Dennis Creedon
Dear Parents and Guardians,

This year we are quickly moving forward with the integration of instructional technology in our schools.  As was expected, in several areas our students are trailblazing and we, the adults, are trying to catch up.

The integration of instructional technology helps our teachers consider new ways to differentiate their teaching methods.  With each new program employed, our teachers take great care to ensure every student's needs are addressed.  The use of new technology and programs enables us to enhance student engagement at every level of our academic program.

At our elementary schools, students are enjoying their experiences with Ozobot Bits and in the process are learning computer coding.  Other new programs and applications are changing the way our teachers are facilitating content. For example, using the Kahoot program, our teachers are able to check on each student's learning and record their progress.

At the Middle School, students are collaborating with peers and building their history projects on their Google Chromebooks.  They have learned how to cast them up onto their classroom's white boards at which time they lead their class in presenting their research.

At our High School, students are using their Chromebooks to create group research projects.  In addition, other students are exploring our expanding program in robotics.

In every school, student use of instructional technology is growing quickly.  Our teachers and staff are truly dedicated to the success of each and every student.

Many thanks to Dr. Greg Stowell and Dr. Adam Pease for building the capacity and knowledge of our teachers in this growing area of exciting student engagement. 
Dennis W. Creedon, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Mahopac Central School District
Mahopac Central School District
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. High school students use Chromebooks to view a video on muscle contractions. 

