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Teaching & Learning Blog

March 12, 2024

Dear families,

We hope you enjoy this latest edition of LEARN Team News. Read below for updates in the areas of Math, Literacy, and Social Emotional Learning.

A former PS1 teacher and Curriculum Coordinator recently wrote an article about the social emotional challenges many children have faced following the pandemic. I thought you would find it interesting, so I have attached a link here.

We are fortunate that our students at PS1 have the expertise and support of Genevieve, and our faculty and staff, to plan curriculum for building the important skills they might have missed out on.

Deirdre Gainor
Director of Teaching & Learning


Bree Miller, Math Specialist

Teaching mathematics is incredibly complex. Our teachers work extremely hard to not only have a deep understanding of mathematical knowledge, but also to teach in ways that are effective in developing this understanding for all students. We ground our practices in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’s ‘Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices.’ These eight practices help to create meaningful experiences in math. An example of one of these practices is that teachers will use and connect mathematical representations.

In all classrooms there is a strong focus on visual representations in math as it is often abstract in nature. Students in Middles are using open arrays to make sense of multiplication. This is a powerful tool because it models what is happening during multiplication and supports development of strategies such as repeated addition and partial products. Students started this activity by looking at smaller arrays and then building to a visual of 10x18 as (10x10)+(10x8). 


Noelle Orsini, Learning Specialist

The Magic of Reading Aloud to Our Children

If you have ever joined one of Christina’s library classes at PS1 or had the opportunity to sit in one of our classrooms during a read aloud, you have seen and experienced the magic of adults reading aloud to children. This magic is unlocked as the child hears the adult read with expression and awe as their words bring the pages of the story to life.

The benefits of reading aloud to our children throughout elementary school are priceless. When we bring the pages of a story to life and share experiences of characters different from us, we build empathy and connection. A regular 10-15 minutes read-aloud time in our nightly routine gives us opportunities to model our compassion and wonderings about the world and ourselves. We allow our children to comprehend intricate text they don’t have access to yet.

Mem Fox, an Australian writer, says that the secret to reading is understanding print, understanding language, and understanding how the world works. Reading aloud to our children cracks these secrets.

Read Aloud Suggestions:
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
Koala Lou by Pamela lofts
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis
Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate
When you Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller


Genevieve Mow, Child Development Specialist

Cultivating Essential Life Skills Through Play: The Power of Cooperative Musical Chairs

Group activities offer more than mere entertainment; they're opportunities for children to develop crucial life skills. Navigating challenges together, like solving puzzles or completing tasks, teaches teamwork and the resilience that comes from collaboration.

In Indigo, we've reimagined the classic game of musical chairs. Here, it's not about winning or losing; it's about teamwork. Every child works together to ensure everyone finds a seat when the music stops. As chairs dwindle, creativity blooms as students strategize to include everyone.

Reflection is integral. We pause to discuss how game skills translate to interactions with friends, on the playground, and at home. Questions like, "How did it feel as chairs decreased?" or "What were some ways people helped each other?" prompt insightful conversations.

Through this adaptation, children learn cooperation, communication, and focus in a fun, engaging manner. As they play, they're not just having fun; they're building skills that will serve them throughout life.


Feb. 12, 2024

Dear families,


At this midyear point in the school year, I have been reflecting on the stimulating hours I spend before and after school with our faculty as they design the learning experiences for our students. I love to watch the ways our PS1 faculty share resources and professional development takeaways. They brainstorm together, consider the why of their learning goals, while utilizing our plentiful resources and instructional materials. What is exciting at PS1 is that our teachers not only work hard to know their curriculum, they work hard to know their students so they can meet their individual needs by responding and integrating their interests into the lesson plans. We want our children to be able to grapple with big questions as they grow their habits, skills and mindsets, but also relate their learning to their own purpose in life. Those unseen hours of planning make all the difference in the classroom. It is the first domain in the framework for teaching. In the next LEARN Team News I will talk about the second domain.


