English Language Arts
In keeping with NYS Common Core Standards, we have a standards-based, balanced approach to teaching reading. It is an approach that has evolved and continues to evolve as our teachers participate in ongoing professional development and do their own classroom-based teacher research. At P. S. 94, the expectations for teaching reading include the following:
Grades K-2: Core Knowledge
The Listening and Learning Strand consists of a series of read‐alouds organized by topics (called domains), many of which are informational in nature. The goal of the Listening and Learning Strand is for students to acquire language competence through listening, specifically building a rich vocabulary, and broad knowledge in history and science by being exposed to carefully selected, sequenced, and coherent read‐alouds.
The Skills Strand teaches the mechanics of reading–students are taught systematic and explicit phonics instruction as their primary tool for decoding written English. By the end of grade 2, students have learned all of the sound‐spelling correspondences in the English language and are able to decode written material they encounter. In addition to phonics, students also are taught spelling, grammar, and writing during the Skills Strand.
GRAIR is additional literacy time within the school day where teachers can work with students in developmentally appropriate groupings to meet their individual needs. This is an opportunity for the favorite traditional read aloud, literacy based centers, and immersion in text, where teachers can facilitate student choice from existing leveled libraries based on interest, availability, and readability. The purpose of this time is to build independent, interested, and capable readers.
Components of Comprehensive Literacy Program Core Knowledge Language Arts
New York Edition Program for CCSS Grades P-2
Foundational Skills and Small Group Instruction
CKLA NY Skill Sequence with Student Readers
( 60 minutes)
Read Aloud and Shared Interactive Reading
Listening and Learning Strand
Additional Book Time, Independent Reading
Guided Reading and
Accountable Independent Reading
Addresses needs of all students by providing:
• Systematic exposure and reinforcement of reading skills differentially
• Engages through: student-friendly, largely contemporary literature at various reading levels
• Builds community of readers
Provides lively, content rich read-aloud with opportunity to question, discuss, and share ideas
• Focuses on academic language
• Develops background knowledge in science, social studies and the Arts
• Provides diverse text
• Builds community of readers and learners
Occurs outside and in addition to CKLA NY block
• Allows for student and teacher choice from existing leveled libraries based on interest, availability and readability
• Builds reading volume
• Develops reading stamina and persistence
• Strengthens community of readers and learners
Grades 3-5: Expeditionary Learning
The New York State Grades 3-5 ELA curricula include six modules that focus on reading, writing, listening, and speaking in response to high-quality texts. Four eight week modules with three units in each comprise a full year’s curriculum. Each module is intended to last a quarter of a school year; the addition of two extra modules allows for teacher choice throughout the year. Each module progresses in a standard sequence: Building Background Knowledge, Extended Reading and Research, and Extended Writing.
The modules are linked by “big ideas” and “guiding questions” (Essential Question) that speak to both the standards and the content. The modules will sequence and scaffold content that is aligned to the CCLS for ELA & Literacy and the PARCC Frameworks. Each module will culminate in an end-of-module performance task, aligned to the PARCC Frameworks, which can provide information to educators on whether students in their classrooms are achieving the standards. Modules may include several units and each unit may include a set of sequenced, coherent progressions of learning experiences that build knowledge and understanding of major concepts. They will also include daily lesson plans, guiding questions, recommended texts, scaffolding strategies, examples of proficient student work, and other classroom resources.
Each Unit has long term targets and supporting Learning targets aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards. Each lesson has an “Agenda” the flow of the lesson which includes the opening, work time, closing and assessment and homework. Each lesson will include a Read Aloud where everyone will share the same text.
- Read Aloud: Teachers read from picture books and chapter books. Listening to well -crafted books help children model reading behaviors or a variety of reading strategies to build lifelong readers. The read- aloud helps increase vocabulary, supports comprehension and provides opportunities for children to engage in “accountable talk” (conversation). The first read aloud should not be longer than 15 minutes daily. The second read aloud is for content area.
In all of our classrooms from Kindergarten to fifth grade, there are some opportunities for small group reading instruction that includes talking about books. This may take the form of guided reading, and/or book clubs. It is important that struggling readers have ongoing, intensive teacher-directed instruction through guided reading.
- Guided Reading: Guided reading must be used primarily for level 1 and level 2 readers. All students are in the same reading level. Students have the same text and the teacher introduces the text with a picture walk-through providing vocabulary support and allows students to read the text at their own reading ability. Teacher listens in and makes note of possible teaching points and supports the student. Once students are done reading, the teacher teaches one point that he/she noticed was the need for this particular group.
