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What it Takes to Learn Your Way: Assessing How Far We’ve Come

Authored by Maren Holmen, Academic Liaison

This post is part of a series inspired by Dream School: NYC, a SundanceTV docu-series that follows 15 New York City teenagers who left high school and are now trying to get back on track to graduate. The Beekman School partnered with the show to help customize the learning experience for the students. Follow this blog to learn more and participate in the social media conversations using the hashtag #LearnYourWay.  This week marks the final episode of “Dream School: NYC.“ Even though The Beekman School was part of the students’ journey from afar, it did feel close to us.  It is true that they were not Beekman students and we were not part of the selection process for either the students or the faculty. We were only invited to offer our expertise, our model, and the credit the students needed as an incentive to give the project a winning change. But we rooted for every single one of these kids and we did our best to translate our expertise into positive impact. The kind of impact we see...read more

Topics: Learn Your Way, Dream School, Maren Holmen

Helpful Hints for Speaking with Teachers

Authored by Maren Holmen, Academic Liaison

I’ve been an educator for 13 years, and have been asked by numerous friends how to deal with a conflict that crops up in their child’s school.  Students come home at the end of the day filled with social and academic stress.  With growing classroom sizes and increasing curriculum demands in many schools, teachers are less likely to be able to stay in constant contact with parents about what happens while their children are at school. How is a mother to know when she should advocate for her child?  What does a father say to get the best results?  How does a parent know what is too much or too little involvement?  I find that, in all of my interactions with parents and teachers, the most successful incorporate the following do’s and don’ts: Do make an appointment to speak with the teacher.  Teachers, like other professionals, are often busy even when they don’t appear to be.  In order to make sure that you and your child’s teacher have the time and space needed to reach a resolution,...read more

Topics: Parents, teacher, Maren Holmen

What It Takes to Learn Your Way: Small Class Size

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

This post is part of a series inspired by Dream School: NYC, a SundanceTV docu-series that follows 15 New York City teenagers who left high school and are now trying to get back on track to graduate. The Beekman School partnered with the show to help customize the learning experience for the students. Follow this blog to learn more and participate in the social media conversations using the hashtag #LearnYourWay.  After watching the first four episodes of Dream School: NYC, it’s easy to see how handling only 15 students—half the size of a regular class size—improves the quality of time teachers spend with students. But what if your child would be one of only 8 kids in a class? For starters, there is no hiding in a corner behind the other students or even from themselves. The intimate setting encourages them to face their shortcomings head on, but it also fosters a can-do attitude that students take with them outside the classroom. The small classroom adds a dynamic that cannot be...read more

Topics: Learn Your Way, Dream School, small classes, personalized learning, Beekman School, Charlie Sitler, Michelle Koza

5 Magazines to Use in History Class

Authored by Ian Rusten, History Teacher

As a social studies teacher, I feel a critical need to instill in my students a desire to learn about and read about the world around us—whether current events, long term economic trends, or archeological digs. In my Government and elective classes, students often have to find and bring to class current news stories that catch their eye so we can discuss them.  Most students turn to The New York Times to find articles.  But there are other publications worth investigating to learn about the past and present.  I have selected five publications that I think are first-rate: ·      Archaeology Magazine - This is a great magazine that provides interesting articles on archeological subjects ranging from the history of the Incas in Peru to information on a Roman fort uncovered in Morocco.  ·      Harpers Monthly - This publication features short fiction stories by top writers, as well as in-depth articles on relevant subjects like the Iraq conflict. ·      The Atlantic - This moderate...read more

Topics: magazines, history, Ian Rusten

What It Takes to Learn Your Way: Flexibility

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

This post is part of a series inspired by Dream School: NYC, a SundanceTV docu-series that follows 15 New York City teenagers who left high school and are now trying to get back on track to graduate. The Beekman School partnered with the show to help customize the learning experience for the students. Follow this blog to learn more and participate in the social media conversations using the hashtag #LearnYourWay.  Personal growth requires curiosity and a variety of experiences. I remember being encouraged as a student to explore all opportunities presented to me and discover myself. However, every time I heard that advice I recall thinking “I can’t wait to graduate high-school and start my exploration phase.” As if, somehow, it was implied that the recommendation was to be followed only once I graduate and I have the time. Looking back, I realize that I felt this way because of the constraints of my school schedule. It is true that not all activities require a lot of effort or time....read more

Topics: Learn Your Way, Dream School, New York, Beekman School, high school, personalized education, personalized learning, flexible schedules, Michelle Koza

Bullying: What Can You Do Now (Not Years From Now)?

