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Pittsburgh Parenting Blog by Sewickley Academy

Sewickley Academy's Private School Blog

What Is Blended Learning?

As we move to adopt a 1-to-1 framework in Grades 6 through 12 at Sewickley Academy, we remain mindful of the importance of the teacher in inspiring students and of the centrality student-teacher relationship in achieving the best outcomes.  Adopting a 1-to-1 program assures that teachers have a consistent and predictable set of tools they can use in their work with students.  Just as the talented carpenter will benefit from having a range of wood-working tools, so too do teachers benefit from having a range of tools that increase the number of ways to engage a range of learners.

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Topics: Technology, Education

The Art of Storytelling with Prezi

As a history teacher, I look for creative ways to communicate stories of people and places. Many mediums tell these narratives such as memoirs, film, art, and music, which add voice and depth to students’ understanding of the past and present.  In the past couple of years, I have discovered that Prezi is a tool that not only allows me to curate many of these sources into one place, but also adds its own artistic dimension to the art of storytelling in history and the humanities.

Three years ago, I worked with a Jordanian teacher, Ms. Noor, and her class over Twitter to compare perspectives on the Middle East and the United States. I was able to sum this experience up visually through a Prezi, “What is the Middle East?”, which combines word clouds, animations, and representative zooms.  The goal of this exercise was to develop perspective and empathy, as well as a broader understanding of how identity, culture, and environment influence each other.  Questions in the Prezi allow for pauses and reflection and the Prezi flips around to represent “thinking another way.”  The assignment was intended to give students and others a glimpse inside the mind of “the other” and the Prezi is designed to take us on a tour of that complex mental process.

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Topics: Technology

What Type of Laptop Do I Need?

Whether you're browsing the aisles of your local retailer or an online reseller, you can expect to find many choices in the laptop department. Which type of laptop you choose depends primarily on personal preferences and how you intend to use it.

Below are a few laptops at different price points that I recommend for our students here at Sewickley Academy:

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Topics: Technology

3 Steps To Transition Your Child Back Into a School Schedule

As we near the end of the summer holiday, our attention fades from planning vacation trips to getting our children ready to return to a school schedule. Of course, stores began their “Back to School” clothing and supplies sales in late June when we had hardly started to enjoy the break, but now it’s really time to get back in the swing of things. In my opinion, as a parent and an educator, there are a few general areas where you can assist your child to prepare and transition into the new school year:

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Topics: Parenting

What Is an Independent School?

What is an independent school, and why don’t you just call yourselves private schools? An independent school is an independently organized non-profit school governed by a board of trustees. Unlike private schools, which might be profit or non-profit and which could be beholden to some over-arching organizational framework that could dictate how it is to operate, Independent Schools are free from external control. They represent the ultimate in school-based management, which has been shown to produce excellent outcomes for students, even in the public sector where experiments in school-based autonomy have been undertaken.  Independent schools are also financed independently, most often through a combination of tuition revenue and philanthropic support.  This means that independent schools are unencumbered by most state mandates, including the burdens of standardized testing, which has not been shown to improve outcomes for students.  

So independent schools can do whatever they want?

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Topics: Education

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet


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Topics: General

5 Tips for Using LinkedIn for Young Graduates

A recent Forbes article reported that these days more than 70% of jobs are being found through person-to-person networking. Today’s tech-saavy young graduates are particularly poised to utilize the bustling super-network of professionals, known as LinkedIn, to build their networks and jumpstart their careers. Before you dive into the virtual candidate pool, here are five tips for using LinkedIn the right way and avoiding some common pitfalls.

1. Keep it professional.

LinkedIn has many of the same features as other social media platforms like Facebook, however, its purpose is absolutely unique. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites, LinkedIn is purely and solely professional. And thus, when using the site, it is really important to keep it that way. One really easy way to ensure that your LinkedIn profile and networking efforts remain pristine is to avoid oversharing via other social media platforms. Don’t link your LinkedIn profile to a personal Facebook or Twitter account. All of your posts on LinkedIn are cached on your profile and accessible by any employer that might be checking you out online. An inadvertently unprofessional moment on Facebook or Twitter could find its way into their research and reflect poorly.

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Topics: Alumni

7 Tips for Traveling Abroad This Summer

This summer ten local students (including 8 from Sewickley Academy) will be traveling abroad together to the July program of Reach Cambridge a three week pre-college program held at the University of Cambridge. 

In order to get psyched and get to know each other, members of the group met recently over cucumber sandwiches and shortbread. In a “getting to know each other exercise”, they enthusiastically responded to questions which I think are valuable for anyone undertaking a global experience this summer, such as:

• I chose this program because:
• The excursions and activities that look most interesting to me include:
• One stereotype I have about the British that I want to check out for myself:
• One thing about the program that I may be a little nervous about:
• One thing my parents are probably a little nervous about:
• My best summer memory to date:
• If I had to spend a week by myself on a desert island, three things I would need to have with me:

When parents joined us, I offered 7 tips for a successful experience as both students and their parents look ahead (with a little trepidation and lots of excitement):

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Topics: Global Studies

Parent's Guide and Tutorial for Twitter

At Sewickley Academy we’ve seen steady growth in the number of our students who use Twitter. We’ve also seen a decrease in the number of our students who are participating on Facebook - maybe it’s because of the increase in the number of their parents and grandparents who are now using Facebook.

While these trends are anecdotal the fact remains that parents still are unsure what Twitter is about, how to use it, and how to monitor their children so that they are safe and using this very popular social media channel appropriately.
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Topics: Social Media

A Teacher's Interest in Pinterest

I have seen a lot of articles and blogs talking about Pinterest– why people are using it, how people are using it, and the benefits of it as social media.  Pinterest was one of my first attempts to use social media in my classroom, and I approached it as an experiment to see how I might make these crafty bulletin boards work for my students.

Over the last ten years, I curated a categorized list of content-related resources on my teaching website.  As the years passed, the list grew, many links died, and student traffic slowed dramatically.  I suspect that the latter happened because students gained proficiency with search engines—and search engines improved their ability to target results, even with a poorly-worded query.  I also found that students looked at the first link or two and stopped searching.  Ultimately, students were not as interested in following my suggestions as they were to find it on their own. This pleased me because it showed that students are becoming more independent learners online.  It was also concerning because not all students who explore on their own are prepared to evaluate websites effectively.  In an effort to guide student research, spark interest in the topics, and provide students the opportunity to search and discover, I decided that Pinterest was worth a try.

Below, I describe the goals of my Pinterest boards, as well as some welcomed surprises.

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Topics: Social Media

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