We hope you enjoy this latest edition of LEARN Team News. Read below for updates in the areas of Math, Literacy, and Social Emotional Learning.


Deirdre Gainor

Director of Teaching & Learning


Bree Miller, Math Specialist

Children have a natural tendency to want to make sense of the world around them. When it comes to learning mathematics, we want to encourage that same approach. Our goal is for students to make sense of math by questioning, problem solving, reasoning, explaining, and more. Learning mathematical procedures is very important, but focusing only on procedures means that students may be able to perform the steps without truly comprehending why they are doing them. This limits their ability to apply their understanding to new problems or other mathematical concepts. Additionally, this makes it challenging for students to find and correct their mistakes. In order to cultivate this deep understanding, teachers use tasks that promote learning and reasoning, not just rote performance. Here’s an example of a rich task where students can practice their triple digit addition. I encourage you to give it a try!


Noelle Orsini, Learning Specialist

The Benefits of Multisensory Instruction

Honoring the individual is a fundamental aspect of PS1’s educational philosophy. A multisensory approach to learning does just that, it honors the individual by engaging all learners with visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile modalities to strengthen their unique learning strengths and stretches.

Some of the ways our students actively engage in learning to read are by visually seeing how their mouths move when they make individual sounds, using kinesthetic hand movements that mimic the movement of their lips and tongue, and tracing letters on different surfaces while saying the sounds.

In our Structured Literacy Program we:

  • Identify the articulatory features of sounds,
  • Tap out letters and sounds,
  • Blend and segment the individual sounds in a word,
  • Air write words;
  • And use the sand tray for writing.

Multisensory instruction gives the learner multiple ways to access the material, to make connections, gain new knowledge, maintain it, and express it.





Genevieve Mow, Child Development Specialist

Nurturing Resilient Learners: Connecting SEL and Science to Manage Stress

Understanding stress and its impact on the brain is essential for our children's growth. Science and social-emotional learning (SEL) provide valuable insights into this connection, equipping students with tools to navigate challenges with resilience.

In Olders 5, lessons have integrated SEL and science with discussions about the brain's role in stress management. The brain's response to stress, driven by the amygdala or "lizard brain," activates fight, flight, or freeze responses. By merging SEL and science, we help students recognize when their "lizard brain" is dominant and teach strategies to calm this instinct.

Through activities like mindfulness, deep breathing, time management, and cognitive reframing, students can learn to regulate emotions and engage the prefrontal cortex for rational decision-making. Understanding the brain's response to stress empowers children to take control of their emotional well-being and academic success.

SEL and science can be powerful tools to nurture resilient, confident learners who thrive in the face of challenges.



Dec. 8, 2023

Dear families,

On Friday, December 8th, our community circle time was dedicated to the rights of children as laid out in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Whenever we tackle the big ideas of the world we bring those ideas back to the children’s own lives. Since every classroom at PS1 works together to draw up what they call their classroom agreements, or their classroom promises, or classroom constitution, they already have begun the journey of understanding why rights are so important. The children participate in creating the culture of their classroom to ensure they are all working together to build an environment for optimal learning. A place where it is safe to make mistakes, to do your best work, and to support your fellow learning mates.

At our circle time each class shared a few articles from their class constitution (click here to read more). It made me think about the work staff did together this summer to lay out our values and commitments to each other, recognizing this constitution would never be a set document but an ever evolving one as we work together to create our optimal working environment.

Here are a few highlights from our portrait of a PS1 Staff Member:

Value, Respect and Celebrate our Differences
Make Space for Inquiry/Share our Why
Foster a Collaborative and Trusting Community

We hope you enjoy this latest edition of LEARN Team News. Read below for updates from our LEARN Team, in the areas of Math, Literacy, and Social Emotional Learning.

