Creating a Caring Community of Learners:  Kimberly and Vanessa’s 1st/2nd Grade Classroom

These videos offer images of high quality early learning in a 1st/2nd grade ICT (integrated collaborative teaching, i.e., immersion) classroom at The Earth School – PS 364, a public school in New York City’s District 1 serving the diverse community of the Lower East Side. Admission to the school is by lottery, with forty percent of kindergarten seats set aside for children who are speakers of languages other than English and/or qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Use these guiding questions to help facilitate discussion around this video series.

This video documents the practices and processes that support the social and emotional learning of children in a 1st/2nd grade ICT (integrated collaborative teaching) classroom. Teachers Kimberly Fritschy and Vanessa Keller explain how a caring community is created by setting up classroom routines and rules, helping the children get to know each other, creating habits of respect, and using tools of mindfulness, gratefulness, and active listening to support the children’s learning and development. Additionally, this video showcases how play, active learning, trips, and projects are essentials to the academic learning of young children.

Additional short video clips …

Mindfulness — Learning to Manage Feelings:

Kimberly and Vanessa explain how they use mindfulness routines to support the children to learn how to manage their feelings, settle their minds and their bodies, and be ready to learn.

The Teddy Bear Curriculum:

In this video, Kimberly and Vanessa offer an in-depth explanation of the whys and hows of the Teddy Bear Curriculum (originally designed by Lesley Koplow and the Center for Emotionally Responsive Practice at Bank Street College) that they use in their classroom.

Snack Time — Nourishing the Body and Building Community:

In this video, the teachers explain how snack time helps children ready their bodies to learn and how it strengthens a feeling of community in the classroom. Watch for the “teachable moment” that arises from a discussion of who has more when distributing the graham crackers.

Community Open Work Time: Learning through Play:

Kimberly and Vanessa  reflect on the foundational importance of play and active learning for young children’s learning. They explain their daily practice of open work time in which children are given the opportunity to choose the materials and projects they want to work on. They also explain a once-a-week school-wide open work time in which children from throughout the grades in the entire school participate.

The Billion Oyster Project:

The teachers talk about their participation in the New York City Billion Oyster Project, an effort to clean the New York waterways by replenishing their oyster population, which has become extinguished over the years due to pollution and overfishing. They reflect on how propagating oysters in the classroom in in line with The Early School’s commitment to learning how to care for the earth and bring attention to the effects of human pollution on the earth’s systems.