBIS showcase at SUNY New Palz last summer, suggested Austin Road adapt this program, a similar version of which is already being used in Lakeview Elementary. “We educate students in Math and ELA,” said Kassirer, “so it makes sense to educate them in positive behavior as well.”
Gilligan said the program will foster a sense of community. “The nice part is students are encouraged to act as a community and are rewarded as a community,” said Gilligan.
Mahopac High School’s Create the Change Club held its annual clothing drive for the benefit of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and area veterans recently. “This year more than 50 contractor-sized bags of clothing were donated by the faculty and staff of Mahopac High School,” according to club advisor Althea Davis. Student members of the club sorted and packed the clothing, which will be given to the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The organization supports all veterans and their families, according to the organization’s website.
Click to go to full calendar: District Calendar