Deirdre Gainor
Interim Director of Teaching & Learning


Bree Miller, Math Specialist

In a Cognitively Guided Instruction classroom, we are supporting students to make sense of mathematical skills and concepts through many different experiences. One of which is problem solving. Important skills and number facts are learned through this engaging process and are therefore mastered with a deeper understanding rather than only in isolation. You might hear your child talking about strategies in math and wonder exactly what this is referring to. They could be thinking about the best way to solve an operation such as addition, multiplication, etc., or they might be brainstorming ways to solve a story problem. These become more automatic, efficient, and abstract over time. Here is an example of a problem. 

Meghan has 8 neighbors. She wants to bake 3 cookies for each neighbor. How many cookies does she need to bake?

To comprehend this problem, students will need to understand what the question is asking. One visualization might be of Meghan handing out 3 cookies to each of her 8 neighbors. For students with exposure to multiplication, they might recognize that they can represent this problem with the expression 8 x 3. If they aren’t at this level of understanding yet, they can use a more concrete approach that will showcase what is really happening when we multiply. Using problem solving strategies, students in the Youngers classroom were able to do just that. After reading the problem together and visualizing what was happening, students talked about ways to solve this problem such as drawing a picture, using tools, acting it out, etc.

Here are some ways students solved this problem:


Using unifix cubes to represent cookies and giving 3 to each of the 8 neighbors.


Skip counting by 3’s eight times to get to 24.


Drawing a picture of 8 neighbors with 3 cookies each. 

After finding a solution, students walked around and listened to their peers' strategies. They explained their thinking, made connections, and compared their own work. This lesson provided so many rich opportunities for students to explore and make sense of math!  


Noelle Orsini, Learning Specialist

“It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.” - Oscar Wilde

Wow, December already! The first three months of the school year have flown by and have been filled with so much joy and awe. The Bridge Cluster has been deeply engaged in reading non-fiction texts. The students have been learning about many interesting topics such as Brain Power, Atoms, Levers, and How to Make Spaghetti. They have been examining text features such as, the table of contents, glossary, index, bold words, headings, subheadings, and supporting visuals. 

Reading from an array of non-fiction has many benefits; improved vocabulary, a broader view of the world, as well as inspiring new ideas/interests, and providing opportunities to explore new places. The more we expose young readers to different forms of non-fiction the more confident they become!

How to encourage your children to explore non-fiction at home:

  • Read aloud interesting facts from a variety of books, papers, magazines
  • Share your curiosity and wonder about the facts you learn
  • During library visits look for non-fiction books that spark interest in you and for your child

See below for some photos of our Buddy classes reading together!





Genevieve Mow, Child Development Specialist

In the Middles Cluster, students engaged in a hands-on lesson exploring the emotional impact of unkind words. A tactile and visual activity accompanied the reading of "Chrysanthemum" by Kevin Henkes, a tale promoting identity, relationship skills, and self-management. The story follows Chrysanthemum, a mouse who is facing teasing for her unique name. The lesson involved each student crumpling a tissue heart when encountering unkindness in the book, visually emphasizing the effect of hurtful words on our emotional well-being.

Following the reading and activity, a reflective discussion prompted students to share instances of kindness, observe the transformation of the heart throughout the story, and brainstorm ways to integrate empathy into daily school life. This interactive approach not only deepened understanding but also encouraged students to connect the narrative to their own experiences. The activity with the crumpled heart showed well how unkindness can have a lasting effect.

The lesson involved a combination of reading, hands-on activities, and group discussions, all aimed at creating a friendly and understanding learning experience. 




Nov. 10, 2023

Dear families,


System - a group of components that integrate and function together in order to achieve a specific goal.


This year at PS1, our school wide theme is Systems. Our classes and clusters are enjoying this opportunity to explore and uncover the myriad systems in science, in culture, writing, and nature. It is fascinating to observe the spiraling complexity increase from the Youngers cluster to the Olders cluster as our children begin to notice and make connections. Curiosity abounds!


As Olders are exploring what it means to be a community, one of their defining questions is, "How do the attributes and interactions of individuals within a system define a system?" We are intrigued to find out what they discover. I am looking forward to learning more from them at the Olders 4 Circle Time next week!


