The students in our Intermediate Class are encouraged to become lifelong
learners. The curriculum is rich with real-life themes and integrated
units of study that are based on questions and concerns the students
have about themselves and the world around them: Who We Are; Where We
Are In Time and Place; How We Express Ourselves; How The World Works;
How We Organize Ourselves and Sharing the Planet.
Students work independently, as well as in pairs and groups, to create a
collaborative working environment and promote effective learning.
Students are encouraged to be reflective and responsible for their
learning. Lessons and units of study are designed to meet New York State
English Language Arts Learning Standards in reading, writing and
speaking. Content areas are incorporated into the units of study and are
aligned to both the NYS Social Studies and the science curriculum.
Similarly, the math curriculum is aligned with the new state core
curriculum requirements that include adaptive reasoning, strategic
competence, conceptual understanding, and procedural fluency. In
addition, our math curriculum closely follows grade specific state
standards that define what students should understand and be able to do.
Technology is incorporated into all content areas. Laptops and iPods
are provided for daily use and students are encouraged to view
technology as an integral part of their learning.
Woodhull Elementary School Intermediate Team teacher Gabrielle Donovan was recently honored in a “Teachers of Excellence” awards ceremony presented by the Office of State Senator Phil Boyle.
This was the inaugural year of the award, which was given to one nominated teacher from each of the 15 school districts within Boyle’s senatorial district. The senator emceed the program, which was held at the Bay Shore Fire Department, and bestowed the awards personally.
Ms. Donovan has been a teacher at Fire Island for 15 years, during which time she has helped develop or sustain many successful activities, programs and organizations in the school community. These include the PTA executive board, the Shared Decision Making Committee, Woodhull’s Pick a Reading Partner (PARP) program, the Fire Island Student-Elder Oral History Project, class theatrical performances and instructional innovations involving technology.
Woodhull Elementary School students in Gabrielle Donovan's Intermediate class recently hosted and interviewed Bartley Horton, a 78-year-old lifetime resident of Fire Island. The activity was part of an ongoing oral history project, which annually pairs Woodhull sixth-graders with longtime Fire Island residents in order to bring the history of the island to life.
During the course of the interview, students learned that Mr. Horton attended the Fire Island School when it was a one-room schoolhouse and was taught by Richard Woodhull, son of Fire Island School District founder Mina Woodhull. He was born shortly before the Great Hurricane of 1938, which wrought similar devastation to Fire Island as Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and during which his mother sheltered him and his brothers in bushes on the bay side of the island.
The student-elder project is a tradition at Woodhull, began and maintained by Deborah Gerken, and will host its annual presentation at the Ocean Beach Community Center on May 7.
Upon completing the schoolwide unit, "How We Express Ourselves," Woodhull Elementary School students, staff and parents participated in an educational fair designed to showcase lessons learned throughout the study.
During the event, the gymnasium was transformed into a fairground, decorated with student work and featured the Woodhull scholars draped in costumes relating to particular projects or performances. To visually and theatrically display the lessons learned, students performed the stories of John Henry, Medusa, The Little Red Hen and Julius Caesar. Adding to these were informative stations displaying holiday books and science projects completed by students.
The program concluded with a series of sporting events. To the sound of Leo Arnaud's "Bugler's Dream" performed by school band musicians, students carried an artificial torch around the gym to symbolize the Olympic Games. They then competed in several races and contests of might, including several "chariot races" where they transported groups of individuals across the gym and back.
After observing the workings of a 3-D printer and related software
this past fall, Woodhull Elementary School students had a chance to
design and print their own 3-D objects when the BOCES-owned MakerBot
printer returned to the school this January.
The fifth- and sixth-graders in Gabrielle Donovan's intermediate class
worked in teams using TinkerCad software to design the objects, in a
project created and supervised by technology integration specialist
Beginning with an empty 3-D plane, students used the tools of the
software to create, manipulate and merge 3-D shapes in order to
represent items such as a crocodile, a cannon and a pirate map. The
software automatically converted the designs into instructions for the
printer, which then extruded a continuous stream of molten polymer in
layers in order to "print" the object in a process that can take several
After examining their finished products for unexpected flaws, the
students considered how they could account for the physical limitations
of the printer in future designs.
As part of a schoolwide interdisciplinary unit focusing on "Where We
Are," students in Ms. Donovan's Intermediate class scripted and filmed a
fictionalized news segment in which reporters interviewed people
throughout world history on how geography affected their lives. Some
students served as anchors and reporters, while other portrayed farmers
from the ancient civilizations that developed around the Tigris and
Euphrates, Nile, Indus, and Huang He (Yellow) rivers, as well as modern
residents of northwestern Canada, Quebec, and the city of Toronto. Each
interviewee discussed how factors like climate, weather, and natural
resources shaped their lifestyles and the local economy, reflecting the
key points of the unit. Fire Island models its schoolwide unit design
after that of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program.
Fifth- and sixth-grade students in Gabrielle Donovan’s class at Woodhull Elementary School are fine-tuning their literary and journalistic skills by becoming reporters for a class newsletter.
In the first issue, the students reported on topics ranging from conflict in Syria to what each class in the school was studying for the first IB unit, “Who We Are.” The finished product, which was published in October, also featured lighter elements such as a Halloween-themed word search.