Elementary students learn the basics of coding

When many of us were growing up, the only language we learned at school was a foreign one. Now, students are also learning a digital language: Code.

Liberty Elementary School students are learning the basics of coding through a 21st century curriculum and online tools such as Swift Playgrounds, an iPad app that teaches the fundamentals of coding in a way so simple even the youngest of learners can grasp it.

Third-grade students from Mrs. Houghtaling’s class went quiet as they entered directional commands into form a complete sentence in Code. Pretty soon, they had no problem instructing Byte (the app’s animated character) using basic coding commands.  Cheers erupted – as well as a request to keep playing the app during recess!

A third grade student sitting at his desk turns his face and iPad toward the camera. The ipad is loading an app. The screen reads "Learn to Code."Screenshot of an app on a SmartBoard. On the left, there is code. On the right, there is an animated character who is walking on a path directed by the code.

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Mrs. Crescitelli’s class serves up coffee, treats and holiday spirit

Recognizing that the holiday season can be especially hard for those Thailand, students from Mrs. Crescitelli’s class are hoping to bring those serving some holiday cheer.

Care packages with tee shirts and school supplies will soon be shipped to students and teachers at a school district in Thailand.

This is just one of several meaningful and empowering activities that the group takes part in between lessons. They prepare and sell coffee and baked goods on a regular basis (the peanut butter balls are delish!) and open a pop up “soup kitchen” every Friday. They also run the middle and high school’s recycling program.

And if that wasn’t enough – they’re also putting the finishing touches on their holiday-themed staff store which will feature a limited supply of first come, first serve holiday décor and snacks.

As with all of their projects and services, proceeds will go towards the group’s field trips. Some of the money earned will go toward finding and purchasing the perfect holiday gift for a family member.

They’re especially looking forward their upcoming trip to New York City to see “The Grinch” on Broadway!

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Students personalize learning with letter to BrainPOP

As they wrapped up their curriculum unit on the Iroquois Confederacy, students from Ms. Kaitlyn Melcher’s fourth-grade class were motivated to provide feedback to the BrainPOP scriptwriters in regards to their video lesson on the Iroquois.

BrainPOP is an educational website known for its informative and interactive videos across all learning subjects, explained Ms. Melcher, who often uses their videos as an “introductory kick-off” to a lesson.

After watching the video and working their way through the complete curriculum – a blend of modern and traditional teaching materials – students identified some holes that could be filled by BrainPOP.

Their general consensus?  While the video was informative, there was information they gleaned from other resources like text and discussion.

Not only does it show that [the students] retained the information, it demonstrates that their new knowledge empowered them to provide feedback to BrainPOP,” said Ms. Melcher. “What’s more, their letters resulted in tangible feedback: the scriptwriters from BrainPOP are going to take their suggestions under advisement when they edit the script next year.”

Like Ms. Melcher, teachers district-wide are working their way through the SAMR Model.

Developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, the SAMR Model aims to guide teachers in integrating technology into their classrooms. It consists of four steps: Substitution (S), Augmentation (A), Modification (M), and Redefinition (R). As a district, our goal is have every classroom reach the redefinition stage, where both educators and students have personalized their experiences with technology to enhance teaching and learning.

For more information about SAMR, press play on the video below: SAMR in 120 seconds.

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The Makers Club is resourceful and kind

The Makers Club is an after-school program for fourth graders that meets on Tuesdays (for making)  and Thursdays (for coding.)  Two students from each fourth-grade class are selected to participate in ten sessions based on their interest and availability.  After the ten sessions are completed, another round of students will selected to participate.

Club members are currently weaving book bags using t-shirt scraps that were donated to the school. Once complete, the bags will be donated to the school’s lending library so that students can easily carry their books.

A student wearing a bright pink long sleeved shirt stands tall and displays her project: a weaving loom made from a piece of cardboard, string and scraps of tee shirts.


A closer look at reciprocal teaching

At Liberty Middle School, many teachers use a technique called reciprocal teaching that’s designed to improve reading comprehension.

Reciprocal teaching is a discussion technique that incorporates four main reading strategies: predicting, questioning, clarifying and summarizing.

The goal, in short, is to prepare students to run their own discussion, taking turns as leaders.

“Students will break down a passage of text together and take turns facilitating the discussion,” sixth-grade teacher Justin Golden said. “Classmates take turns summarizing and asking questions and will work together to clarify confusing ideas and predict what will happen next.”

Using a color coded reference guide on their iPads, students take the lead in their learning – all the while knowing that the answer to a stumped question is just a hand raise away.

During a typical reciprocal teaching discussion, students begin by asking questions. Then, they work together to clarify the meaning of unfamiliar words and summarize the main ideas.  If they come across something they can’t talk out or would like some extra clarification on, Mr. Golden will jump in to instruct.

Liberty receives grant to support school safety

The Liberty Central School District is proud to receive a grant award from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The five-year, $89,748 grant under the U.S. Justice Department’s STOP School Violence and Mental Health Training Program was one of few given to New York districts.

The district plans on using the grant funds to provide Stop the Bleed training for all staff during the Feb. 15 Superintendent’s Conference Day. Stop the Bleed, a popular national initiative that started after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, teaches nurses, teachers and staff how to provide potentially life-saving medical aid to injured students or co-workers while awaiting the arrival of professional responders.

Funding from the grant will also go toward social-emotional training for district teachers, staff and school resource officers. The training, which has not been scheduled yet, will be aimed at mental health intervention and how to identify and reach students in need of extra social or emotional support.

The district has until the year 2021 to make use of the full amount of grant funding. More information about the grant funding will be shared with the district community as it becomes available.

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LHS is the place to be to earn college credits

Juniors and seniors at Liberty High School now have the opportunity to finish their high school careers with a jump start on college thanks to the district’s partnership with Sullivan County Community College.

Thirteen college credit courses are offered to juniors and seniors, including United States History, Political Science, Elementary Statistics, Fundamentals of Speech and Composition I. These courses are taught on campus during the school day by a Liberty High School faculty member.


Many students at Liberty High School earn credits through these courses, according to Guidance Director Molly Messina. Although the college credits come at a cost ($60-$265, depending on the class), students who qualify for free and reduced price lunch only need to pay $25 for the credits.

There are some stipulations, she explained: some classes have pre-requisites and all students need to pass the class and their final exam in order to receive the college credit.

“Then the college credits will be absorbed by generally any SUNY college,” she said.

Juniors and seniors who would like to learn more about the college credit courses should reach out to his or her guidance counselor in the winter. January and February is the best time for a junior or senior to begin planning his or her course load for the following year.

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