Parent Coordinator Updates - 1/22/23
Sun, Jan 22 5:04pm

 

PARENT COORDINATOR UPDATES

 

Dear PS 107 Families.

 

Happy Lunar New Year to those of our PS 107 families who celebrate.  May your year of the Rabbit be full of happiness and health!

 

Please see below for Ms. Joanna’s weekly message and updates from myself and the PTA. 

 

MESSAGE FROM MS JOANNA 

 

Dear PS 107 Families, 

 

All of our best wishes for health, happiness, and good fortune in the coming year to the many 107 families celebrating the Lunar New Year! Big thanks to our AAPI parent committee for putting together Lunar New Year activities for every student, which went home on Friday. We’re so grateful that all 107 students can learn about New Years traditions from the many different countries across Asia who celebrate this holiday. 

 

I’m also thrilled to announce that changes are coming to the way PS 107 teaches reading and writing. Some of you may be familiar with the term Science of Reading, which is a large-scale, interdisciplinary body of research conducted over the last several decades about how children learn to read and write. This research has slowly been making its way into more mainstream circles and was turbo-charged by the pandemic, when parents across the country had a front-row seat to the methods being used to teach their children to read and write, which, for most schools (including PS 107) is known as “balanced literacy.” Many parents observed that their children did not really know how to read — and that balanced literacy methods seemed not to be working as intended. 

 

Experts estimate that 40% of children learn to read without much direct instruction; while another 60% need direct instruction to become competent readers. Overall, between 15% and 20% of students have dyslexia, which is a spectrum of language-based learning disabilities impacting a child’s ability to learn to read. At PS 107 in 2022, 75% of students in grades 3-5 were on grade level in reading, as measured by the New York State English Language Arts test. While this is but one measure of student proficiency, our internal assessment results also align with this statistic. 

 

We are among the higher-performing New York City public schools. Across the city, reading proficiency rates range from 49% proficient (3rd grade citywide) to 39% proficient (5th grade citywide). Of course, socioeconomic factors play a major role in reading achievement, which explains much of the difference between PS 107’s proficiency rates versus the city as a whole. (Take a look at Scarborough’s Reading Rope, which details the many skills that weave together over time until a student is a skilled reader. Many of the language comprehension skills are those that children from more advantaged families have when they enter formal schooling. For more details, see here.)

 

In New York City, meeting the needs of students with reading-related difficulties has become a major priority of the Mayor and the DOE Chancellor. Mayor Adams is himself dyslexic, and he has made bringing evidence-based reading instruction to NYC Schools a cornerstone of his administration. At the same time, lawmakers at the state level, including our own NYS Assemblyman Robert Carroll, are pushing legislation that would require schools to use evidence-based literacy methods. (As of July 2022, 29 states and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws.) 

 

Unfortunately, the curriculum that is currently used by PS 107 (and many, many other schools across New York City and across the country), called Units of Study, is not evidence-based, and consistently produces inadequate reading outcomes. There is a movement to not allow schools to use the Units of Study and many are calling this the civil rights issue of our time. 

 

Earlier this year, I was approached by Assemblymember Robert Carroll, who sits on New York City’s Literacy Advisory Council and who is a strong advocate for evidence-based reading instruction. He asked if we would consider shifting our literacy teaching practices to what’s called structured literacy: explicit, systematic, research-based methods that teach all of the critical components of literacy. Assemblymember Carroll’s outreach came at an opportune time, as not only was I in the midst of an existential crisis about how we teach reading and writing at PS 107, but so were many staff members, concerned that the Units of Study were not working for significant percentages of their students.

 

I myself attended Teachers College for graduate school, specifically so that I could learn from Lucy Calkins, the creator of the Units of Study, and so that I could teach using the Units of Study, which aligned at the time with so much about what I believed about reading and writing. When I started teaching at PS 321 in 2004, about one-quarter of my second graders could not read or write, and I did not know how to support them. I diligently implemented the Units of Study, and yet, these students made no progress. This continued through my years of teaching until we added phonics instruction to our curricular repertoire. I was drawn to this work and started learning more on my own, bringing a lot of this learning into my teaching of English language learners when I transitioned from being a classroom teacher to being an English as a New Language and Academic Intervention Services teacher. At long last, my students — those with reading difficulties and those without — began to make steady and notable progress. 

