Pittsburgh Parenting Blog by Sewickley Academy

Sewickley Academy's Private School Blog

How to Create a Grateful Project

Anyone who really knows me knows that Thanksgiving is the holiday I like the least.

Okay, I've been known to actually say, "I hate Thanksgiving."

I realize, it sounds horrible, but the fact of the matter is that I am grateful every.....single....day.

I might also dislike Thanksgiving because something ridiculous always seems to occur on that day. Kind of like the curse of Thanksgivings past.

Having said all that I do cook a full Thanksgiving dinner for friends and family and partake in the traditions of the Holiday.

A couple of years ago, I decided to embark on a Fall project with my immediate family. It was probably done during the month of November and I have to say it is one of my most treasured posessions. For the sake of a name we will call it the "Grateful Project". I originally saw this concept on another blog and thought what a great idea. I asked my family to write something on a piece of paper that they were "grateful" for. We did this every night after dinner or before heading off to bed.

I simply purchased a 16 x 20 picture frame and poster board. Cut the poster board down to size and placed it in the frame with the glass in the back. This allowed me to hang the frame while the project was going on and have access to write on the poster board. When the project was complete we flipped the glass to the front.

Every evening, we would take a black marker and simply write in our own words and handwriting what we were grateful for. After about 10 days of doing this it began to get tricky. What were we really thankful for that no one had said yet, besides the obvious, what could we come up with to top another family member.

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Topics: Parenting

Happy Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day. Thank you for your service!
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Topics: General

What You Learn From Your Parents and Books

"From your parents you learn love and laughter and how to put one foot before the other. But when books are opened you discover that you have wings."

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S. E. Hinton Tweets to 7th Grade English Class: “Good Thinking”


In 7th Grade English with Ms. Hecht this week, where students are reading the classic coming of age novel, The Outsiders, several students paused on this passage and began to ask more questions.

“We killed time by reading Gone with the Wind and playing poker. Johnny sure did like that book, although he didn’t know anything about the Civil War and even less about plantations, and I had to explain a lot of it to him.”

Students wondered why the author had chosen Gone With The Wind as the book the characters were reading. Was this an allusion to civil strife happening in their own town?  The students wanted to know if the author had done that purposefully so Ms. Hecht pulled our her iPad (thanks to Home & School) and together they wrote a tweet mentioning the author, S. E. Hinton. Within an hour, the author saw their question and sent her response to the class!

See below for the question from the class and the author’s reply!
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Topics: Social Media

Lessons from My Week Without Google

I had heard years ago about Google’s personalized search algorithm that delivered different results to different individuals based on the sites they had previously visited, but it wasn’t until about three weeks ago that I noticed my search results were looking overwhelmingly familiar. It made me wonder what I was missing. What were other people viewing that I was not?

So with a little bit of bravery – and a contrarian spirit – I put myself on a crash Google diet: no more Googling for one week. Could I do it? What revelations might this Google-free week reveal? Here are my lessons from my week without Google.

First, it was not as hard as I had thought it would be. I did not want to go a week without learning new things, so I had to find other avenues for finding answers to questions. There were plenty of alternatives. Twitter, Pinterest, and people I know were my most successful alternatives.

I turned to Twitter when I wanted to find some resources to talk to students about the dangers of perfectionism. Instead of opening a browser and using the Google search, I opened my Twitter app on my tablet and used the Discover tab. The app returned all the tweets that contained the word “perfectionism”. I read through the first 25 or so tweets, in chronological order. They had all been sent in the previous 24 hours. I scanned past the unhelpful ones quickly and found several that were on target. I liked the diversity of the sources people sited. One was from a professional conference being held that day, another was from a business managerial blog, and one was from an article for psychologists. I shared several of these sources with students in Tuesday’s announcements. Here are the tweets:

Notes from @falkowata’s talk at #dareconf about how to free yourself from perfectionism. Really enjoyed this!pic.twitter.com/vdfnmqfJA7

— Elisabeth Irgens (@elisabethirg) September 22, 2014


Here are 8 reasons being a perfectionist is holding you back – by @Inc http://t.co/qSreVVoeIE

— BI Strategy (@BI_Strategy) September 23, 2014

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How To Make The Best Granola Ever

I found a delicious recipe for Vermont Maple Granola in a King Arthur Flour catalog and I've been using the recipe ever since. The jar is getting empty so it's time to make more. Here's the recipe the way I make it...

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What Is Design Thinking in Education?

One of the notions that is helping to shape thinking in 21st century education is design thinking. Inspired by the work of San Francisco Bay area corporations like IDEO, integrated programs offered by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, and the wildly creative K-12 Nueva School in Palo Alto, California, design thinking offers anyone who uses it a structured, creative and useful way to solve meaningful problems. The more I learn about design thinking, the more it reminds me of a decades-old research method in education called “action research,” a research process in which problems are defined, studied, and solved in a deliberate, slow-and-steady way that acknowledges that the significant challenges facing social organizations (like schools) require an iterative approach involving all of the organization’s constituencies. This strategy is one that we use more and more at Sewickley Academy because even when it is really messy, it works.

Below, I have shared a diagram from www.designthinkingblog.com that gives one take on explaining the what-is-design thinking process. This particular example defines design thinking as a six-step process: understand/observe/point of view/ideate/prototype/test.

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Grandma Book Club

Over the course of the summer my 12-year old daughter acquired two new reading buddies: her grandmothers. If the story ended there, with the bridging of generations through a love of literature, it would be a neat one. What makes this reading and sharing arrangement truly noteworthy is that they were reading and sharing novels geared towards my daughter.

Young Adult fiction, better known as "YA," has been around long enough that the 70-year olds who were reading today's favorite titles had their own when they were teenagers (think Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden). Many of the current YA best sellers differ from their predecessors by being having story arcs which are plotted over several books, like the Harry Potter series, and are often dystopian in nature. Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games) and Tris Prior (Divergent) certainly face different types of predicaments than their forbears.

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While the Facilities Are Great, It Remains about the Teaching &​ Learning

How wonderful to be starting a new school year with a newly renovated Oliver Building for Senior School science and Middle and Senior School robotics! 

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The Real Social Media on 9/11


I remember the incredibly blue sky, probably the most beautiful blue sky I have ever seen.

I remember the scarce, wispy white clouds dotting the horizon.

I remember the clean, crisp, cool air fill my lungs.

I remember the exact spot were I was standing when I heard that a plane flew into the first tower of the World Trade Center.

I remember standing in the parking lot outside of the dormitory where I lived at the boarding school where I worked at the time. I remember looking at my apartment on the second floor thinking of my wife.

I remember Todd Weaver.

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