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

If you’ve ever been the brunt of bullying (and most people have at some point), knowing that it’s just a passing phase and will eventually stop doesn’t really help getting through tomorrow.  The biggest immediate question is: how do you deal with it right now? The most important thing is communication.  Tell people!  Parents need to know who the bullies are and where the bullying is taking place.  Often times, parents can address the problem among themselves.  Since most everyone knows what it feels like to be bullied, no one wants to ignore it if they feel they can do something to prevent it.  Let parents talk to each other and see if they are able to resolve the situation. If the bullying is happening in the classroom, talk to the teacher.  He or she may not be aware of what’s happening since students are adept at hiding this from adults; also, anyone being bullied is probably too afraid to speak up because “snitching” will only make things worse. An experienced teacher with good...read more

Topics: bullying, George Higgins

What It Takes to Learn Your Way: A Sense of Community

Authored by The Beekman School

This post is part of a series inspired by Dream School: NYC, a SundanceTV docu-series that follows 15 New York City teenagers who left high school and are now trying to get back on track to graduate. The Beekman School partnered with the show to help customize the learning experience for the students. Follow this blog to learn more and participate in the social media conversations using the hashtag #LearnYourWay Inclusion: a word you may often hear as a goal for a variety of institutions (schools, private companies, government organizations) that strive to create welcoming and productive communities. Diversity is seen as key. But the road from diversity to inclusion can be a challenging one. Diversity is a complex issue that blends a multitude of factors including ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, gender, language, religion, sexual orientation, geography, and personality (introverts vs. extraverts, for example). How do you bring together such a diverse group of individuals and...read more

Topics: Learn Your Way, Dream School, bullying, diversity, inclusion, high school, personalized education, personalized learning

What to Do About Plagiarism

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

Plagiarism is one of those things kids know of, but are not sure about. They read something on the Internet and think, “Yes, that’s exactly what I want to say. This person said it better than I ever could,” and then they don’t know what to do. I put a note on a student’s assignment that said we need to chat about plagiarism. This particular student had been having trouble with this consistently the previous year. Because I would be teaching him again, I decided that I would begin a discussion of plagiarism right away. That would give us an opportunity to discuss it throughout the school year. Plagiarism is tricky. I know teachers who have an absolutely virulent attitude towards plagiarism. From that perspective, it is always malicious: the student is trying to pull one over on me! But what is plagiarism, exactly? ·      Using another writer’s words without quoting and citing ·      Paraphrasing or summarizing without citing ·      Copying so many words and ideas that the majority of...read more

Topics: Plagiarism, English, writing, Michelle Koza

What it Takes to Learn Your Way: Getting To Know You

Authored by Maren Holmen, Academic Liaison

This post is part of a series inspired by Dream School: NYC, a SundanceTV docu-series that follows 15 New York City teenagers who left high school and are now trying to get back on track to graduate. The Beekman School partnered with the show to help customize the learning experience for the students. Follow this blog to learn more and participate in the social media conversations using the hashtag #LearnYourWay.  I grew up in a small town; the kind that New Yorkers think is slightly mythical. The kind of town where everyone shows up for basketball games, school concerts, and graduation.  Academic achievements are shared in the local newspaper, and students are celebrated for the ways that they excel both in and outside the classroom.  Small communities allow for the opportunity to know the individual, not just the student.  When your teachers know you, they can help you better understand material that may otherwise present challenges. When your teachers know your strengths, they can...read more

Topics: Learn Your Way, Dream School, New York City private schools, high school, personalized education, personalized learning, career coaching, mentoring, Tutoring School, Maren Holmen

March On?

Authored by Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, Science Teacher

Last week, more than 300,000 people descended on Manhattan for The People’s Climate March.  Bill DeBlasio, the New York mayor who does not take the subway to work; Leonardo DiCaprio, who often parties on yachts in the south of France; Al Gore, who left in a rather large SUV; and several Californians, who flew 3000 miles, marched with paper signs and coffee cups which they left littered along the route to proclaim their anger at the politicians and people of the world who they feel are not doing enough to help stop the increasing problem of climate change.  Hmmm.  Does anyone else see a problem with this picture? Many of us aren’t ready to give up our high pressure showers and power flush toilets, or to compost our garbage and to use recycled toilet paper, but if we’re going to try to save the planet, instead of just marching, let’s try doing a few small things that could actually make an impact.  Turning off the water while brushing your teeth, for example, is a great place to start...read more

Topics: ecology, Green Mountain Energy, Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez

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