Showing posts from August, 2017

Lessons From Summer Camp

This summer, my nine year old Cameron had a blast at Camp Carpenter in Manchester, NH where he participated in a week-long overnight Cub Scout program with some of his friends from our local Cub Scout Pack. Cameron’s positive experience did not come as a surprise to my wife Erica and I. What boy his age wouldn’t like a camp experience that prides itself on its ability to offer activities like archery, swimming and boating, arts and crafts, BB gun shooting sports, field sports, and nature, combined with the added bonus of sleeping in tents with your friends surrounded by a beautiful lake?

What surprised us most was not that he had a good time, but at what he identified as the positive experiences from his time at the camp. Describing it in a way that you would expect from a nine year old boy, Cameron valued most the time he had to explore new ideas, new activities, and new experiences in a safe and supportive environment. As he put it, “we learned HOW to learn for ourselves, and it was…

The Importance of Turning Things in On Time

If you are familiar with the competency-based grading practices that our school has used for the better part of the last decade, you know that one of the hallmarks of the school's philosophy is that grades represent what students LEARN, not what they EARN. Grades are an accurate representation of how deep a student understands a topic, and cannot be influenced by the behaviors that led (or didn't lead) to that grade. It sounds like a logical statement, but what does that mean, exactly? 

Consider these statements: 

It doesn't matter how many hours you study for the test, but it does matter how well you do on the test. It doesn't matter how many times you raised your hand to contribute to a class discussion, but it matters how well you enhanced to the discussion when you did contribute.
Most people can rally around these statements, but this one seems to create friction and controversy:

It doesn't matter how long it takes you to complete an assignment, but it matters how…

Parents and Educators: There is a new App to watch out for

As we embarked on the “back to school season” last fall, it was a 16 year old girl named Natalie Hampton from Sherman Oaks, California who was winning over the hearts of parents and educators alike for the launch of her free app “Sit With Us.” According to this LA Daily News article, the app was designed to help teens and tweens find a place to sit at lunch with peers who designated themselves as “ambassadors” by posting “open lunch” events on the app to signal to others that they were looking for some company. Hampton told the LA Daily News that she developed the app as a way to use social media to combat bullying, a problem she knew all too well. She stated, “I want to use social media, which can be harmful, and use it for a change and to do something good.” Hampton reported spending much of her seventh grade year eating lunch alone in the cafeteria, feeling a strong sense of embarrassment and vulnerability knowing that her peers took note of the fact that she had no one to sit with…