Academic and Innovative Practices at PS 69 Journey Prep
Over the course of the past fourteen years, dramatic changes have become evident. The cornerstone of this change has fostered a community of learners who have undertaken the holistic endeavor of making learning meaningful and engaging. A professional development initiative has been in effect which facilitates the implementation of balanced literacy, mathematics and assessment informed instruction. The professional development team uses the following models to provide a framework for school progress:
- The Renzulli School Enrichment Model,
- The philosophy of Project Zero,
- The foundational theory and practices of constructivist learning as evidenced in the educational theories of Jean Piaget and Jerome Bruner, including the Reggio Emilia inspired early childhood model.
English Language Arts
At PS 69X Journey Prep, we have created and tailored an English Language Arts curriculum based a balanced literacy approach for all students K - 5. This newly revised curriculum allows for deep conceptual learning through a variety of close reading and textual analysis based on the New York State Common Core Learning Standards.
The Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy define general, cross-disciplinary literacy expectations that must be met for students (Standards) and characteristics of CCLS instruction. The Standards are organized into four overlapping strands: Reading, Writing, Language and Speaking/Listening. Because the CCLS present an integrated model of literacy, the Standards mutually inform one another.
A successful integration of the Standards will provide students with necessary fluency, comprehension, analytic and communication skills necessary to be on track for college- and career-readiness. The integration of the Standards into instruction will also require instructional shifts, which are born out in the specific fluency, comprehension, analytic and communication expectations stated in the Standards.
As a result of CCLS-aligned instructions, Students will readily undertake the close, attentive reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex works of literature. They will habitually perform the critical reading necessary to pick carefully through the staggering amount of information available today in print and digitally. They will actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens worldviews.
At PS 69X Journey Prep, we utilize Pearson’s EnVision Common Core Math program for all students K - 5. This newly revised curriculum allows for deep conceptual learning through a variety of scaffolded math topics aligned to the New York State Common Core Learning Standards.
The main design principles in the New York State Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) for Mathematics standards are focus, coherence, and rigor. These principles require that, at each grade level, students and teachers focus their time and energy on fewer topics, in order to form deeper understandings, gain greater skill and fluency, and more robustly apply what is learned. Focus in the curriculum is meant to give students an opportunity to understand concepts and practice with them in order to reach a deep and fluent understanding. Coherence in the curriculum means progressions that span grade levels to build students’ understanding of ever more sophisticated mathematical concepts and applications. Rigor means a combination of fluency exercises, chains of reasoning, abstract activities, and contextual activities throughout the module.
Through inquiry, group work and investigation, our students engage in a “Problem of the day,” and share alternate strategies and thinking around process, calculations and explanation.
Journey Prep is fortunate to have two classrooms for science exploration —indoors and out. The indoor classroom contains tables where students work in teams conducting experiments, a garden bed for starting plants and soil exploration, windowsills filled with live plants, and displays of animals in tanks duplicating their natural environments.
Our outdoor classroom features garden beds where children grow veggies, herbs and flowers. We also have a compost bin where students learn to recycle waste into reusable soil, two ponds where students study habitat and environment—a bridge crosses one of them, a simple machine area where students learn to make work easier, a rock garden that borders a butterfly garden, and a stream table for exploration of erosion and land formations. Benches under a tree serve as a meeting area for read-aloud stories, class discussion and instruction. Trips to Stone Barn Farms throughout the seasons reinforce children's experiences of where food comes from. Our students learn science while making connections with the natural world.
Reggio Emilia Inspired Program
The Reggio Emilia philosophy was infused throughout the lower grades with the assistance of a consultant who continually underscored a constructivist approach to building a child-centered curriculum. This curriculum invokes a students’ natural curiosity in response to their natural environment as well as gives the student independent direction in self learning. Our program is inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach and we share the following beliefs.
- The Image of the child: children are strong, intelligent and capable from birth
- The Role of the parents: Parents are considered to be an essential component of our programming.
- The Physical Environment: We pay special attention to the design and aesthetics of the space. The life of the school and the work of the children are made visible through documentation displayed on the walls, which effectively communicates our values for children and adults.
- Professional Development: Teachers are researchers and collaborators. They meet often to discuss their observations and interpretations of the children’s work and growth. The results of these observations serve as catalysts of curriculum development and change.
- Pedagogy: Education is defined as research. Educators work as partners in learning with the children. Curriculum is based on interests of the children within context of the New York State and Common Core State Standards. It values their capabilities, encourages creative thinking, problem solving and children to express their thoughts and listen to the thoughts of others. Diverse materials support emergent literacy and numeracy.
Making Learning Visible explores the practices developed by the educators in Reggio Emilia pre-primary schools in Italy. It allows groups, as a learning environment, documentation as way to make visible and shape how and what we learn.
Participants work collaboratively to develop the practice of observing and documenting children’s learning and using it to examine their own questions about teaching and learning.
Currently, our belief at PS 69X Journey Prep is to show evidence of learning and meta-cognition through “visible” and viable project based tasks.
The "Arts" Are Alive at P.S. 69...
In accordance with our philosophy that art is a catalyst for learning, our state of the art Visual Arts studio opened in the fall of 2010. The experience of creating and engaging with works of art provokes and nurtures the whole child. The performing arts have been explored in great depth this year, as PS 69 partnered with various communities based organizations such as, ActiveLearning Leads to Literacy (ALL), Tribeca Film Festival, Community Works, Dwyer Cultural Center, Ballroom Dancing, and the Young People’s Chorus, to bring a chorus program to the school. Students from grades 3-5 participated in the program and performed at the 92nd Street Y, public events as well as for the parents and school community.
The School-wide Enrichment Model is based on the work of Renzulli and is used to identify each student’s personal “specialty” and interest. This data is then infused into the classroom to enhance the learning experience.