As NYC overhauls literacy approach, one public school gets phonics help from nearby private school

As NYC overhauls literacy approach, one public school gets phonics help from nearby private school

Clasping a deck of pale yellow flash cards, Sloan Shapiro delivered a phonics lesson she’s taught countless times at her Manhattan private school for children with reading challenges.

“Q — U — Queen — Kwuh,” Shapiro chanted, pointing at the letters “Qu” printed on a card above a cartoon drawing of a queen. A chorus of students mimicked her sounds, tracing invisible letters on their hands.

Without missing a beat, Shapiro ticked off a spelling rule. “Q is always followed by a…”

“U!” the group responded in unison.

The chorus of students responding to Shapiro on a recent Monday afternoon at the Stephen Gaynor School, however, weren’t children. They were teachers from P.S. 84, an Upper West Side public school around the corner.

For the first time, Gaynor is offering a free 15-week course to nine public school educators to help refine their lessons on phonics, which explicitly teaches the relationship between sounds and letters. The small pilot program comes as elementary schools across the city are under a new mandate to emphasize phonics, part of a sweeping plan to overhaul the way New York City public schools teach reading.

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