B R O W N S U M M E R P R E P
P R O V I D E N C E R. I
Summer Prep is a free, three week summer enrichment program in South Providence, Rhode Island run by Brown University. Students enroll to take three weeks of enrichment classes taught by incoming Brown MAT candidates. Summer Prep is housed at Community Preparatory School. Community prep gives motivated students in grades 3-8 the opportunity to reach for their dreams, regardless of family income. Community Prep offers all the benefits of an independent school - small classes, challenging academics, and a positive, nurturing environment - combined with the cultural and economic diversity of a public school.
At Summer Prep my co teacher and I designed half day lessons for fifteen rising fourth and fifth graders. We were mentored by Simona Simpson.
I N T E R N A T I O N A L C H A R T E R S C H O O L
P A W T U C K E T, R H O D E I S L A N D
8/26/14 to 12/1/14
I have had the privilege of observing and student teaching in Crystal Oberon's third grade classroom over the past three weeks at the International Charter School in Pawtucket. ICS is a little over ten years old and is recognized nationally for its support of ELLs. The school’s charter as a non-profit was written in 2001 and it operates as a public school open to state wide enrollment. Although the majority of students come from Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls many students commute from suburban pats of the state in order to attend ICS. The school hosts two dual language programs for students from Kindergarten to fifth grade. Students are enrolled in either an English/ Spanish strand or an English/Portuguese strand through out the six years of elementary instruction. In 2013 the school went to a “Fifty Fifty” model in which students spend half the day learning in English and the second half of the day learning in Portuguese or Spanish. From many conversations with my mentor and other teachers I have learned about ICS’s philosophy of an “asset based” language program. Students who come from bilingual (or monolingual, non English speaking homes) are taught that their bilingualism is an asset rather than a deficit. Historically many public schools viewed ELLs as disadvantaged in the English speaking world. Given the changing landscape of U.S demographics, ICS has chosen to specifically emphasize the benefits of bilingualism to
Thirty percent of students at ICS receive free or reduced lunch. This number has gone down in recent years due to the increasing popularity of the school among suburban and middle class families who have sought to enroll in the school. I love the ICS classroom because it is truly a diverse mix of students that somewhat mirrors the ethnic makeup of out city itself. Students who may live in somewhat segregated communities are all learning side by side in our classroom. The majority of our third graders are Latino, many are white and but there are no African American students. I have wondered about this, Providence has both a large black community as well as an African community, why are so few of these children attending ICS?
This year the school is beginning the five year International Baccalaureate accreditation process. If ICS passes the certification process it will be the only I.B school in the state of Rhode Island. This is the first year of PARC testing for the school and all students will be testing on Chrome Books. Each classroom is equipped with an ELMO digital projector. Technology is integrated throughout the curriculum.
School norms are not highly visible throughout the community however I think the need for this is low because ICS has done such a remarkable job of instilling respect, patience and accountability in all of its students (the majority have attended since kindergarten.) I have noted however that the principle and school social worker over see lunch each day and in this way are more in touch with student behavior issues. The principle also puts herself on a “ground level” with the teachers in this way, taking on one of the least desirable jobs of the day. Students know her more closely as well which effects the overall school climate.
Bilingual Classroom Environment
Students backgrounds, experiences and interests are taken into account in a truly remarkable way in ICS’s third grade Spanish/ English classroom. In addition to Artist in Residence Mary Beth Meehan’s nationally recognized photography project the dual language aspect of instruction truly allows for all students to shine. Our classroom is an inclusion classroom. Individuals who are “super stars” (Crystal's words) during part of the day in English class often take a back seat when in Spanish class and other students who speak Spanish at home are able to take center stage. The Spanish classroom is located directly next door to the English classroom and students rotate between the two in a very efficient manner at the same time every day. One line leaves through one door while the entering line comes in through the opposite. Cubbies are shared and students take everything with them to the next class to clear a cubby space for the children entering the room.
Crystal has many simple systems that save her precious minutes every day: every student has one pencil stored at their assigned table every day; all 19 students in the class have a job; doors, light switches, snack delivery and home work checking tasks are all delegated out to the students. This gives them autonomy, responsibility and keeps the classroom running smoothly.
Choosing to embark on this path of IB certification as well as a policy of high expectations for all students is a clear indicator of the “big picture out comes for many students. All are expected to be fully prepared for college by the time they complete high school. Additionally, the big goals for third grade are making the transition from fiction to non-fiction focused reading. Students will learn the beginning stages of a research project and begin to hunt through texts for information and complete a research project on the solar system. Currently they are able to read independently for half an hour. By the end of the year they will be able to focus on silent sustained reading for an hour.
Third Grade Students
Many students speak Spanish at home and will sometimes use an English verb in the way a Spanish ver is used, for example : “this box of pencils brings a lot of colors!” In my observation during the Spanish class I saw many monolingual home English speaking students substituting whole words at times when they could not communicate. For example “yo no puedo staple mi hoja de papel.” In this way I see all student grappling with language barriers. As I learn more about theories of language acquisition I will be able to understand these and evaluate them on a case by case basis.
Social emotional development is another realm in which I am still developing a schema of understanding but it is clear to me that our group in Ms. Crystal's classroom is remarkable well adjusted and able to learn and play cooperatively. In fact, just today on the playground I watched a unique incident unfold. A group was gathered around one of the playground structures and one boy pushed another off. The boy who had been pushed, I will call him J went to a teacher and reported the incident. She then took J back over to the other boy and told them to figure out what happened. J said what he had experienced, the other boy apologized, J said it was ok an they continued to play afterwards. My mentor informed me that many conflicts are resolved this way – students (with an adult monitor) are left to solve disputes on their own. The responsibility is theirs.
WI L L I A M D ‘A B A T E E L E M E N T A R Y
O L N E Y V I L L E , R. I
1/6/15 to 4/17/15
In my Spring semester from I taught at William D’ Abate Elementary. This school has 402 students enrolled in grades K-5. The student teacher ratio 21:1 the RI achool average is 12:1. Minority enrollment is 97% of the student body. The majority os students are Hispanic, which is more than the state average of 36% minority school population. There are 51% male students and 49% female students. There are 19 teachers. The largest classes are in grades 1,2 and 3. For each grade there are 3 classes, 2 english and 1 bilingual. Various providers visit the school weekly to provide programmng for students including The College Crusade of Rhode Island, Resilient Kids, The Manton Avenue Project and The Brown Swearer Center After School. Each class has 26 students. The district uses STAR testing to evaluate students quarterly. Room 206 is not an inclusion classroom but we have 9 students with IEPs. Ninetey Three percent of students at D'abate receive free or reduced lunch. Most students come from Olneyville and walk or take the bus. D'Abate used to have students bussed in from other parts of the city. However 10 years ago it became a Neigborhood School. Consequently, attendance rates imprved. Wiiam D'Abate now has one of the highest attendance rates in the city. NCLB has been affecting the curriculum plans of all teachers since 2002 which they report as resulting in significantly more standardized testing. Most students remain at D'Abate from kindergarten through grade five.