P.S. 748 Brooklyn School for Global Scholars
Strong Leadership, creative and engaging instruction
No longer has room for pre-k
PS 748, also called the Brooklyn School for Global Scholars, is a vibrant and well-run school with strong leadership and a friendly vibe. A zoned, neighborhood school, it serves a multicultural student body, including many English language learners, from within its zone.
From the time it opened in 2010, the school has been committed to project-based learning. What you will not see here are worksheets or test prep, said the founding principal, Ursula Annio, who gets high marks from teachers and parents based on their responses to annual school surveys. Teachers develop their curriculum in-house, injecting a lot of creativity into lessons while doing a nice job of addressing both learning fundamentals and doing more complex work. Math drills, phonics and grammar lessons help shore up basic skills, but what drives instruction here is the emphasis on hands-on, in-depth and inventive work.
A history lesson may be paired with writing and art assignments. When students study the history of New York State, they research early explorers of the region and then each composes an illustrated book as well as create a doll in the likeness of the researched explorer. In math, students develop computational accuracy by completing calculation-dense projects such as designing a dream home with room-by-room specifications or plotting out a 60-kilometer bike trip complete with stops for food and rest.
In classes, theres a nice balance between independent and collaborative work. Students select books from well-stocked classroom libraries to read and write on a range of topics; they critique each others writings and present their polished pieces to the class. Instead of answering questions from a textbook, 5th-graders we observed were creating their own study guides to help them prepare for an upcoming math test.
Beginning in 3rd grade, classes are departmentalizedessentially a modified middle school format. The idea is that students learn better when taught by a teacher who spends most or all of the day focusing on specific subjects. Students, including those in special education classes, have one teacher for English and social studies and another for math and science. Special needs students have the added assurance that theyre getting the same quality of instruction as their peers in other classes because they share the same teachers. Some of these students came to us non-verbal and now they can participate in Socratic Seminar, said Annio, referring to the practice where the teacher prompts a class-wide discussion with an open-ended question, and then students comment and challenge each others responses.
In addition to taking art, music, gym and technology, students participate in weekly enrichment activities that vary by grades but include offerings such as music (recorder or keyboard), LEGO Robotics, movement and games. Teachers plan regular field trips to museums and other cultural institutions and students in all grades join in on community service projects.
Parent involvement is good and the staff puts a lot of effort into communication with parents. Teachers send home weekly newsletters and have students compile goal booklets to share with their parents. The staff invites parents to weekly talks that cover a range of academic and parenting topics. For their part, parents raise funds to support arts instruction and other programs and volunteer to help out during the school day.
The Federation of Italian-Americans runs a free after-school program onsite that is open to students in grades 1 though 5.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school offers ICT classes in the lower grades. It plans to phase out self-contained classes in the upper grades and replace them with team-taught classes, Annio said.
ADMISSIONS: Originally open to children from all over District 20, PS 748 is now a zoned, neighborhood school. It is phasing out its G&T program and no longer offers pre-k. (Laura Zingmond, March 2016)