We hope you enjoy this latest edition of LEARN Team News. Read below for updates from our LEARN Team, in the areas of Math, Literacy, and Social Emotional Learning.


Deirdre Gainor

Interim Director of Teaching & Learning



Bree Miller, Math Specialist

The school year is well underway with tons of learning and growth happening every day. While our mathematicians are all learning different content at each cluster, there are many similarities in how all students are developing in math. I wanted to share about one of these similarities that we refer to as The Standards for Mathematical Practice. These are eight practices that all students are learning from Youngers to Olders:

  • Make sense of problems & persevere in solving them
  • Reason abstractly & quantitatively
  • Construct viable arguments & critique the reasoning of others
  • Model with mathematics
  • Use appropriate tools strategically
  • Attend to precision
  • Look for & make use of structure
  • Look for & express regularity in repeated reasoning

Having these research based standards around math practices for all students provides consistency, development of critical thinking and problem solving, well-defined benchmarks for math proficiency, and so much more. These practices also support students in deeply understanding the Standards for Mathematical Content which lays a strong foundation for future mathematics. You can read more about these standards on the California Board of Education website.

Here’s a peek at some of the ways our classrooms are developing these practices! 


Olders students using appropriate tools strategically to find the surface area of a bookshelf before exploring polyhedra.


Youngers students construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others during a warm up routine by sharing their thinking and practicing agreeing or disagreeing with classmates.


Middles students making sense of a problem and preserving in solving it by taking part in brainstorming various strategies and thinking deeply about which is best and why.


Noelle Orsini, Learning Specialist

Happy November! It is so great to be working in all of the classrooms and be part of the learning and growth that is happening daily.


One exciting part of my day is sharing in the implementation of the structured literacy instruction with the Youngers cluster, which includes foundational reading elements such as the study of sounds and the study of sound-symbol associations, along with learning to match the letter, sound, and the spelling. 


The students are currently working on word identification and decoding strategies. These literacy elements are taught in a sequential order and build on concepts previously learned. As these bridging processes handle both word level features and meaning, it is pure joy to work with the students and witness their excitement as they decode and read new words.


Suggestions for Reading At Home:

Make reading a part of your day. Establishing a routine helps ensure that reading happens and creates anticipation for the whole family.


Ask Questions.  “I wonder what will happen next?” “Did you notice something familiar?” “Why do you think they did, said, or thought that?” Wondering expands comprehension.


Keep reading. Listening, reading, discovering the wonders in books is the key to unlocking a life of learning pleasure.





Genevieve Mow, Child Development Specialist

Building an SEL Toolbox:


In the Youngers cluster, students have been on an exciting journey exploring the tools that grown-ups use to fix and build things, and this adventure has led us to understand that a toolbox is much like a treasure chest filled with helpful items.

As part of our lesson, we had special guests, Brad, Carlos, and Michael, join our classes to share what's inside their toolboxes. The children were eager to learn about their jobs, the contents of their toolboxes, the problems they fix, and how these real tools work. It was an engaging and enlightening discussion.

Our conversation then naturally transitioned to the tools that the children themselves need to assist with their learning. The children had a robust discussion and enthusiastically listed items like pencils, markers, paper, glue, books, games, and most importantly, the teachers who guide and support them on their educational journey.

Last, we stretched the metaphor of concrete tools to the skills people need every day. We explored the idea of tools that can help us manage our big feelings and help us to identify our emotions. To take this concept further, we are beginning to embark on a creative journey to build a Social and Emotional Learning Toolbox. This toolbox will equip our young learners with essential skills to understand and manage their emotions, develop self-awareness, and build positive relationships. 


Here are some ways to start a conversation with your child about the SEL Toolbox:

  • Can you share with me one of the tools in your SEL Toolbox that helps you when you're feeling upset or sad?
  • What's your favorite SEL tool, and how does it make you feel when you use it?
  • Can you explain how the 'deep breathing' tool from your SEL Toolbox works? When do you like to use it?

