At PS1 Pluralistic School, we emphasize on the joy of reading. PS1 students are surrounded by books, and learn to reading pleasure and learning. Young students begin elementary school with a range of reading and pre-reading abilities and we accommodate all levels. Our teachers use a combination of phonics and whole language approaches to ensure development of solid reading and critical thinking skills. Reading scheduled into the classroom routine and encouraged as a daily at-home activity.
At PS1, every student is an author. For the youngest students, dictation and transitional spelling help them express their ideas in writing right from the start. It is our goal that every child find their voice as a writer. Learning grammar and spelling is integrated into the writing process rather than a stumbling block to self-expression. Throughout our program, students keep journals, participate in our Writers Workshop program and become expressive poets.
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
PS1 students develop into confident and articulate public speakers (even the most shy and quiet students). Speaking in front of an audience and becoming comfortable expressing thought and opinions are integral parts of our language arts curriculum. This important life skill is developed in a safe and joyful environment. Students also learn about active listening and supportive critical feedback. Group discussions, oral book reports, biographical enactments, costumed historical portrayals, all-school Circle Time presentations, and the Olders Cluster’s Shakespeare performances are just some of the many opportunities that promote these skills.
In addition to teaching basic Math skills, we want our students to become life-long mathematical thinkers and strategic problem solvers. We take an investigative approach to Math. Using Everyday Math as our foundation (published by the University of Chicago), we find everyday mathematical situations that take Math off the page and make it part of real life. For example, our younger students learn about attributes and logic by sorting their shoes and then communicating their findings in a Venn diagram. Older students experiment with statistics and probability by looking at the stock market.
Concepts are better understood after repeated exposures, so our students revisit topics throughout their seven years at PS1 to investigate them with increasing complexity.
Our Social Studies program is often at the core of our integrated units of study. Social Studies themes inform our choices of activities, literature, projects and enrichment opportunities. This program is structured in a series of concentric circles. Younger students learn about things close to them, like families, birth stories and heritage. As they get older, the circles expand to the Los Angeles community, then California history, American history and ancient civilizations. What the students study mirrors their widening awareness of themselves in relation to the rest of the world.
PS1 students not only learn about Science, but act as scientists. The whole school focuses on the same scientific theme every year, and the themes rotate on a two-year cycle between Physical and Earth Science and Life Science. During a Life Science year, our youngest students might investigate the structure of birds and their adaptation to different environments, while students at the next age group study life cycles by observing the hatching of fertile chicken eggs. The oldest group examines human physiology and cellular structure. All students learn to form hypotheses, collect data, look for patterns, and explain the logic behind their conclusions.
Service learning provides PS1 students the opportunity to experience first-hand how they can make a difference in the lives of others. Projects that benefit the community are a great way for students to learn about social responsibility and contribution. PS1 has a long history of supporting many groups in our area. Past service learning projects include working with organizations like Step up On Second, The Ocean Park Community Center, SOVA Food Pantry, Boys and Girls Club, Sunshine Retirement Home, and Access Books.
Field trips are an integral part of the learning experience at PS1. Students at all grade levels frequently use the city of Los Angeles as their extended campus, linking concepts and ideas from the classroom to the wider community. Recent field trips include visits to the Santa Monica Library, the California Science Center’s space shuttle Endeavor exhibit, Olvera Street’s Dia de los Muertos altars, Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook to learn about the water cycle, and of course the annual all-school camping trip to Leo Carrillo State Park.