In-depth inquiry of topics that interest children builds powerful habits of mind, including curiosity, the drive for mastery, questioning, and metacognition. Designed around significant, enduring ideas (animals are adapted to survive in their environment, for example), these studies teach students how to study topics in depth, preparing them for a lifetime of learning.
Peck Slip students engage in two to three in-depth studies per year. Topics include Life Studies (such as Pets, Egg to Duckling, Birds, Primates); Systems (Bridges, Subways, Boats), Cultures (Eastern Woodland Indians, New Amsterdam, Inuit) and History (Plymouth Plantation, Colonial America, Westward Expansion). Students learn through nonfiction texts (including primary resources), trips, interviewing experts, and exploration and experimentation. Reading and writing instruction is often integrated in the content studies. In addition, students acquire, integrate, and demonstrate skills and information through the arts.
Instruction in reading and writing focuses on building strong skills in the context of making meaning. Kindergartners develop solid letter-sound correspondence, phonemic awareness, sight word vocabulary, and print concepts through direct instruction as well as reading and writing integrated in content studies. First graders are consolidating these skills and gaining fluency as readers of increasingly complex books. Second graders are developing independence as readers, learning to choose just right books on their own and deepening their understanding of various text types and structures. Students in third through fifth grade are developing sophistication as readers, building comprehension skills while studying different genres, authors, and text forms.
Comprehension plays a crucial role across all grades. In addition to teaching comprehension skills students can use in independent reading, teachers foster strong comprehension by reading interesting and challenging texts aloud.
Peck Slip students learn to write through a process that includes direct instruction in spelling patterns and grammar and a workshop approach to learning writing process, genre, and voice. Our youngest students are encouraged to use drawing and estimated spelling to express themselves while they are beginning to learn early conventions and mechanics of writing. As our students grow, they are encouraged to develop their own voice and style while meeting increasingly demanding expectations for spelling and grammar. Handwriting plays a role as well. Students in grades K – 2 learn conventional print, and in third grade begin learning cursive. In all grades Peck Slip students learn to read and write across fiction and factual genres, with the ultimate goal of developing a love of literacy and an eagerness to read and write.
Peck Slip students are expected to gain deep understanding of mathematics concepts as well as fact mastery and efficient, accurate computational skills. The math curriculum is aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards and draws from a number of resources for lessons, problem solving experiences, games, and practice opportunities. Our goal is for students to be skillful and interested in mathematics, and to see its relevance to their lives.
Students learn both traditional and alternative approaches to operating with numbers, and are expected to master addition and multiplication facts.
- Kindergarteners learn addition facts to a sum of 10 and begin learning doubles.
- First graders learn addition facts to a sum of 20.
- Second graders learn the standard algorithm for addition and develop familiarity with combinations to 10
- Third graders learn the standard algorithm for subtraction and multiplication facts to products of 100.
- Fourth graders learn the standard algorithm for multiplication and divisibility rules for numbers 1 – 12.
- Fifth graders learn the standard algorithm for division.
We request parents allow us to adhere to this timeline. Research shows that when children memorize facts and procedures before exploring their conceptual bases they are less fluent and confident as mathematicians later on.
Social and Emotional Learning
Our students’ social and emotional growth is as important as their academic development. Through a variety of experiences, students learn to be increasingly resilient, persistent, empathetic, assertive, and reflective. Teachers receive training in the Responsive Classroom approach, and lead classroom activities and discussions with the aim of developing community and individual awareness. Social and emotional growth is fostered directly, through class conversation, and through experiences like collaboration, play, and the content study curriculum.
Play is a powerful, cognitively-rich activity that also happens to be extremely fun. Play promotes social and emotional growth as well as the development of executive function, the set of internal controls that are the foundation for school success.
Play is an integral part of the early childhood curriculum. Each day kindergarteners have Worktime – 45-60 minutes of unstructured but highly supervised playtime – during which they play alone or with classmates at activities including blocks, dramatic play, the water/sand table, construction, art, puzzles and games. First graders have Worktime three to four times a week.
