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Using Podcasts to Teach Claim-Evidence-Reasoning (C-E-R) in Science

Authored by Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez

Many science textbooks define a scientist as someone who asks questions about the natural world and seeks to answer those questions through research, experimentation and collaboration. If this is true, we all start out as scientists. As babies, we take in the world around us through our senses. As our vision and coordination begins to improve, we reach for objects and, much to the horror of our onlooking overprotective parents, we pop them in our mouths in order to learn more about them. We start to crawl and eventually walk to observe a whole new part of our world. Once we start talking, we question everything. How many times have you been standing behind a mom and her chatty 2-year-old and eavesdropped on this exchange: Child: Mom, mom, mom, why is the sky blue?Mom: Because it is.Child: But why?Mom: Because white light from the sun is scattered by gas particles in the atmosphere and blue light has the shortest wavelength so it is scattered the most. It’s called Rayleigh scattering....read more

Topics: CER, Claim, Evidence, Reasoning, NGSS, NSTA, Serial Podcast

Living History in Film

Authored by Ian Rusten, History Teacher

History is a collection of stories--stories that tell of events big and small.  In history class, we often look at the macro story, the big picture. We might look at WWI: the causes, the effects, the battles, and the political, social, and economic costs and gains. However, what is frequently lost is the story of the 18-year-old boy, aching with homesickness and overwhelmed by his first steps outside of his small hometown, sent to fight a war that no one really understands. Or the story of the women who sat in the back offices of a cold and nondescript building, calculating some of the world's most important mathematical computations. At the heart of history is, and should be, the close study of the individuals. A great way to learn about these individuals is by watching historical films. Highlighted here are several films that illustrate the lives of ordinary Americans who made a difference in the world. One important subject in U.S. History that was often overlooked in the past is...read more

Topics: Ian Rusten, history, film

How Do You Know If You've Found the Right High School?

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director, The Tutoring School

If you are the parent of an 8th grader, you are probably in the midst of asking yourself the question, “How do I choose the right high school for my child?”  From asking friends & fellow parents to performing an internet search to going to open houses, you are certain to be presented with a lot of options.  Most (if not all) of them will sound like great places for your child to learn.  So what makes a school the “right” school? First, don’t rely just on what you hear from other people or a school’s website—go see the school for yourself.  Since so much of your child’s life will be spent in that school, it’s important that they (and you) see it with your own eyes to make sure that it feels right.  I also recommend that, if at all possible, you go during the day when classes are in session; you will see the students and faculty in action at that point, even if only for a few minutes. Second, ask questions!  Just like a student in a classroom, compile a list of all the questions you...read more

Topics: high school, choosing the right school, Maren Holmen

Accredited High Schools - What You Need to Know

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

You will find several options available as you look for the school that best fits your needs.  Be careful, however, because the diploma you think you are getting may not be useful for your goals. The first thing you want to establish is if the school you are investigating is an accredited high school or an accredited online high school and, if it is, which organization accredits it. What is an accredited high school? There are a number of organizations that accredit schools.  This means that the school has been evaluated by an outside organization and the evaluation is based on the quality of education and services that that school provides.  If the school meets that particular organization’s standards, then accreditation is granted to that school. You can imagine that there is a lot of room for variation in educational quality depending on a school’s accreditation.  This is why it is so important for you to acquire this information before you enroll, and it’s generally easy to find...read more

Topics: high school, George Higgins

Tuning into the Cosmic Symphony of the Universe

Authored by Linli Chin, Physics Teacher

One of my favorite TV shows is "The Big Bang Theory" and its theme song, with its catchy tune, summarizes the evolution of the universe, earth, and all things living on it quite accurately! If you are not familiar with the lyrics, or even if you are, read (or sing along) below: Our whole universe was in a hot, dense state Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started, wait The earth began to cool, the autotrophs began to drool Neanderthals developed tools We built a wall (we built the pyramids) Math, science, history, unraveling the mysteries That all started with the big bang! Hey!* In a previous blog by our Astronomy teacher, Cavin, he discussed the existence of dark matter and energy, which is causing our universe to expand at an accelerated pace. However, this blog is looking at how the universe began, and the discoveries that served as evidence that the universe started 13.7 billion years ago and expanded to its current size. The Big Bang theory, first proposed by...read more

Topics: Linli Chin, physics, Big Bang, CMB

At What Age Should a Child Begin to Learn a Foreign Language?