Also, PS1 teachers Melva, Madeline, Holly F. and Maren attended a two-day conference led by @instituteforsel last week, entitled, Whole Community Approach to SEL. See below for some photos of them in action!





Oct. 6, 2023

Dear families,


What joy to be back in the PS1 community and working with Susannah, our new Head of School, the LEARN team, and our dedicated faculty and staff. The LEARN team’s main focus is to give our full support to our teachers as they create their curriculum in alignment with PS1’s philosophy. Our teachers are experts at discovering and challenging their student’s stretches and strengths and we are thrilled to be able to contribute to their efforts. In order to develop a deeper understanding, for all families, of the work happening here at school we look forward to sharing with you regularly through the LEARN Team News this year. Our LEARN team consists of Susannah, our Head of School, myself, Deirdre, Interim Director of Teaching and Learning, Genevieve, our Child Development Specialist, Noelle, our Learning Specialist, and Bree, our Math Specialist. Here are Genevieve, Noelle and Bree to tell you more about what they are up to.


Deirdre Gainor

Interim Director of Teaching & Learning



Bree Miller, Math Specialist

It’s been a wonderful transition into the PS1 community. In my role as Math Specialist, I have been busy collaborating with teachers and clusters, engaging in math lessons in all classrooms, and getting to know our amazing students. There are so many fantastic things happening, and I wanted to share information about an important part of our math program called Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI). 


CGI is an approach to teaching math that focuses on understanding how children think about and solve mathematical problems. This framework emphasizes that every student is capable of learning math and supports the unique cognitive processes and strategies children naturally employ when solving math problems, helping them to develop a deeper conceptual understanding of mathematics. This approach guides teachers' instruction in the classroom. An example of this is how teachers utilize a warm up activity called “Notice and Wonder.” Students are shown an image, a set of numbers, etc., and then take the lead in identifying patterns, making connections, and participating in discourse around what they see. This often leads to the generation of various strategies or ideas and showcases multiple pathways to understanding.


This activity allows so much insight into students’ thinking and problem solving abilities. Here are a few examples to try with your child. Show an image below  and ask the simple questions, “What do you notice? What do you wonder?” You may be surprised at where their thinking leads you! 


Also, THANK YOU to all the mathematicians who came to our first Morning Math! The studio was overflowing with problem solving. We will have one more Morning Math in October next Thursday, 10/12 8:10-8:40 am. All students and grownups are invited, we hope to see you there!

Look below for examples of problems you might have seen.







Noelle Orsini, Learning Specialist

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” - Dr. Seuss

I am so looking forward to this year! As the learning specialist I work with all the teachers to help provide the support students’ need to flourish and grow. After analyzing student work to determine key areas of academic focus, we use multi-sensory and research-based practices to reinforce and explicitly teach foundational learning skills. It gives me so much joy to participate in the Aha! moments that happen every day as our resilient and courageous children take on new concepts and practice their new found skills.


A fundamental part of the work that I do with students is to help them understand how their brains work and to reinforce the importance of having a growth mindset.


Here are some fun facts about the brain that you can discuss with your family at home:      

  • An adult brain weighs about three pounds, that’s about the size of a pineapple. 
  • Reading out loud helps your brain grow. When we read out loud we are using different brain circuits than when we read silently. 
  • The human brain produces about 60,000 thoughts a day.  Choose inspiring and loving ones!
  • Your brain is faster and more powerful than a supercomputer.





Genevieve Mow, Child Development Specialist

“It is vital that when educating our children’s brains, we do not neglect to educate their hearts.”  - Dalai Lama

Hello everyone! As your "feelings friend," I am excited to share with you some of the lessons, discussions, and activities that the students are going to participate in this year during social emotional learning in class.

But first, what is social emotional learning? SEL is a part of your child's education that goes beyond academic subjects. It focuses on developing essential life skills that help children succeed in school, relationships, and life in general. SEL encompasses a range of abilities including self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and effective communication.

