Maya Stone, Grade 10, Staff Writer
For the first time in many years, the school day at the High School of American Studies ends for most students at 2:20. The newest addition to the HSAS curriculum is a seventh period small group instruction, which is commonly referred to as SGI.
Teachers have the opportunity to call students in for a mandatory SGI on either Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays. Each class of SGI has an attendance of ten students. The goals of the SGI meetings are to enable students to receive more one-on-one attention, to allow teachers to get to know their students better, and to provide additional support along with enrichment opportunities.
As a completely new initiative at the school, it is considered a pilot program to see how well it can be integrated into the school day. The Bronx High School of Science has a similar program that works well for them and HSAS faculty are eager to see if a version of it can be successfully adapted to HSAS.
Teachers have full discretion over how they choose to use their 50 minute additional class period and who they choose to call to attend each week. It seems that most teachers have elected to use their first round of SGIs for each student to come once.
Going forward the students chosen to attend certain SGIs may depend on performance in class or how a teacher wants to use their period. This should give teachers more flexibility in their curriculum.
Ms. Walsh, a sophomore chemistry teacher, has used her SGIs as a way to integrate the research that she is doing outside of the classroom - involving development of the adolescent brain and how we make conscious decisions in the real world - with her regular chemistry curriculum.
Some teachers may also, in the future, look to make SGIs a period in which students can sign up for extra enrichment. “Ideally, I would love to use my SGI period to possibly offer a voluntary book club to students that would intersect with our current classroom curriculum,” said Ms. Rice, an HSAS global history teacher.
She adds that “I also anticipate using it as a time to expand the breadth of things I may not have time to completely get through such as CAPP analysis which will be helpful to go through before the AP test especially since my sophomore classes have up to 30 kids.” Most students have shown enthusiasm for SGI as well. “I really enjoy being able to engage with my teachers and my peers in a smaller setting,” noted France Grodsky, a sophomore. “It adds a really cool new element to HSAS.”
One of the biggest draws to HSAS is the small community which helps to foster close connections among students and teachers. Close relationships and the ability to connect with teachers on a personal level will only be easier if students are in a class with a smaller group of students. “I think it [SGI] is a great opportunity to get to know my students better and reinforce what they learned in class and may have struggled with,” said Señor Pena, a Spanish teacher at HSAS. Junior year may also be the arguably most difficult year of high school but hopefully SGIs will make it easier to get extra help. “Our classes are only going to get harder and having small group sessions with the teacher will help me understand the content more,” added Sabrina Silbert, a junior.
Overall, both students and teachers seem happy and eager to implement the SGI change. It will be interesting to see how the program progresses and what each teacher chooses to do with their extra time. As a student, make sure that you check your email on Friday afternoon and check your line-up of SGIs for the following week!
Mr. Elinson and some of his ninth graders in SGI