Personal Not Personalized: Inspiration and Self-Assessment in Middle School

As I prepared for our return to school this week, and found myself looking for inspiration to ward off the inevitable post-vacation blues, I was energized by how we are teaching students to work on one of the hardest skills in all of school: how to make learning personal. This has particular meaning for me because there is so much

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How to Learn: the Backwards Bike and Learning New Study Habits

The start of the second term in the Middle School brings basketball practices, new art courses, and a fresh page on year-long courses. It is also the time when we can start to look back at the year so far and turn up the conversation about how each of us can learn more about how to learn. I talked this

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Memory, Space Archaeology, and a $1 Million Prize

We know in order to remember something, humans need to turn short term memories into long term memories. We do this most effectively by connecting new information with knowledge already stored in our long term memories, or by otherwise working and processing the information until it is recreated inside the neural synapses of our long term memories. This week at

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Turning Attitude into Achievement: 3 Takes on Growth Mindsets

Over the past decade, many educators and parents have learned how to unlock more potential from all students and children after learning about the inspiring work of Carol Dweck and the Growth Mindset movement. Recently, I have seen this work revisited as we – educators, parents, coaches alike – have experienced the challenges of implementing the changes in our language

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Talking About Progress and What Students Are Learning

The midpoint of the first trimester has brought with it Official Notes and conversations about study skills, growth, and achievement. As you discuss the pursuit of excellence and what it means for you in making adjustments over the next five weeks of the term, here are three recent articles that can help us form a long-term vantage point about what

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Inside the Backpack: Nobel Prizes

Like many of you, I love Nobel Prize week. Each day we hear about amazing discoveries and explanations of our universe that in some way change how I look at the world. This year I was particularly struck by the research that earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which highlighted that the human body has built-in mechanisms to fix the

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Maker Courses Announced: Boat Building, “Chopped”, Podcasting, and More

After a few rounds of proposing ideas and refining groups on our online sign-up, we announced this fall’s project courses today and they will begin next week. The project courses  are small, passion-based electives for 7th-8th graders that are designed by faculty to help build teamwork and resilience. The courses meet once per cycle for about an hour and are organized around

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Hector Tobar: “Writing is Power”

As part of the Sewickley Series, Middle School students met with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Hector Tobar on Monday. In an engaging presentation, Mr. Tobar encouraged students to keep writing and to explore the many doors writing can open in life. Paraphrasing Mr. Tobar, here are a few of the important take-aways I heard Mr. Tobar offer our students: “I started

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Digital Parenting Tips For Healthy, Safe Teens

We continue to talk at school about the ways that students and adults can work together to establish healthy, safe, and productive digital habits. Learning about COPPA is a small but important step in setting students, parents, and school up for the year – see this post about the COPPA verification letter if you have not already. When it comes

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From Morning Advisory to Lady Gaga, Everyone is Talking about Emotional Intelligence

As the first full year of our CPR advisory program comes to a close, the faculty, students, and I are reflecting on what worked well and how we can improve the program for the future. Reflecting on our actions and setting the next round of goals are crucial steps to being progressively better every year. This is why we make

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