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Doing it Write

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

Most students I’ve encountered in my teaching career have profound anxieties about writing. As a teacher of English, I have wondered about how to crack this problem. Over the summer, I had a transformative experience with the New York City Writing Project, a for-teachers, by-teachers organization that has writing at its center. Working with the Project caused me to question many things about my own teaching and beliefs about writing. One of the biggest takeaways from my experience was the realization that most of the writing we ask our students to do is for performance. If every time they write something they can expect to be assessed, no wonder writing is fraught with so much anxiety. I decided to decouple writing from performance. I decreased the number of formal writing assignments I collected and graded, but I increased the overall amount of writing my students did. Students spend a lot of time in my classroom writing, but this writing is often the prelude to discussions or part...read more

Topics: Michelle Koza, writing, informal, formal, NYCWP

Can Studying Spanish Increase Your Empathy?

Authored by Daniel Shabasson, Spanish Teacher

We feel more empathy towards people with whom we have something in common, and what more could you have in common with someone than a shared language?  Could learning a foreign language increase our empathy towards speakers of that language?  It’s certainly possible.  But I want to focus on a different question about language learning and empathy.  Can learning to use the indirect object—an important grammar structure in Spanish—increase our sensitivity to how our actions may affect others, thereby making us more empathetic?  The indirect object is used frequently and expansively in Spanish. It is rare in English, where it is employed merely to state who receives an object.  For example, consider English sentences (1) and (2) below:      (1) I gave him the ball.      (2) I made him a sandwich.  Here, the boldface word “him” is an indirect object pronoun in English.  “Him” tells you who received the ball or the sandwich.  The relation expressed by the indirect object with respect to...read more

Topics: Spanish, Daniel Shabasson, empathy


Authored by Kate Bendrick, Math Teacher

I’ve been thinking a lot about respect lately. In a survey of long-lasting life partners, it came up as crucial to maintaining a relationship. Communication was important too, but respect was moreso: 
 “My husband and I have been together 15 years this winter. I’ve thought a lot about what seems to be keeping us together, while marriages around us crumble (seriously, it’s everywhere… we seem to be at that age). The one word that I keep coming back to is “respect”. Of course, this means showing respect, but that is too superficial. Just showing it isn’t enough. You have to feel it deep within you. I deeply and genuinely respect him for his work ethic, his patience, his creativity, his intelligence, and his core values. From this respect comes everything else – trust, patience, perseverance (because sometimes life is really hard and you both just have to persevere). I want to hear what he has to say (even if I don’t agree with him) because I respect his opinion. I want to enable him to...read more

Topics: respect, Kate Bendrick, communication

What Is The Beekman School?

Authored by The Beekman School

The Beekman School is a coed, college preparatory high school that opened in 1925.  We offer small classes averaging 6 students with one-to-one classes and distance learning available so that students with a myriad of specific requests are able to create an academic program.  Our dedicated faculty returns year after year to encourage and support teenagers on their individual paths toward achieving personal goals. In addition, we are pleased to offer financial aid, prorated tuition, payment plans, and merit scholarships.  For close to a century, we have successfully prepared students to continue their education after high school; others try to copy our program, but none can duplicate it. read more

Topics: The Beekman School, high school

Tips for Completing Your Private High School Application

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

Applications for private high school admissions may vary slightly from school to school, but there are several components that will remain constant regardless of where you apply.  Making a personal statement is one of those basics, so my first advice is - don’t cheat. People in an admissions office read a lot of essays.  Even though it’s easy to use examples of essays that you find on the Internet, that’s not going to be your best approach.  Your essay is going to read like many other essays and you want yours to stand out.  You need to focus on what makes you unique.  Do you have a particular interest that will set you apart from other students?  Have you had a life experience that has helped you develop a special point of view that others may find interesting?  These are the personal statements that will make a better impression with an admissions committee. Don’t have a parent or teacher get too involved in writing your essay.  Yes, you’ll want some feedback, a second opinion, and...read more

Topics: high school, financial aid, George Higgins

What is the Difference Between a Good and a Great High School?

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

In just a couple of months, students will be notified about their private high school acceptances.  Just like during the college admissions process, you likely applied to several schools and you can soon see what your choices are once all of the results are in. Every student wants to have a wonderful experience at his/her new school, but how do you know which of the schools is the best New York City private school?  Given that tuition costs are high, if a school wasn’t good it probably wouldn’t still be around.  So how can you tell the difference between a good and a great Manhattan private high school? In my experience, schools can be both to different students.  As long as the components to a good education are there, the key ingredient that makes the difference is what the student brings to the learning environment.  Like most things in life, you get out of it what you put into it. Take into consideration these questions when hoping to make the high school experience great: If...read more

Topics: high school, George Higgins

What does a typical Beekman student look like?

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director, The Tutoring School

What does a typical Beekman student look like? I am asked this question all of the time in interviews and conversations with people curious about our school.  This is what I tell them.   There is no “typical” Beekman student.  We have a wide variety of students, including: Those who are drawn to our small class sizes (which are half the size of most other private schools), generally because they have struggled in larger classrooms due to learning differences. Those who are drawn to our inclusive community because they’ve been bullied at a previous school. Those who hail from different countries (about 25% of our population is international) who would like to create a path to graduation that avoids repeating a year of academics or need to improve their English language skills (if English is not their first language). Those who want to challenge themselves appropriately, either by taking advanced courses in subjects where they excel or having the option to take courses through the...read more

Topics: The Beekman School, flexible scheduling, personalized learning, Maren Holmen

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: Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, science, teaching, 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