- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.Q6qPkwFC.dpuf Students Hit The High Seas for New Learning Initiative | Bronx News Networkbronx

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Students Hit The High Seas for New Learning Initiative

Editor's Note: this story was first published in the latest edition of the Mount Hope Monitor, out now.

Students from PS 306 went fishing, part of a "Classroom Without Walls,"
 learning initiative. (Photo by F.G. Pinto)

At noon on a recent Friday, while most students across the city were hitting the lunch line, the students at PS 306 were busy tossing out fishing lines and reeling in fish onto a boat bobbing in the Long Island Sound.

As part of a new learning initiative that takes kids out of the classroom and into the real world, the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade Special Education students at PS 306 set sail on a day-long fishing trip. It marked the culmination of this year’s Classroom Without Walls program.

“We want to give them a glimpse of what’s out there so they can see it and take it further,” said Ryan Cooke, a 4th-grade Special Education teacher at the Mt. Hope-area school and creator of the innovative program. “These aren’t just field trips,” he added.

During the trip, as the students waited for a bite on the line, a special skill was subtly being emphasized: patience. Young kids, in general, have short attention spans. But a lack of patience is especially prominent for Special Ed students. Fishing, Cooke says, teaches them to control their feelings and focus on a long-term reward.

Silence on the boat was broken as cheers erupted from one side of the boat.

“I got one!” screamed 11-year-old Alexander Sanchez. “Reel it in!” yelled Captain James Whitten.

“I wish I had trips like these as a kid,” Whitten added.

As the crew of the boat helped Alexander reel in the fish, his fellow classmates cheered him on with high-fives.

“I didn’t think I was going to get it, I thought my pole was going to fall in [the water],“ said Alexander, a 5th grader. “I’m going to tell my mom to cook it.”

Students receive a handful of lessons of relatable material prior to the excursion. On the trip they received a mini lesson and afterwards were asked to reflect on the experience in a journal. For the fishing trip, the students studied Marine Biology.

The students have also saw a Broadway show, “The Lion King,” and went on a backstage tour. On a trip to the Museum of Natural History, students went behind the scenes to see how the fossils are put together.

Cooke, a former Special Ed student himself, says a different approach towards Special Education has been long overdue. He said since the program’s inception four years ago, students have been more focused and excited about learning.

“[As Special Education students] they have labeled stereotypes,” said Edgar Irizarry Jr, a paraprofessional at 306. “This gives them motivation and tells them you can do this. Ninety-nine percent of these kids have never gone fishing as well.”

The program, which works closely with the school’s parent association, raised enough funds to take a record number of kids this year, more than 100.

As the school bus pulled up to PS 306 on West Tremont Avenue, after a tiring and exciting day out at sea, one of the more vocal students turned to his teacher and spoke with the excitement only a child could exhibit.

“I’m happy I got to catch a fish,” he said. “I never did that before.”


Post a Comment

Bronx News Network reserves the right to remove comments that include personal attacks, name calling, foul language, commercial advertisements, spam, or any language that might be considered threatening, libelous or inciting hate.

User comments are reviewed by BxNN staff and may be included or excluded at our discretion.

If what you have to say is unrelated to this particular post, please visit our readers' forum.