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Pittsburgh Parenting Blog by Sewickley Academy

Sewickley Academy's Private School Blog

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

A Challenge to the Class of 2015

The following were the closing remarks at Graduation 2015.

Thank you, Mike, for your thoughtful remarks.  Your personal story is inspirational to all of us, and I know that our graduates appreciate the food for thought you have shared with them this afternoon.

Thank you, too, to our Board of Trustees, the faculty and staff, and the administration of the school for all you have contributed to the growth and education of our students, particularly this afternoon’s graduates.

And congratulations and thank you to the parents of the Class of 2015, who have committed themselves to providing each of their daughters and sons with extraordinary opportunities to learn and grow and become who they are.  Thanks are due to them, as well, for choosing Sewickley Academy and for their extraordinary support of the school over the years.

And now for some final thoughts:

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Topics: General

5 Reasons I Use Graphic Novels to Teach History

Lovers of history know that there are innumerable ways to experience the past. To this end, our history classes at Sewickley Academy engage students in literature, film, speakers, art, music, field trips, and travel to support our curriculum. One of my personal favorite styles of literature, which I find myself leaning into more and more, is the graphic novel.  While many are familiar with Art Spiegelman’s "Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History," which tells the story of his father’s experience in Nazi-occupied Poland, there are many more stories like it that communicate strong voices of past generations. Here are five reasons why I use graphic novels to teach history.  

1.  Historic Content

A graphic novel would not be worth teaching in a history course if it didn’t have content merit and provoke discussion of historic themes. All of the books I list here in this post connect to the courses in which they are positioned and support the content of those courses. For example, in my Modern Middle East elective, I have used the graphic novel "Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood," a memoir by Marjane Satrapi, which provides historic background to the Islamic Revolution in Iran. This short book, which can be read in only two nights, provides the foundation of historic understanding through a personal narrative, to better understand the many nuances of Iranian society at the time. In class, this framing also allows us to then go beyond the literature and discuss additional historic details absent from the book, to contextualize events. As developments have unfolded in the Middle East, I am looking to try a new book about Iran, one that focuses on more modern challenges the country is facing. Next year, we will read "Zahra's Paradise" (One of Amazon's Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens) by Amir and Khalil, which is a fictional story weaving together real events around Iran’s political upheaval in the summer of 2009. 

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Topics: Education

4 Lessons From Albert Einstein - A Grade 5 Commencement Speech

Good morning! I extend a very warm welcome to our Parents, Relatives, Faculty, fellow Administrators, and most importantly, to our 58 smiling fifth Grade students…the class of 2022 here in front having just received their Lower School certificates on our 177th year as a school. Congratulations! Today is your special day—the crossing from the comfort of the known, our Lower School, to the new and unknown to many of you, the Middle School. New classrooms, a new dining room, a new library, new teachers, and new classmates. These are indeed exciting times ahead for you and likely a small bit of nervousness may be mixed in with these feelings, too.

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Topics: General

Why Do We Care so much about History? A Grade 8 Commencement Speech

Good afternoon students, families, faculty, administrators, staff, and guests. This is a bittersweet moment for me, as I am saying goodbye to Sewickley Academy, my home for the last nine years, and to my beloved 8th graders, truly one of the best classes I have ever taught. This year’s students have been generous with their kindness, effort, and enthusiasm. They assumed goodwill on the part of their teachers and their fellow students, which made them easy to work for and with. They devoted themselves not just to fulfilling the requirements of their courses but to honing the skills by which they could become more thoughtful, reflective students and citizens. This year, I was fortunate to work with them as they came to understand not just the processes of government and rights due them, but the civic responsibility they owe to their fellow citizens and to the generations of Americans who worked for, fought for, and died for our country.

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Topics: Education

Is Your Kindergartener Playing Enough?

Play in early childhood is a hot topic of conversation among child development specialists, teachers, and researchers. Just Google “play in kindergarten” and watch the overwhelming number of results appear stating the importance of play in child development. Play develops the senses, small and large motor skills, communication skills, thinking skills, and self-regulation skills. It is critically important for preparing a child for future learning and academics. Children need significant time to play at home and at school in order to build a strong foundation for future academic success. In addition, half of that play time should be done outdoors so that they can explore nature. Children need to observe, imagine, create, and move.
 
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Topics: Education

2 Tips for Picky Eaters

My kids are 7 and 11, and they are OPPOSITES.

I have one defensive kid who likes bread and cake, and one seeker kid who is a devout carnivore and eats raw purple onions and chives right out of the garden.

Successfully feeding them both is an adventure!

If you have a picky eater in your family, child or adult, these two tips will help to make mealtime pleasant for all at the table, including you!


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Topics: Food

Sewickley Academy Does Not Have Everything

At Sewickley Academy, we are proud of the range of academic, athletic, arts, and extracurricular offerings. That said, it is true that we don’t have everything that a student might want in a school, but we do try to be responsive. For example, Sewickley Academy has a varsity squash team because one student felt we should have a team. As you can imagine, one student does not a team make; however, this student recruited other students, found squash courts where this nascent team could practice, and gained “club” status for squash through the athletic department. After a full year of practices and scrimmages, the team officially gained varsity status. This year, after the founder graduated, the team boasts 39 students, and is one of our more popular winter sport alternatives.
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Topics: General

8 Tips for Keeping Your Organic Garden Free of Insects, Weeds, and Disease

Organic gardening is a fabulous trend that is hopefully here to stay. Plants or food that are considered organic are grown without using pesticides or chemicals. The plants or seeds themselves are not special in any way other than they grow free of insects, weeds, or disease with a little bit of help from their owner.

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Topics: Food

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