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Pittsburgh Parenting Blog by Sewickley Academy

Sewickley Academy's Private School Blog

Vintage Vibes: Four Classic Lit Books That Still Feel Current

Vintage reads make the perfect companion to all of your beach side adventures, and while you might avoid classics for their old-world language and sometimes exceptionally lengthy page counts, these four tantalizing classics are filled with new-world wonder, doable book lengths, and swagged-out plot lines. From controversial books that were once rejected by the general public to glamorous parties mixed with epic love stories and heartbreaking tragedy, snag one of these can't-miss, best summer reads for teenagers and adults that are filled with the kind of magic that can only exist in a truly vintage classic. 

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Topics: Education

The History of Labor Day And Ways To Celebrate

Give an American a reason, and he or she will throw a party, have a parade, or fire up the grill. Americans celebrate different people and events during the year out of a sense of gratitude and honor. One of these holidays is Labor Day, a day fraught with violence but with hope as well. Many people celebrate the day without knowing quite how it began, but they should know that its beginning was built upon the blood and sweat of people who fought for what was right for them, and for you and me. 

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Topics: Education, Summer

Best Summer Reads for Older Children

As the summer wears on and the kids become restless, it is important to find ways to keep them entertained, engaged, and using their minds. One of the best ways to go about this is by offering them plenty to read.

While very young children require you to assist them during reading time, older children are much more independent, and while you may need to stand by to help with the occasional word or two, they can likely make it through an entire book on their own if you let them. The experience of finishing an entire chapter book or novel is a great self-confidence booster for children and can help lead them toward a life-long love of reading. 
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Topics: Book Review, Education, Summer

The 10 Best Summer Reads for Teenagers

During the dog days of summer, there is plenty of time in your teen's schedule for pleasure reading. They can sit back, read something that was written less than a decade ago, and dig in and enjoy that summer reading list. These ten amazing books are sure to be popular summer reads for teenagers.

Kiera Cass's 
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Topics: Parenting, Education, Summer

Why Astronomy Education Matters

Friday, May 13, 2016 marked an interesting juxtaposition in our culture. Many of us think of Friday the 13th as a day to reflect on the superstitions and rituals that make our species so unique. This year May 13th also happened to land on Astronomy Day — a day to celebrate the extraordinary science and enjoyable pastime that has shaped humanity in profoundly positive ways.

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Topics: Education

Three Surefire Ways to Make Reading and Writing Fun

We all know that reading and writing are important skills for our kids to have. Literacy is the key to being successful in school, and later for being successful in a career. Not only that, but having good reading and writing skills will give your child a richer understanding of the world and a deeper enjoyment and appreciation for literature throughout his or her life.

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Topics: Parenting, Education

What do Grapes, Laffy taffy and Alligators have in Common? Multiple Modalities

The definition of multiple modalities “is an instructional practice used to improve student engagement. It involves providing diverse presentations and experiences of the content so that students use different senses and different skills during a single lesson. Often multiple modalities addresses different learning styles. Teachers using multiple modalities may use visuals, music, objects, experiences, collaborative work, poetry, writing, and/or other modes to teach content.” In a nutshell, it means that the more ways you learn something the more you will really learn it! The more ways you learn something, the more you will remember it! The more ways you learn something, the more you will genuinely understand it!

During the process to become a teacher, the buzz word during training and college courses was “multiple modalities.” We had to create lessons that would engage students and teach them. Back then, I created some interesting and exciting activities. I love drawing and painting, so I made some great posters and thought of catchy titles to my bulletin boards to grab the students' attention. Recently, I found all my lessons from college and looked over my activities. After 22 years of teaching, I can say that all these eye-catching posters would have never worked in a real classroom. Having cool materials and teacher tools is only part of the equation. 
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Topics: Education

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, Head of School

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

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

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