As children get older, play is integrated into the social-emotional curriculum and the content studies. Students engage in play activities to build community, develop interpersonal relationships, and deepen understanding of curricular themes. For example, students may dramatize a social scenario to explore appropriate and empathetic ways to react. Or they may build models, write plays, or create board games in the context of a content study.
PreK – grade 1 students also have one period a week of play with the Imagination Playground big blocks in the movement room.
Peck Slip students receive visual arts and music & movement instruction once a week, and a storyteller visits once a month. Dance, theater and music are also integrated in classroom activities, often in connection with the content studies. Arts curricula are aligned with the New York State Blueprint for the arts, and include both technical instruction and arts appreciation.
Peck Slip Students have physical education at least once a week in the movement room. PE includes wellness education, aerobic exercise, and developmentally-appropriate experience with fairness, team play, and winning and losing. All students have recess midday, going outside unless it is raining, snowing, or exceptionally cold. Prekindergartners through first graders have an additional recess either mid-morning or in the afternoon.
Response to Intervention (RtI)
When students are struggling to meet grade level expectations, they are provided with small group instruction in their areas of weakness. Parents are informed about the extra support and receive additional information about their child’s progress. If we find that a student is still having trouble keeping up in spite of this additional help, parents can request an evaluation to determine whether their child qualifies for special education services.
When students qualify for special education services they are provided with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that is created by a school-based support team in collaboration with the student’s parents. This is a legal document that mandates the supports a child is entitled to receive. Supports typically include instruction from a special education teacher, speech and language support, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and counseling. Frequency, group size, and location are determined by the team with the parents. IEPs are reviewed annually. Parents can request additional reviews if they feel that an IEP is not serving their child’s needs.
Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT)
In ICT classrooms a mixture of typically-developing students and students with IEPs are taught by two full time teachers, at least one of whom is a certified special educator. The teachers collaborate to ensure the classroom curriculum is accessible, engaging, and challenging for all students. While Integrated Co-Teaching is a classroom structure designed to support students with disabilities, studies show it benefits students of all abilities. Not only do all students develop their capacity to relate and empathize with each other, they all benefit from increased opportunities for small group instruction. The two teachers use a variety of models for instruction:
- Team Teaching: Both co-teachers deliver instruction to the whole group at the same time.
- One Teach, One Observe: While one teacher leads the lesson, the co-teacher collects specific data about the students, the co-teacher or the environment.
- Station Teaching: Teachers divide content and students. Groups of students rotate through stations in which they work on non-hierarchical activities.
- Parallel Teaching: Two co-teachers teach the same content to separate groups simultaneously.
- Alternate Teaching: One teacher works with the large part of the class while the co-teacher works with a smaller group.
- One Teach, One Assist: one teacher leads instruction while the co-teacher circulates providing unobtrusive help as needed.
Field trips are an important part of our content studies. Teachers organize and arrange field trips to enhance, deepen, and support what students are learning. They are not optional excursions. They range from walks around the neighborhood to visits to museums, parks, and other landmarks, big and small, in our incredibly culturally rich city. Classes travel on foot or by subway, school bus, or chartered bus, depending on the destination.
Teachers will notify you of upcoming trips and give information on lunch, transportation, admissions fees, etc. Please do not hesitate to inform the teacher if you are requesting assistance to cover trip costs or fees. All trips require signed permission slips. Children who do not bring in a signed slip cannot go on the trip. Please be sure to get permission slips in on time.
Beginning in first grade Peck Slip students receive homework, consisting mostly of reading at home. Teachers may also assign additional math practice or work that supports the content studies. Your child’s teacher will provide each family with a copy of the homework policy in September. Unless otherwise specified, children should be able to complete homework independently, and it should not be onerous. Please inform your child’s teacher is s/he is struggling with homework.
We do not place a heavy emphasis on homework at Peck Slip, and you will not see a lot of it coming home. Our homework policy is based on the available research on homework, which suggests that there is little correlation between homework and academic success in the elementary years (with the exception of reading. More reading = better readers). Instead, we encourage students to engage in free creative play, organized enriching activities, play dates (the best!), and age-appropriate chores (setting and clearing the table, feeding pets, tidying their rooms…). Children should definitely practice self-help skills (dressing themselves, putting on shoes and jackets, taking off boots, cleaning up after themselves).