Education A s P Ec i AL s Ec T i o N o F T h E R E c o R D - R E v i E W ✍ JA N UA Ry 1 7 , 2 0 1 4
Who’s afraid of the
Helpful lessons for all ages
By JAcKiE LUPo
re you nervous about what the Common Core will mean to your kids? It seems that just about everybody is these days. When the first round of Common-Core-linked state tests were administered last spring in New York State, the proportion of students who were performing at “grade level” dropped precipitously in many districts compared to the year before. It wasn’t that students had suddenly become “dumber” than the kids who had been in their grade the previous year — it was that the rules of the game had suddenly changed: new tests, new criteria for grading and new expectations for what skills students should have learned before taking the test. At public forums last fall, angry parents, teachers and school administrators confronted New York State education commissioner John King over the rocky implementation of the Common Core. Some even demanded his resignation. Teachers were up in arms because they felt Common Core testing had been rolled out before students were ready, after less than a year of teaching to the standards. Teachers also objected to being evaluated on the basis of students’ scores, and parents objected to the amount of time being spent in class to prepare students for the new tests. Even homeowners without children pored over their districts’ test results to be sure their home values would not be affected by declining scores. But in a recent letter to school superintendents, principals and other school leaders, King defended the Common Core Standards. “We understand that implementation of the Common Core and teacher/principal evaluation in a time of limited resources has come with significant challenges,” King wrote. “The Board of Regents and I knew we would encounter a good amount of concern in the public forums. We want — and need — to
By ToDD sLiss
hat paper you’ve had two weeks to write is due tomorrow and you haven’t started writing it. The test that you’ve known about for a week and you haven’t started studying. A project that’s worth a large part of your grade and you’ve been putting it off. This is reality for many students, especially given the daily distractions in our lives. Perhaps that’s why preschools are giving homework to little ones, to get them started on the right path to balancing their lives earlier rather than later. But in addition to just being used to having a busy life filled with homework, there are many things parents and students of all grade levels can do to give them the tools to succeed in an educational system that is jam-packed with homework, tests, projects and more tests. “In the younger grades, homework is more about getting into a routine and learning responsibility,” according to Laura Rice, director of The Learning Resource Center in Mount Kisco. “It’s important to make sure you know the teacher’s expectations and routines. Don’t rely on the child’s memory. Each afternoon ask where their homework is. Decide what works best for your family. Completing homework right after school? After a short break and a snack or after dinner? Consistency is the key for creating a new routine. After homework is completed, encourage them to pack up their bag and leave it by the door.” There is a process that parents need to be part of, especially early on. Psychologist Dorrie Bernstein’s three steps are: “1) Do it. 2) Check it. 3) Pack it.” Part of the overall routine includes where your child does his or her homework each day. That, too, should be consistent, and also hits on another aspect of successful completion of homework and studying — avoiding distractions. “When choosing the appropriate space to do homework, it is important to choose a place with the least amount of distractions,” Linda Salomon of EliteTutors said. “For younger children this may be at the kitchen or
hear from teachers, parents, and students as these important changes in practice occur in classrooms, schools and communities across the state.” Regardless of what parents might want to say to the state education commissioner, the Common Core is here. But what is it, exactly? The first thing to know about the so-called “Common Core Curriculum” is that it is not a curriculum per se. It’s a set of standards or benchmarks for the work students should be able to do at each stage of their educational career from pre-k through high school. It is not a complete “curriculum,” since it covers only English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics. It’s also wrong to call it a curriculum because it does not detail specific teaching methods, books that must be read or teaching materials that must be used, just the standards that students are expected to attain. It all began in 2010, when a consortium of state governors and education commissioners banded together to develop a complex set of consistent educational standards that would ensure that every student in every state received an education that would provide them with essential skills and knowledge. Fortyfive states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories and the Department of Defense have adopted the Common Core State Standards. Texas, Alaska, Virginia, Minnesota and Nebraska have not adopted the Common Core. In New York, all schools were required to phase in instruction aligned to Common Core standards in the 2012-13 school year for grades pre-k-8, and the grades 3-8 tests starting in spring 2013 were aligned to the Common Core. The Common Core kicked in for high school students entering grade 9 in the 201314 academic year, and that cohort of students will move through high school with a Common Core-aligned course of study. The Regents exams they will have to take in ELA and math will reflect the Common Core Continued on page 4A
Continued on page 6A
PrEscHool: Letting kids be kids just a little while longer
T BooKshELF: a teacher speaks up… and hopes people listen ..................... 2a PUBLic vs. PRivATE: your child’s education options.............................. 3a RAisiNG A READER: Tips to help young children love to read .......................... 5a PAyiNG FoR coLLEGE: how to finance a higher education .............. 5a A TUToRiAL FRoM TUToRs: advice for parents and children .................. 7a EDUcATioN NoTEBooK: ....... 7a-8a
By MARy LEGRAND
aken as a group, preschoolers, children typically from 3-5 years of age, sure do love to play. So when they attend preschool, what’s the correct balance between the time spent playing and learning? A number of preschool directors and teachers from around Westchester County feel there’s plenty of opportunity to let youngsters continue to play while they’re that age, keeping in mind that while kids play they are in fact also learning. Judith Michael, director of temple education and programming at Temple Beth Shalom in Hastings-on-Hudson, and Tracy Pyper, head teacher of the school’s 4s program, said that now more than ever, preschool educators see their roles as crucial, in part because studies show how important time spent playing at school is to children’s brain development and social/emotional learning. And, according to Pyper, by the time children get into kindergarten they’ll spend more than enough time doing so-called “seat work” at their desks. “We feel in preschool what the students get is what they need in terms of the social and emotional aspects of life through play and cooperative learning,” she said. “It’s a safety zone, a pure early childhood environment.” Michael agrees that while children should be allowed to act their age by playing in preschool, “There’s also the recognition that what we’re doing is getting them ready for kindergarten. The goal is that our students have a positive orienta-
