ABOUT BROOKSIDE PLACE SCHOOL
Brookside Place School in the town of Cranford houses between three hundred fifty and three hundred seventy-five elementary aged students spanning kindergarten through fifth grade. Aligned with the goal of all Cranford schools, personalization is at the heart of the majority of what occurs each day at Brookside. Student choice in an increasingly rigorous learning environment is what every staff member sets his/her sights on as they set about working with their students. Additionally, ensuring students are part of a safe and nurturing learning climate where they can thrive on many levels as learners and individuals is extremely evident in the behaviors exhibited by all Brookside staff members.
Gaining a plethora of knowledge about each child is predicated upon staff members establishing and maintaining the highest level of home/school communication. To this end, this valuable student-specific and personalized information about students provides staff with essential aspects for each child, mainly their likes and topics/activities they have a distinct passion for. Moreover, when teachers are able to expertly and seamlessly embed this valuable information into their instruction, it will serve to motivate and excite the students to increase their desire for learning and expanding upon what they already know while simultaneously growing their skill set. Parents/guardians of Brookside students consistently take an active role in the learning process for their child. Regular updates regarding progress and/or areas needing additional scaffolding/supports at home are essential components within the lines of communication. While there are a multitude of examples of parent/guardian involvement at Brookside Place School, a few of the key ones are: an extremely high level of participation in the PTA, several school based committees, as library helpers, and through special events, including: Walk Your Child to School Day, as guest readers throughout the year, various grade level Kids’ Nights Out, the Fall Festival, a 5K Fun Run and a Children’s Day Olympics. Sharing details about one’s chosen vocation represent another avenue for parent/guardian to become involved and connected to what occurs at Brookside. Guest speakers are invited as well as volunteer to visit the classroom to share presentations about the jobs they perform in their field of employment. These highly informative parent/guardian led lessons always result in great question and answer sessions thus helping to further pique the students’ curiosity as they receive a glimpse into how what they learn connects to the real world.
Referenced earlier in this piece either directly or through description were the terms rigor and relevance since they are two critical elements in supporting a personalized learning climate. Brookside staff members diligently work to help students see the bigger picture and how the daily smaller pieces fit into the bigger, and complete, puzzle that comprises their learning and skill development. Additionally, planning for activities and learning experiences that serve to stretch the core or base objective thus extending what is presented into the enrichment level remains a focus of Brookside staff members.
In the area of language arts literacy instruction, the workshop model of instruction for reading and writing has steadily increased the level of student choice in what they read and write while simultaneously drilling deeper into students being able to become insightful problem solvers and critical thinkers. Teachers diligently follow a specific scope and sequence as they plan for and execute lessons that cover the multitude of standards outlined in the Common Core. While the mini-lessons are skill or strategy specific that students are expected to transfer to their own learning and work, eyes to print and pen/pencil to paper are the foundation on which the workshop model is built. As students begin their independent and tailored journey to grow as readers and writers, teachers utilize one on one sessions or small group strategy segments to assist in guiding students to push their thinking or with their expansion of a written piece. Specific to reading, teachers draw upon carefully selected read alouds from which certain skills are modeled and discussed along with providing an outlet to consistently model reading fluency and helping a story come to life. It should be noted that embedded in all of the independent reading that occurs each day is work with book clubs and shared reading as well. Ensuring that students are able to call upon the strategies they have learned during mini-lessons, the selection of “just right” books remains a staple in this process. Taking literary risks and always looking for ways to infuse elements of what good writers do into a wide array of quick writes are just two of the areas of focus when it comes to writing. Mentor texts containing wonderful examples of one or more expertly infused writing techniques are prominent fixtures throughout the course of each writing lesson. Ultimately conveying to students that their writing must be worth reading and continuing to grow in their ability to read like a writer and write like a reader remains the overarching goal in a rich and robust literacy program.
