Reading and Writing Workshop
At P.S. 304 Early Childhood Lab School, we believe the heart of learning lies within literacy instruction. Aligning our learning to the pillars of reading, our students are supported to be real-life readers through the areas of Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Oral Fluency, Vocabulary Development, and Comprehension. Through a strong balanced literacy approach, our students learn the building blocks of reading as they decode text and build meaning for a literate life that unlocks a world of endless possibilities. This includes units of study that focus on thematic ideas across genres and text types that readers can apply to texts that are on readability level and based on the interests of those readers.
Implementing the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project curriculum, students are armed with strategies and skills in order to build independence through a workshop model.
The teacher begins each workshop with a 5 to 15-minute mini-lesson that provides the direct instruction component. Modeling is a critical component of the mini-lesson. Following a gradual release model, the teacher uses an “I do- we do- you do” system. Before the mini-lesson concludes, students are given a brief opportunity to engage in guided practice and “try out” the new skill or technique they were taught.
Once the mini-lesson is completed and the students are released for independent reading or writing time, the teacher conferences with students one-on-one or in small groups to further support students while also collecting assessment information. This is the true heart of the workshop as the teacher coaches and scaffolds each writer where they need support. Topics for future mini-lessons will become evident during this part of the lesson.
The teacher concludes the workshop with a “share time” during which he/she selects a few students to read a piece of their reading or writing discoveries to the class. These samples often reinforce the mini-lesson or might be other inspirational exemplars worth sharing.
In the writing workshop, students are exposed to a variety of text types that mirror real-life writing. The skills and strategies that students learn can be applied to real-life as students generate writing pieces that are applicable to the real world such as editorials, and informational and persuasive speeches.
The Science of Reading
Small Group Instruction
Mathematics is all around us! As a language all its own, the concepts of mathematics can be applied to all areas of learning through application and conceptual understanding.
With a shift in mathematical understanding from traditional to constructivist, our students are taught conceptual mathematics so they can begin their shift from rote memorization to deep understanding. By allowing students a variety of ways to achieve problem-solving, students are able to apply the mathematics from their workshops to their real lives. This is possible as students are well versed in procedural fluency, conceptual understanding, and mathematics reasoning.
Using the Common Core Mathematical Practices, students are able to:
- Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
- Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
- Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
- Model with mathematics.
- Use appropriate tools strategically
- Attend precision
- Look for and make use of structure
- Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
Science is Alive!
Science class today requires our students to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and engineers–not memorizers of facts (that could potentially change in their lifetime), not passive watchers of science, and certainly not capable of reasoning about the world they inhabit and how it works. As our students explore various content areas, they are
• Asking Questions and Defining Problems
• Developing and Using Models
• Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
• Analyzing and Interpreting Data
• Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
• Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
• Engaging in Argument from Evidence
• Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
Our Science instruction begins with the active investigation and tapping into prior knowledge followed by a question to be answered or a problem to be solved. Students then plan an investigation (or are guided on how to do one) to gather some evidence that will help them answer the question or solve the problem. After obtaining some evidence, students evaluate the data and determine the next steps— they need to revisit their model and make changes, or perhaps they need some additional trials. Finally, after evaluation and revision, students make a claim that they back up with the evidence gathered from the investigation and the reason why the evidence fits the claim.
Humanities studies the history and development of human thought and culture. By focusing on literature, history, philosophy, art, and film, humanities courses seek a broad and interconnected understanding of the human experience.
Through the integration of political activism, cultural exploration, and the study of people, our Humanities program supports critical thinking skills, social justice, and the interpretation of arts and self-expression through the exploration of various forms such as visual, theater, audio and film.
Arts Integration (Humanities)
Full STEAM Ahead!
We are so excited about the integration of STEAM instruction into P.S. 304 Early Childhood Lab School. As we know, STEAM is an approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. Using STEAM education results in students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. These are the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century! This includes integration such as:
- Pod Casting
- Movie Making
- 3D Printing
- Stop Motion Animation
- Science Experiments
- Lego Construction
Pre-Kindergarten Leaders in Learning
Our Pre-kindergarten program is inspired by a constructivist approach to early childhood education. The structure and design of lessons and units of study are created from the interest of children and have a project-based element, which incorporates skills through work with natural materials.
Before, after, and throughout instruction, the important process of documentation captures the learning of students. We document the children’s daily experiences and display them so it is easily accessible to teachers, children, and families. Through the process of documentation, we make learning visible to children and families and this allows us to plan future curriculum experiences.
We work on long-term investigative projects where children contribute to their educational experiences with questions on what to study, what to tackle in a topic and how to study it as part of a group. Through these explorations, the children are exposed to concepts of mathematics, science, and literacy and they further develop their social-emotional, language reasoning, and physical skills aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards.
We value children’s play as an important way of learning and provide selective pretend and imaginative play materials offered to children. The environment is filled with a wealth of open-ended materials, which allows for creativity for students in selecting appropriate materials to support their own learning. In addition, professional writing tools allow children to produce high-quality work within a supportive environment. The children use a variety of materials to convey their thoughts, theories, and hypotheses such as real clay, paints, recycled materials, homemade play dough, good quality professional papers, and more.