P.S./I.S. 210 The Twenty-First Century Academy for Community Leadership
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English/Spanish dual language program
Test scores on the low side
PS 210 is a dual language school housed in a sleek five-story building with dramatic views and sharp angles. Yet what's most striking is this school's family-friendly atmosphere, from its good-natured security guard, who uses the endearment "Honey," to the loyal parent book club (mostly moms) who gather weekly in its plant-filled library.
This school aims to teach children to read, write and speak fluently in Spanish and English. The majority of students come from Latino backgrounds, primarily the Dominican Republic, but also from Mexico, Ecuador and elsewhere, yet most children speak English outside classroom hours. The school attracts bilingual student teachers from nearby City University of New York, and progressive Bank Street College.
Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children spend time in classrooms stocked with blocks, toy kitchens, puzzles and Legos. Magnets, plants and pinecones line the windowsills. We also saw blocks, cubes, shapes, balancing scales and mini clocks in 1st- and 2nd-grade classroomsas well as ghostly floating specimens in small jars outside the middle school science lab.
Taken as a whole, however, PS/IS 210 is not as steeped in discovery- and play-based learning as nearby Castle Bridge, an unzoned dual language school. Kids talk and do projects in some classrooms but not so much in others. Literacy coach Christina Cepero told us one of the big goals at PS/IS 210 is to get kids talking and doing more in all classrooms, so children get many chances to practice the new language.
Some enterprising teachers tackle in-depth studies and projects about museums, computers or animals depending on kids' interests. Others lean more toward teacher-led lessons, in which kids take part in structured partner or group work. Special educators and dual language teachers have found common ground, Cepero said, in the use of hand gestures, drama and facial expressions in their teaching to help kids understand.
We saw some excellent teaching here. A dynamic Bank Street graduate asked her 5th-graders to read a passage aloud, in unison, to practice reading Spanish smoothly. Children used hand gestures when they came to punctuation marks, creating a satisfying rap-like exercise out of an otherwise dull exercise. A veteran 8th-grade teacher demonstrated how to take notes on a video about Cesar Chavez, weaving detailed information about the civil rights activist into a skills lesson. "Cesar Chavez!" said a boy excitedly, when he saw the man's photo on the screen.
Because children must read and write in two languages, the lessons felt plenty challenging. Test scores lag, which is not so unusual in the area of ELA (English language arts) at a school with many children learning English. Still, scores have room for improvement across the board. The city's2015-2016 Quality Reviewshows teachers look at student work and plan lessons together, but can do a better job of making sure children understand the lessons. There are two high school level courses, living environment and Spanish, and the principal is considering adding an advanced math class. There is only one science teacher for the building. Lower school science lessons take place in the classrooms.
The school was founded in 1997 by New Visions for Public Schools and the Community Association of Progressive Dominicans, which provides an after-school program. It moved to its current building in 2007.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: Teachers have been pleased with the progress they've seen in students with special needs. We saw special education teachers help individual children in a variety of classes. Team-teaching classes on each grade level mix children with special needs and their general education peers in one room.
ADMISSIONS: District 6 priority with room for students outside the district. There's only one pre-kindergarten class so the largest entry point is in kindergarten. Most children stay through middle school. (Lydie Raschka, February 2016)Read more