High School and Middle School Streamline Cutting-Edge Technology

The Mahopac School District's ongoing commitment to cutting-edge technology stepped up a notch when all five of its schools shifted to G Suite, Google's full complement of technical applications (apps) for classrooms. The high school and middle school in particular are fully implementing all Google programs now, with all three elementary schools gradually coming onboard as well.
The G Suite-or Google suite of apps-includes Google Drive, Docs, Slides (a program similar to PowerPoint), Sheets, Forms and Sites (websites).
Students can use all of the programs both at home and at school and not miss a beat, with no need to transfer their work to their home computer.
"It makes so much sense because the Google programs are intuitive to use, extremely user-friendly, and free," said Mahopac High School science teacher and district technology leader Jen Cauthers.
During Cauthers' recent college-level anatomy class, students were using Google Chromebooks to view a document in Google docs with a link to a video on muscle contractions. 
"It's great because in the old days students had to rely on photo copies to see and label muscle groups," Cauthers said, "but with the Chromebooks, they can watch videos, which provide a realistic example."
Each student in her class also has a portfolio, completed by the end of the year, which will be updated to Google Sites, Google's version of a website. 
MHS senior Harry O'Shea said he likes the way the programs work on all his devices. "Everything works well together and everything is synced," he said, making projects easy to pick up from where they were left off at home or school.
Fellow senior Ally Reilly likes the way that tests are taken and graded. "We get our grades a lot faster because of the test Forms," she said.
Jessica Mastropietro agreed: "We enter answers in the Forms program, and our teacher grades it and emails it out, so we get it right away."
Steve Chetcuti, from Southern Westchester BOCES' Emerging Technologies team, has been doing Google training at the high school, helping staff to get more comfortable with the technology. "Some people have been using the technology for years, and some are new to it," he said, "but the district's vision of embracing and expanding technology is really impressive."
Using G Suite "makes the classroom bigger," Chetcuti said, "because teachers and students can share their research with each other and collaborate."
Mahopac Middle School building technology leader and social studies teacher Mike Evers said the Google platform "has transformed my teaching practices in terms of the resources I now can provide to my students to help them create and collaborate on assignments."
Evers' seventh-grade social studies class has done virtual tours of Revolutionary War sites using digital maps on their Chromebooks. Students are currently at work creating digital posters protesting British tax policies, pre-Revolution.
"The posters will include moving animations that will be presented on a SMART Board using Google Cast," Evers said.
Students can immediately see what their group partners have added to their projects in real time on their own devices, whether sitting next to them in class, or at home on their computers or smart phones.
"Both teachers and students are excited to use these programs," said Evers who offers monthly training to teachers.
Next up in Evers' class is a "Digital Committee of Correspondence," a technological spin on the Committees of Correspondence held by the colonists before the Revolution. "My students are going to be digital pen pals with Yorktown Middle School and simulate grievances that the individual colonies had. Each school will act as a separate colony," Evers explained.
Another benefit to the online suite of programs is that there is never a need for a student to miss a homework assignment, according to Evers. "I post all assignments on Google Classroom, an app in the G Suite," he said.
Middle School science teacher Brian Cauthers said that collaboration is the single most important thing to come out of his use of G Suites. 
.Students work in Google Suite in college-level anatomy class.
"The students don't have to be in the same room or even the same building to work together," he said. Since programs like Google Docs are live online, fellow collaborators and group members can see exactly what the other is working on and edit and give notes.
Middle School teacher Kevin Reilly agrees about the collaborative benefit of the programs. " Having Chromebooks and using the Google Suite platform have been a game changer because it has opened an avenue of learning between the students and myself that was once unattainable," he said. "There are so many tools in the Google suite platform that allow for endless variations of collaborative interaction, which in turn has made the planning of lessons very exciting. The suite has allowed me to easily create interactive documents, sites, presentations, etc., and has allowed the same creativity to be extended to my students."
Cauthers recently used a space-journey app to provide his eighth-grade students with a virtual field trip to the solar system. "You can zoom in and out of planets and different parts of space," he said.
In Cauthers' Living Environment Regents-level class, students worked in Chromebooks to view the digestive system in a "hyper" doc Cauthers created, which contained links to videos on YouTube (YouTube is also part of the Google suite of apps).
"The videos allow students to see into the digestive tract," he said, adding that he still likes to have them draw diagrams "the old fashioned way" on poster board in addition.
Google Slides, another element of G Suite, is similar to PowerPoint and allows students to do presentations that are interactive and can be shared and edited from home or school or anywhere a student has access to a smart phone or computer. "I recently had my students create a lesson plan using Google Slides," Cauthers said.
Eighth grader Amanda Beberman said it's a lot easier to get work done with the Google programs. "If I am away from home and don't have my computer I can still access all my work in my phone," she said.
Fellow student Shannon Becker likes the speed of the programs, especially the Chromebooks. "It's much quicker and easier because you can type rather than write while taking notes," she said.
Even elementary-aged students are using most of the apps, according to John Sebalos, Instructional Technology Specialist who oversees technology in the elementary schools.
"At Lakeview, students created a digital textbook on their Chromebooks, complete with graphics, to use as a social studies study guide," Sebalos said. The students collaborated on the work, putting together a textbook that all students could access as an online study guide.
"At Fulmar Road, second graders have used both Google Slides and Docs to conduct research and complete projects on animals," Sebalos said, "And at Austin Road, fourth and fifth graders used the entire suite to help create more project-based learning activities. Fifth graders, for example, are completing projects on birds using Docs, Slides, and  Drawings, while fourth graders have used Docs to complete daily activities."
"Students and teachers can access all their files from anywhere, either at home or at school, with all types of projects," Sebalos said. "Students have access to files 24/7, and teachers can collaborate with each other, doing their planning in the cloud."
Middle school teacher Reilly praises the organizational aspects of the programs. " The suite really helps with student organization because their work is kept in their Google Drive accounts, and there is no concern with lost assignments," said Reilly. "Many times students who are absent are able to keep up with their work through Google Classroom."
The idea of students always having access to their schoolwork may be one of the most appealing parts of the programs to both students and teachers alike. Said eighth grade student Chelsea Bello, "It really is great if you're sick at home or away on vacation, because you still have access to everything and can get all of your work done."

.Middle school students can access their homework assignments 24/7.

