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Impact II: Projects & Lesson Plans: Exploring the Park

Exploring the Park

HOW IT WORKS
Exploring the Park is an inquiry-based program that integrates the areas of social studies, language arts, art, and technology. It teaches students the concept of interdependence, focusing specifically on the relationship between the local parks and the surrounding community. While the students of P.S. 321 explored Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, this study can be adapted to other New York City parks. Throughout the study, students travel to the park and participate in a series of interviews and tours with various park staff employees. The students work in partnerships to formulate interview questions, take notes, and share the information they gather with other classmates. The students use the information they collect to help them perform a variety of activities, including designing park maps, writing informational pieces about park services, creating park brochures, and painting murals. As a result of these projects, the students become aware of the many park services that are available to the community (i.e., ice rink, playgrounds, stage performance, zoo, and carousel), and how the community can show their support by using these services and caring for the park.

THE STUDENTS
Exploring the Pa r k is designed for any K-2 class. Throughout the study, students are actively engaged in a variety of different ways, including partnerships, cooperative learning groups, and independent work. The program can be modified to meet a wide range of student abilities. 

THE STAFF
Allyson Daley has been teaching the first grade for twelve years—ten of them in Connecticut and two in New York. Since her arrival at P.S. 321, she has participated in the Leadership Group and Summer Writing Institute of Teachers College, Columbia University. She has presented at Teachers College on reading centers and she serves as a mentor teacher, member of a district-wide Teacher Leader Committee, labsite host for first-grade reading and mathematics, and is the math grade-level leader. She is currently on a school-wide social studies committee, writing a K-5 curriculum map. She was chosen to display her park curriculum project at the May 2002 Bank Street Social Studies: Reading the World Conference. She participates in Project Read, which provides intervention for at-risk students, and has collaborated with colleagues to develop and implement yearlong units of study in all content areas. 

WHAT YOU NEED
This program requires between eight to ten weeks, with classes meeting two to three times a week. (Many lessons can be integrated into the writing and art workshops.) The necessary resources include cooperative park staff members, volunteer chaperones, donated park maps, teacher-made data-recording activity sheets, and basic art and writing supplies. A camera, tape recorder, and video camera are helpful for recording interviews and tours. 

OVERALL VALUE
Through this inquiry-based study, students discover the concept of interdependence, specifically between their community and the park. While learning this valuable lesson, they develop language arts, technology, and art skills, in addition to developing a sense of pride in the work they perform.

 

View the Curriculum Unit/Dissemination Packet

CURRICULUM AREAS
Social Studies
Language Arts
Art
Technology

GRADES
K-2

MORE INFORMATION

Allyson Daley
William Penn School
P.S. 321
180 7th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Phone: (718) 330-9395
Fax: (718) 965-9605
allysonnyc@earthlink.com
Principal
Elizabeth Phillips

IMPACT II 
Catalog 2002-2003

 

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