I partner together with each teacher team in guiding and supporting students to recognize and manage their emotions, make responsible decisions, and establish positive relationships with their peers and adults. By nurturing these skills, SEL can foster emotional resilience which can enable students to cope with challenges more effectively and support overall well-being.

Family engagement is key. Your insights and perspectives are important to informing, supporting, and sustaining the SEL efforts at school.

So, where do we start? Emotion check-ins are a wonderful way to build emotional vocabulary. Regularly ask your child how they're feeling and why. You can encourage them to use a wide range of emotion words to describe their feelings. This is the first step to building self-awareness.

At the start of the year, we begin to build self-awareness with the younger students by reading books and introducing the mood meter. Ask your child about the color quadrants and share your feelings as well!

With the older children, we begin to discuss self-awareness in the context of digital wellness and citizenship. Ask your child: What does media balance mean to you?

It's been a great start to the new year ... I look forward to sharing more SEL strategies with you in the coming months!




Historical Posts from the Teaching and Learning Program:

The WHY Behind Multi-Age Groupings

The WHY Behind Multi-Age Groupings

Most of us grew up in age-segregated classes, as did our parents and perhaps, our grandparents. This history makes it easy to assume that such a school structure is both natural and universal. The age-stratified culture in which we educate our children is actually a product of the 20th century.

Early in the history of the US, schools were one-room schoolhouses with age diversity. In the dedicated one-room school building that emerged in the eighteenth century, a full-time teacher would use individual and tutorial methods to instruct a group of 10 to 30 pupils ranging in age from 6 to 14 years.

This one-room classroom practice started to end in 1843 when Horace Mann, the Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, visited Prussia and saw schools in which children were “divided according to ages and attainments." This type of segregation seemed to him an excellent model for preparing a populace for the growing factory economy. By 1852, classrooms in the US were more narrowly segregated by age than ever before. Ability grouping, which is so much a part of how we envision classrooms, gained popularity after about 1920. This further reduced the variety present in classrooms.

In 1963, Goodlad and Anderson looked at the current research in child development and proposed that the rigid age/grade system was not designed to accommodate the realities of child development, including children's abilities to develop skills at different rates and at different levels. The graded system does not take into account differences in children's achievement patterns. Goodlad understood that learning is not linear and children typically progress at different rates in different areas of study and at different times in their development. A traditionally graded school assumes that all children will progress through each area of study at the same pace. In this system, a child has no freedom or flexibility to develop at the pace that is optimal for their needs. 

In a non-graded school like PS1, there is a longitudinal concept of curriculum and planned flexibility in grouping. We describe a student’s trajectory at PS1 as one seven-year experience. The curriculum includes continual and sequential learning, with behavior and content running vertically through the curriculum. Grouping is flexible and changes to meet student needs. Groups are organized around interest groups or work-study groups or achievement, or a combination of the three with some groupings being heterogeneous (mixed levels) in skills and other groups being homogeneous (similar levels) in skill levels. Teachers adjust their lessons to ensure that students grasp concepts, skills, and content through their entire educational journey.

Multi-age groupings are (and always have been) an integral part of the structure of the PS1 learning experience. Just as the research suggests, we see how our multi-age groups enhance learning on a daily basis. Year after year, and now generation after generation, parents come back and tell us that a two-year age range was the most important piece that made their children the well-rounded, well-spoken, confident, comfortable, agile people they have become.

Source: Author (2002). Title. In Daniel Schugurensky (Ed.), History of Education: Selected Moments of the 20th Century [online]. Available:  (date accessed).




It seems straight forward. We can all picture balance. As a write this the 2021 Summer Olympics and Paralympics are happening. We watch gymnasts, swimmers, and soccer players balance their bodies in every direction to optimize their opportunity for success. If we look closely at our REALM model for social and emotional learning it provides us a guide for balance as well:

R: Routine
E: Energize
A: Appreciation
L: Lighten
M: Mindfulness

If we all practiced these all of the time we would, I am certain, feel balanced.

