We believe that students learn best when they are provided access points to support learning. To support this belief, we have chosen an instructional focus that ensures teachers' use of discussion protocols, depth of knowledge (DOK) wheel, and conversational prompts. We believe students need to be actively engaged in lessons and tasks that are differentiated and meet the demands of the Common Core Learning Standards.
The academic program at PS121 places an emphasis on every aspect of our student’s growth and development. We take advantage of the natural curiosity children possess by having our teachers present new information in creative ways whereby students learn through exploring and understanding using their own emotions and experiences.
Reading and Writing
We use the Wonders Reading and Writing program through grade 2, and the Reading Street program for grades 3-5. Wonders and Reading Street are both Common Core State Standard aligned programs that support all learners in the classroom. Through an integrated approach, these programs strive to build strong readers and writers. Both programs aim to establish a strong reading foundation and provide students with access to varied complex texts that they are able to connect with and respond to. Lessons are designed to introduce students to many reading skills and strategies. In using the skills and strategies learned, they are able to closely read texts and find and use text evidence to answer higher-level text-based questions. The texts students are introduced to lend themselves to effective group discussions and project-based learning opportunities. The writing workshop component promotes mastery of the writing standards. In both programs, students are required to engage in meaningful writing activities that help them grow and develop as writers. Students are introduced to many genres of writing and are required to produce writing pieces that reflect the styles of each genre. Student choice is often given in writing to engage students and develop a love of writing in all learners. Throughout these programs, teachers are given many opportunities to assess students both formally and informally to determine their level of understanding and mastery. In doing so, they are able to design their instruction to meet the needs of the students within their individual classrooms. Opportunities to differentiate instruction are present in daily lessons to target individual learning needs and styles to make reading and writing successful for all learners. Children can practice reading at home with myON.
For math instruction, we utilize the Go Math! program. Go Math! is a rigorous program designed to meet the expectations of the Common Core Learning Standards. The program provides exceptional support for teachers and students as they work together to meet the objectives of the standards. Lessons begin with concrete, context-based situations. Through the use of models, math talk, sample questions and manipulatives, the lessons progress toward more abstract problems. Students are required to use problem-solving strategies to answer high-level, multi-step word problems on a daily basis. Students can further practice math skills at Mathletics.com. Parents can help children by visiting the Go Math! Parent Academy.
At P.S. 121 we believe that everyone is a scientist. We seek to promote knowledge and love of science by emphasizing a hands-on, inquiry-based approach to learning. In the lab, students are instructed on the units of study that correspond to the New York State Scope and Sequence for their grade level. Lab investigations are scheduled regularly throughout each unit of study, increasing in complexity with each grade. Literacy is integrated within each lesson and students are exposed to a variety of non-fiction sources including media.
The scientific method is the foundation for every investigation as students work towards mastery of this tool in organizing their scientific thinking and observations. The annual Science Fair gives students in grades 3-5 the opportunity to display their use of the scientific method in organizing an independent experiment.
Social Studies? Project-based learning! In our social studies program, we focus on learning through doing, with student choice driving projects. Students explore unit content through scavenger hunts, webquests, music and role-play. Once students have acquired the unit of study, corresponding to the New York State Scope and Sequence for their grade level, each student chooses his/her own way to show what they've learned. Whether it's a play, presentation, poster or debate, our students can creatively show what they know!