tion to going to school — learning to feel good about themselves, learning to be members of a group. If children know how to be part of a group, how to listen to a story, how to ask a question and listen to the answer, they are ready for their learning experiences.” Parents whose children attend the Hastings preschool “understand how their children are
learning through play activities,” Pyper said. “It’s the people who are legislating right now who really don’t understand education and are focused more on academic activities in early childhood. Children at this age do learn through play and exploration; it’s the teacher’s job to capitalize on and build a curriculum around them. Good teachers make sure everything is developmentally appro-
priate and address each child’s individual needs.” Michael said, “Our rabbi recently reminded me of the great quote from Albert Einstein: ‘Understanding physics is child’s play compared to understanding child’s play.’ We do understand the merits of play.” Marilyn Horan, educational director of Hudson Country Montessori School in New Rochelle, said the program Maria Montessori developed more than 120 years ago “really hasn’t changed. We don’t call it play — we call it work, and we make sure the materials provided draw the children in through their interest to work.” To someone with no knowledge of a Montessori activity, it might look like children are playing with beads, Horan said, “but they’re counting them, sorting them, doing activities that are sequential. There are several things you teach children in the process; nothing is in isolation.” Not only does the child attending a Montessori school actively learn to “do the whole work cycle — do the work and put it back for the next child,” but the process is “also teaching the next person to wait their turn,” Horan said. “A lot of times children are helped way too much... if we start children very young learning to be selfmotivated and not having to hear ‘good job’ for whatever they do, they’ll do something for their own satisfaction, not because mom or dad thinks it is good.” Cheryl Smith, director of St. James the Less Nursery School in Scarsdale, said her school Continued on page 4A
Page 2A/The RECORD-REVIEW
Friday, January 17, 2014
A teacher speaks up… and hopes people listen
SAT and ACT Tutoring Reading, Vocabulary, Grammar, and Writing College Essay Review Susan Westlake
Educator and Attorney 914-232-4152 firstname.lastname@example.org
By MARY LEGRAND
The need to create some kind of national board of standards then morphed into No Child Left Behind, nationalized testing and a breeding ground for profiteering. “Now there’s a whole new thing, the Common Core, which was created out of left field, without input from any real teachers, then tied to the Race to the Top money. It’s permeating what any good teacher can do and basically creating a situation where lots of the best teachers are leaving the profession in droves.” While acknowledging that education “has always been a series of reforms,” Greene said that “part of me is pessimistic because I think the difference between this massive reform and earlier massive reforms is the influence of millions of dollars spent by those who have no background in education.” But the flip side, a more positive view, Greene said, is that finally, fairly recently, teachers and parents are making themselves heard, whereas previously “the only people whose opinions were sought by the media were people controlling policy, not teachers or parents.” In addition to dedicating “Doing the Right Thing” to his colleagues from Stevenson, Woodlands and Scarsdale high schools, “from whom I learned and with whom I shared the art and science of teaching,” Greene praised three women who were foundations of his life. • The first was his mother, Beatrice Greene, “who always knew I would be a teacher,” he said. • To the late Dr. Rita Stafford Dunn, Greene wrote, “I am the seed you planted in the second grade in PS 66 in the Bronx.” • The final dedication went to Phyllis Opochinsky, who Greene called “the best cooperating teacher a student-teacher could ever have.” This is not a book that can be quickly summarized, so no attempt will be made to do that here. Greene has a passion for teaching and feels strongly that government, teachers and parents must work together for positive change. “We need to make sure there are certain proficiencies that every student has that are developed age-appropriately, certain curricular content that we think students should have,” he said, citing just a small example with a laugh. “If you live in New York, you should know where Mississippi is. Certain things need to be developed in common, without the mandated restrictions that seem to be in place with other plans. Support states to make sure every kid gets an opportunity to learn, regardless of innate ability or financial circumstances, and not get into micromanaging curricular standards.” Greene sees more common ground among people of disparate political beliefs than might be initially
n the preface to his book “Doing the Right Thing: A Teacher Speaks,” published late in 2013, former Stevenson, Woodlands and Scarsdale high school teacher and coach David Greene wrote that parents around the country are asking what’s wrong with the nation’s public schools and their teachers. “All parents are right to ask those questions,” he said. “The problems are immense. The solutions are complex. There is much to be fixed. Students of all ages are not challenged. They are bored. They are being tested to death. The love of learning is instilled in far too many students of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Policy makers do not listen to parents, teachers and students.” It will probably not be too much of a surprise if parents, students, teachers and administrators are reading those sentences right now and nodding. Indeed, the nation’s public schools have become more than a bit of a political football, and there’s more than enough blame to go around. “Doing the Right Thing” is Greene’s take on the situation, and he’s not without strong opinions. The idea to write the book came about after he retired from teaching or, as he puts it, “graduated from high school.” “I wanted to pay it forward as I was older and more experienced with teaching,” Greene said. “I made some contacts and went back to the Fordham School of Graduate Education as a field supervisor, someone who mentors new teachers or student teachers who are in classrooms.” He did that for four years, along the way writing “little pieces of advice to those I was mentoring,” Greene said. “A couple of the ‘kids’ said I should put these pieces of advice together, so I started doing that, almost as a book. My daughter and others suggested I put everything together in an actual book.” Available through amazon.com, barnesandnoble. com and the publisher, friesenpress.com, “Doing the Right Thing” is available in hardcover, paperback and eBook. Referring to the book’s autobiographical, anecdotal and research-based material, “A lot is based on what I’ve read and seen in person as successful methods of reaching students, and then, sort of coincidentally while this was going on, the impact of federal influence on education became greater and greater and greater,” said Greene, not a fan of politicians determining educational curriculum. “Historically speaking, back in the 1970s when I first taught, the political influence was basically budgetary,” he said. “Then, in the 1980s, people began saying, ‘Oh, you know, our kids can’t do anything,’ when in fact they’ve always been performing at the top, except when you subtract for poverty.