 

And so, I accepted Assemblymember Carroll’s offer to become one of four “Landmark” schools in New York City, schools who are following the national trends and the research in literacy instruction by implementing structured literacy. This initiative comes with additional funding and support, which will be key to its success. However, this is also a new initiative and the details of it are still being developed with the DOE’s Office of Literacy. Furthermore, as a staff, we will be crafting an approach that is right for the PS 107 community. Initially, parents will see most curricular shifts occurring in Kindergarten and 1st grade, and there will be more support for students who are struggling in grades 2-5. 

 

At this time, we are being asked to train as many teachers as possible in the Orton-Gillingham approach (all of our special education teachers are already trained in O-G, thanks to our generous PTA!). We are also working on a literacy intervention program for our students in grades 2-5 who are reading below grade level. PS 107’s Instructional Leadership Team will be working together to determine which shifts are most important and should come first. We will keep our parent community informed as we make these changes. 

 

In closing, there are a few things that I want to make absolutely clear: PS 107 teachers are truly remarkable and have not been doing anything wrong. They have been using a curriculum and an approach to teaching reading that the vast majority of educators across the country have been using for the past 20+ years. They have made joyful readers and writers out of the majority of 107 students for decades. 

 

Some might argue that this is yet another swing of the pendulum towards more rote learning, the kind that many of us experienced as elementary school students, that also did not work for a subset of students, and that many of us found boring. I disagree with this assessment and believe that we are on the precipice of something entirely different and exciting, which is reading and writing instruction that is not only engaging, but offers us the opportunity to meet the needs of our struggling students and further elevate the achievement of our advanced students. 

 

And yet, change, especially on this level, is challenging and brings with it difficult feelings, for myself included. I look forward to embarking on this journey as a community and crafting a literacy curriculum that meets the needs of all PS 107 students. As always, I welcome your questions, thoughts, and concerns and encourage you to reach out to me at jcohen72@schools.nyc.gov if you’d like to chat. 

 

Warmly, 

Ms Joanna

 

SCHOOL NEWS

 

PARENT WORKSHOPS

-Please join us for the upcoming parent/family workshop Bullying vs Conflict.  The workshop is scheduled for Thursday, January 26, 2023 from 10-11 a.m.  See the attached flyer 

 

-Sarah Green, our school guidance counselor, is offering a parent workshop on February 9th from 8:30 - 9:30 am : "Parent Workshop: Helping Your Child with Challenging Friendships"

More information to follow

 

DISTRICT UPDATE

-Please find the WXY update on the ongoing assessment of the D15 Diversity Plan presented at the January Town Hall here .

 

REMINDERS

 

FIFTH GRADE FAMILY MORNINGS 

This is a reminder that the 5th grade will have their first FAMILY MORNING this Thursday 1/26/23. Please come in with your student if you have been selected to participate this session.

*Don't forget to bring your vax card and photo ID (snap a pic and have them in your phone to save time and trouble!) 

 

COVID-19 UPDATES

If your child tests positive, please alert our Parent Coordinator, Nadia Benlarbi, at parentcoordinator@ps107.org and copy Principal Joanna Cohen on your email at jcohen@ps107.org .

 

NYCSA ACCOUNT 

Report cards will come out on January 30th via your child's NYCSA account.  

This is a NYC DOE parent account from PreK - 12th grade where parents/guardians can view all of their children’s records - grades, attendance, your child’s DOE email, etc.

At least one parent/guardian will need to have access to this account. We strongly encourage all parents/guardians to have their own account.

If your family does not have at least one account created at this time, please contact me at parentcoordinator@ps107.org for instructions and your unique account creation code.  

