Life Science: Session 1
LauraJo Kelly; Brooklyn, NY:
"I really think that it's during investigations that learning occurs. You know, when the children have the opportunity to make their own discoveries, their own explorations of their environment, it answers all those questions for them: the who, what, where, and why about how things are the way they are.”
School at a Glance:
PS276 L. Marshall Elementary School
- Enrollment: 1360
- Students per Teacher: 16.6
90% African American
- Percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch: 59% versus a state average of 49%.
LauraJo Kelly teaches 2nd grade at Louis Marshall Elementary School in Brooklyn, NY. Her school, better known as P.S. 276, is part of the sprawling New York City Pubic School system, which annually sees over a million K-12 students taught by nearly eighty thousand teachers.\
Located in southwest Brooklyn near Jamaica Harbor, P.S. 276 serves a largely minority population: about 85% of the students are African American with the remaining 15% divided roughly between caucasian and Hispanic children. About 74% of the school’s students are eligible for a free lunch.
Ms. Kelly remembers that when she first began teaching, the science curriculum her school was using was vague at best. “It would be magnets one week and the next week we’d move onto seeds… I wanted something with more continuity.” That, combined with never having had a passion for science as a child herself, left her feeling like she wasn’t getting through to her students in science.
In her third year in the classroom she was asked to pioneer the SCIS curriculum in her school. She felt it was a huge improvement, more organized than her previous curriculum and with the added benefit that it spanned grades K-5, so that children came to her class with prior knowledge that she could work with. Now in her twelfth year of teaching, Ms. Kelly commented, “Science just became something that I loved, that I never loved as a child. As an adult I’ve become part of the Science Literacy Team, Science Leadership Team, where I help the other teachers teach science, and it just spiraled from there."
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