Continued on page 4A
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PUBLic vs. PRivATE:
The ReCORD-ReVIeW/Page 3a
Your child’s education options
By ToDD sLiss
ou live in Westchester County, New York. Your taxes are likely not low. And you probably moved to your chosen community because you liked the school system and felt that it would best serve your child in the present and the future. At some point, however, some parents realize that their child(ren) may be better suited to go outside of their community to receive an education — whether that be to another town, county or state — to a private school, of which there is no shortage in the area. Three private schools gave their take on the big decision, and provided the following descriptions: • “Blue Rock School is the lower Hudson Valley’s only progressive, independent day school serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Located on a beautiful, 4 1/2-acre wooded campus in West Nyack, N.Y., the school was founded in 1987 to provide an alternative — offering a unique educational experience based on a hands-on and holistic approach that nurtures children’s innate love of learning, enables them to follow their own natural curiosity, develop as independent thinkers and grow in a dynamic learning community. Students engage in a challenging and creative academic curriculum a sport, act in a theater production, perform in a band or which is infused with the arts, nature and play.” chorus, or pursue an area of interest.” • “Soundview Prep is a small college preparatory day Finding the right private school takes a lot of hard school for grades 6-12 providing a uniquely personal work and research on the part of parents. There are a lot and noncompetitive learning experience. Soundview of- of things to consider when making such a big decision, fers rigorous academics while empowering students to not unlike later on when it’s time for the college applicapursue their own goals and develop their potential with tion process. a sense of self-confidence and empathy for others. Class“We suggest that parents of younger children look for es average seven students, with a 4-to-1 student-faculty a school that’s focused on providing their child with the ratio, a setting that allows teachers to know the learning best foundation for learning, as countless studies consisstyle and interests of each student. In addition to the tently show that education in those earliest years is most core curriculum of math, science, history and English, significant for later success,” Meier said. “Whitby’s choSoundview offers four languages, studio art, music, a sen focus is on that nursery through grade 8 segment. variety of electives and AP courses according to student Whitby has long been known as the premier early childinterest.” hood school in the area with its Montessori roots — as • “The Whitby School provides a child-centered, in- the founding school of the American Montessori Sociquiry-based continuum of education for children from ety — and child-centered model of inquiry-based learn18 months through eighth grade. With its unique triple- ing. From there children develop responsibility, leaderaccreditation by the American Montessori Society, the ship and academic success free from the social pressures International Baccalaureate Organization and the Con- of an integrated high school, and by eighth grade they necticut/National Association of Independent Schools, have such a compelling portfolio of abilities and success Whitby provides a hands-on, multicultural, transdisci- that they can have their choice of high schools that best plinary approach that helps each student reach his or her fit their strengths and interests.” full potential.” The “best school” and the “best school for your child” Among the reasons parents send their kids to private may be two different things. school: carrying on family tradition; smaller class sizes; “First of all, I think you have to assess the values being dissatisfaction with the public school district; bullying espoused by a given school and its culture to determine in public school; looking for a certain method of teach- whether it’s a good match for your family,” Norman ing; seeking religion as part of the curriculum and the said. “A child’s formative years are so precious and must list goes on. Some choose to send their children to pri- be carefully nurtured. My children’s school has a strong vate school from an early age, while others only do it for culture of community service, environmental stewardparts of the k-12 years. ship and an emphasis on the arts, which are important “In the case of the particular school that my children factors for us. A progressive, holistic and hands-on apattend, there are so many benefits, however, to name proach is also key. When children are fully engaged and just a few, I would cite small class sizes of 10 on average, given the time to learn through their own discoveries, a which allows for teachers to truly know a student and more meaningful and deeper learning occurs than with also be able to tailor fit the curriculum based on each hurried, rote methods and memorization. The teaching child’s needs,” said Beth Norman, who not only works staff have to be creative-minded, warm and caring. Of at Blue Rock School, but sends her 12-year-old daugh- course a school’s success rate in graduating prepared, ter and 8-year-old son there. “Our school also places a well-rounded, confident and compassionate human bespecial emphasis on the arts, nature and play — all of ings is paramount.” which are vital to a child’s overall development and wellUnlike public schools in Westchester, private schools being. Lastly, I highly value the school’s media policy, draw on many different communities for its student which recommends no exposure to media during the body, making a different type of environment. school week and very limited on weekends, suggesting “A fair number of our students do travel a considerquality family and outdoor time instead.” able distance to school each day, and bring with them Nadia Meier, director of admissions and enrollment a unique perspective and an appreciation for the strong at Whitby, said, “Private schools generally offer smaller and inclusive community here, as well as the serene and class sizes, more individualized instruction and addi- natural setting,” Norman said. She added, “Exposure tional flexibility in crafting an educational experience to and an appreciation for a diversity of races, cultures, for each child. At Whitby, for instance, we average one religious and socio-economic backgrounds brings a teacher for every five students, including instructional richness and vitality to any educational environment. support, reading and math specialists, and support for Countless learning opportunities abound.” international students for whom English is an addition“In Whitby’s case, students learn not only with kids al language. Students are able to be known as individual from other communities, but kids from other counlearners and challenged at any level. Plus, because we’re tries, since roughly a third of our students were born in the U.S.,” Meier said. “Students smaller, there are opportunities for every student to RA_Openhousead_BedfordRecord9.3125x7_Layout 1 play 12/18/13a country 12:39 PMother Page than 1
A remarkable, diverse community ! where the whole student thrives
learn so much about other countries, languages and cultures through their classmates and classmates’ families that they truly grow up to be active global citizens with compassion and respect for people regardless of origin.” Soundview’s open houses feature the head of school and current students and parents making presentations and answering questions. Students who are considering applying will meet with the admissions director and if the family is interested, the student gets a taste of the school by spending a day at Soundview. “For a parent looking for a private school for their child, deciding which school is the right fit is one of the most important decisions they will ever face,” Soundview’s Linda Rae said. Assistant head of school Mary Ivanyi added, “It’s a question of the academic and social tone of the school — that’s what determines the fit.” No one can argue the benefit of smaller class sizes — it’s something that public school parents fight for when they see the numbers rise due to things like increased enrollment and budgetary issues. “A teacher who knows a student well is able to respond to that student’s needs — and it is that responsiveness that builds self-confidence and makes a student feel engaged,” Ivanyi said. “And making a student feel heard and cared about is the greatest gift that we can make.” Rae added, “Students receive the kind of individual attention at a private school that may make the difference between excelling on the one hand, and floundering, tuning out or just not living up to their potential on the other. In addition, on the social front, the type of bullying that unfortunately occurs occasionally in a public school setting is usually unheard of at private schools, as such behavior will be noted and stopped immediately. These are difficult qualities to replicate in a large public school where classes may reach as many as 30 students and each teacher may be responsible for over 100 students in the course of a day.” Private schools have more flexibility in creating their curriculum for varying subjects, since they are not bound by many New York State education policies. “The music program at Soundview offers a unique and exciting opportunity for students to learn music by integrating music theory, history and ensemble experience together in a way not found in traditional music education settings,” Soundview music teacher Jesse Lewis said. “Typically, all these elements are taught independently; as a result, students often miss the real way music is played, understood and appreciated. In contrast, the Soundview program emphasizes lots of performance, which is fully informed by the theory, historical understanding and critical listening skills that are needed to develop intelligent and creative musicians.” According to www.privateschoolreview.com, there are 39 private high schools and 109 private elementary schools in Westchester County alone. All these options, plus the public school in your community — the choice is yours.
