BMS Humanities Night










  • Literacy
  • Social Studies
  • World Languages
  • Support at Home
  • View Artifacts from the 5-8 Continuum

Instructional Shifts



  • Balancing Informational

& Literary Text

  • Knowledge in the Disciplines
  • Staircase of Complexity
  • Text-Based Answers
  • Writing from Sources
  • Academic Vocabulary

  • Students read a true balance of informational and literary texts.
  • Students build knowledge about the world (domains/content areas) through TEXT rather than teacher or activities
  • Students read the grade-appropriate text around which instruction is centered. Teachers support close reading.
  • Students engage in rich and rigorous evidence-based conversations about text.
  • Writing emphasizes use of evidence from sources to inform or make an argument.
  • Students constantly build the transferable vocabulary they need to access grade level complex texts.


English Language Arts-

A Look Ahead-A Look Back

Everything You Need to Know About the New SAT

By ERIC HOOVER OCT. 28, 2015

As for content, the revamped test draws heavily from the Common Core — math and reading benchmarks adopted by most states. Those standards emphasize evidence-based interpretations of texts, vocabulary used in college and careers, and depth-over-breadth math skills.

How should students prepare? By reading often and diving into various kinds of texts, especially nonfiction, tutors say. That’s more a long-term strategy than a quick test-prep trick. Habitual reading can also help on the writing section, which will demand prolonged concentration. To answer questions about grammar, punctuation and usage, students will have to wade through extended passages relating to history, humanities and science.

The prompts, which will look familiar to those who’ve taken Advanced Placement English, ask for a critical response to a specific argument. In: analysis. Out: writing about your personal experiences. For example: Read excerpts from a 1967 speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and explain how he used evidence, reasoning and/or stylistic elements to support his argument that American involvement in the Vietnam War was unjust.

Grade 5

Grade 9

  • Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g. how the characters interact).
  • Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas or concepts in a historical, scientific or technical text based on specific information in the text.

  • Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
  • Analyze how complex characters (e.g. those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters and advance the plot or develop the theme.

  • Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.

  • Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

The Standards identify three major genres of writing.

They include: Argument, Informative, and Narrative writing.

Grade 5

Grade 12


Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.


Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.


Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.


Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.


Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.


Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

Components of a Balanced Literacy Approach


  • Instructional Read Alouds (implicit teaching with opportunities for active engagement)
  • Minilessons (explicit teaching)
  • Independent Reading & Writing and End of Workshop Shares in Reading and Writing Workshop
  • Formal Vocabulary & Grammar Instruction
  • Immersion in the deep study of a few ‘Great Works’

Small Groups:

  • Strategy Lessons
  • Book Clubs
  • Partner Discussions, Speaking & Listening
  • Individual Conferences


Staff Development

  • Our teachers are supported through our ongoing relationship with the Columbia Teachers College Reading & Writing Project.
  • Our classrooms become lab sites during the staff developers’ visits.

Staff Developers

Brooke Geller

grades 3- 5

Emily Strang-Campbell

grades 6-8

  • Brooke Geller, a Senior Staff Developer, mentors staff developers and leads advanced sections at TC summer institutes. Brooke works closely with school administrators and teacher leaders to facilitate workshop teaching. She supports schools in New Jersey, California, Tokyo, and Dubai. Brooke works with our 3-5 teachers and students.
  • Emily Strang-Campbell, a Senior Staff Developer, mentors staff developers and leads advanced sections at TC summer institutes.Emily taught at The Clinton School for Writers and Artists before joining the Project. She earned a master's degree from New York University with dual certification in Educational Theatre and English in the secondary classroom, and an M.F.A. in Theatre Arts from Brooklyn College. She is co-author of Research-Based Information Writing, Grade 6.

What Does Workshop Look & Sound Like?

Charts are co-constructed with students and serve as an anchor and resource throughout the units of study

Post -its

Post-its are a tool to foster deeper thinking and to make a student’s thinking visible.

Classroom Libraries offer leveled and genre selections

Accountable Talk-Teachers Coach into Student Talk


An important focus of the speaking and listening standards included in the new Common Core State Standards is academic discussion in one-on-one, small-group, and whole-class settings.  As noted in the standards, we need to prepare our students to participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.  One way to begin growing readers and writers who are able to express themselves verbally is to build ‘accountable talk’ in the classroom.

Mentor Texts

  • We all need mentors, knowledgeable others, in our lives. Mentors help us do what we could not do on our own. Mentor texts help us to bring the works of published authors into our classrooms and let our students stand on the shoulders of leaders in the field.

Other Literacy Components

  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Immersion into the study of the “Great Works”

(aka core novels)

Our Goal

The work of the literacy department is to prepare our students not only for the next year or a state test, but for life. Our overarching goal is to create lifelong, confident readers and writers who display agency and independence in all of their future endeavors.

Social Studies Students Using the Content

Our social studies curriculum is based around engaging students with the skills of history.

Instead of reading about what Columbus did we would examine his letters to analyze his accomplishments and research maps from his time.


Social Studies Standards

Focusing on C3 Standards for social studies skills

Its Building Blocks

C3 also focuses on other social studies skills

Day to Day Social Studies Lessons

Students learning about Marco Polo’s journeys read excerpts of his diary.

Students write about the same event from a different perspective, imagining they were were a priest or merchant on the trip.

Students make a “collection” of their journal entries and record them with iMovie.

This practices the skill of seeing historical events through another view, but also evaluating the truth of sources describing an event.

Global Partnerships with Nigeria

BMS has partnered with St. Patrick’s School in Nigeria and our students communicate with the students there and help fundraise for their school.

Bishop Martin of Minna Nigeria visited BMS in September to thank our students and discuss education in Nigeria.

BMS World Language Program

5th grade Spanish was introduced this year to help all students practice the skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking in another language.

Over 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students can take three years of Spanish, French, or Latin to prepare them for the second level at high school.

BMS is continually scoring well in the National Spanish, National French, and National Latin Exams. Over 50 of our 7th and 8th graders ranked in the top of the nation.

SHSD World Language Sequence

American Council of Teaching Foreign Language 5Cs

Day to Day World Language Lessons

Workshop with Dr. Mary Curran of Rutgers working on vocabulary acquisition through story-telling.

Students created dialogue for a movie using technology resources like movie talk.

Using authentic language resources to help students discuss with each other different aspects of Spanish, French and Roman culture.

Support at Home


Students must…

Parents can…

Read more non-fiction

Encourage students to choose a balance of fiction and non-fiction text on trips to the library

Know the ways non-fiction can be put together

Read non-fiction texts aloud or with your child

Enjoy and discuss the details of non-fiction

Point out non-fiction text that you are reading AND enjoying (newspapers, magazines, twitter…)

Recommended Resources


  • December 9th - Board Presentation on PARCC results (and on Website)

  • Week of December 14th - Student Individual Results Sent Home

  • February 23rd - BMS HSA Presentation (and on Website)

  • PARCC 2016 Student Testing- April 18-22

A Special Thank-you to All of the Middle School Teachers

…and a very special thank-you to all of the teacher volunteers who are here this evening or who generously gave their time and expertise in planning and executing the presentation!

BMS Humanities Night - Google Slides