MS 245 The Computer School
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Progressive, project-based school
No full-time music teacher; Spanish only
At the Computer School students research and write in all classes, take field trips and make things by hand—with or without technology. You are as likely to see a group of students rehearsing Romeo and Juliet or creating a podcast, as you are to see them coding or gaming on a computer.
Integration of subjects is a hallmark of the lessons: a study of Ancient Greece includes a trip the Metropolitan Museum of Art, charcoal drawings of Greek vases, and an exploration of the book Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths. “We try to help the kids make connections and be critical thinkers,” said Sara Sloves, the parent coordinator. The study ends with a Greek Olympics; teens make crests and wear armor and compete in the gym.
The school hones what it does well rather than to attempt a “smattering of this and that,” said Sloves. While there is only one foreign language offered (Spanish) and no full-time music teacher, art and technology are fully infused into the school day, and the school does not separate students by academic ability, except for 8th grade Regents Algebra.
English, social studies, Spanish, art and digital media classes mix 6th and 7th graders as a way to incorporate the youngest students into the life of the school. They follow a two-year curriculum, studying colonial history one year, immigration the next.
Instead of textbooks, students use documents, paintings or articles as sources in history, and augment studies with trips, for example, a trip to the Tenement Museum. Eighth graders visit a mosque, a Buddhist Temple, a synagogue and a church to learn about world religions. However, the lack of textbooks may be a downside depending on the child: one parent said her son failed to bring order to the mess of handouts packed in his backpack.
The building is wireless, and there are laptops and Smart Boards. Every child visits the STEAM lab (short for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) twice a week. In the lab they do a project using the game MineCraft to create a setting for the dystopian novel The Giver by Lois Lowry, among other interdisciplinary projects.
A wide variety of weekly enrichment classes include podcasting, art, gaming and sustainability for the upper two grades. Sixth graders meet weekly to discuss adjustment to middle school and other issues relevant to them.
The school’s “Respect For All” theme looks at racism, religion and “how we can be more respectful and compassionate,” Sloves said. The Spectrum club, for LGBTQ+ students and their allies, attended a gender and sexuality summit hosted by Stuyvesant High School, she said.
Special Education: There are often two teachers in the room. “We have lots of learning specialists. It’s been working really well. Kids have a lot of opportunity to refine their skills,” Sloves said.
Admissions: Four big tours are offered in the fall but are not required for admissions. District 3 priority. “If there’s a critical mass of people asking for tours, I’ll add one more smaller tour at the very end,” Sloves said. The school looks at