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Friday, January 17, 2014
A teacher speaks up… and hopes people will listen Continued from page 2A
presumed. “The far right, libertarian, small government folks are seeing what’s happening to their kids and don’t like the kind of mundane work they’re being given,” he said. “The far left has its own reasons as well; they’re differently motivated, but the issue is that federal policy makers should not be telling teachers how to teach, that wait a minute, this is supposed to be done by people who actually know how to teach.” Admitting he’s tackled a “pretty provocative subject,” Greene said he’s frustrated that while “the number of voting citizens who are parents with kids in school is huge, far too many of them are totally ignorant about what goes on in school, especially now.” Greene recalled his days in elementary school at PS 66 in what’s now the South Bronx, calling the school “a really nice model for a poor, working class community. My mom was a single mother. Rita Stafford, my second-grade teacher, was the best teacher I ever had. To reach every one in our class, which was very much integrated, she had us do all sorts of creative things. We learned about the planets and constellations by building and hanging a solar system from the light fixtures. Some of my fellow students, even in second grade, worked in their parents’ stores, so we learned math in ways that made it relevant in real life.” Greene and the rest of Stafford’s
second-grade group discussed school segregation in Little Rock, Ark., he said, “talking about why students there couldn’t get along like we did. We wrote letters to the president of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower, and through that effort ended up being in The New York Times. We had so much love and respect for Rita Stafford that all the way through high school we had class reunions, and some 40 years later had a reunion at her house in Pound Ridge.” It wasn’t until later in life that Greene realized that Rita Stafford Dunn and her husband, Kenneth J. Dunn, were co-authors of a number of influential books, including “Teaching Students Through Their Individual Learning Styles.” “If you do the research, you’ll see that she and her husband, Ken, became the leading researchers and proponents of individualized learning styles,” Greene said. “She passed away three years ago. At her memorial service at St. John’s there were about a dozen of us from that second-grade class. So I talk about her because when I think back about teaching, I learned to teach originally from her, the same way we sometimes learn by emulating or doing the opposite of what our parents do. That’s why I include that chapter in the book; I am the seed she planted.”
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Preschool: Letting kids
be kids a little while longer Continued from page 1A
“pretty much mirrors” the philosophy of allowing children to retain their childhood for as long as possible. “We do try to let them be kids for a little while longer,” she said. “Our approach is playbased, so they learn through playing. We’re getting them ready for kindergarten, but often if you’re too academic, the children are not getting some of the basic skills such as learning to take turns, share, compromise and be able to put on their own coat and zip it. We very much focus on those areas as well as some of the academic skills that are needed, so they learn through play and explore the world here by touching, smelling, tasting, seeing, We don’t have computers because they get enough of that at home.” Preschool teachers and directors have to make parents aware that some of the nonacademic skills learned by young children “are equally or even more important” than purely academic skills, Smith said, adding, “When children get to kindergarten they’re going to be expected to be able to do all those things I just mentioned. They’ll learn their academics as they’re ready. Reading and working on their math skills will come as appropriate to each child.” Children learn through play to make choices, develop social skills and expand their language, Smith said. “When the children are working with blocks they’re building buildings, but they’re also problem-solving, learning to share with others,” she said. “We had seven kids working together at building with blocks recently. They were sharing, talking and working together. That’s come about through our work with them oneon-one, the individual attention that they’re given, so that whatever they’re working on it’s at whatever level they’re ready for.” Anne Harris, who is director and owner of Lissie’s Katonah Playschool, as well as one of its teachers, said preschools “look at all the different do-
mains of a child’s way of learning — the cognitive area, the language area, fine motor and gross motor areas, socialization and emotional growth — and a preschool, if it’s developmentally appropriate, will use all those areas in order to help a child learn many things.” What the Katonah preschool “tries to do is include all domains of children’s growth and use them to help them learn things — writing their names, remembering and retelling stories — so it’s a lot of activities,” Harris said. “There are no worksheets at our school and children are allowed also time to play without having to do something else because children learn so much through play.” While some preschools promote themselves by promising parents their children will read by the time they enter kindergarten, “none of the research supports that it’s beneficial for children to be reading at 5 years old,” Harris said. “In fact, I was just reading work of a behavioral expert who believes that because of this pushdown in kindergarten there are many more behavior problems. Children just need time to be children. It’s many parents who want their children to be reading, not the children themselves.” There is a lot of research on play and how important it is for children in many ways, Harris said. Play helps develop synapses in the brain and “has marvelous results in children’s development when they’re just allowed to play,” she said. “Many times they’re not really playing, but just setting up the scenario.” What the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which accredits Lissie’s Katonah Playschool, among others, “is saying is that with all this talk about the Common Core, younger and younger children are being expected to do things they’re not developmentally ready for,” Harris said. “Preschools need to push back up and say ‘No, we’re not going there, we’re going to keep on doing what is developmentally appropriate.’”
Common Core: How new
Join us for an Open House on April 8, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.
standards will impact your child Continued from page 1A
Standards. These changes have an impact on teaching in both ELA and math, since every district was starting out with its own distinctive curriculum, which was not necessarily aligned with the skills required at various points in the Common Core timetable. As a result, many districts are scrambling to realign their programs this year so students will be ready for their exams. In the future, as kids progress through completely revamped courses of study, it’s likely that other standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT will look for students to have mastered the skills demanded in the Common Core. The Common Core has spawned a huge “Common Core” industry. Even though no one brand of materials is required by the standards, many companies are offering “professional development” courses and materials that are meant to take the guesswork out of “teaching to the Core.” School districts are buying ELA and math lesson plans, instructional packets, worksheets, tests and other materials in both paper and digital form from educational publishers who are churning out Common Core products as fast as they can. Here’s what the Common Core is not: it is not an attempt to teach specific content in ELA, or to prescribe a specific method for teaching math. While you’ll find exhaustive lists of “suggested” books on websites designed to help teachers figure out which books can help students develop Common Core skills, the Common Core Standards do not tell teachers to have everyone read “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in eighth grade, or ever for that matter. It’s up to each school district to decide the specific content of their students’ reading lists. Parents often confuse the Common
Core Standards with the Core Knowledge Curriculum. The Core Knowledge Curriculum is just what its name says: a very specific curriculum developed by the Charlottesville, Va.-based Core Knowledge Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 1986 by E.D. Hirsch Jr., professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and the author of the controversial “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know” and many other books about education. The Core Knowledge curriculum outlines “the precise content that every child should learn in language arts and literature, history and geography, mathematics, science, music, and the visual arts,” according to its website. In fact, the Core Knowledge Foundation supports the Common Core Standards, and Core Knowledge curricula are used in many schools. But the foundation hastens to point out the following: “It is important to note that the terms ‘standards’ and ‘curriculum’ are often — and erroneously — used as synonyms for one another. Standards define what children should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. A curriculum, like the Core Knowledge Sequence, describes what children need to learn to meet those standards.” Beginning last year, the New York State Education Department began posting Common Core-aligned Core Knowledge curriculum guides to be used alongside Common Core Standards materials. For a specific description of the Common Core standards for every grade in both ELA and math, www.engageny.org provides easy-to-navigate pages of information for parents of students at every grade level. For information about the Core Knowledge Foundation, visit coreknowledge.org.
