This article is an overview of the English and Algebra classes. Below Ms. Spaziani talks about what the two classes will cover and what to expect.
Who are you?
My name is Ms. Spaziani, and I am an Instructional Support Teacher who works with the freshman students. I work primarily in the English and Algebra classes, but I also offer tutoring and support in other subjects as well during my office hours. I have been teaching for 15 years and most of those years have been with high school students. My focus is on helping students discover how they best learn and then helping them find new ways to approach assignments, projects, and other classwork so that they are can succeed, even in their most difficult subject areas.
What’s the Curriculum like? (Pre-Quarantine and Post-Quarantine)
The curriculum in both the English and Algebra classes follows the New York State standards as for what students will need in order to pass their Regents exams. In English, we use a variety of readings, from articles to epic poems, plays, and novels. We work on writing skills and helping students become more confident when writing whether it is a personal narrative or an argumentative paper. In Algebra, we begin with a review of skills from middle school and then we build on those skills to learn how to apply them to real-world problems. People think of Algebra as being all about that pesky x that shows up in equations, but it is really all about applying our previously learned skills to solve real-life problems. I focus on finding new and different ways to help students learn and practice and do well. I will adapt or change or add to assignments and projects in new and different ways to give all students a chance to engage and be successful. Everyone learns differently, and it is my job to help those who do to find creative ways to express themselves show their true capabilities. How I do that is as different as the students with whom I work.
What are students doing online and how does it differ from when we were in person?
The content in the curriculum has not changed due to the pandemic, but how we access it and the tools we use have changed quite a bit. We now utilize Google Classroom for assignment submission and we use word processors for our writing rather than handwritten papers. In Algebra, we use sites like Deltamath and Khan academy for practice more than textbook problems or handouts. We are still learning ways to make the most of all the innovative technology that is available, and I am really excited about what we will be able to do with it in the future.
What is the level of difficulty in the class?
Our classes are rigorous and Regents level. However, we differentiate content to best meet the needs of each student. Our goal is that each student will find the classes challenging, but not overwhelming or impossible. High school is more demanding than middle school and for many freshmen, this is quite an adjustment. One of the most surprising adjustments for freshmen is the amount of independence high school requires. Students are expected to take ownership of their learning, attend office hours for help if they need it, track and manage assignments on their own, and (gulp!) set aside time to study outside of class. Students who develop these habits do very well even with our most challenging subjects.
What tests do students have to take at the end of the school year?
Our freshmen will take the Algebra 1 and Living Environment Regents exam at the end of their freshmen year. They will not take their English Regents until their sophomore year; however, the English curriculum is designed to prepare them for it through our rigorous reading and writing projects.