 

LOST AND FOUND

Please continue to label your children’s items with their Full Name (First,Last) and classroom.  The full name is important as we do have students with the same first name and including the classroom saves the extra step of looking up children in Operoo to find their classrooms to return the items to them.  

 

*I was not able to update the lost and found pictures before the end of the week as I had been out of the office two days last week.  I will update the pictures this week.

Please click here to view the virtual lost and found.

 

CEC ELECTION UPDATES

The 2023 Election cycle is beginning – You can learn more about Community and Citywide Education Councils and elections at information sessions that start on Monday, January 9.

Please reference the attached letter from the CEC for session dates and zoom links.

 

PTA UPDATES

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • See’s Candy Fundraiser - Jan 16th-27th 

  • Next PTA Meeting - 6:30pm Feb 16th 

 

AAPI COMMITTEE - LUNAR NEW YEAR THANK YOU

As you likely noticed, the AAPI committee created an informational packet about Lunar New Year that went home with each of your children last week. The information included links to local events, a guide to restaurants, a zodiac chart, and other activities to do with your child.  This was all put together from scratch by the members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Affinity Group.  We want to extend a huge thank you to the AAPI committee for their hard work in making this happen.  As was mentioned also, in their Konstella post here, the lunar new year festivities typically take place for two weeks, so hopefully your family can continue the celebration for some time!  Lastly, if you are still interested in joining the AAPI committee, it is never too late.  Please just reach out to Sowoon (sowoon@gmail.com).

 

SEE’S CANDY FUNDRAISER

PS107 is holding a See's Candy Valentine's Day Fundraiser! All profits will go towards the PS107 PTA. How it works: From Jan 16-27, go to our PS107 storefront and pick out your favorite discounted Sees treats here. All items you purchase will be shipped directly to you with arrival briefly before Valentine's Day. The more candy you buy the more the PTA earns from your purchase. So why not score some Valentine's treats for your family and maybe for your favorite teachers as well! If you have any questions, please email Mike Lew (mike@ps107.org)

 

AUCTION/GALA - TIME WITH TEACHER

The Spring Auction is coming April 28th and as the committee plans for the great event, we are still looking for someone to lead the "Time with Teacher" part of the auction. "Time with Teacher" is when a teacher donates something for a student or student(s) to do with them, such as "pizza party in the park" or "seeing a movie together." Leading this would involve reaching out to and coordinating with teachers who would like to donate their time, and working with Alyse and Christine to integrate this into the event. This role is easy to do on your own time, and is a great opportunity to get to know some of the teachers at PS107! Reach out to Alyse (alyselaw@gmail.com) and Christine (christine.canedo@gmail.com) with any interest in taking on this role.

 

COMMITTEE LEADERS STILL NEEDED

We have some really exciting committees in the remainder of the school year and a few still need leaders in order for us to ensure the events and projects can happen. For many of the events we are looking for 2 leaders in order to share the work. Consider signing up with a friend.  Also keep in mind that you will have the support of PTA members and, whenever possible, volunteers from previous years to help guide you.  As we mentioned at the last PTA meeting, here are the committees that still need leaders:

  • Edukit

  • Teacher Appreciation Week

  • Big Yard Games

  • Math Magic

For more information on each of these events, and to sign up click here

 

SUPPORT THE PS 107 PTA

- Donate to our Annual Fund by clicking here or share this link with friends and family (a special link for non-Konstella users)

- Go to Smile.Amazon.com and select PS 107 Parent Teacher Association before you shop. 5% of your purchase will be donated to the PTA!

- Scan your groceries receipt with the Box Tops for Education app on your phone. It only takes a minute and any purchases with the Box Tops label on them will automatically make money for our school!

 

IMPORTANT DATES

  • January 26 - Fifth Grade Family Morning - Thursday 1st period - come into the building with your student
  • January 26 - Parent Workshop - Bullying vs Conflict - 10-11 a.m. 

 

UPCOMING HOLIDAYS

  • January 22 - Lunar New Year

 

Thank you

Nadia