At PS1, balance relates to our commitment to see each student as a whole person and to help them understand and achieve academic, social, and emotional balance. We understand the duality of balance in terms of what we need as individuals and in within our community. In their seven-year journey at PS1, our students develop their own understanding of what they need to feel balanced within themselves and within the community. Our Vision Statement, “Celebrate the many, Build one,” supports this concept of balance between community needs and individual needs.

The underlying goal of balance is embedded in many PS1’s teaching practices. A commitment to teaching the whole child means that teachers strive to balance social-emotional with academic goals. In each classroom, we mix collaborative learning and individualized learning. There is also balance during the school day in terms of both active and quieter periods. 

Balance is something that we hope each individual child to understand, appreciate and achieve.










Balance is the result of collaboration and cooperation.










We value mental balance.
















Physical balance.















And social-emotional balance.









As we look forward to the 2021-22 school year, we will strive to create and maintain balance in the midst of a changeable environment. I am excited about our faculty and the balance of experiences and interests that they bring to our students. We remain the center of the seesaw, that holds steady.




At PS1 Pluralistic School, we celebrate childhood. What does this mean? It means that we understand that one’s childhood is a unique period of life. Erik Erikson, a renowned 20th-century child development psychiatrist and theorist, called this time in a child’s life Industry vs. Inferiority. Children between approximately 6 to 12 years old want to feel success and agency connected to their tasks. This ranges from feeling respected when discussing why an author would make a house disappear to making up their own mathematical word problems to writing and mailing letters to the president about climate change to making friends. A successful resolution of this stage produces children who are ready for the highs and lows of adolescence and the identity crises that it brings. They feel solid and secure within themselves.

Something that every educator, parent, and carer of children is thinking about is how this “year like no other,” will affect our children. The thinking and research will be ongoing. As we have said at PS1 since March of 2019, the social and emotional health and well-being of our students remains central. As we come to the end of the 2021 school year, I had a wonderful experience with some students in Olders that indicated that we have had success.

Last week, I enjoyed listening to a group of Olders students pitch their ideas for their end-of-the-year projects. These are passion projects and students get free choice about the topic. Some of the ideas were more thought out than others. Some were positively goofy. The passion was there in all of them, and all of them clearly communicated that these were the ideas and aspirations of children.

For each pitch, one or two students shared their ideas with their teachers and me. They ranged from writing a “great great” story to developing the best recipe for oatmeal cookies, from re-creating a TV show to animating the Norse myths. What was evident in each child’s pitch was their childness, their enthusiasm for their idea and its possibilities, their unique view of the project and of themselves.

When the pandemic hit, schools and educators were thrown a knotted mess of a curveball that upended our lives. We were not alone in wondering about how the pandemic was going to affect these children who are our students. What I saw this week is that however the pandemic impacted these students at PS1 it had not robbed them of their childhood. Their industry and belief in themselves is alive and well. The possibilities are endless, and they are ready to grow into happy, healthy adults. 

Scaffolding vs. Hovering: Tips to Support Your Child's Learning

Scaffolding vs Hovering: Tips to Support Your Child's Learning

It's been about 8 months since our world has changed. Parents have become our partners in education. In this partnership, there is no perfect formula... the most important thing to remember is that your relationship with your children is more important than being perfect at distance learning. We all want our children to become self-reliant learners...but how do we support this from home?





When we think about scaffolding, we might imagine supporting a structure until the foundation is secure.

When we think about hovering, we might imagine an object lingering or staying still in one place. 

If our goal is to support self-reliant learners, then we want to scaffold our children so that they will build a strong foundation for their learning future. 

The following are tips to support your child’s distance learning at home. This is meant to be a family tool-box of things to try. It is not comprehensive and not all of it will work for your family. Look at this as a menu and use what works for you.

· Expectations: Together with your child, set behavioral expectations for independent work and Zoom time and review them daily. 

· Goals and Progress: Write a simple list of activities that your child needs to complete each day. 

