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Brookside Parents Experience How Kids Learn

OSSINING, N.Y. – Parents at Brookside School got a taste of how their first or second graders are being taught in the digital age, when they attended the school's "21st Century World Skills Night."

"Traditional teaching methods have become outdated," said the narrator of an introductory video that was shown to parents on Thursday night. "Today's students are part of the digital generation... To reach them, our thinking has to change, our teaching has to change, education has to change."

Children today are taught more by project-based learning, rather than compartmentalized rote learning, said Linda Schneider, a reading specialist at Brookside School. Project-based learning better promotes the state's Common Core Standards that aim to prepare students for the 21st century world by promoting the "4C's": communication, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration.

Examples of projects that have been completed by Ossining students include a mural of Ossining that was made by first graders and a play called "War and Peace" that was created by fourth graders, Schneider said.

To give parents a hands-on experience of their child's learning atmosphere, parents were invited to Brookside classrooms in small groups and asked to collaboratively come up with representations of Ossining in the form of a logo, a bumper sticker, a collage, a slogan or other creative expression.

"I think this is great. It gives the parents an idea of how the teachers are going to teach the kids," said Qianxu Guo, the mother of a first grader, as she mingled among parents in the Brookside cafeteria.

Brookside teacher Margaret Callagy elaborated on how teaching methods today differ from the past.

"In the past we relied heavily on literature and stories to teach literacy," Callagy said. "Now we use a 50:50 balance between fiction and non-fiction."

In addition, students are now asked to provide not only "I feel" type of personal responses to literature, but also to point out evidence from literature that supports a concept.

In math, students are no longer asked to do rote learning by plugging in numbers into equations, Callagy said, but rather to solve real world math problems.

"I like the balance of the base of knowledge we grew up with and the new methods that we know they're going to use," said Rose Quintero who has a son in first grade. "I like out-of-the-box stuff but I also like to have some old fundamentals that you need no matter what place or age you live in."

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