Friday, January 17, 2014
Raising a reader: Tips to help young children love to read (BPT) – Children are energetic learners, trying to make sense of the world around them. One of the most important activities to help a child stretch his mind, especially in the early years, is reading. From birth to age 5, development in all areas of the brain is rapid, so it is especially important during this time that parents make an intentional effort to integrate reading into a child’s daily routine. This practice helps mold your child into an active reader and establishes the foundational literacy skills he needs for future success in school and life. “The first five years of life offer a critical window for brain development and learning,” said Anne-Marie Fitzgerald, Executive Director of Reach Out and Read, an evidence-based, national nonprofit whose pediatricians promote early literacy and school readiness to 4 million children nationwide. By reading aloud and talking to their children from birth, parents can play a key role in helping their little ones develop essential foundational language skills and eventually, arrive at kindergarten ready to read, learn, and succeed. Learning does not begin on the first day of school; it begins in the home with engaged parents who take the time to share stories, words, and a love of reading with their children.” While picking up a book and reading to your child may seem like a simple act,
(BPT) – For many college-bound students, savings, family contributions, scholarships, grants and a part-time job won’t be enough to pay for college. For these students, borrowing may be the only way to make up the difference between available funds and college expenses. Borrowing to pay for college is commonplace today as the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that more than 60 percent of America’s 20 million college students rely on student loans to finance their education. A college student today graduates with an average of $24,301 in student loan debt, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which also projects that there are approximately 37 million Americans who have outstanding loan accounts. While many students believe that loans are worth the investment in their future, a growing number of borrowers are defaulting on their student loan debt. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimates that about 5.4 million student loan borrowers have at least one past-due student loan account.Economists and policymakers alike worry about the long-term impact on recent graduates burdened with loan debt -
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When students feel they belong they can achieve anything.
many children miss this benefit. A 3-yearold child’s vocabulary should span about 600 words with 80 percent intelligibility. This means that a person who has not previously heard this child speak can understand eight out of 10 words. Providing children with a solid foundation in literacy skills not only equips them to thrive in the 21st Century, it also impacts our country’s ability to compete in the global workplace. “The future of our children and our country depend on coordinated community efforts to prepare all students in the U.S. to excel in a dynamic, global society,” says Jo Kirchner, president and CEO of
Primrose Schools, a family of more than 270 private preschools across the country. “Together we have a responsibility to step up to the challenge by pooling our knowledge, time, expertise and ideas to improve early literacy and education outcomes.” As you read aloud to your child, keep these tips in mind to maximize your reading time together: Start early. Begin reading and speaking to your child the day she is born - it is never too early to start. Practice every day. Make reading with your child a daily routine, reinforcing the development of language and literacy skills. Serve and return. A key part of language learning occurs in “conversations” with our children. After a baby listens to people around her talking for a few months, she begins to respond with her own rendition of those sounds, starting with coos, babbles, or shrieks. Dr. Jack Shonkoff of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University calls this back-andforth interaction “serve and return.” As we “serve” words, children “return” sounds. Before we realize, the child is beginning to speak intelligibly and meaningfully first with syllables and single words, then with phrases and complete sentences. Use “serve and return” when reading together
as your child starts to learn about story background and context. Play word games. Letter puzzles, rhyming games, breaking words into sounds, and other phonological play helps your child build a foundation that will later be used to decode words. Have a conversation. While you are reading a book with your child, engage in conversation about the characters, the plot, the setting, and ask your child questions. This offers him an opportunity to build his vocabulary and comprehension skills. Pick books at the appropriate reading level. When your child is reading to you, pick books that have words that your child is familiar with - repetition is one of the best ways to learn. Books at or just below your child’s reading level allow her to work on fluency and build confidence. When you are reading to your child, pick books at a higher reading level so that your child hears new words in context first, before being presented with the challenge of reading them himself. Wait before interrupting. Rather than correcting your child mid-sentence, wait until he comes to a comfortable stopping point and then go back to the trouble spot to talk it out together. Stopping your child to correct him each time he makes a mistake can erode his confidence.
many of whom may face challenges down the road in securing financing to buy a house or start a business. To help parents and students learn more about college financing, FindLaw.com, the nation’s leading website for free legal information, offers a free, downloadable miniguide on student loan debt. Here are some additional tips: Start early. Really early - From the moment your child is born, start putting away a little bit each month toward his or her education. Use a state-run 529 plan or an IRA Coverdell account to save for college education tax-free. Regardless of when you start saving for college, it’s never too late to put money aside to pay for college expenses. Apply to colleges you can afford Carefully weigh the costs and benefits of an expensive school to a less costly institution. Students who graduate with little or no debt may have more freedom to take career risks, such as moving to a new city or taking a low-paying internship that offers valuable work experience. Explore financial aid options - Research and apply for all financial aid opportunities, even if you think you may not qualify. You can apply for federal student
loans by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Compare financial aid packages As you receive acceptance packages from colleges and universities, pay close attention to the financial aid programs offered by each school to determine which offers the best option to finance your college education. Research scholarships - Continuously apply for scholarships throughout your college years to defray expenses. Keep your eyes open for opportunities. Professors, for example, are often aware of scholarship opportunities and are an excellent source for references when applying for certain scholarships or aid packages.Consider the job prospects for your major - Before declaring a major, research post-college career prospects. What types of jobs are people getting with the major you’re interested in? How much are they making in your part of the country? For example, if you need to take out $50,000 in student loans to obtain a degree that results in a job that typically pays about $35,000 per year, you may want to rethink your major. Understand your loans - Not all stu-
dent loans are the same. Some have higher interest rates. Some offer different terms to defer payment while a student is pursuing another degree. Some allow you to start 370 Underhill Avenue, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598 paying the interest immediately, while you’re still in college, to lower the loan’s (914) 962-2780 • soundviewprep.org overall cost. Before considering student loans from a private lender, seek information and apply for federal student loans such as Stafford, Perkins and PLUS loans. Also talk to your college to see if it offers an institutional student loan program. PriCome JoIn Us...Doors are open aT vate loans can come with higher interest rates and more fees, so it’s best to explore sT. mary’s sChooL In KaTonah your options. Think twice, parents - Parents who an Integrated co-sign for a child’s loan are responsible montessori Curriculum for that debt in the event that their son or daughter can’t pay it. While you may half-day programs want to help your child achieve his or her available: dreams, don’t put your retirement years in • Primary (3-5 years) jeopardy by cosigning on expensive private • K-Enrichment (AM/PM) loans with high interest rates. Instead, help (Bus service provided for your child start building a positive credit KES students.) history in his or her teenage years, and teach kids to take financial responsibility for the debt they incur. 914.977.3662 • firstname.lastname@example.org To learn more about student loans and stuSLS_RecordReview_6.8542x10.5_Cell-ebration_Layout 1 12/20/13 4:06 PM Page 1 dent loan debt, visit FindLaw.com.