· Be solution-focused: Let your child know when and how they can ask for help -be close but not there. What are 3 things they can do before they come to you for help?

· Time management: Use of a timer can help your child to stay focused for a period of time. Start small!

· Managing Frustration: Help your child to describe a problem and express their feelings (I feel...,when...). Ask teachers and others for help.

· Connection: Each day, try to connect with your child without any distractions. Highlight positive experiences. If you have time, do an activity together that your child selects. 

Pandemic parenting is about your well-being and the well-being of your family. We acknowledge and honor the uniqueness of each family in our PS1 community and we hope that you will find these tips helpful.


Nancy and Genevieve

Co-Teaching at PS1

Co-Teaching at PS1

At PS1, two lead teachers in every classroom are central to our mission. This model of collaboration occurs at every level of the school. In the education research literature, two lead teachers in the classroom are called co-teachers. Co-teaching is defined as the practice of pairing teachers together to share the responsibilities of planning, instructing, and assessing students. In a co-teaching setting, the teachers are considered equally responsible and accountable for the classroom. Two teachers leading a class opens up many opportunities for students as well as the teachers. Two significant benefits of co-teaching are expanded opportunities for one to one interaction between students and teachers, and the chance to learn from teachers who have different ways of thinking and teaching.

In PS1's co-teaching model, lessons are more robust and creative, due to teachers sharing the planning process. Teachers support one another by complementing each other's strengths and weaknesses, building camaraderie, and dividing the classroom workload. Our values of collaboration and cooperation are not just instructed but modeled for students by the adults. This model of teaching is challenging! For it to work, partners must establish trust, develop and work on communication, share the chores, celebrate, and work together to creatively overcome the inevitable difficulties that enter any partnership. The teachers at PS1 have strong teaching partnerships. It is remarkable to see how the co-teaching model transfers to our Distance Learning Community Program (DLCP), illustrating the depth of trust and creative interchange between teaching partners.

I have seen examples of the power of partnerships in our DLCP throughout the school.

Before starting the DLCP, a teacher was quoted as saying, “The collaborative nature of the teaching partnerships means that teachers are never complacent. I constantly see innovation within the classroom. Innovation and examining practice and making small adjustments for kids and each other.” This was never more evident in our jump into distance learning.

In the first days of our DLCP, I noticed that during whole and half-group meetings, one teacher was interacting with the students and focused on the lesson. The other teacher was managing the new Zoom details-raising hands, muting mics, virtual backgrounds clicking on and off, etc. PS1 teaching teams did this organically since they are used to co-teaching.

In one class, one teacher was presenting the lesson to the class and sharing her screen, while the other teacher was guiding the conversation so that the discussion among the students about the lesson was relatively seamless. Since we had no warning that we were jumping into a DLCP, these skills were not taught. Teachers who work in partnerships naturally come to rely on each other and “divide and conquer” to meet the needs of their students. In planning their DLCP, teachers planned who was going to do what, just as they do in their on-site classroom. What was remarkable was how well it worked without any time  for “practice.”

In another class, when teachers are running a book group, they are writing students' thoughts on the Google page, which serves as the "board" to collect ideas. Even though teachers are working separately in small groups, and cannot see each other, when they write on the board, students can see everyone’s ideas from both groups. This type of collaboration requires an extraordinary give and take between the teachers who cannot see each other and who are sharing a virtual space while making room for all of the students’ ideas in one place and giving attention to a specific small group of students.

Sometimes, in a Zoom meeting, one teacher's tech freezes or glitches, and the teacher partner picks up the thread of the class without missing a beat.

Teaching is a process, and learning is its goal. When education is most successful, both teachers and students learn. Students and teachers (and administrators) learning and growing together is the culture of PS1. Relationships are a core value. The co-teaching model that provides strong relationships between teaching teams is central to our ability to provide high-quality education whether it is on-site or through our DLCP.


Additional Posts:

PS1 and Thematic Curriculum:

Structure in a Progressive Classroom: