Legend Named to Sports Hall of Fame

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Babylon School District’s former athletic director, coach and teacher Walter F. Williams has been selected for induction into the 2015 Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame. Described as a man of integrity, character, dedication, ethics and leadership, Mr. Williams worked in the district from 1939-1960.

Previously, his legacy was commemorated with an induction into the school’s Wall of Fame and with the athletic field being named in his honor.

In addition to his service to the school district, Mr. Williams was a past president of the Suffolk County High School Athletic Association and an intramural basketball coach at St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Babylon. He also conducted a summer basketball and swimming course. An award bearing his name has been given to the Suffolk County high school baseball team with the best winning percentage since 1961.

In his nominating letter to the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame, Babylon resident and graduate Joe DeLucca said, “Walt was a great teacher, and to me he was the epitome of a coach. I owe so much of my own success to what he instilled in me….Certainly he was one of the founders and pillars of what Suffolk County is today in high school sports.”
 

Predicting Literary Winners

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The prestigious Caldecott medal candidates were the center of attention during a recent literary study at Babylon Elementary School. Working with library media specialist Teri Polis, the school’s second-grade students learned about the distinguished American picture book award and made predictions about the 2015 winner.

Leading up to this year’s official announcement, the students learned about the criteria for contenders and the process for selecting the annual winner and honor books. The students then had the chance to participate in a mock selection process. They each chose two books they thought might win. Working in groups, they reviewed more than half of the official finalists and made predictions of which book would be awarded the medal.

At the end of the unit, the classes watched the broadcast of the official announcement, and many were pleasantly surprised to learn they too chose this year’s winner, “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend” or one of the six honor book recipients.

“My goals for the Caldecott unit were to have students critically evaluate picture books, predict a winner based on the criteria, and then persuade their classmates to agree,” said Ms. Polis. “This engaging experience gave them a sense of ownership in the Caldecott award process, a new appreciation for illustrations, and the inspiration to try new books.”  

Board Honors Students & Staff

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During the February Board meeting, the Babylon Board of Education and administration honored and applauded several educators and students.

Babylon Junior-Senior High School science teacher Judy Procaccini was applauded for successfully performing the Heimlich maneuver on a student in her biology class. Fellow science teacher Claire Birone was recognized for being named a New York State Master Teacher. Babylon Memorial Grade School fourth-grade teacher Donna Hendrickson was honored for being named the Suffolk County PTA Ted Brigham Teacher of the Year.

In addition, several student-musicians were honored at the meeting for their selection to perform in some of the region’s music festivals.

High school senior Christian Martino and junior Patrick Roche were applauded for being selected to perform with the Suffolk County Music Educators Association All-County Percussion Ensemble. Seventh-grader Lauren Ragen (violin), ninth-grader Sophia Sherman (violin), 10th-grader Emma Schubart (violin), fifth-grader Sachi Onishi (violin) and sixth-grader Ethan Schubart (viola) were also honored for their selection as performers in the Long Island String Festival Association concerts.


Mastering the Art of Teaching

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Babylon Junior-Senior High School science teacher Claire Birone has been selected and recognized as a top educator in the state with her acceptance into the New York State Master Teacher program.

The Master Teacher program is designed to create a statewide network of the highest-performing STEM teachers who are also dedicated to sharing expertise with peers and deepening their own scholastic and professional development. Ms. Birone will join a network of more than 500 outstanding educators who demonstrate a deep understanding of their content area, pedagogy and communities.

Ms. Birone has taught in Babylon for the past seven years. She is the lead teacher of the school’s research program and has taught biology and chemistry at the high school. She has also conducted field research in Costa Rica and at Brookhaven National Laboratory over the past several summers.

Upon her acceptance, Ms. Birone said, “I’m most looking forward to working with other teachers in the Master Teacher program and seeing what is being done in other schools around New York, sharing information.”
 
“It is an honor to be considered one of the best in New York State,” she said. “My acceptance is directly tied to Babylon’s administration and community having given me the support and opportunity to become the teacher that I am, and for that I am most grateful.”

For this award, Ms. Birone was required to complete a rigorous application process. She was provided transcripts, recommendation letters, and completed a teaching demonstration, writing sample, personal essay and interview. This year’s Master Teacher program drew more than 3,500 applicants, with only 200 professionals across the state being accepted into this elite program.

Rover Rev Up Learning

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Babylon Memorial Grade School sixth-grade students are learning to build Mars rovers and navigate their creations through various situations as part of their science curriculum.

