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The NYC Gifted & Talented Symposium

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

The 2016 NYC Gifted & Talented Symposium (hosted by PALNYC) convened on Saturday, March 12.  It was a day for parents and educators to learn more about different teaching techniques and education options for students who fit into the gifted and talented or accelerated learning category.  I was representing The Beekman School in a curated exhibitors area, along with programs from all over the city that offer opportunities for these accelerated learners.  In hearing some of the panel topics and speaking with the parents, it was apparent that the common thread was, “I’m looking for more to help my child.  Where do I find it?” I was asked to speak on a panel at the symposium at the end of the day.  This panel, “What to do When It’s Not the Right Fit: Options for a DIY Education,” featured speakers from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives: moderator Elizabeth Perelstein, founder of School Choice International; Erika Rossa, Heidi Saltalamacchia, Jen Seron, and Maverick Scott,...read more

Topics: gifted & talented, The Beekman School, Tutoring School

Travel to the Extremes (In the Name of Science)

Authored by Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, Science Teacher

I was a military brat.  My dad was in the Navy, so every 3 to 4 months we’d pack everything up and travel to a new military base for my dad’s new assignment.  By the time I was in middle school, I had lived half of my life overseas in places like Scotland and a tiny 3 mile by 8 mile island off the tip of the boot of Italy.  I loved immersing myself in a new culture and picking up bits of the language.  Even the transfer from South Texas to Southern California was exciting.  I lived right by Sea World and the San Diego Zoo!  I blame this exciting upbringing for my love of travel.  When my husband and I got married, we knew we’d want to celebrate our anniversary each year with a trip.  We considered a Saturday wedding in June, but finally decided on a Saturday in March knowing that, as a teacher, I’d always have a week or two for travel during Spring Break.  We’ll be celebrating 13 years of wedded bliss next week. London, Egypt, Paris, several Italian cities, Mexico, Costa Rica and the...read more

Topics: Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, Iceland, ecology, Galapagos, volcano

How to Choose the Right High School

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

High school years are some of the most influential ones in a person’s life.  Children make that transition from being a child to a young adult, and the process of pulling away from parents and establishing independence and a personal identity moves into full swing.  The culture and environment during this pivotal period plays a major influence in the direction a person’s life will take when turning 18 years old.  How do you know if you are choosing the right high school? First of all, there is no perfect school and, just like in life, everything is a compromise.  So relax and don’t let your stress level get out of control.  You need to begin by creating a list of the qualities that satisfy the student’s needs and interests, and one that embraces the requirements that the parents feel are important.  With this working outline, you can start your search. The Internet is the obvious place to start looking.  Most schools have spent a lot of time and effort creating a website that captures...read more

Topics: high school, admissions, George Higgins

A Decade in Film and Literature: The 1880s

Authored by Ian Rusten, History Teacher

With spring break just around the corner, I couldn’t help but think about how quickly the year is passing by. How I wish we would spend weeks on each era of American history digging deep into the cultural, social, and everyday lives of Americans! But alas, we must march on.  For those that wish to use some free time to gain more in-depth knowledge of American history, focus on any decade from the past and you will likely find films, art, and novels are just a click away. For example: The 1880s ushered in great change both in the United States and across the globe. With its arrival came the end of the Old West and of the romanticized outlaws and the growth of the Gilded Age, the Age of Imperialism, the Great Strikes, and the Populist Movement. It was the era of the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, the great inventions by Edison and Bell--a romanticized yet fraught era. What better way to develop a deep understanding of the era then to delve in the literature and film both from and about...read more

Topics: Ian Rusten, history, film, literature

What Skill Gap?

Authored by James Vescovi, English Teacher

News flash: The educational “skills gap”—on which the media report regularly and who tell us is the fault of “failing schools” and “lazy, tenured teachers”—is not what you’ve been led to believe.  Corporate HR departments across America are saying that the young women and men they hire largely possess the knowledge and (with a modicum of on-site training) skills necessary to do the work.  Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Charlotte Kent explains: “In the large debate around a nationwide skills gap that colleges [face], attention focuses on reading, writing, math abilities, tech knowledge, and other specialized skills. Yet, overall, employers report little deficit in basic reading, writing, and math skills.” The real gap, according to Kent, involves the soft skills: punctuality, organization, patience, self-motivation, and work ethic. Kent is a visiting assistant professor at Mercy College in New York. She is trying to fill in the soft-skills chasm with rules that some...read more

