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Veterans Share Their Stories in Amityville

Veterans Share Their Stories in Amityville photo

History came alive for students in the district as veterans, representing different branches of the military and different conflict periods, shared their experiences. Edmund W. Miles Middle School hosted Veterans Appreciation Day on Nov. 13, and Amityville Memorial High School’s program followed on Nov. 15.

At the middle school, a dozen veterans spent the day visiting social studies classes. Among the speakers were Board of Education First Vice President Juan Leon, Amityville Village Trustee Nick LaLota and district staff members. A few active servicemen communicated with the students through videoconferences.

They discussed their reasons for joining the armed force, basic training, military life, responsibilities, challenges and return to civilian life. Many of the speakers said what they enjoyed most about serving was having the opportunity to travel all over the world.

“The military is so much more than combat and war,” ninth-grade social studies teacher Jack Zider said. “We wanted to give our students an appreciation for our veterans and their many roles in serving our country.”

Veterans also spoke to students in their social studies classes at the high school. Social studies department Chairwoman Dawn Mizrachi said that their personal experiences provided students with a deeper understanding of history.

Videos Support Middle School Math Instruction

Videos Support Middle School Math Instruction photo
Math teacher David Takseraas is creating a more interactive learning environment for his students at Edmund W. Miles Middle School. He recently began creating videos that connect the technology-savvy students to the content and also creates more time for instruction.

Mr. Takseraas said he was inspired by YouTube videos created by other teachers that review mathematical concepts, and decided to make his own to personalize it for his students. His videos specifically review the nightly homework and show students how to solve the word problems. 

The videos allow Mr. Takseraas to spend less class time reviewing homework and more time teaching new material. That is important because all students at Edmund W. Miles Middle School are accelerated in math, meaning they take algebra in eighth grade and geometry in ninth grade. Both of those high school-credit-bearing courses end with Regents exams. 

“The students can watch the videos at their own pace,” he said. “There’s a lot of material in the curriculum and this is a different idea that helps make the most out of our class time.”

Mr. Takseraas makes the videos in his classroom during free periods and shares them with students through Google Classroom along with the homework assignment sheets and notes. They can watch on their phones, home computers or any devices. Students can also ask questions in the comments section and get support outside of school hours from their teacher or classmates. 

Middle School Readers Make Literary Connections

Middle School Readers Make Literary Connections photo
Middle School Readers Make Literary Connections photo 2
Middle School Readers Make Literary Connections photo 3
The shades were closed, the lights were off and the sound of a beating heart echoed through the classroom. That was the scene in Katie Rosario and Christina Romeo’s eighth-grade English language arts classroom at Edmund W. Miles Middle School on Oct. 30.

Ms. Rosario read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart” to her students with her classroom resembling the book’s dark setting. Students only had light from flashlights to jot down their observations. 

The reading culminated a comparative literature unit, in which students read “The Tell Tale Heart” and “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl. They noted similarities in setting, character actions and conflict. Students took their jots and wrote longer responses.

“It gets the students to compare text and come up with their own original ideas,” Ms. Rosario said. “They had to use evidence from the books to support their ideas.”  

The lesson was part of the Columbia University Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, a literacy initiative adopted several years ago by the district. Since September, middle school students have been involved in numerous hands-on literacy activities in their ELA classes including book tastings, reader conferences, publishing parties and author videoconferences.

Middle School Teachers Share Their Knowledge

Middle School Teachers Share Their Knowledge photo
Edmund W. Miles Middle School teacher Michele Rudden and Jack Zider were presenters at the Long Island Council for the Social Studies conference on Oct. 26. 

Ms. Rudden was the 2018 recipient of the Outstanding Middle School Social Studies Teacher Award by LICSS. As part of the honor, she was invited to present at the annual conference at the Melville Marriott Hotel. Ms. Rudden, an eighth-grade teacher, partnered with ninth-grade teacher Mr. Zider so they could give perspectives on teaching two different levels. They spoke to a crowd of about 80 teachers from across Long Island.

Their presentation focused on teaching and learning strategies for challenged students to succeed on the long response sections of the new social studies Regents exams, including special education students, English language learners and poor readers. The revised Global History Regents, which is given at the end of 10th grade, includes document analysis for constructed response questions and an enduring issues essay. The workshop highlighted various methods of differentiation to achieve greater student outcomes.

Ms. Rudden and Mr. Zider cited their use of technology to provide students with access to digital content to provide a greater understanding of historical events. They said that while students don’t take the Regents until sophomore year of high school, it is important to introduce the format in middle school so they are poised for success. 

“Like true professionals, they are not only helping our students, but sharing with teachers all over Long Island who are facing the same obstacles,” said Assistant Principal Paul Duguay, who previously served as social studies chairperson. “I am proud to have them as colleagues and I congratulate them on this great achievement.”

Science Research Students Take on Ambitious 3D Printing Project

Science Research Students Take on Ambitious 3D Printing Project photo
While 3D printing has become increasingly popular in recent years, students in the Amityville Union Free School District will be getting a unique experience with the technology. Middle and high school students in the Independent Science Research program will be taking part in a nano 3D printing project in partnership with Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Teacher Alexis Charles and students drafted a proposal that was accepted by BNL to use its nanofabrication facility. The project required Ms. Charles to visit several times over the summer to be trained on the machine because she will be the one allowed into BNL’s “clean room.” Students will dictate the procedure to create a microscopic structure to grow cells.

Students involved in the project include John Hermann, Randy Jerez, Keiry Martinez, Maurice Pettway, Keniese Price, Rene Santos, Trea’von Smith, and Z’Dhanne Williams.

Amityville’s science research students work closely on other projects with Farmingdale State College biology professor Dr. Andrew Michaelson, and from him they learned about two dental procedures that have a high rate of failure. Indirect pulp capping has a 10 percent rate of failure, and direct pulp capping fails at 20 percent, which Ms. Charles explained is high for such costly procedures. 

The students are looking to grow dentin cells, and if their project is successful, it could revolutionize the procedure and increase the rate of success. Dentin cells are the part of teeth sensitive to hot and cold. The cells would be grown in vitro — outside of the mouth — which is why a small structure is required. Students will design the structure using computer assisted drawing software.

Ninth-grader Rene Santos said that creating the structure will pose some challenges because of its small size. Once it is made, it has to be carefully dried as an air gun would blow it away. Additionally, it will require a high-powered microscope to see. 

Ms. Charles said that in order to have the proposal accepted by a panel of three BNL scientists, it had to meet two standards. It had to contribute merit to the scientific community and also be feasible to make on the available equipment. Scientist Ming Lu has joined the project and is providing support to the group, such as giving students tips on how to overcome common problems encountered when designing an on object of a microscopic scale. 

In preparation for the upcoming project, the science research students have already had some experience designing objects using CAD software. They have learned about the difference between 3D printing and nano 3D printing, the latter using a gel to create a microscopic object as opposed to a plastic filament that builds layer by layer. 

“This type of project isn’t what the average ninth- or 10th-grader does,” said freshman Randy Jerez. “It’s a blessing to be in a group like this at such as young age, and to be able to make a difference in the dental industry.”

Ms. Charles said that the project has attracted students with many different interests, and that there is a place for everyone to contribute. Some are interested in the scientific and medical aspects, while others want to contribute their creativity and imagination to the design process. 

She added that the group is hoping to have the project substantially complete so they can compete in next year’s Long Island Science and Engineering Fair. 

VIDEO: No Place for Hate


Students and staff at Edmund W. Miles Middle School celebrate its positive culture and climate.

Monday, December 10, 2018