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Families choose Soundview Prep because we offer a rigorous college preparatory program in an empowering learning community, with small class size, and a caring interaction between students and faculty. We foster a sense of belonging, self-conﬁdence and individuality as we help our students ﬁnd their road to success. To speak to our Director of Admissions, call (914) 962-2780 or visit www.soundviewprep.org Recent college acceptances include Bard, Brown, Dickinson, Duke, Hartwick, Hobart, Muhlenberg, Oberlin, RISD, Roger Williams, Sarah Lawrence, Ursinus and Williams.
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study sKills: Important lessons for students of all ages Continued from page 1A
dining room table where it is easier to monitor the child’s progress and to make sure that they are staying on task. For older children, their bedroom may be a better choice.” One key for Bernstein is the “well-lit and well-stocked” study center. “Students can save time hunting for textbooks, paper, reinforcements or protractors if they have a well-stocked study area,” she said. “A visual timer, Timetimer.com, can be helpful for students who have a hard time studying for any length of time. After making a homework plan for the day, they can decide what they will complete in the time they have allotted. They can schedule breaks after they complete the homework in the timed period.” She does warn against having teens studying on their beds “as it tends to lead to napping rather than studying.” Concentration is important, according to Bernstein, and not overwhelming the brain is a big part of a student’s ability to do so. And with everything else, each student is different when it comes to what they like or don’t like as far as being in the zone when it comes to homework and studying. “Believe it or not, complete silence in a study space can be distracting for some people,” Bernstein said. “Students should try studying in silence to see if it works for them. If it is uncomfortable, they can try instrumental music. Unfortunately, when music with lyrics, or instrumental versions of songs with lyrics, is played, our brains tend to ‘sing along.’ I encourage kids to discover classical music or jazz that they can enjoy while studying. The music fills the room and helps provide a rhythm the spurs on their work. Parents of young children can start this habit early by playing some ‘homework music’ in the background while their children complete their homework.” A plan of attack for homework can also benefit the student. “Most kids know what homework they like to do, what they don’t like and what is hard for them,” Bernstein said. “Though kids may find it counterintuitive, doing the hardest, least-liked homework first can make the whole process a lot easier. I suggest that a student sit down with his or her agenda book and make choices about the order in which they will complete their work. At that time, they can schedule short breaks as rewards after completing some homework. It is a good idea to begin with a task requiring a lot of concentration, followed by one requiring little concentration. Children should be encouraged to work in short bursts that increase in length as they get older.” Middle and high school students will hopefully learn more independence over time, and therefore earn the right for more freedom. “Random spot checking a child’s homework — asking to see completed homework every now and then — will give a parent a sense of how thoroughly homework is being completed,” Bernstein said. “Even though parents are hoping for independent homework completion, it may not be happening. Checking in once in a while will help
create the ‘study habit.’” For the younger set, Bernstein said, “To help promote mastery learning, after homework is done, parents can express their curiosity about what a child is learning and ask him/her to explain something that s/he learned in one subject each night. Teaching a parent the information is a wonderful way to rein-
force it for the child.” Rice said, “Before they start their homework, ask your children if they know what to do or if they have any questions. Tell them to explain it to you. Some children do best when homework is broken down into smaller chunks. They can start with one subject and then check in with a caregiver before moving
on to the next assignment. This gives them a quick break and stretch. For some children, timers can be helpful. Discuss how much time they think their homework should take — add a few minutes and set the timer. It may take several attempts and a little tweaking to find the right routine for your children.” Working on long-term work over the long term, not in the short term as many of us do in our school and professional lives, can help students avoid things like stress and all-nighters. “It is also very important to make sure that the student balances their individual workload so that they are not working on a project or preparing for a test at the last minute,” Salomon said. “Usually assignments are given far in advance. It is helpful to have a large calendar in a communal area so that the parents and the student can easily keep track of upcoming assignments. Lastly, with younger children, be sure that you go through their backpacks with them to make sure that you are aware of any notices or upcoming assignments.” Bernstein posed a very interesting question: Why homework? It’s something that parents — and certainly students — have asked for a long time, though parents more questioning the amount given. “Homework completion is an opportunity to show what a child has learned, to practice something that will improve with repetition or to extend what is already learned,” Bernstein said. “If parents are supportive of the idea of homework as an ‘opportunity’ rather than a chore, young children will often want to do it. Setting up good homework habits early is essential. Encouraging the right study habits and creating a space conducive to studying reflect the importance of learning in the home.” Technology can aid students in their classroom success. “Students now have the library, homework help and supportive software at
their fingertips, all of which can be really helpful for homework completion and studying,” Bernstein said. “When a student is ‘stuck’ on a math problem, a quick trip to the Internet can provide a video of a math teacher demonstrating a similar problem. That kind of perseverance and intellectual curiosity is important for students to develop early.” Friends, teachers and parents are no longer the only sources for help. “Now kids can access The Khan Academy and other websites that provide good instruction to reinforce their learning,” Bernstein said. “Research online is also an incredible boon to students’ independent study, though many students still enjoy the help they receive when they visit their school or public library. More and more teachers are asking students to use online sites to input their homework or check on assignments, so kids are finding that they need computer access while completing homework.” Beware! There is also the downside, according to Bernstein: “…the temptation of Facebook, Instagram, gaming sites and all that is available on the web. So with computer access comes the need for willpower. If students find that they do not have the willpower, there are programs that can block access to social networking sites or other tantalizing sites during homework time. Parents and teens can work together to set up these blocks so that homework time goes smoothly and homework is completed without distraction. Once homework is completed, the blocks can be removed, and students can reward their effort.” Teachers are using technology, too, more often for the older set. “Technology has entered into so many facets of our lives,” Rice said. “It can be very helpful in getting the information kids need to complete their homework. Forgotten homework? Some teachers post homework assignments and even the document files should they lose the worksheet. The Internet offers amazing
More valuable pearls from Dr. Dorrie Bernstein “It is important to note that we all tend to work more efficiently in daylight hours, which becomes problematic in the winter, when daylight hours are fleeting. Because homework completion is more effective earlier in the day, some families find it helpful to have young children do homework directly after school before going to a scheduled activity or a play date. This sends the message that homework is important and can serve to set up a routine that will last.” “As the demands of middle and high school increase, it is important for students to filter out distractions in order to focus on their homework. They can use technology as a reward for homework completion. Of course, preteens and many teens will need support setting up this type of independent homework routine,” free from phones, chatting and websites not involved directly with the task at hand. “At a conference I attended in 2009,
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Dr. Russell Barkley, noted researcher and authority on ADHD said, ‘The best predictor of adult success: kids who do homework independently.’” “After a long school day, kids do need some ‘down time’ and good time management will make that possible.” “If I could, I would banish homework from the kindergarten. But, alas, in today’s world, the pressure on schools to afford a curriculum-rich environment compels them to make homework an integral part of the day for the youngest learners.” “Homework provides independent practice. It is the time that students try out what they learned that day and is therefore an important step in mastery learning. To master subject matter, learners have to work independently and understand and retrieve information from memory. There is actually a point to homework, and when kids rush through homework or don’t complete it, they miss out on the benefits.”