Topics: James Vescovi, skills

Summer School – It’s Not Just For Flunkers Anymore

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

“Summer school” has been the boogeyman of students in movies and schools for decades: “If you fail this course, you’re going to have to go to SUMMER SCHOOL!”  (Cue scary music and/or demonic laugh.)  But for a growing group of families, summer school (and, particularly, summer school for high school students) is not a punishment but an opportunity—a chance to improve skills, follow a passion, or jump ahead. Are you worried about your middle-schooler making a successful transition to high school?  Have you noticed that your child is having trouble with reading comprehension?  Is combating the “summer slide” in math getting harder every year?  You might want to look into summer school tutoring or courses that will help your child work on specific skills.  If they don’t know how to take notes efficiently and/or effectively, it can be difficult to address this in the middle of a school year, when all of your child’s effort is focused on just getting the work done.  It doesn’t need to be...read more

Topics: Summer School, Summer, Maren Holmen

The Science of the Super Bowl

Authored by Linli Chin, Science Teacher

As we gather around the TV this Sunday with friends and family to watch one of the biggest sporting events of the year, wolf down chicken wings and nachos, sing along to the half-time show and chuckle at million dollar commercials, there’s another thing that we can do as well – discuss the science behind all that football! We are currently covering the unit on impulse and momentum in our Physics class and there are multiple examples of its application in our everyday life. For instance, the role of safety belts in cars help save our lives in the event of a collision by extending the time of impact. This subsequently lowers the net force experienced by the driver when the car comes to a sudden stop. It is also the same reason why we bend our knees when we land from a jump or have the extra cushion of air in our pair of Nike Air Max sneakers. During a play when one player gets tackled by another player, the change in momentum experienced by both players are the same, but they are...read more

Topics: Linli Chin, physics, Super Bowl, momentum

Options to Homeschool Outside Your Home

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

There are multiple reasons (philosophical, lifestyle, financial) why a family may opt to homeschool their children.  For the early grades and even for some more advanced courses (where a parent or close connection has a background in that area), it’s fairly easy to direct the education of homeschooled children.  But what do you do for those courses that you aren’t comfortable teaching? Let’s start with courses that are more specialized—upper-level math and language classes, for example.  What do you do when your son wants to study French literature but you can barely order from the French restaurant around the corner?  Or if your daughter wants to study Calculus while you never got past Algebra II?  Finding other students who are interested in the same courses and sharing knowledge (and teachers) is a common method for homeschoolers who are taking courses that fall outside of the scope of general knowledge (they’re also a great way for homeschool kids to make friends and learn how to...read more

Topics: homeschooling, Advanced Placement, SAT prep, AP exams, Maren Holmen

Faculty Q&A with Math Teacher Kate Bendrick

Authored by Raven Koch, History Teacher

Sitting down at our cozy table in a Japanese restaurant near the school, I knew Kate was from Connecticut, so I started there.  I asked her if she grew up in an urban corner of New England, or somewhere more rural.  “The ‘burbs,” she responded, “It was the worst of both worlds – remote enough to not have activities and social actions, but not remote enough to have peace of nature.” “So, you like nature?” I ask. “Not particularly.  It’s just the only up-side I can see.  No, I’m a city girl.” “So you like it here in New York?” “Yes, I love New York!  I lived in Paris when I was 19.  I liked it.  It was so big.  I didn’t know what to do with it.  I’d do better there now.”  Kate pauses.  Then, “I became a city girl.  That’s what I am now.” “Where did you go to college?” “I went to school at UConn.  It had cows and a dairy bar, but I liked it even though it was rural.  You had the university and people to talk to.” “What did you study?” “Got my Master’s there in Economics.”  She laughs.  “...read more

Topics: Kate Bendrick, mathematics, teacher, Raven Koch

Further Thoughts on Sound Effects

Authored by Cavin Thuring, Technology Teacher

Continuing on from my last blog about sound effects, I noticed that the use of them can make a boring creative endeavor more personal and fulfilling to the student.  I teach an Audio Mixing class at Beekman.  Most of the work involves working with loops of pre-existing audio to create an original mixed piece of music. The class attracts two types of students: ones who are already involved in creating original music and those who are not.  The students already interested in audio mixing excel from the get-go and produce great, complex pieces.  The students who are not already interested often become bored and lose whatever initial gusto they had. I was flummoxed with one such student who got bored at the task.  He found no interest in the results of mixing the pre-recorded loops.  Finally, I said to him, “Why don’t you create and record and mix your own sound effects? (In the audio business, this type of sound effect is known as foley, and it has been used quite extensively in music...read more

Topics: Cavin Thuring, technology, sound effects, audio mixing

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