Children are the center of all our decisions and actions. In everything we do, we reflect on how we can best teach each child. All children need different kinds of acceleration and support that can be thoughtfully provided in a "general" education classroom. Using a workshop model approach to teaching allows teachers to monitor and plan instruction for children at multiple ability levels. We build small group work and independent study into the curriculum and provide students with multiple ways to engage in the content they are learning and to practice the skills they are acquiring.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS
Literacy Our classrooms are filled with opportunities and resources for reading and writing. Each class has a well-stocked classroom library that has texts on a range of topics and at a variety of reading levels. Each year we continue to build upon the exceptional libraries for our students by seeking out newly published titles and titles that enhance our collections of books in diverse genres and about different subjects.
Reading We advocate a balanced approach to literacy using books written for children. This means that teachers read to children to model good reading strategies -- from sounding out words to learning about how we think and interact with books. Teachers also use shared and guided reading approaches to teach reading -- teaching specific reading strategies and skills to nurture independence and a love of reading. Students have time each day to read independently and are provided with ample time to talk about the books they and their classmates are reading. We believe that the best way to become a strong reader is to allow our students time to read great books, to talk about the books they are reading, and to learn strategies that help them become active and critical readers of a variety of texts -- from storybooks to non-fiction to young adult novels to electronic texts.
Writing Writing workshop is an important component of literacy instruction in every grade. Students are writing stories, informational texts, and essays as they learn to become increasingly sophisticated in their language use, structure, and craft. In writing, young children learn to communicate their ideas and experiences by drawing upon their growing understanding of what makes a story, using "storybook language," and thinking about the sounds in words. Children read their writing to each other and to larger audiences. In middle school, students continue to have time for creative writing, but we also emphasize the importance of non-fiction writing. Students learn to write in the different disciplines -- historical arguments, lab reports in science, and process writing in math.
Mechanics It is important that our students learn the conventions of written English -- both spelling and grammar. Teachers teach spelling in age-appropriate ways starting in kindergarten. During shared and interactive writing lessons and in shared reading, teachers draw student attention to the sounds we hear in words and how we use letters in a certain order to write those sounds down. High-frequency words and word families are introduced early on. As appropriate, students are guided to use resources in the classroom to spell words correctly. We also want students to think about the sounds they hear in words (this will help reinforce reading skills) and to apply their knowledge to new words. We strive for a balance among spelling words we know how to spell correctly, approximating the spelling of other words, and taking risks with vocabulary and syntax to communicate ideas clearly. We have grade-level expectations for students in terms of what words they spell correctly, for how and what spelling is taught in class, and for how students apply strategies for spelling and fixing spelling independently. Grammar and mechanics are taught beginning in kindergarten and are an important part of all writing units.
Our goal is to help our students build a solid foundation of conceptual knowledge and the process skills needed to use mathematics effectively. We use a variety of assessment tools to understand student learning and then draw upon multiple resources to help our students attain the mathematical knowledge they need in each grade to be successful in future years. We recognize that not all children learn the same way and at the same pace so teachers draw upon a range of tools to help all students achieve grade-level benchmarks and beyond as appropriate.
At PS/IS 276 we support curiosity about the world as we teach science skills, knowledge, and ways of thinking. We use the city and state requirements for science as well as national science standards to teach content (the ideas and information in science) and the process (the scientific habits of mind) of science. Whenever possible, we will be working with science experts to help us craft learning experiences that nurture critical and investigative habits of mind as well as build the content needed for future science learning. That is one of the reasons that we are excited about our working relationship with Urban Advantage, a consortium of scientific institutions in NYC that support science education in public school. All science learning at our school begins with hands-on experiences including observations, experiments, and field trips, that are enriched through reading literature on the topic.
In social studies, we examine a variety of primary sources including artifacts, images, and texts. An emphasis in all of our social studies work is to learn from multiple sources of information. We also work to create links between geography, history, and cultural studies. While the bulk of the recommended curriculum sequence in New York State focuses on local and US history, we also nurture a larger global perspective. We feel strongly that our students should develop a sense of the diversity and interconnectedness of the larger world.
Field experiences are an integral part of both science and social studies. New York City offers a wealth of opportunities for site-based learning -- from museums and zoos to parks and other science and cultural institutions -- that we take advantage of.
We are proud to offer a strong Spanish language program for our students. Spanish is one of the top six languages of the world and is an integral language of communication at the UN.
The curriculum is integrated with classroom studies and spirals through fifth grade. Starting in first grade, students in elementary school have Spanish twice a week where they learn Spanish as a foreign language. We continue our study of Spanish as a foreign language in middle school. All sixth and seventh grades are programmed to take Spanish. In eighth grade, students can opt to take Advanced Spanish which culminates in the NYCDOE high school Spanish proficiency exam. This allows students to test out of Spanish 1 in high school.
Our school’s library performs many roles in our community. Its repertoire ranges from the more traditional act serving as a place where the pursuit of knowledge and literacy skills/interests are supported, to more trailblazing goals such as serving as a hub for ideation, creation, and invention. We are proud of the FabLab and Maker Space that finds its home in our library where students learn to explore different materials, crafts, wood working, and technical design (3D printing). Most importantly, we strive for the library to be a safe and welcoming place for all our students.
SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING
Our focus as educators is to create a school climate that accommodates and supports each student. As a community, we are interested in the thoughts, ideas and feelings of all community members. We know that in order to secure the safety and learning of all learners, we must teach respect and responsibility through the creation of a climate of trust, responsibility and fairness.
ART and MUSIC
Art: Our building has two dedicated art rooms. Students have art with an art teacher each week. They work in a variety of media and create two and three-dimensional artworks. Art history and art appreciation are important parts of our art curriculum. Students study famous artists and their works to learn about line, color, texture, and how to talk about art. They then use this knowledge and these visual images to help them explore art-making on their own. Additionally, the art teacher works with classroom teachers to integrate art into what students are learning in the classroom. In middle school, our curriculum shifts to a more student-directed studio space. Students continue to build artistic skills and concepts and to apply them to the creation of their own work.
Music: Using Orff, Solfege, and other techniques, students learn music skills such as tone, color, and pitch and learn to read music. As in art, the music teacher works with the classroom teacher to integrate music into classroom studies. Our second graders partner with Carnegie Hall on the Musical Explorers program. In third grade, students begin to apply their knowledge of reading music to playing the recorder. Their ensemble work in third grade is built upon in upper grades as students try out different instruments and voice and perform together in band and chorus.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION (PE)
We strongly believe in the importance of developing healthy life habits. These include nurturing enjoyment of physical activity and building teamwork and good sportsmanship. Students have PE every week and recess every day. We have two gyms in our building (a regulation size gym and a small gym) as well as an outdoor play space. We partner with Manhattan Youth for our middle school intermural afterschool sports program. Our students participate in soccer, football, volleyball, basketball, ping pong, track and field, cross country, baseball, and softball. We are proud of the accomplishments of our student-athletes! Some of our champion teams:
- Boys Varsity Basketball MSAL Middle School Champions
- IS276 Girls Soccer team NYC Middle School Champs! (That includes all 5 boroughs!)
- Boys JV Soccer- Downtown Manhattan Champions!
- Boys Varsity Soccer- 2nd place in Downtown Manhattan
- Boys JV Football- 2nd place in Downtown Manhattan
- Boys Varsity Football- 4th place in Downtown Manhattan
- Girls Varsity Volleyball- 3rd place in Downtown Manhattan