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News & Announcements
We are pleased to share that West Side Collaborative was identified by New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia as a Reward School. 220 schools in New York State have been identified as Reward Schools this year. West Side Collaborative was identified as a high progress school due to the progress made in relation to academic achievement on state assessments. Additional information can be found on the New York State Department of Education website.
Congratulations to all sixty-one of our 2016 graduates! Teachers celebrated students with wonderful speeches about each child! We hope that the experience for each of our students was that of personal accomplishment and celebration. Parents shared lots of positive feedback about the day!
Congratulations to WSC teachers and students on the recent broadcast of a WNYC radio segment featuring West Side Collaborative. The segment was part of a series the public radio station produced on testing. It highlighted our school's innovative philosophy toward assessment and our collaborative work with Teaching Matters in this regard.
Use this link to listen to the story: http://www.wnyc.org/story/testing-doesnt-have-be-dirty-word/
WSC has hosted three Showcase School visits this year, with a fourth coming up in May. We were one of 24 schools throughout New York City to be selected for the Showcase Schools Program, which is designed to promote collaborative learning through the sharing of exemplary practices within the schools. Our school’s learning focus areas have been student portfolios and student reflection on a body of work. One recent visitor to our school remarked: “I believe I have developed a clearer understanding of how student ownership can truly come alive in a classroom. I was able to ask questions (I felt super welcomed!) and deepen my understanding.”
Congratulations WSC students and teachers! WSC has been selected by the NYC Department of Education as a Respect for All School for the 2015-2016 school year. This recognition is an endorsement of the outstanding program we have created to combat bullying and foster an inclusive learning environment.
At West Side Collaborative Middle School, we strive to nurture and grow the whole child, challenging students to develop into inquisitive, thoughtful individuals with a sense of responsibility to themselves and their community. Inherent in that goal is a commitment to create a safe and supportive learning environment for all students of our diverse community.
A variety of programs and student opportunities are built into our school design in order to foster collaboration and teamwork, which cultivates a culture of inclusion among all students. At the beginning of each school year, the entire student body engages in “iConnect Week” when, in addition to academic activities, students engage in storytelling, team building, and improvisation activities with the goal of breaking down barriers and providing students the opportunity to see one another through different lenses. Another school-wide initiative is our interest-based cross-grade Advisory, in which students are grouped according to hobbies or interests to explore their passions while building relationships with students in a mixed-age setting.
Throughout the school year are community meetings to celebrate student success and achievement in a safe and encouraging environment. A beautiful tradition and annual highlight is our Thanksgiving Toast. Sixth and seventh grade students meet weekly in classes that promote discussion of issues in adolescent’s social-emotional development including friendship, discrimination, diversity and bullying. WSC has also worked closely with Common Sense Media for the past four years and utilizes their digital ethics lessons in our social-emotional curriculum. All of these initiatives create a culture of caring and respect.
Respect for All is an initiative that schools engage in throughout the school year and its goal is to combat bullying as well as harassment based on ethnicity, color, national origin, race, religion, citizenship or immigration status, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, weight, and disability. The initiative is supported by the City Council, United Federation of Teachers, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, and a number of community-based organizations.
At WSC, we have much to appreciate. Motivated students who take ownership of their learning and work hard to reach academic goals, devoted teachers whose ingenuity and expertise foster a learning environment in which all children can succeed, a visionary leader who inspires excellence and cultivates a nurturing school community. Today, the entire West Side Collaborative school community gathered to celebrate and show gratitude at our Annual Thanksgiving Talent Show and Toast. The Talent Show provides students and teachers the opportunity to share their talents and passions with others in a safe and encouraging environment, while the Thanksgiving Toast is a moment when the entire school comes together to reflect and show our appreciation for our families, friends, and teachers. We created a chain of gratitude and shared a potluck feast. We would like to share with you a glimpse of the WSC spirit, and take a moment to wish all of you a meaningful and joyous holiday. Please scroll down to enjoy some photos and Thanksgiving wishes.
In the spirit of sharing, WSC is excited to be hosting our first visit as part of the Showcase Schools program on December 1st. WSC was invited to participate in the Department of Education’s Showcase Schools Program for the 2015-2016 school year. The Showcase Schools program is designed to promote collaborative learning between schools across the city. We will be sharing our student portfolio practices with DOE officials, and NYC principals and teachers. Visitors will have the opportunity to join classes and speak with school staff, teachers, and students. We are delighted to be able to put our best foot forward and share our practice with fellow educators. We will host two additional visits in January and in March.
Some writings from the chain:
I am thankful for having wonderful teachers who help me learn better and be successful in life.
For having friends and family that always have my back.
For the food we are eating at the toast today because we know many refugees don't have food or enough food.
I am grateful to be on this planet.
I am grateful to be at WSC with my fun advisory.
Join us in celebrating exciting news regarding our selection as a Showcase School, a Bright Light School and a PROSE School!
WSC was honored to be selected this year as one of 24 schools throughout New York City to be a Showcase School. The Showcase Schools Program is designed to promote collaborative learning through the sharing of exemplary practices within the schools. This year, we will open our doors to teachers and administrators from across the city to demonstrate and discuss successful strategies, as well as the process behind their development. Our school’s learning focus areas will be student portfolios and student reflection on a body of work.
WSC has also been chosen as a Bright Light School by Teaching Matters, and was acknowledged at their Seventh Annual Champions of Education and Innovation Luncheon at the Harvard Club in October. Principal Novella Bailey was recognized for her steadfast support to help teachers thrive and her commitment to raising achievement outcomes of students, as measured by their increased levels in proficiency. West Side Collaborative was one of four select schools among Teaching Matters partner schools recognized for significantly moving proficiency levels from the time students enter school to when they leave.
