One of my favorite things in the whole world is to walk outside and spend lots of time looking at the flowering trees. REALLY LOOKING.
Sewickley Academy: Resource Blog for Parents
As Mr. Spicer, Sewickley Academy Science and Robotics Teacher, stated in a previous post, making observations and asking questions are at the heart of science. These essential skills have played a role in many major discoveries in life science. You too can be a naturalist and be part of a scientific community! Simply step out into nature and look around. Of course, technology has made this endeavor even easier with apps that help us identify what we see.
Learning doesn’t have to stop because students can’t be in a physical classroom. A number of interesting experiments or use of Design Thinking can be completed at home with just a few items and not only lead to some good conversations with your child, but meaningful learning.
Science is above all else a way for humans to organize and explain nature. Watching the night sky has intrigued curious minds as far back as there is written history. Sometimes you just need to observe nature before you can begin to explain it. Taking time to observe a clear night sky will likely inspire many questions of inquiry that lead to new discoveries. Before long you might uncover some of nature's patterns and rules, and possibly find serendipitous anomalies that open paths to new knowledge.
School closures – not a problem! Since 2015, Sewickley Academy has been a 1-to-1 school, meaning every student in Grades 6 through 12 has their own laptop computer, and teachers have engaged in what is call blended learning, using the power of technology to support enhanced learning opportunities for students. In the time of mandated school closures in Pennsylvania due to the coronavirus pandemic, this foundation has meant a fairly seamless transition to Sewickley Academy’s Virtual School, where our students and their teachers have continued teaching and learning remotely.
In all grades, Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12, teachers challenge students with age-appropriate material, whether that is the exploration of a student’s own back yard and the honing of observations and recording skills or the assignment of a particularly difficult problem in calculus (a subject that has become central to projecting not just the growth rates of the coronavirus but the growth of those growth rates). While students engage with the curriculum to strengthen their problem-solving and communications skills, they also practice the resilience and adaptability that we, as educators, seek to build in them.
In the Lower Grades, teachers provide their students with instructions from the day using quick videos, and focusing the day’s activities on a defined set of goals. In all grades, our teachers are using Zoom and other conferencing tools to engage in a combination of real-time, synchronous, engagement with their students for discussions or question and answer sessions, as well as to support students’ social and emotional health in Lower School homerooms and in Middle and Senior School advisory groups. At other times, students work independently and at their own pace on whatever problem or project that has been laid out for them. Using MySewickley, the school’s learning management platform, teachers and students in Middle and Senior School can communicate, share resources, assign and turn in work, and receive feedback and grades.
While these are still early days in our virtual learning environment, the response from parents and students has been extremely positive, with one parent comparing the experience of her Sewickley Academy student favorably to that of her college student, who is currently taking all classes on-line. At Sewickley Academy, we are proud that we have the capacity and the demonstrated ability to deliver an incomparable education experience for our students even under challenging and ever-evolving circumstances.
My first time visiting the Academy, I was greeted with an exhibit of local photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris photography in the Hansen Library. Harris, who lived between 1908 and 1998, was a pioneering African American photographer in the Pittsburgh area for several decades, beginning in the late 1920s up until his death. However, his work documenting Pittsburgh’s African American community while he was a photojournalist with The Pittsburgh Courier is what he is most well-known for today. His impressive archive of thousands of images leaves an unparalleled record of the city’s African American community.
Teacher and scholar, Marzia has held a variety of teaching appointments at both the collegiate and the high school level, most recently serving as an Instructor in the Department of Administration and Policy in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. She has taught AP U.S. History, Psychology, International and Global Education, Qualitative Research Methods, and Italian.
With a B.A., cum laude, in Education, from the University of Bologna (Italy) and an M.A. in Italian Language and Literature from the University of Pittsburgh, Marzia earned her Ph.D. in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education at Pitt. Her dissertation was on “Global Education, Accountability, and 21st Century Skills: A Case of Curriculum Innovation.” She has presented a number of scholarly papers, including “Internationalization or Westernization? The Case of Brazil, China, South Korea, and Turkey” and “Integrating Global Education in Public High Schools: Key Elements, Challenges, and Recommendations for Practice and Policy.” After serving as a substitute in a number of Sewickley Academy classrooms over the past year, Marzia is excited to join the Senior School Department of History and Social Science on a permanent basis.
A self-described librarian without a library, Lindsay Downs is excited to be joining the team of the Hansen Library. For the past nine years, Lindsay has served as an Information Literacy Teacher at City Charter High School, a school that does not have a physical library. In her role at City Charter, she collaborated closely with faculty to teach literacy skills, supported students in the development of their capstone projects, and initiated and led an annual Literacy Night. Lindsay has a B.A. in English Literature and Theater Arts, as well as her Master’s in Library and Information Science, both from the University of Pittsburgh. She looks forward to supporting our Middle and Senior School students and their teachers, as well as coordinating the Middle School LINK program after school.
The maker movement is in full swing in the Pittsburgh region and Sewickley Academy is proud to be a part of this movement that is helping to incorporate 21st century skills into the core and elective curricula. So what is a makerspace, and why do we value this philosophy?