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"Don't Boo--Vote!"

Authored by Gabriella Skwara, History Teacher

This week marked the final presidential debate prior to Election Day 2016. In just under three weeks, we will head to the polls and select our next president. For history teachers, election years provide a wealth of ready-made lesson topics and fuel for class discussions. However the premise has been tested this year, as the election has become increasingly contentious and the political debates have become personal instead of substantive. Faced with these realities, the election has become a more difficult one to properly address in a classroom setting. Nonetheless, I strongly believe that my role as a history teacher encompasses more than merely teaching about the past. Regardless of the ultimate outcome of this election, there is no question that this is a historical election year and one that future students will encounter in their textbooks some day. This fits with one of the ideas that I like to convey to students, that they themselves are historical subjects. With this in mind,...read more

Topics: vote, election, Newsela, president, debate, Gabriella Skwara

Something’s Gotta Give: Flexibility vs. Academics

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

Every student is unique. We know this better than anyone and we’ve spent the last nine decades making it possible for this uniqueness to complement a top-quality education. Our students come from a variety of backgrounds, with their specific ways of learning, particular interests, and distinct aspirations. This individuality is celebrated by the flexibility and the choices they are able to make for themselves at Beekman. Curtis (learning differences) was a hard-working student who struggled with foreign languages.  In The Tutoring School, Curtis was able to follow the same curriculum taught in our Beekman program but at a slower pace.  By extending his Spanish classes through June, he was able to gain a concrete understanding of the language that would have been very difficult in a faster-paced classroom. Lisa (extracurricular activities) was a dedicated ballet dancer who trained multiple hours every day.  She needed a program that allowed her to take classes during the first half of...read more

Topics: flexible curriculum, flexible schedules, flexible scheduling, Maren Holmen

Calm in the Digital Storm

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

Popular wisdom says this generation of students is digitally native, and that they have facility with digital technology that people even of my generation (I’m just on the upper edge of millenial) don’t have. Indeed, in my household we had a family computer all through my years in high school. Cell phones were still relatively novel, and the iPhone was not even a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye. This difference in perspective led to my over-enthusiasm for introducing digital technology in the classroom. Last year, I ran headlong into digital without really knowing how my students would respond. I was excited by the grand experiment as well as my own newly-developed skills, and assumed that my students would be right there with me. Children need to learn how to do things, and it doesn’t matter whether they are native to the skill or not. Kids are impulsive and easily distracted. Their brains aren’t fully grown yet, including that prefrontal cortex which governs executive functioning. You...read more

Topics: Michelle Koza, note-taking, digital, Notability, technology

6 Ways to Make the Most of High School

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship.”  Even though this piece was intended for an audience of college students working as short-term summer interns, as a teacher of high school students, I was struck by how much of this advice should be taken to heart by teenagers.  And so I offer my own “6 Ways to Make the Most of High School:” Be on time.  My school is located in midtown Manhattan, with commuters coming as far away as Connecticut, Long Island, New Jersey, and even (gasp!) Staten Island.  Getting anywhere in an efficient and timely manner is a daily challenge, and so we encourage everyone to build in at least 15-20 minutes to their commuting schedule to ensure that they will arrive in time for the first class of the day.  Everyone has a day in which nothing seems to go right, but if you are consistently missing your first class because “my train was late” or “traffic was bad,” people stop feeling sorry for you...read more

Topics: high school, Maren Holmen

NYC School Helps Teens With Anxiety And School Refusal Disorder

Authored by The Beekman School

It’s no secret to parents and educators that most students dislike the thought of summer ending and school starting up again. For some children it can manifest through the usual complaining and reluctance to wake up, while others can feel paralyzing fear also known as school refusal disorder - a condition that affects children of all ages, including high school students. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America defines it as “disorder of a child who refuses to go to school on a regular basis or has problems staying in school.” According to psychologists, the most common reason for this psychiatric problem is an underlying anxiety or depression. School refusal in teenagers is often associated with social phobia, an adolescent’s need to fit in, and the resulting fears of disapproval and judgment. Most often, school refusal behavior also manifests itself through physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or diarrhea. School refusal interventions are a shared...read more