“The usual guideline is that first-graders do about 10-20 minutes of homework a night. With each successive grade, add about 10 minutes so that second-graders have about a half hour of homework. Most elementary school teachers will give parents an idea of how long homework should take. If a child cannot complete the homework in a reasonable amount of time for his or her age, parents should end the homework session and write a note to the teacher about the difficulty the child was having.” “As a part of homework completion, middle school and high school students should read and highlight the notes from that day’s class before they begin homework for that subject. The act of reading class notes and organizing them by highlighting important main ideas and details helps register the information in long-term memory. Students can then more easily retrieve information from memory for class participa-
tion and tests. That extra 5 to 7 minutes of work each night in each subject can make a big difference in mastering subject matter and can lessen the time needed for studying for tests.” “The point of school is to learn every day, not just the day before the test. If students learn what is in their notes each day, they are more ready for completing homework, more prepared for class the next day, and more apt to do well on tests. This kind for work promotes real learning, not just memorizing information for tests.” “Remember that acknowledging effort rather than grades will help a child value effort rather than ‘perfect’ papers, particularly when the work is difficult. The goal is to help the child become a person who works for mastery of subject matter rather than for grades, who learns the value of effort, and who develops the ‘study habit’ in order to reap the benefits of independent study.”
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access to top notch information when doing research. Students with poor handwriting, spelling or organization skills can benefit from word processors, grammar and spell check, and mind mapping apps to organize thoughts. Studying for a test? Flashcard apps like Quizlet or Flashcards can be a fun way to study.” In the end, the parent must find the balance of being involved, but not hovering, which benefits both student and parent. “In the younger grades, maintain good communication with the teacher and don’t get overly involved in homework,” Rice said. “The teacher should know if your child had trouble. Let homework be your child’s responsibility, not yours. Forgotten homework does not equal failure, just a learning experience. Encourage a Monday clean-up and re-organization of notebooks and backpacks. Talk about upcoming reports, tests etc. and projects. How will it fit in with extracurricular activities? Homework is a valuable component to your child’s learning. It shouldn’t be a battle.” And it’s not just school in the equation eating up all of our time any more — it has become a balancing act for parents who are signing their children up for more and more activities as time goes on. And don’t forget that kids require sleep! “Children no longer just attend school and have playdates,” Rice said. “Each week children are involved in many activities. Sports, dance, gymnastics, music and religion can take up a considerable amount of time and also may require homework or extra practice outside of the activity session. Balancing these activities with schoolwork and family time can be challenging. There are only so many waking hours of the day. According to SleepforKids.org, children ages 5-12 should get 10-11 hours of sleep per night. Parents must help prioritize activities for their children and also remember that they need down time to relax as well.”
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rustration. This single greatest inhibitor is highlighted by excuses like “I don’t like math” and “Reading is boring.” It’s impossible to use a single approach and expect student success. We must understand how each child learns and encourage their strengths with the appropriate approach to reduce frustration. I correct learning problems with a customized approach for each student. As a professional educator of 30 years, my technique has dramatically improved all measurable test results. Christina Fleur, Mrs. Fleur’s Tutoring, Bedford
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Parents are their children’s best advocates, coaches, cheerleaders and teachers when their student suffers from academic difficulties. Parents need to pay attention to their children’s schoolwork, monitor their grades, speak to teachers and get professional help if their child is struggling in school. Once they discover the reasons for their child’s stumbling blocks, parents must encourage their children, guide their children and work with them to develop solutions that will help them become successful learners. Glenn Leibel, Robert Jacobson Sports, Ardsley Before you get your child formally evaluated there are ways to help him or her improve. Let your child be responsible for his or her actions. Help your child see the benefits of choosing to study for that math test versus playing video games. Also, let your child see the negative effects of leaving important materials at school. An organized, responsible student leads to a good work ethic, which is the true key to success. Dana Natelli, Ace Tutors Aboard, Mamaroneck
Parents first need to have an understanding of what is holding their child back academically. A good tutor should meet with the child to analyze the situation and provide strategies for improvement. These may include explaining the subject matter, explaining how to manage assignments and reassuring the student that the situation can be turned around. The tutor should also encour-
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Education Notebook Learning continues at sleepaway camp By ELLEN WyLIE
Sleepaway camp is more than just a fun place to keep the kids busy over the summer. Children and teens learn invaluable life skills at camp. They learn to be more independent, to make decisions and to solve problems without help from their parents. Kids grow socially and emotionally at camp. They learn about friendships as well as how to get along and live with others, some of whom they may not initially like. At camp, children learn to be tolerant and inclusive. They learn compassion and how to share. Campers learn how to cope and how to be resilient. Children and teens who attend sleepaway camp may improve their skills in various activities, including specific sports and the arts. In addition, they learn how to take risks. At camp, kids can try new activities in a safe environment. Children and teens may learn new skills at camp and sometimes discover new interests or passions. At most camps, children and teens unplug and interact without technology. They deal with others face to face.
