Thursday, May 8, 2014

Innovations That Have Endured in the Hoboken School District: The PreK/K Tools of the Mind Curriculum

Board Member McAllister discussing the 
district she inherited in 2009 
I brought Tools of the Mind into the Hoboken School District in Hoboken, NJ  during the 2008-09 academic year (beginning with PreK then next year in Kindergarten) as part of my Curriculum Project. I have spoken at length about "Tools" but here is a fairly grass roots description of the program-- "a day in the life" of the implemented curriculum in Hoboken. You can either look at the link to the "Tools of the Mind" in Hoboken by clicking HERE (including pictures!) or review excerpts of the text below.  

One cannot thank former Early Childhood Director Jessica Peters or former Superintendent Jack Raslowsky enough for their efforts or the many Pre-K and Kindergarten teachers and aides that were also responsible for "Tools" coming to Hoboken and making it a success. Notably, Tools of the Mind remains the Pre-K and Kindergarten curriculum as of this day in the Hoboken School District as well as in many innovative and research based programs around the State of New Jersey and the country. -Dr. Petrosino 

The Hoboken Public Schools began using a new curriculum model in September 2008.  The decision to make this change involved various teachers and administrators, included visits to other districts and was followed by many discussions.   This change coincided with the work of the curriculum committee headed by Dr. Petrosino and will assist our district in providing a seamless educational program, preschool through 12th grade.
The new curriculum is Tools of the Mind.  You can find more information about the program on their website .    
The document listed below as "Tools of the Mind pre-K overview for parents" was shown to parents at a previous parent information night.

During Buddy Reading two children read to each other as partners. One child has the ear card when they listen to the story and the other child has the lip card when it is his/her turn to read the story.

There are opportunities to socialize during snack and lunch each day.  

Before going to center time the children create a play plan.  The play plan includes the child's name, a picture of themselves carrying out their plan and a sentence dictating the child's plan.

Roles to act out are very important in play.  This allows children to increase their language skills, social/emotional skills, problem solving and planning skills. Here are two students taking on the roles of the postal worker and mother.  

Outdoor play occurs daily if the weather permits.

Graphics Practice is a game that allows children to work on self-regulation skills as well as fine motor skills.   

Stories are read repeatedly to work on comprehension skills and flannel board pieces are one of the ways students re-tell a story.

Science eyes is a game where children work with partners.  They look through their magnifying glass to investigate objects and expand their vocabulary.  

"In both my children (one son is in the 3 year old Mile Square program and one is in the 4 year old HOPES program) I have seen a marked increase in the use of their imagination and pretend play. I have also seen more structured thinking in the approach to play. Both boys come home each day with "play plans" complete with pictures drawn by them and a description of what they will be doing (I am going to sand area to play, I am going to play with table toys, I am going to make a circle).
Because of this my older son craves this same structure at home on his weekends and times away from the classroom. He will frequently ask me "what are we going to do today" and will then draw a picture of what our plans are. (We are going to the supermarket, Daddy and I are going to Dunkin Donuts.) For him this structure and pre-planning for play seems to be extremely beneficial as he has a tendency to be rather impulsive and unfocused. Drawing a picture and writing a simple descriptive sentence helps him stay focused and on track and allows him to play more effectively.
On the other end my younger son who has been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified also benefits from the planned play. He thrives in an environment that has structure so for him this program has been extremely beneficial. There are no surprises which allows him to focus better on the activity at hand. It also helps him work on his speech and his social skills.
Overall I am extremely pleased that Tools Of The Mind Curriculum has been implemented here in Hoboken. We are only half way through the year and I have already seen the beneficial results of the program. I look forward to what else is to come!"
- Diana Whittles

"This is Sonia Petrocelli, the mother of Yasmine who did two years of Abbott with Hopes at Brandt and the mother of Giulio who's doing his first year Abbott with Hopes at Brandt. I love the early childhood Abbott program and have seen my two kids flourish due to this program.
My daughter attended two years and my son is in his first. It is such an important investment as my kids have gained more from all the social skills, developmental skills, training centers and more.
We are so lucky that Hoboken can offer this kind of program. See your child grow through a program you will trust. You can tell that the people who put such a program together really care about the school experience and knowledge the child gets from it.
So far, we are happy with what it offers. Thank you."
- Sonia
"I want to thank you for all the work you are doing in respect to early childhood, using the new program. My son has been attending Mile square for 2 years prior to new program; I really see the difference between the two.
Thank you for your vision and I am so excited that Andrew is part of it. The new program is building a strong academic foundation for his future! Thank you for showing your commitment to children!"
 - Vivian Teran

"We are very pleased with the Hoboken public school early childhood development program.  Our son has progressed significantly in the time that he has participated in the PreK-4 program.  We can see that the Tools of the Mind curriculum has helped our son to think about planning ahead and communicating. 
Overall we are very pleased with the education and experience he is getting at Hoboken public school. Thank you for all of the positive things that you are doing to make it a great experience for parents and children."
- Lori Knight and Rich Lucken