Topics: school refusal, school anxiety, The Beekman School

Apping Math

Authored by Kate Bendrick, Math Teacher

"Photomath” is an app. It's free. Its name alone conveys its purpose: take a picture of a math problem and the app will instantly provide you a step-by-step solution to it. This past summer, Photomath reached the status of being the top free app available on the iTunes App Store. The developers of the app claim that they designed it as a learning tool, rather than a way for students to cheat on homework. As an educator, I can empathize. As much as students may think math teachers live for making children (and their parents) pull out their hair, what we are really after is understanding: challenge and struggle that resolves into a feeling of accomplishment and contentment. The goal is to look at a situation that used to be incomprehensible, and now is far from it. Staring at a math problem for hours, while a pile of homework assignments from other subjects sits awaiting patiently is not what educators want for their students. This is why I understand the motivation that the developers...read more

Topics: math, Apps, technology, Kate Bendrick

Preparing for High School - Now That You're There

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

You’re in high school—hurray!  It feels like a huge accomplishment to get through your first day (and it is—go you!), but there are some things to keep in mind as you start at a new school. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  Figure out how much time it will take you to do your homework before you sign up for Student Council, Chess Club, and the yearbook staff.  It’s great to be involved, particularly in a new school, and it can help you make new friends.  But you don’t want to feel so overwhelmed that you feel like you can’t accomplish everything. Watch.  And listen.  Observe those around you the first couple of weeks at your new school.  Figure out who is serious about homework, who is always getting into trouble, and who is helpful.  Emulate those who have the qualities you would like to have, and make sure that you don’t fall into the bad habits of others around you. Choose your friends wisely.  This is, of course, one of the hardest parts of high school.  For many, the...read more

Topics: prospective student, high school, Maren Holmen

How Educators Can Help Teens Deal with Anxiety

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

It had been a year since Angela stepped foot in a classroom. Her anxiety disorder had taken control of her daily routine and manifested in serious social and academic struggles, resulting in her being homeschooled – the only option that provided the flexibility and comfort she needed to successfully complete the school year. Over time, however, her desire to be part of something bigger than her immediate family circle, to build friendships and to grow as an individual, led to the decision to transition back to the classroom environment. This would mean that anxiety and fear could no longer control her life -- not an easy objective for a then-fragile young adult. Anxiety in teens is an increasingly common condition. Angela is among the millions of U.S. adolescents who struggle with anxiety. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 25.1 percent of teens ages 13-18 have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders – a pretty alarming statistic. Just like parents, educators must...read more

Topics: anxiety, back to school

How Parents Can Help Ease the Transition from Eighth to Ninth Grade

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

Now that middle school is coming to an end and students know where they will be attending high school next year, there is a little preparation that can be done this summer to help facilitate a comfortable, successful move to a new school this September.  Fear, stress, and anxiety don’t have to be stumbling blocks even if they can’t be entirely removed. Which brings me to my first point: It’s perfectly natural for a new freshman to be intimidated about starting high school.  Even if he/she is masking it well, err on the side of caution and assume that there is some degree of anxiety going on behind the bright eyes.  Calmly and cautiously acknowledge anticipated concerns and discuss possible strategies or solutions for addressing these concerns. Make sure your child is academically prepared for ninth-grade classes.  Essay writing and reading comprehension are going to be crucial to every student’s success in high school.  Maybe a summer school English class would be a good idea to make...read more

Topics: high school, Summer, George Higgins

Tell Me a Story

Authored by Cavin Thuring, Technology Teacher

I’ve taught the course Audio Mixing Bootcamp for three years now.  I used to allow the students a lot of leeway in their choice of sounds they used in their mixes. I mistakenly assumed that this freedom would lead to great results. Although one or two students were especially gifted, most students were too enamored with their process to the point their mixes meandered and wandered with almost no point to sound decisions or any developed idea.  In order to get my students thinking and planning in a more effective way, I had to alter the projects. The most recent project was called “Tell Me a Story.”  Quite simply, I asked my students to use sounds (both effects and musical) to convey an idea or series of events.  I had hoped this would make them more deliberate in their choices and more conscious of an end result.  I thought the concept was simple, but it took them a while to get it.  They are used to stories being either watched or read - not listened to. Interestingly, the grades for...read more

Topics: audio mixing, storytelling, music, Cavin Thuring

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