Lakeview Celebrates Writing 
. Students demonstrate their finished writing with a family celebration.
Writing may be the single most important skill students need to acquire in order to succeed in college and career. Good writers can do everything from tackling a college essay with ease to landing a job interview based on a knock-out cover letter. So it is particularly exciting to see the work fourth-grade students are doing at Lakeview Elementary School.
Students in Robin Ambrosi's class are currently brainstorming ideas for their compare/contrast essays. Specifically, they are comparing and contrasting how two myths-one Native American and one Greek-explain how fire came to be. This is the third writing topic they have covered this year. After an arduous editing process, students invite parents and have a writing celebration, where they read their work out loud to their visitors. But there is a lot of work to be done before celebrating.
"The writing process involves many steps," said Ambrosi, "and they are all important." The Writing Process poster hanging in the classroom lists the steps in order: Pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, peer editing, and publishing.
The Writing Process poster helps with editing, said fourth grader Miriam, "so you can see any mistakes you make and fix them."
"Writing is a process," Ambrosi said. "It shouldn't be perfect right away. Students begin by generating ideas using graphic organizers, and we slowly develop those ideas into sentences, then paragraphs. The process helps takes the pressure off writing and makes the work more pleasant and less intimidating."
During a recent class, students were working on peer editing. "How can we give good feedback to each other to help us become better writers?" Ambrosi asked her students. "Because feedback in writing-just like in other things, such as sports-really helps us to improve."
Feedback should be specific, polite and supportive, as well as based on the rubric students are given for assignments, students reported.
"What are examples of good feedback?" Ambrosi asked students.
"Telling someone that you like the details they put in their work," answered fourth grader Jasmine.
"Saying you liked the comparisons they made and their settings," answered Yousef.
Students report that giving feedback helps them in their own work. "When you give specific feedback to other people, you see specific things about your own writing that you can improve," said fourth grader Jack.
"When they are finished with their essays, and they are edited and polished, we hold a writing celebration, where family members can come and listen to them read their finished work," said Ambrosi.
The students are so involved in their writing projects that there is rarely a dull moment in class.
Said Ambrosi, "The students are really great-they love the process and are so involved, it makes my job a dream!"

. Students enthusiastically participate in the writing process.

Fulmar Road Students Study Food Web Chain of Command
A moose may be bigger than a butterfly, but both are primary consumers in the food web. That is just one of the interesting facts students at Fulmar Road Elementary School learned during a recent visit from Lauren Barbieri from the Center for Environmental Education at PNW BOCES. Barbieri presented hands-on learning about the food web, a system of interlocking and interdependent food chains.
Size doesn't matter when it comes to food webs, Barbieri told fourth graders in Kathleen Barrett's class. "A moose and a butterfly are very different in size, but they are both herbivores."
Barbieri also brought animal skulls for students to examine. The type of teeth and jaws animals have make it easier for them to eat the type of foods they are meant to consume.
Barrett said that the visit was well timed. "It ties in to our study of the food web, as part of Science 21," she said.
Fulmar Road students watch a presentation about the food web during a recent visit from Lauren Barbieri, from the Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES' Center for Environmental Education.

Pandas Find Friends at Austin Road
.Fifth graders Brianna, Kate and Kayla in front of one of their Pennies for Pandas posters. Not pictured: Lily.
When four friends at Austin Road Elementary School discovered that pandas, their favorite animals, were in trouble, they didn't just feel bad-they did something about it.
Fifth graders Kayla England, Kate Conklin, Brianna Smith and Lily Gertelman started Pennies for Pandas, a fundraiser they have been running every Friday in January to collect change in the cafeteria to send to help the pandas. Though pandas have recently been taken off the global endangered list, they are still at risk, according to the World Wildlife Fund, which lists their status now as "vulnerable." With only 1,864 pandas left in China in their native environment, there is still much conservation work to be done, according to the WWF website.
"We did a lot of research about them," Kate said.
They found out that pandas were at risk not just because of poachers. Kayla said, "Their source of food-bamboo-was threatened too." This is because of increased development in China.
The group's teacher, Lisa Coen, couldn't be more proud of her students. "They are so proactive," she said. "They did a slide show presentation to help other students understand the pandas' plight. They did a phenomenal job!"
The students plan to send the money they have collected-$100 and counting-to the World Wildlife Fund. The World Wildlife Fund is dedicated to increasing the area of panda habitat under protection and patrolling against poaching, among other proactive actions.

Mahopac Mission  
  The mission of the Mahopac Central School District is to ensure that every student acquires  
the skills,  knowledge, attitudes and interpersonal skills prerequisite to operate effectively   
in the broader community and lead a successful, productive life in a changing world. 

Board of Education 
Dr. Brian Mahoney, President; Leslie Mancuso, Vice President
Roger Bell, Michael Cazzari, Daniel Hunter, Carolann Lacoparra,
Michael Mongon, Lucy Massafra , Michael J. Sclafani    

 Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Dennis W. Creedon

District Clerk
Jennifer M. Bisaccia   

Published by Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES: 
Karen Thornton, Editor; Maria Ilardi, Art Director