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The Beekman Blue Jay Sings!

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

Last week we had our second ever Chirp Café, sponsored by our literary magazine, The Beekman Chirp. This event was even more successful than the last, with a bigger turnout of spectators and participants. Folks were sitting high up in the stairwell and packed into the study hall on the second floor. Students shared poems about friendship, heartbreak, joy, and even eating. Here are some reasons why these events are great for students and the school: 1.     It encourages students to engage the literary arts: Students don’t always understand why they learn literature in school. Why would they want to learn about people who never existed, or read poems that make no sense to them? By making them the poets and storytellers, students begin to understand the value of the literary arts as a means of expression and communication. If the raucous applause after each reading is any indication, they are succeeding! 2.     They get practice in public speaking: So many of our students are nervous...read more

Topics: Chirp Cafe, literary journal, Chirp, Michelle Koza

Six Future Career Paths for which a Bachelor’s in History Will Prepare You

Authored by Anastasia Georgoulis, History Teacher

During Junior year of high school, students stress out over their grades because they know colleges will be judging them. Senior year, students stress out over the application process and its deadlines. All this stress to get into college is so that they can have more opportunities that will lead to successful lives. If you are a college-bound senior, you have time to figure out your life’s path – and even time to make mistakes – but that doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself some direction as well. Below are some careers you could set yourself up for by choosing History as your college major. 1.) Lawyer/Attorney: My father went from earning his Bachelor's in History to earning his JD. He learned the important skills of research and analysis. 2.) Film Critic: History is a general category with many sections depending on your interest. Prepare yourself to point out the accuracy level of blockbusters or indie films. 3.) Supreme Court Judge: Supreme Court cases are all about setting...read more

Topics: history, career, college, Anastasia Georgoulis

5 Great and Effective Study Tips

Authored by Ian Rusten, History Teacher

As a teacher, I am obliged to give exams regularly.  But, I recognize that learning how to study for an exam is no easy task. Here are 5 key S.T.U.D.Y. tips to keep in mind when preparing for a test, however big or small.  Sleep Does the all-nighter really work? Can you cram a unit’s worth of material into your brain the night before an exam? No, and in fact, it will often backfire. Pulling an all-nighter will defeat the purpose of studying when you have no energy to think the next day. Take your time and pace yourself Don’t leave studying to the last minute. Spread it out over a few days and let yourself gradually absorb the material. This gives you time to check with your teacher about any misunderstandings and it also lets you use the last day before an exam for reinforcement of learning and not new learning. Use all available resources Don’t be afraid to ask peers and teachers for help. Find a classmate or two and determine each of your strengths, then teach and reteach each other...read more

Topics: Ian Rusten, study tips

Teaching the Novella

Authored by James Vescovi, English Teacher

Too often high school teachers serve up the same “classic” novels that have weighed down the literary canon for decades. You know the culprits: The Great Gatsby, A Tale of Two Cities, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Grapes of Wrath, to name a few. These are all great books; they deserve to be read. But it’s important, too, that teachers search outside the box. I’ve found great success with novellas and short novels in two ways. The nightly reading required to get through a longer novel too often stretches it out into a month or more. My experience is that interest severely flags around two-and-a-half weeks—which is about the time it takes to get through a shorter form. The novella is often called “the bastard child” of literature. For publishers, they are impossible to sell because readers are confused by their length. But there are plenty of good ones out there.  Here are some suggestions: First Love by Ivan Turgenev (1860).  The protagonist, falling in love for the first time, is...read more

Topics: James Vescovi, English, novella

Now That You’ve Decided to Take an AP Exam

Authored by Maren Holmen, Academic Liaison

While going about how to register for the AP exam, people tend to put off finding a place where they can take the them until the last minute--and that's the worst thing you could do, especially in a place like New York!  Unlike the SAT or ACT, there is no online AP test registration and there are no test centers set up specifically for these exams.  It’s left up to each school to allow (or deny) students who wish to test with them.  I always recommend the following: 1.  Call the College Board directly to get a list of schools that allow outside students to test with them.  This is ​not​ a list of all schools that will offer AP exams, just those that are willing to say that they'll allow non-enrolled students to test with them.  ​Call early!​  They generally have a cap on how many outside students they can/will allow, and these spaces fill up fast.  In addition, the AP exam registration deadline is typically at the end of March—for schools to order AP exams from the College Board. ...read more

Topics: Advanced Placement, AP exams, standardized testing, college, Maren Holmen

High School Equivalency Exams: What Do We Know?