Authored by Daniel Shabasson, Spanish Teacher

These days, many parents are eager for their children to begin foreign language classes at a young age because children seem to learn foreign languages faster and better than adults. Often, a child moving to a new country picks up the new language more quickly than their parents.  According to common wisdom, a child should begin foreign language instruction at a young age when he or she is most capable of absorbing the new language. Some children now begin as early as nursery school. Many parents think: with foreign languages, the earlier the better. But is this common wisdom accurate? The case for starting children in a foreign language at a young age is not as clear-cut as some may think. The case of the child who moves to a new country and rapidly acquires the new language may be misleading.  That child is truly immersed in the language, meaning he or she is exposed to many hours of the language every day. By contrast, a child who receives one hour of daily instruction beginning...read more

Topics: Daniel Shabasson, Spanish, foreign language

Oh, the Humanities!

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

I am an English teacher who is passionate about literature. Catch me in my AP class and you’ll see that I’m a superb lecturer (though I do stray from literature every so often; see my blog on why I teach Aristotle’s Ethics). In my standard English classes, however, as I have gathered experience over the last 10 years, I have moved away more and more from pure literature, and exposed my students to magazine articles (old and new), op-eds, and other types of non-fiction, like primary source documents such as historical memos, convention resolutions, and legal opinions. In the parlance of our times, I am not so much a traditional English teacher, as a teacher of the humanities. What are the humanities? The humanities are a branch of the liberal arts that cover human arts and attitudes through history, philosophy, religion, language and visual arts. All of these are reflections of human activity in the world, and as a steward of the new generation, I believe it is my duty to impart to...read more

Topics: Michelle Koza, Humanities, English

"Kvelling" about Our Kids

Authored by Gabriella Skwara, History Teacher

As teachers, we often spend hours discussing classroom and student problems and how to fix them. A phone call from one of us generally means that something has gone wrong or that some work has gone undone. I probably dread these conversations even more than the student whose parents I’m reaching out to does. I far prefer the quick words shared with a parent as they drop off their kid or getting to know people face-to-face at parent-teacher night. The reason? Teachers (not unlike parents) absolutely love being able to brag about their students’ successes and achievements. Which brings me back to my title and a wonderful Yiddish word I feel the need to use on a regular basis when talking about “my kids.” To kvell, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, means to “feel happy and proud,” yet that definition hardly does the word justice. Linguistically, the word comes from the same Middle High German word that has come to mean “fountain, spring or source” in modern German. To...read more

Topics: Gabriella Skwara, history, kvelling, field trip

Your English Teacher’s Role in College Preparation

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

A weighty concern on many teenagers' minds right now is, "How strong is my high school preparation for college?"  Certainly, part of the responsibility for college readiness lies with the student: to best prepare for college while in high school, should you take college-level classes in high school or utilize some other tool? I believe that your English teacher is the key component in this preparation.   English is the one discipline that crosses all subjects and is crucial for success in college—whether it’s the ability to comprehend and analyze text or to communicate your thoughts with clear, concise, effective writing. Does your high school English curriculum contain the building blocks that will benefit you the most, improving your skills and allowing you to advance your knowledge in other general education courses?  Do the English activities in your high school benefit you by strengthening your foundation for higher learning? These are the questions that you, as a proactive and...read more

Topics: high school, college prep, English, George Higgins

Dark Matter and Energy

Authored by Cavin Thuring, Technology Teacher

One of the courses I teach, Astronomy, is such a delight. I get to see, again and again, the awe in my students as I show them images and videos of various objects in the universe. Just showing a close up of the Sun’s surface can elicit such gasps from them. And a few of these students have not been outside a metropolitan area with all its light pollution. They have no idea how majestic the night sky is with the Milky Way visible. Every year, however, I find that, whenever the topics of dark matter and dark energy come up, there is a momentary pause when invariably at least one student will ask whether or not these really exist. For the uninitiated, neither dark matter nor dark energy is known to actually exist. Both are theorized based on observations of the universe made within the framework of our already-developed gravitational model of reality. We see unexpected motion in galaxies that contradicts what our model predicts based on the amount of matter and energy that we can detect...read more

Topics: Cavin Thuring, physics, dark matter, dark energy

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