Using recycled material, the students are learning about the science behind the wheeled objects through the hands-on STEM-based activity. As part of each science unit, the students are tasked with modifying the rovers to complete related and relevant tasks. For example, while studying physics they learned about speed and motion as they set the rovers down ramps, and during astronomy they studied the landing module when they created “eggstronauts.”

Global Learners

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Babylon Memorial Grade School sixth-grade students are studying the world around them through artistic, research and technology-based lens as part of the new five-week Global Learners course.

To increase their understanding of endangered animals, the students worked with art teacher Patricia Stork and library media specialist Lisa Lindeman to create a virtual zoo. The online venture includes pictures, videos and information about each animal studied and can be accessed by individuals worldwide. The students worked independently on researching the featured animals before collaborating as a class on the virtual project.
As a lasting memory of the project, the class created a mural depicting each animal studied. Images of the animals were etched onto colorful tiles painted by the students.



Exploring Science with Technology

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Babylon High School’s Marine Science class has been studying the basic principles of oceanography and marine biology as it relates to the community’s local marine ecosystems, including the barrier beaches and brackish marshes and canals. 

As part of the course, students are required to conduct more than 12 hands-on marine organism dissections, analyze real data on marine populations and migrations moving through the Fire Island Inlet, and emphasize the dynamics between humans and marine organisms/ecosystems. This year, they are digitalizing their work using the district’s Chromebooks and Google Classroom module.

“The computers have changed this hands-on class into a really practical one,” said teacher Mary Beth Schappert. “Students are not only learning marine science, but are now learning new technological skills when they complete their classwork.  This digital classroom is preparing these students to be more college and career ready by teaching them to navigate and organize their schoolwork in Google Drive, a skill that has now become a necessity in college.”

Students are learning how to document and digitize their weekly specimen dissections, collaborate with other students using shared documents, and are analyzing actual marine data from scientists around the world.  For example, when studying fish migrations, the class analyzed pages of data provided by the Department of Environmental Conservation of actual tagged fish moving through the Fire Island Inlet during the last fishing season. They also followed and monitored the migration locations of several tagged species of seals, sea turtles and dolphins along the east coast of the U.S. and in the Caribbean.  



Solar-Powered Learning

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Renewable and alternate forms of energy are just two of the topics Babylon Memorial Grade School sixth-graders are learning about through the school’s Environmental Engineering course.

The program, which was launched as part of the new “wheel of study,” focuses on the environment and the impact of pollution. Recently, after learning about sources of clean energy, the students had the chance to design and construct solar-powered cars. Using recycled materials, the students created bases for the vehicles – varying the length and width – before decorating the cars to their tastes and adhering solar panels.
The students tested the cars functionality within the classroom and will participate in a race this spring.


PTA Salutes Teacher

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Babylon Memorial Grade School fourth-grade teacher Donna Hendrickson has been named the Suffolk County PTA Ted Brigham Teacher of the Year.

The award is given to one teacher in the county who demonstrates his/her commitment to the objects and mission of the PTA. The recipient goes above and beyond the normal expectations of their profession and demonstrates their strong belief in Partnership for Education. This year’s panel unanimously voted to present Ms. Hendrickson with the award.


Experimenting with Genetics

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Several of the lessons learned in the classroom came to life when Babylon High School’s AP Biology class visited SUNY Stony Brook to conduct authentic genetic research projects.

The students determined restriction enzyme rates under various conditions, including pH changes and the use of heat, detergents and salt. Restriction enzymes produced by bacteria are used to cut DNA and allow for transformation of bacteria. The students then incorporated this genetic engineering technique to transfer green fluorescent and red fluorescent genes from different organisms to bacteria. Once they reproduce, those bacteria that pick up the fluorescent gene will glow under ultraviolet light.



Flipping Instruction

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Babylon Memorial Grade School’s fifth-grade students have been put in the driver’s seat of their math lessons, as teacher Stephen Fasciani has introduced a new technology-driven instructional platform.

The flipped classroom initiative enables critical information to be shared with students before, during and after class times. Discussion questions, instructional videos, tutorials and links for practice items directly aligned with the Go Math program and Common Core are easily accessible on the class website.

Using this model, students can view lessons at their own pace, discuss concepts and topics with other classmates and/or the teacher, and be prepared to have a discussion about the topic in the next class session. This provides an excellent opportunity for the lesson to be more student-directed and increased time for the classroom teacher to provide direct help to individuals and small groups as compared to a traditional model.

As the lessons are accessed through any computer with an Internet connection, the model also bridges the home-to-school connection by providing students with help when completing homework and reviewing concepts.




Friday, February 27, 2015