Campers learn how to work together and collaborate and be part of a team as well as the greater camp community. They learn how to relax and just be children and how to grow up and assume responsibility. Older campers learn how to supervise younger kids and how to lead. Those who attend sleepaway camp gain self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities. They become leaders. Camp is more than just a place to have fun — although your kids certainly will. It is a place to learn about themselves, the world around them and to take away incredible life skills. For help finding a camp for your child, contact local camp adviser Ellen Wylie of Spectacular Summers at 722-2644 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www. spectacularsummers.com.
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Rippowam Cisqua School’s mission is to promote critical thinking, individual development and personal excellence. Parents are drawn to Rippowam Cisqua because of the small class sizes, joyful learning environment, and dedicated teachers who challenge students to discover and explore their talents to the fullest. Rippowam Cisqua is committed to a dynamic program of academics, the arts and athletics in an atmosphere that promotes intellectual curiosity and a lifelong love of learning. Rippowam Cisqua School believes that learning is a shared experience, the responsibility of both students and teachers. RCS urges active student involvement and seeks to provide a rich curriculum for children of different abilities and learning styles. The school’s approach to learning incorporates experimentation, simulation and collective and individual problem solving, as well as traditional lecture, discussion and skill development techniques — all toward the goal of attaining excellence. Students are challenged to demonstrate their competence in a variety of subjects, with emphasis placed on the written word, throughout their school career. The process by which children arrive at a final product is an important part of their education. The interaction between adults and children is fundamental at Rippowam Cisqua School. Warmth, humor and compassion characterize individual student-teacher relationships. Communication of ideas and feelings to help develop understanding and cooperation are encouraged. The adults seek to help children develop selfdiscipline and sound judgment. As a community, RCS requires respect, honesty and common decency at all times. The school’s goal is to graduate students who are confident and knowledgeable lifelong learners. RCS strives to be a school of joyous and enlightened learning, a place where children come, not where they are sent. Rippowam Cisqua School serves prek through ninth grade students, pre-k to fourth grade in Mount Kisco, grades 5-9 in Bedford. Visit www.rcsny.org.
Learning that lasts at St. Luke’s By ELIZABETH PERRY NCCS students explore in their classroom.
NCCS teaches balance Walk into any classroom at New Canaan Country School and you’ll see technology being used in innovative ways. You will also see students using raw materials to build with their own hands or exploring the school’s campus using all five senses. “It is critically important that our students learn how to balance both the natural and digital worlds,” head of school Tim Bazemore said. “Our philosophy is to let the learning lead the use of technology, not the other way around.” Students are introduced to age-appropriate technology in ways that advance and enrich their understanding of the curriculum, often creating a multidimensional view. For example, in the kindergarten study of the lifecycle of the butterfly, students care for and then release live butterflies into the wild. They paint butterflies with acrylics and then build them in 3D using papier-mâché. Technology comes into play when students study the butterflies under digital microscopes and then project them onto a SmartBoard to share observations. In music class, they use a music-making software program to create and record an original song about butterflies. “What we teach is likely similar to that of other schools,” head of early childhood education Beth O’Brien said. “How we teach, our methods and the materials we use — that is extraordinary.” To watch a short video on the kindergarten study of the butterfly, visit www. countryschool.net/EarlyChildhood. New Canaan Country School is a co-ed independent day school with 635 students from pre-k to ninth grade. It is located at 635 Frogtown Road, New Canaan, Conn., and draws students from Fairfield and Westchester counties. For more information, visit www.countryschool.net. To schedule a visit or tour the facilities on the
We use the word “learning” every day, but what does it mean? Simply put, learning is making new memories. Some memories are short term, like retaining someone’s phone number until you can write it down. In school, we want more than shallow retention of information. We want students to develop mental frameworks that help them experience learning that lasts. Researchers tell us that moving information from short-term to long-term memory is best accomplished when we do something with the information. This is why St. Luke’s classes focus on using information and engaging with big ideas rather than on passively receiving information. Once an idea is in our long-term memory, we can begin to use it over and over because we can easily retrieve it. If I learn the concept of irony, I can retrieve that idea and apply it to “Romeo and Juliet.” If I learn to isolate a variable in algebra, I can retrieve that process and apply it in my chemistry class. And if I learn about civil disobedience in a history class, I can even use that concept to argue with the head of upper school about dress code! In my role, as head of the upper school at St. Luke’s, I frequently observe classes. What a pleasure to see our students and teachers in action. I sat with students in an American history class as they imagined that they were being asked to make a recommendation to the King of England regarding those troublesome American colonies. Students had their textbooks open and their notes in front of them, dates and names scribbled everywhere, but they were being asked to use that information to make an argument. How should the king govern his empire when a portion of it is near revolt? Students were moving that information from short- to long-term memory and developing a mental framework about empires that they can return to again and again. I saw students in a Spanish class who begin every period with a “party” where they all stand up, cluster in the middle of the room and chat with assigned partners
on a topic designed to get students using new vocabulary. I watched in awe as a biology teacher had students transform a lab room into a fully functioning 3D replica of a human cell. I listened to computer science students participating in a live video chat with Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey as part of the nationwide Hour of Code. Long after they have written the paper, passed the test, graduated from St. Luke’s and launched themselves into adult life, our students will forget many of the details of their coursework here. But they will be able to retrieve and apply the concepts and skills they learned here on the Hilltop. So “lifelong learning,” then, is not merely seeking out new experiences as we get older. Our graduates are lifelong learners because they can retrieve and apply what they learned at St. Luke’s for the rest of their lives. Elizabeth Perry is head of the upper school at St. Luke’s in New Canaan, Conn. Visit www.stlukesct.org/admissions.
ThistleWaithe brings Montessori back ThistleWaithe Learning Center invites children ages 3-6 to join its newest classroom in Katonah at the St. Mary’s School building at 99 Valley Road. This marks a special homecoming for the Montessori preschool as the doors first opened there in 2000 to welcome one child. By 2007 — ThistleWaithe’s last year in Katonah — over 100 children gathered daily. With a bustling South Salem campus, ThistleWaithe is delighted to expand and return to the area. The mixed-ages classroom offers children a sensory-rich learning environment that plants the seeds of problem solving and critical thinking, while exposing children to language, mathematics, geography, science and cultural areas. Environmental stewardship figures prominently in the curriculum, with nature walks and observation exercises a joyful part of the children’s experience. Young learners also enjoy Spanish, etiquette, and a vibrant music and movement program. With immediate openings for January 2014 and the 2014-15 school year, ThistleWaithe invites you to arrange a visit to the St. Mary’s location. Contact Jenifer Hughs, program coordinator, at 977-3662 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our annual special section on education trends. Discover the latest information on the Common Core curriculum, helpful study tips for all ag...