Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Red Bank Primary School- Tools of the Mind

Tue- Traveled to Red Bank Primary School with Jessica Peters and members of both HOPES and MILE SQUARE pre-school programs. Met Amy Hornbeck while there, a representative from TOOLS FOR THE MIND

We visited about 6 classrooms while in Red Bank and observed both Pre-K as well as K classrooms. Overall impression was that I saw great examples of self-regulation and reflective activity by the students. The teachers (and their aides) functioned as “learned others” within a Vygotskian paradigm. By this I mean that students were progressing along their own developmental trajectory with well thought out and planned activities. Furthermore, there was numerous opportunities for differentiated instruction (consistent with special education requirements as well as I& RS and Response to Instruction (RTI). We were shown many examples of student work and also had conversations regarding how activity develops over time. This was easily shown by portfolios that are kept by the teachers (and sent home to parents on a weekly basis). The students we observed seem to derive from the same SES as the students of the Hoboken Public Schools with a corresponding focus on special needs.

Tools of the Mind is a research-based curriculum that emphasizes the development of underlying cognitive skills such as self-regulation, focused and sustained attention, deliberate memory, group interaction and problem solving, listening and responding to other children’s perspectives, emotional and behavioral self-control, empathy, and interest and motivation to learn as a way of simultaneously fostering the development of academic skills as established by the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards. (NJCCCS).

High-quality instruction is supported by a classroom assistant and students receive specialized instruction in music, art, physical education, library, and computers. Classrooms are organized to allow for the establishment of learning centers to promote concepts of print, early writing, phonemic awareness, oral language and comprehension skills while at the same time emphasizing the development of self-regulation and classroom routines. Themes are used to focus instruction in mathematics and science. Small group instruction addresses individual students’ needs and allows for a personal connection between the teacher and your son/daughter. Conferencing is a key component of the program that facilitates the development of self-responsibility and overall readiness, organizational and planning skills. The goal is that by the end of Kindergarten, children know about learning and how they, as individuals, learn.

IN Red Bank, young children are not just spending more time in school. They are engaged in a world of learning, spending the day with extraordinary teachers and assistants in an environment that fosters problem solving and enriched learning.