P.S. 46 Alley Pond
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Program for students on the autism spectrum, lots of interesting extras
ELA scores lag those in math by 20 points
High test scores, a well-regarded special education program and a commitment to inclusion are the hallmarks of PS 46. The school lets students make choices about what they read and write about and encourages them to have discussions. Teaching is lively and to the point.
The school is orderly with seemingly nothing left to chance. Bulletin boards provide evidence of highly organized assignments, even for kindergartners. All grades make extensive use of Thinking Maps, which are intended to help students visualize problems.
Stamo Karalazarides, formerly the assistant principal, became principal in 2015. She replaced the scripted ReadyGen reading curriculum with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. The result, she says, is that the school challenges its students more and sets high expectations for themandthe children have responded. "Kids are much more excited about school," Karalazarides says.
The TC approach encourages children to read whole booksrather than short excerpts in anthologies or graded readers. In a 4th grade class, students split into book clubs to read books of varying difficulty, but all set in a specific historical periodsmall town America between 1849 and the mid 20th century.
A 2nd-grade class broke into small groups to debate issues that piqued student interest, such as whether children should have homework over school vacation.
Classes serve students at a range of academic levels and use the small groups to better tailor instruction. All children with low test scores or in self-contained classes for students with disabilities receive individualized extra help, particularly in phonics and math computation.
PS 46 offers hands-on work in science and technology, having students create something, such as a Play-Doh recipe or a design for a bridge. Fifth-graders take robotics, and the school offers some instruction in computer coding.
PS 46 has a visual arts teacher, and a variety of music offerings including a string ensemble (in most cases parents supply the instruments) and an after-school band. Evening programs celebrate student writers and feature math games. Students all take a 10-week musical theater program offered by a teaching artist, and 2nd-graders go swimming at nearby park. "All year long, there's a lot happening here," Assistant Principal Stephanie Famoso says.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: PS 46 has three self-contained Horizon Program classes for students with autism spectrum disorders and three Academic, Career, and Essential Skill (ACES) classes for students with intellectual disabilities or multiple disabilities. Karalazarides says students from these programs interact with other student as much as possible. The schools also has ICT team teaching classes combining students with disabilities and those in the general population at all grade levels and some self-contained classes for students with disabilities. PS 46 moves students out of the self-contained classes into team teaching whenever possible.
ADMISSIONS: Except for children in the ACES and Horizon programs, PS 46 admits only students from its zone. (Gail Robinson, March 2016)Read more