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Dobbs Ferry Kids Learning About PIE at Springhurst

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – Springhurst Elementary School first-grade teacher Sarah Thomson has been teaching her students all about PIE this year.

“PIE is an acronym for teaching the kids the three main reasons authors write, which is to persuade, inform and entertain,” Thomson said.

The point of the PIE approach is to teach students about what Thomson refers to as the author’s purpose.

“We currently teach right now in the first grade author’s purpose,” Thomson said.  “We just, as a grade level, we were trying to think of an acronym, an easy way for the kids to remember all the important parts, so we kind of played around with the letters and came up with PIE.”

The three words may seem to be difficult for first-graders to understand, but Thomson said it was all part of the process.

“It’s been very successful, but it took time,” she said. “It didn’t happen right away because the vocabulary words are so advanced for them. When I started this it was at the beginning of first grade. So I really had to teach them each of those words.”

After getting over that initial hump, though, the real purpose behind PIE became clear and allowed Thomson to further the lesson.

“Once I was at the point where they understood what those vocabulary words meant and they were able use them and articulate them, then I was able to focus on ‘well now you need to give me the evidence,’” she said.

This new approach to teaching kids while involving the use of new vocabulary has not gone unnoticed by the Board of Education, either.

“Some of us are old enough to know about the issue of teaching to the test,” said board President Lynne Black. “I think we are on the right track. I don’t get the sense that the test has sucked what’s made Springhurst so special.”

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