Authored by Maren Holmen, Academic Liaison

Last year, I wrote a blog on the end of the GED exam in New York State and the start of the TASC.  While the format of both tests has now had a year to settle and become the norm, a recent article on NPR suggests that the options available for students not earning a high school diploma are becoming significantly more difficult.  But what about the tests that aren’t the GED?  How are they different? As I mentioned in my previous blog, I only discovered the change from the GED to the TASC in New York when I was contacted regarding tutoring for the GED in January 2014.  A student from the UK was considering attending college in New York City without graduating from a British school.  There were inherent challenges in helping a student prepare for an exam which didn’t even have a prep book available for purchase until February 26, 2014. As someone who has helped prepare students in locales in and around New York, I’ve done my research.  Here are a few quick facts: Each state sets its own...read more

Topics: TASC, GED, standardized testing, test prep, Maren Holmen

Celebrate the Chinese New Year in New York

Authored by Linli Chin, Science Teacher

Xin Nian Kwai Le! Gong Xi! Gong Xi Fa Cai! This is the traditional Chinese greeting that families, friends and neighbors address each other with during Chinese Lunar New Year. It translates to “Happy New Year! Wishing you happiness and prosperity! This year, 2015, which happens to be the year 4714 on the Chinese Lunar Calendar, will be celebrated on February 19th ushering in the year of the Ram. The Chinese Zodiac consists of 12 animals, and their legends are often told by the elderly members of the community as they pass on the customs and rituals to the younger generations. The “Legend of the Great Race” begins with Buddha summoning the animals to bid him farewell as he departs Earth; he said he would reward the first 12 animals that came to him by naming the years after them in the order of their appearance. The order of the animals were: Rat Ox Tiger Rabbit Dragon Snake Horse Ram Monkey Rooster Dog Boar Similar to western Astrology, the Chinese believe that the animal of your...read more

Topics: Linli Chin, Chinese New Year, New York City

Deciding Whether or Not to Take AP Exams

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director, The Tutoring School

As parents and their children worry more and more about how hard it is to get into college, they look for additional opportunities to distinguish themselves from the rest.  Advanced Placement courses and exams have become one of those things high school juniors and seniors take to show that they are competitive.  Every year, however, I field inquiries from frantic parents who are looking for a tutor or a place for their child to take these AP exams, in large part because “that’s what everyone does.”  Before you stress out about where your child can take an AP exam (either because your school doesn’t offer this particular exam or because your child is home-schooled) or commit to paying for endless hours of tutoring, there are a few things to consider: What’s the goal: to get college credit or create a more competitive college application?  In a perfect world, both things would be nice; however, many people are focused on one or the other.  AP courses can be taken without taking the...read more

Topics: Advanced Placement, AP exams, college, Maren Holmen

Using Technology to Exercise the Mind - Part II

Authored by The Beekman School

In a follow up to my last blog regarding how significant a role creative software can have in the development of a person’s mind, I’d like to share an illuminating example.  Here at The Beekman School we offer various creative courses, and one of them is a course in the fundamentals of design using Adobe Illustrator as the software tool.  I assigned a project so challenging to my students that they have listed it as the most difficult task they have ever done.  All I asked was for them to mimic each other’s style for one of their projects. I wanted to get them thinking outside the box regarding their design solutions. Every day of the project I received comments ranging from, “This is so hard!” to, “Why are you making us do this?”  Why indeed?  To expand their minds, break down assumptions, and force new perceptions. After a week of this, the project came to an end.  The students were relieved and asked if they could go back to their old style of design.  I said yes, and the next...read more

Topics: technology

Why Do We Tell Each Other Stories?

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

We all have stories. Sometimes we think that our stories are not valuable or interesting, but if our inaugural Chirp Café last week taught us anything, it’s that this just isn’t the case. The room was packed to the rafters with spectators who were there to listen to students tell their personal stories of transition and change. I started Chirp Café as a venue for students to share their stories. At first, I was afraid it would flop. What teenager would be brave enough to get in front of a crowd of their peers and share their feelings? It seemed a non-starter. But how wrong I was! The kids loved it. Our students come from all over the country and the world, and it’s a culture shock when they get here. I experienced it myself. As an American born and raised abroad, it took some adjusting when I finally decided to make the United States my permanent residence. So I shared my story. I didn’t fit in as a high school kid, and continued to struggle when I went to college. But at the same...read more

Topics: English, storytelling, Chirp Cafe, Michelle Koza


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