- Strategy Lesson: Students are grouped based on a need for a strategy or skill development not by reading level. Students also meet with the teacher to work in small groups to discuss a text. At times, a teacher will introduce a teaching point. Students read, the teacher observes and assesses their needs. Then they talk about what they read and are given strategies to understand the text and to add to their repertoire of strategies, as they become stronger readers.
Ongoing assessment is an essential aspect of our reading program. Teachers need to have a note taking system where they keep track of what and how children are reading and what their instructional needs are. Everyone will keep a monthly reading book level sheet. Teachers in K-5 will use the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment in addition to the mandated NYC Periodic Assessments and performance tasks.
Our comprehensive mathematics program is one that combines conceptual understanding and basic skills. It provides the student with a conceptual foundation and varied experiences to foster proficiency in both problem solving and computational skills. All classes from Kindergarten through fifth grade use the standards based enVision Math and Exemplars. Every classroom teacher has a teacher’s kit with guides and resources, as well as manipulative materials to support the program. At P.S. 94, the expectations for teaching math include the following:
- The games and explorations are an essential part of the program and give children important hands-on experiences and practice in computation.
· Exemplars problem solving tasks are aligned to each enVision topic throughout the curriculum.
- Whether or not a lesson specifically calls for math materials, it is important (especially in the early childhood grades) to provide math manipulatives/materials.
- A math word wall is created to develop vocabulary with visuals.
This is the eighth year that we will have “Math Teacher Leaders” in the school, one person on a grade who makes a commitment to really thinking through the math program for the grade and serving as a resource person to grade colleagues. The math teacher leaders will be attending citywide workshops. In addition, we will continue to work closely with Exemplars. A staff developer will be joining us for professional development in grades Kindergarten-Grade 5.
This year, we have curriculum maps drafted by grade thanks to Deb Armitage and P.S. 94 teachers that worked to develop these. The committee will continue to look at the math curriculum throughout the year.
This year our arts focus will continue to offer a structured progression for our children. Beginning this year, children attending our school will be guaranteed to have the opportunity from Kindergarten through grade five to receive a full array of cultural focuses.
We continue to provide opportunities for students on all grades to participate in some theatre experience. We will continue to have drama for second, third, fourth and fifth grade students. Students in grades two-five will audition for after school and Saturday Theatre.
We continue to provide opportunities for students on all grades to participate in some music experience. We will continue to have a chorus open to third, fourth and fifth grade students. We will continue to have band open to third, fourth and fifth grade students.
We are fortunate to continue with our band thanks Mr. Gonzalez for band and hope to expand the program.
Students in grades second - fifth will be able to audition for chorus, dance, theatre, and visual arts for enrichment classes during the school, after school and on Saturday. Grades three-fifth students can audition for band enrichment classes. In addition, we will continue to have Lego robotics for grades four and five, ballroom dancing for grade five and puppetry for grade one. These programs will foster the appreciation and techniques for the arts as it prepares them for Middle School.
Science continues to be a major focus in our academic program. Our science program is inquiry based. Inquiry based science instruction requires students to take control of their own learning. Students work in cooperative groups using tools to collect data, record in notebooks/journals, researching in books and computers, reading and writing science as scientists would do and exploring the natural world. We use the Interactive Science program by Pearson in grades K-5. Our Science and Resource Center (Room 208) and our Science teachers Maria Pietanza, Juliana Balgobin-Rivera, and Deborah DeMarco are available to support you. Our curriculum is aligned to the National Next Generation Standards as well as to the Common Core State Standards and Depth of Knowledge. We know that science skills can be taught through a variety of science content, and we want our students to have a broad range of experience.
Last Spring the New York State Department of Education provided us with a Social Studies Framework that we will be implementing this school year 2014-2015. The Social Studies Framework is aligned to the Common Core State Standards It contains unified themes across the grades. Each study must be inquiry based making use of primary documents so that the learning is meaningful and authentic. These studies should include independent reading of fiction and non-fiction, shared reading, and read alouds. Writing in the social studies period should include a variety of non-fiction genre studies with students. The five social studies standards form the basis for each unit of study. Students learn about the social, political, geographic, economic and historical characteristics of our families, community, city, country and world.
Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics =STEM
Excellent STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) instruction is critical to ensuring that New York City's students are college and career-ready in the 21st century. The STEM program inspires our students to become the scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs who will take our country forward. STEM is multidiscipline based, incorporating the integration of other disciplinary knowledge into a new whole. Technology helps us communicate; Math is the language; Science and Engineering are the processes for thinking; all this leads to Innovation. In the STEM environment, there is less emphasis on activities that demonstrate science content and a greater focus on those activities that allow students to engage in real world problems and experiences through project-based, experiential learning activities that lead to higher level thinking. Learning in a STEM environment compels students to understand issues, distill problems, and comprehend processes that lead to innovative solutions.
This year, we continue to implement STEM education and the best practices and strategies it promotes. Students are given the opportunity to experience, talk, debate, discover, design, create, and build. Every classroom has a smart board, desktops, and laptops. Every teacher is given a laptop and/or Ipad and is welcome to use the lab. Please see Alfredo Pelaez or John Lo to set up arrangements.
School-wide Enrichment Model
It is widely implemented as an enrichment program used with academically gifted and talented students and a magnet theme/enrichment approach for all schools interested in high-end learning and developing the strengths and talents of all students.
At PS 94 the SEM focuses on enrichment for all students through high levels of engagement and the use of enjoyable and challenging learning experiences that are constructed around students' interests, learning styles, and preferred modes of expression.
It provides enriched learning experiences and higher learning standards for all children through three goals; developing talents in all children, providing a broad range of advanced-level enrichment experiences for all students, and providing advanced follow-up opportunities for all students based on their strengths and interests.
It begins in the classroom as an enrichment program using the triad model.
- The Enrichment Triad Model was designed to encourage creative productivity by exposing all students to various topics, areas of interest, and fields of study, and to further train them to apply advanced content, process-training skills, and methodology training to self-selected areas of interest.
Accordingly, three types of enrichment are included in the Triad Model.
Type I enrichment is designed to expose students to a wide variety of disciplines, topics, occupations, hobbies, persons, places, and events that would not ordinarily be covered in the regular curriculum. In schools - that use this model, an enrichment team consisting of parents, teachers, and students often organizes and plans Type I experiences by contacting speakers, arranging mini-courses, demonstrations, or performances, or by ordering and distributing films, slides, videotapes, or other print or non-print media.
Type II enrichment consists of materials and methods designed to promote the development of thinking and feeling processes. Some Type II training is general, and is usually carried out both in classrooms and in enrichment programs. Training activities include the development of. (1) creative thinking and problem solving, critical thinking, and affective processes; (2) a wide variety of specific learning how-to-learn skills; (3) skills in the appropriate use of advanced-level reference materials; and (4) written, oral, and visual communication skills.
Type III enrichment involves students who become interested in pursuing a self-selected area and are willing to commit the time necessary for advanced content acquisition and process training in which they assume the role of a first-hand inquirer. The goals of Type III enrichment include: providing opportunities for applying interests, knowledge, creative ideas and task commitment to a self-selected problem or area of study, acquiring advanced level understanding of the knowledge (content) and methodology (process) that are used within particular disciplines, artistic areas of expression and interdisciplinary studies, developing authentic products that are primarily directed toward bringing about a desired impact upon a specified audience, developing self-directed learning skills in the areas of planning, organization, resource utilization, time management, decision making and self-evaluation, developing task commitment, self-confidence, and feelings of creative accomplishment.
Project Based Learning
PBL is an effective and enjoyable way to learn and develop deeper learning competencies required for success in college, career and civic life. Students are active, not passive; a project engages their hearts and minds, and provides real-world relevance for learning. After completing a project, students remember what they learn and retain it longer than is often the case with traditional instruction. Because of this, students who gain content knowledge with PBL are better able to apply what they know and can do to new situations. Students not only understand content more deeply but also learn how to take responsibility and build confidence, solve problems, work collaboratively, communicate ideas, and be creative innovators.
PS 94 has partnered with the Buck Institute for Education. BIE is a strong supporter of the Expeditionary Learning School’s instructional approach which is experiential and project-based, involving students in original research -- with experts -- to create high-quality products for audiences beyond the classroom. The Common Core standards emphasize real-world application of knowledge and skills, and the development of the 21st century competencies such as critical thinking, communication in a variety of media, and collaboration. PBL provides an effective way to address such standards.
Modern technology – which students use so much in their lives – is a perfect fit with PBL. With technology, teachers and students can connect with experts, partners, and audiences around the world, and use tech tools to find resources and information, create products, and collaborate more effectively.