Much like developing and fostering an atmosphere predicated by deeper thinking is an ongoing goal at Brookside Place School at it relates to literacy, the same holds true for the content areas of mathematics, social studies and science as well. As per the methods outlined for teachers instructing students in the area of mathematics to follow, Brookside Place School teachers are continually pushing their students to extend their thinking as mathematicians. Taking the concrete to the abstract is the ultimate goal as students develop a conceptual understanding for the processes including the traditional algorithm for many mathematical operations and calculations they complete. Teachers draw upon a multitude of resources, that includes the district adopted EnVision Math series, to deliver rich and robust lessons that challenge students across all concepts covered during mathematics instruction. Hands-on learning inclusive of, to the greatest extent possible, an inquiry based approach with small and large group discussion is what the science program at Brookside Place School is built upon. Relevance and connections to the world in which they live is how the social studies content is delivered to the students across all levels at Brookside. Especially within the social studies, Brookside teachers plan lessons that embed impactful pieces of literature that help to support much of the content students are exposed to.
Special subject teachers within Brookside Place School commit their work to enhance the students’ learning experience across a broader continuum while also making the necessary connections to the content they learn within their regular classroom setting. With the fine arts, students receive art and music instruction once per week from grades one through five. In kindergarten, these subjects are delivered on an every other week basis. Within the art classroom, students will engage in creating pieces of art ranging in the level of complexity based on the grade level. Additionally, having students partake in discussions stemming from viewing videos outlining the historical significance of different aspects of art is a tremendously valuable part of the instruction at Brookside Place School. During their once per week thirty minute music class, students learn a variety of musical pieces that incorporates reading sheet music with identifying different musical aspects such as a steady beat as central areas of focus. The first opportunity for Brookside students to participate in weekly lessons learning to play an instrument is at the third grade level. Students can choose among three string instruments: violin, viola or cello. For the final two years of elementary school, students can decide to continue with a string instrument they selected in grade three or begin anew with a band instrument. Band and orchestra groups are formed in grade four and expand in the form of concert performances when students reach the fifth grade. Building a foundation for fluency with the Spanish language that includes identifying and naming various objects and individuals (e.g. in the home and school) in the students’ everyday lives is the basis for world language instruction. At the first grade level Spanish class occurs one day a week that increases to two thirty minute sessions per week beginning in grade two and continuing through grade five. Sportsmanship, teamwork, physical fitness with agility exercises and gaining an appreciation and foundational understanding of a variety of team and some individual sports serve as the basis for what students engage in within their physical education classes. At the kindergarten through third grade levels, students participate in physical education classes one thirty minute session per week and this doubles for the students’ final two years in Brookside Place School.
Embedded in much of the academic Brookside Place School students’ work they complete is the use of technology in various forms. Preparing students for the twenty-first century skills they will need to develop and build upon to become productive members of society and in the work force is a goal all Brookside teachers remain acutely cognizant of.
Laptop carts are made readily available to teachers in order to have them become a frequent part of the instructional design across all subject areas. Research involving students accessing the Internet to locate different pieces of information pertaining to various projects they complete is another aspect of students making effective use of technology. Google classroom has been building momentum as a way for students to work with documents in real time with their teachers especially with writing pieces.
Extending beyond the walls of the traditional elementary school classroom are other activities and programs to further enhance the educational opportunities for Brookside Place School students. In the area of enrichment learning experiences, the Pathways to Excellence program establishes clear criteria and parameters for students excelling in their studies to be eligible to qualify for this program. Working as a team, expanding one’s influence to service and community projects and/or to provide additional support for learning are also available to students through participation in one or more of the following Before or After School programs: Healthy Kids’ Club, Student Council, Chorus, Band, Orchestra, After-School Athletics, School PLUS (a reading, mathematics, and study skills program) and an Environmental Education Group.
In conclusion, personalization bolstered by a tremendous emphasis on student choice, rigor and relevance are all key foundational elements that propel Brookside Place School to the wonderful learning community that it is. The impressive two-way level of communication that exists between staff members and parents/guardians only adds to the high standard of excellence that the collective and collaborative whole strives to achieve. Complimenting the students’ acquisition of new knowledge through engaging and highly stimulating learning experiences is staff members diligently aiming to develop and strengthen their students’ ability to delve into deeper and increasingly complex thinking.
Below are a number of documents which you will find informative. The majority of school based information will be sent to you by your child’s school.
2015-16 Informational Letter to Parents .(School Calendar, School Closing and Delayed School Openings)