As part of our ongoing collaboration with Teaching Matters, WSC teachers are now participating in a new program focused on using assessment information to improve instruction. The Assessment Matters Community brings together the expertise of practitioners in 14 NYC schools, with Teaching Matters’ coaching and resources to test and refine solutions to the challenging problem of effectively using data to drive instructional improvements. Participating schools will use a unique standards-based mastery tracking platform, MasteryConnect, to deepen both teacher teaming and formative assessment practices, in order to advance instruction and improve student achievement.
Finally, WSC continues to participate in the PROSE program (Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence.) We were initially recognized for our commitment to teacher collaboration and innovative planning to support student achievement. During the current school year the focus will be on portfolio and reflective and responsive student groupings to support instruction. Last year we focused on implementing practices to support personalized learning, teacher collaboration, and innovative instructional programs to support meaningful student learning experiences. WSC is one of 126 schools across the city selected by the Department of Education and the UFT for this program which supports innovation in school programming and design.
West Side Collaborative students and teachers were featured in a number of WNYC radio broadcasts focusing on race relations and the response of teens and teachers in New York City to events in the media. The students spoke eloquently about growing up in a multi-racial, multi-cultural society and the challenges of processing and responding to the race-related violence our nation witnessed in Ferguson, Missouri; Staten Island; Baltimore and Charleston, South Carolina. Kudos to the students for their thoughtful and insightful comments!
Listen to our students voices in “Being 12: People Think I’m Supposed to Talk Ghetto, Whatever That Means”:
Learn how teachers relate discussions of national events to our core curriculum in “Bringing Baltimore to the Classroom”:
Discover how teachers and students are impacted by race relations in ”On Talking Race to Young Teens, Teachers Say It’s Been a Tough Year”:http://www.wnyc.org/story/after-ferguson-race-adolescents-and-exhausting-year-teaching/
One of our core values at WSC is supporting students as they develop into independent critical thinkers and lifelong learners. Our goal is to prepare students so they can navigate and be successful in the world that awaits them beyond middle school. The WSC teachers and staff are committed to creating conditions that cultivate learners prepared for the rigor of high school, college and beyond. WSC teachers collaborate to provide learning experiences aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards to support students in reaching rigorous and meaningful academic goals in Math and ELA.
English Language Arts
The Expeditionary Learning Curriculum recommended by the Department of Education emphasizes skills and strategies to help students comprehend literary and non-fiction texts. You may have seen your child reading Dragonwings, New York Times bestseller Unbroken or historical fiction such as Lyddie. Each of these texts ask students to make connections to universal themes and gain understanding of unfamiliar time periods and cultures. In weekly Focus classes, students are in small groups ranging in size from 5-15 students, working closely with a teacher to practice strategies connected to specific skills and concepts that support each child’s reading comprehension skills. In our 7th and 8th grade PLMs, students meet for eight sessions in mixed grade groupings based on teachers’ assessments of your child’s individual learning strengths and preferred learning styles. All ELA courses this year have been designed to support students in building independence in comprehending complex texts, analyzing texts using evidence, understanding cultures and perspectives, and producing written works that meet the demands of grade level expectations.
In our math classes across 6th, 7th and 8th grades, teachers utilize Department of Education approved curriculum resources from CMP3 and EngageNY. The math curriculum is aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards and supports students in understanding and applying math practices, such as constructing strong arguments, attending to precision and problem solving skills. In addition to each child’s core math class, in weekly Math Focus classes, students work in small groups to explore mathematical concepts and skills in groupings based on teachers’ assessments of your child’s individual learning strengths. During the next few weeks, each grade will engage in math learning connected to a specific instructional focus area to support each child’s comprehension of critical mathematical concepts:
6th Grade: Ratio and Proportions/Fractions
7th Grade: Algebra/Ratio and Proportions
8th Grade: Solving Equations/Graphing Lines/Exponents
We have reached the end of the second trimester of the school year, and the hard work of our students and teachers is evident everywhere! Examples of students demonstrating new learning and applying new skills can be seen on display in our WSC hallways and in the work your child has completed in class. We look forward to continuing our commitment to your child’s academic achievement and progress as 2015 continues!
WSC is pleased to announce the launch of two new exciting after school partnerships: Wingspan Arts and Teen Thursdays.
As a recipient of the Cultural After School Adventures grant, in February WSC launched an after-school performing arts partnership with Wingspan Arts. This musical theater course is open to current 7th and 8th grade students, who will be coached by professional artists, including a musical director, choreographer, and vocal coach. Wingspan programs enable students to have a better view and understanding of a complicated, changing world that can be uniquely and vividly expressed through the arts. The program also provides an excellent opportunity for students interested in pursuing performing arts high schools to gain experience in singing, dancing and acting, helping to prepare them for auditions. Students will display their new skills and talent at a culminating performance in the spring.
Teen Thursdays at the American Folk Art Museum:
WSC will resume its participation in the Teen Thursdays middle school after-school initiative this spring. Last year, WSC was one of five school city-wide to be selected to participate in Teen Thursdays, an afterschool initiative to enable students at middle schools across the City to take advantage of the rich learning opportunities available through local cultural institutions. (See article here.)
This year, WSC is pleased to partner with the American Folk Art Museum. A select group of our 7th and 8th grade students will visit the museum weekly beginning in April to explore the concepts and history of folk art and performance art raised by the exhibition When the Curtain Never Comes Down. The program will integrate topics in American history such as Westward Expansion, American Slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, through learning about self-taught artists whose practices have emerged from Native and African-American cultural traditions. Because there are also many international artists featured in this exhibition, the conversation will include 20th century immigration experiences. The program will largely focus on bicultural identities as part of the American experience.