Catholic Schools Week 2016

Generous St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust Enhances Mission, Ministry

By Anthony Biscione, senior deputy superintendent of Catholic schools

Catholic Schools Week is an annual celebration of the important role that Catholic schools across our country play in providing a faith-based education for our young people.

Here in the Diocese of Brooklyn, it is a week to celebrate our educational network of parish schools and academies that nurture the intellectual, spiritual, physical and emotional attributes of the students they serve. During this week of celebration, we would be remiss if we did not celebrate the generosity of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust for all they do to enhance the mission and ministry of Catholic education in Brooklyn and Queens through the many programs they fund.

Each year, the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust assists Catholic schools and academies within the diocese to fulfill their evangelizing mission by supporting initiatives that enrich the Catholic identity, student achievement, and the curriculum in our parish schools and academies.

This year, the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust is sponsoring the following programs: the Catholic Identity Links program, enhanced instructional reports for the TerraNova testing program, the Greek and Latin Roots Challenge, The Performing Artists in Residency Programs and Go Quest; a curriculum enhancement resource.

Catholic Identity Links

In collaboration with the Office of Faith Formation, a group of nine schools and two religious education programs have been piloting the Sadlier Catholic Identity LinksTM program. Catholic Identity Links is a kindergarten to eighth grade online program uniquely developed to focus schools around the common goal of strengthening Catholic Identity. The pilot program is in its first year.

Catholic Identity Links focuses on 52 virtues and values – one for every week of the year – and includes short lessons, homily hints, prayers, Scripture references. The program connects each value and virtue to scripture and correlates to the liturgical seasons. Each virtue and value promotes Catholic identity so that young disciples follow Jesus Christ. The program provides grade-specific links for teachers, catechists, principals, pastors and directors of religious education. Additionally, it can be extended to parish communities.

Instructional Reports

For the past several years, the Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust has provided schools and academies with instructional reports for the TerraNova testing program. Historically, schools and academies within the Diocese of Brooklyn have been testing students in grades three through eight in the fall with CTB McGraw-Hill’s latest standardized test, TerraNova, Common Core which tests students in reading, language and mathematics subtests in conjunction with InView, the cognitive abilities test that measures academic aptitude. The Trust has made it possible to acquire the additional and useful TerraNova Online Reporting Services for each student tested.

The TerraNova online reports are a valuable instructional tool which allows principals and teachers to view school-wide, classroom and student test results in a variety of reports. For instance, principals have the ability to analyze test data to help guide them in evaluating an academy’s/school’s instructional program and to provide professional development opportunities for teachers. Teachers have the ability to formulate instructional programs and priorities based on the online reports in order to help their students meet the state standards.

In addition, principals and teachers are able to view classroom and student performance reports which identify strengths and weaknesses of individual students and classes.

When testing in the fall, TerraNova is not only used as an achievement test, but as a diagnostic tool as well which affords teachers time to remediate student and/or classroom weaknesses prior to the state tests in the spring. The online reports also allow teachers to access students’ Lexile levels, or reading ability, which assists in differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all students along with providing longitudinal data for each student within our diocese.

Greek and Latin Roots Challenge

In the fall of 2014, through the support of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust, a group of 16 schools enriched their school curriculum with the Latin and Greek Roots Challenge Program. This program has continued into a second year with three schools joining the original pilot group.

The interactive, fun and school-wide program is designed to introduce students to Latin and Greek roots and their meanings. The program gives students the discipline to “deconstruct” words into their component roots and, thereby, unlock the meaning of words.

Roots are the building blocks of the English language. Each week in the Latin and Greek Roots Challenge Program, three Latin and/or Greek roots and their definitions are posted on challenge boards in the classroom. Every root is accompanied by a visual. The “Challenge” is for students to identify as many English words as they can that contain the Latin or Greek root. In essence, students construct words using their knowledge of roots.

The program includes three levels of challenges to reinforce root meanings, beginning with early childhood and continuing through grade eight.

This program recognizes the importance of Latin and Greek Roots within the English language. Students who have a command of roots and their meanings have a distinct advantage in vocabulary acquisition and retention, in reading comprehension, and in taking standardized tests.

Performing Artists in Residency

Through the generosity of the Trust, for the third year, almost 40 schools and academies in Brooklyn and Queens will participate in the Performing Artists in Residency Program. The Performing Artists in Residency is a unique program created by the members of Stages on the Sound, Inc., a non-profit theatre company that has been partnering with Catholic schools within the diocese since 2006.

Each academy or school has three participating grades, some with multiple classes in each grade. The fourth grade works on film-making and stop-motion animation using tablets and cameras, the sixth grade focuses on play-writing, and the eighth grade reads and acts out scenes from Shakespeare plays. A team of two teaching artists spend one hour per week for 15 weeks with each class.

The program introduces students to the dramatic arts and enhances the schools English language arts curriculum. This program has been enthusiastically received by principals, teachers and students.

Go Quest

Go Quest is a new addition to the list of programs supported by the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust. Formerly known as the Renzulli Learning System, Go Quest has its roots in the research conducted by Dr. Joseph Renzulli and Dr. Sally Reis at the University of Connecticut. The Renzulli Learning System, the precursor to the Go Quest program, is the result of more than 40 years of research in gifted and talented education. The basic premise of the founders of Renzulli Learning rested on their belief that students learn best when the teacher understands their interests, learning styles and expression styles.

The new Go Quest program, takes the basics of the Renzulli Learning System and applies, deepens and extends student learning. The Go Quest program provides access to over 40,000 curated online resources and a wide variety of inquiry and project based learning tools. The Renzulli profiler generates a snapshot of student interests and expression preferences allowing teachers to match content, activities and projects more completely to personalize student learning. The differentiation engine allows teachers to individualize instruction. Students who are engaged in their learning are more motivated, retain information better, and are inspired to delve more deeply into topics.

The Go Quest program is currently in 30 parish schools and academies in Brooklyn and Queens.

Each of these programs, made possible by the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust, enlivens and strengthens the academic and spiritual life in our Catholic schools and academies. This week we celebrate Catholic education and we celebrate the generosity of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust.

Related Content:

NET-TV: Latin and Greek Roots Give Students Strong Foundation
NET-TV: Shakespeare Showcased in Bayside School (Performing Artists in Residency Program)
Tablet: Shakespeare with No Intermission at OLBS School