Staten Island public school teachers share observations after visiting introductory college courses to build bridges between high school and college instruction in writing.

The Staten Island Field Support Center, District 31 offices, and the College of Staten Island are pleased to announce the expansion of the Amplifying College Success partnership.

The 2015 genesis of the partnership between Staten Island high school English teachers and education and writing professors from the College of Staten Island focused on creating a better understanding and alignment of high school and college freshman writing expectations. The original learning intentions were:

-To incorporate college and career readiness preparation into daily routines throughout students’ high school careers.

-Unpack resources available to guidance counselors, teachers, students, and parents to help aid in the college selection and preparation process.

This year, the partnership is expanding its work to include more opportunities for families and school communities to interact with partners from Staten Island-based institutions of higher education in their home schools. This work contributes to 30,000 Degrees, a joint initiative of the College of Staten Island (CUNY), St. John’s University, and Wagner College. Additionally, Amplifying College Success is expanding to include the six milestones of the national and NY State My Brother’s Keeper Program.

On November 14, 26 representatives from the partnership’s middle and high schools (including teachers, coaches, and Assistant Principals) visited several sections of introductory-level college writing classes and CORE 100, a required freshman interdisciplinary social science course at CSI. Participants from the Department of Education also received workshops on manifesto writing and visual strategies to approach analysis and interpretation, focusing on identifying key details as a starting point for their writing. The district focus on building culturally responsive classrooms and social/emotional learning environments that support our most at-risk students was highlighted. All participants debriefed connections between the college class observations and their own classrooms, making connections from previous sessions come to life. Professional relationships are being built, as well as the confidence and collaboration of our educators from grades 6 to 16.

On December 4, CSI professors visited some high school classrooms to gain first-hand experience into what happens in high school. “The experience helped me see the varying levels of high school English and the pedagogical approaches taken, such as a focus on writing strategies in literature like tone, setting, and character,” remarked Rosanne Carlo, Assistant Professor of English at CSI. “This close reading work is something we also do in our composition classes at CSI, though we work with nonfiction texts exclusively and rhetorical terms are emphasized, like context, audience, purpose, and genre. We both are thinking about how reading strategies lead to writing about texts–summary and analysis being the primary ways both our student populations are being asked to show knowledge about the texts they encounter and the main themes that are being explored in those texts.”

Recently, Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced New York City’s highest-ever postsecondary enrollment rate. Fifty-seven percent of New York City’s Class of 2016 (students entering 9th grade in Fall 2012) enrolled in a two- or four-year college, vocational program, or public service program after graduation, up two percentage points from the previous year and up six percentage points from the Class of 2013.

Evaluations by participants have been overwhelmingly positive. “This workshop was one of the most practical I’ve ever been to,” said Eileen Ruggiero, Susan E. Wagner High School. “To spend time to review exactly what is happening and expected in college writing classes was invaluable to me as an educator.”

“I feel like the great curtain was lifted and we got to see Oz himself,” noted Kerry Spillane, a teacher at Port Richmond High School. “I will be sharing materials with my colleagues, especially the syllabus and writing assignments so that we may model them in the future.”

“We are proud to continue to partner with CUNY Staten Island and Dean [of the CSI School of Education] Kenneth Gold to bring this essentially important partnership to life,” said Christine Zapata and Contessa McNulty, Borough Instructional Leads at the Staten Island Field Support Center.

“The collaborative effort between liberal arts faculty specializing in writing, education professors, and NYCDOE specialists resulted in a professional development experience that was incredibly valuable for high school teachers and college professors alike,” commented Deirdre Armitage, Director of Fieldwork at the CSI School of Education.