NAIS Connect Blogs

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Dear Colleagues,  I'm honored to share my recent story for KQED Education:  The longer I teach online journalism, the more I understand about how students learn best. They crave ownership of the learning process, and that ownership can help promote mastery of essential skills and content knowledge. Owning their learning is also significantly more meaningful than having me—or any other teacher for that matter—tell students exactly what’s expected of them. I prefer that students experiment with the learning, setting and holding themselves to their own high standards, while always striving to improve. For the rest of the story, please visit: https:// ...
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Dear Colleagues,  I'm honored to share my recent story for PBS NewsHour: I love celebrating America’s birthday, but as a history teacher I’m also committed to illuminating the holiday for those who might want to think about it in a different but equally celebratory light. So why do we skip two days? For the rest of my article, please visit: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/opinion-independence-day-on-july-2-john-adams-got-it-
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The first time I ran into Jesse Jackson in an Alabama hotel lobby, I was surprised. When it happened again a few weeks ago, though, I wasn’t all that shocked. After all, Reverend Jackson was just one of the many civil rights all-stars who had gathered for the Equal Justice Summit in Montgomery, Alabama to honor the unveiling of two gut-wrenchingly powerful tributes to the African American experience. As Bryan Stevenson reminded us attendees at the opening ceremony on Thursday evening, we were all in the presence of civil rights royalty— Congressman John Lewis, Elizabeth Eckford (one of the Little Rock Nine), Claudette Calvin (whose defiance of Montgomery bus ...
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Dear Colleagues, I'm honored to share this recent story I wrote for Edutopia about National Teacher Appreciation Week.  TEACHER APPRECIATION What My Teachers Taught Me About Teaching For Teacher Appreciation Week, a 10-year veteran reflects on what he learned about his future job from teachers he admired. By  David Cutler May 7, 2018 ©iStock/asiseeit My fourth-grade teacher, Sharin Russell, was consoling me after I scored below perfect on a weekly vocabulary quiz. “David, nobody gets everything right all of the time,” she said. “It’s important to be OK with making mistakes, so long as we learn from them and move on. I ...
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Colleagues,  I'm pleased to share my most recent article for Edutopia. I've included the first few paragraphs below, followed by a link: When I was a new (and sometimes naive) high school history teacher, in a mistaken attempt to prove my worth I would correct every misspelling, grammatical flaw, and analytical misstep—drenching assignments in red ink. Before long, students accused me of caring more about pointing out flaws than helping them improve. They were right.  In my third year on the job, I really began to consider how to offer feedback—the kind that students find helpful for improving their learning. Here are some key tactics I developed. ...
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Dear Colleagues, I'm proud to share my recent article for PBS. I would love to hear your thoughts, and how you use comics for the classroom. Why ‘Black Panther’ and other comic books belong in the classroom https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/opinion-why-black-panther-and-other-comic-books-belong-in-the-classroom
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Dear Colleagues,  I'm honored to share my most recent Edutopia story:  Why I Teach Journalism in My History Classes In high school, I struggled to write clear, concise prose. My command of structure was minimal, and I didn’t make effective use of sources to inform my analysis. I also had difficulty differentiating between summary and analysis, much to the chagrin of my teachers, who worked diligently to help me hone my writing. However much I struggled, it was only when I found my passion for news reporting that I began to succeed as a writer—so much so, in fact, that I now teach journalism to my history students, hopeful that they too will benefit ...
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Colleagues,  I'm honored to share my most recent story for PBS NewsHour.  https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/teaching-kids-about-thanksgiving-or-columbus-they-deserve-the-real-story
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When thinking about success for children, some of us may believe that high scores on classroom tests or standardized tests are indicators or predictors of success. In a college preparatory school such as ours, tests do matter—primarily in the sense of offering important feedback to incorporate in an effort to make corrections—and to learn from one’s errors and re-adjust. A singular focus on scores undervalues the process of learning, which is how children develop essential traits of habit and mind. Such traits of habit and mind are potentially life-long; test scores are temporary. Do we adults remember our grades from eighth or ninth grade? Students (and ...
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Veterans Day

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Standing at attention as strains of Taps drifted across the cemetery, I sifted back through the events of the past month … the early-morning phone call from the young man’s father, tearfully telling me the news that his son, a Green Beret and AOS graduate, had been killed in action in Jordan the previous night … the request to hold a memorial service on campus in his honor … meetings with his family, who, dazed, tired, and broken, were trying desperately to hold it together … the service itself, attended by over a thousand people and covered by several news stations … the speeches, articulate and heartfelt, that so accurately portrayed the young man ... his ...
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Dear Colleagues,  I thought to share this link to my most recent Edutopia story:  Rekindling Excitement for Familiar Classes https://www.edutopia.org/article/rekindling-excitement-familiar-classes
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Dear Colleagues, I thought to share my recent Edutopia story, which you can access by following the link below: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/you-cannot-cover-everything-david-cutler Thank you to everyone who responded to my email about contributing. I apologize in advance that I couldn't include everyone's remarks
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“Much like the best in any field, the best learners and teachers stress-test assumptions. The profound often hides with absurd, even heretical, experiments.” — Tim Ferriss AUSTIN, TEXAS — Ever since childhood, my need to learn has been unquenchable. Then, a few years ago, I discovered that “learner” is one of my top five strengths, per the Gallup StrengthsFinder talent assessment tool . This means I exhibit “a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites” me. In my third visit to the SXSWedu Conference & Festival ...
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Dear Colleagues, I thought to share my recent Edutopia story, which you can access by following the link below: https://www.edutopia.org/article/teaching-why-facts-still-matter-david-cutler I would love to hear your thoughts.
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Dear Colleagues, I am eager to hear any thoughts on my most recent article for Edutopia , which you can access by clicking HERE . I've included the first few paragraphs below... In Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking , the best-selling author raises a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. In the chapter “When Collaboration Kills Creativity: The Rise of the New Groupthink and the Power of Working Alone,” Cain quotes Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, who endorsed working alone in his memoir : Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me—they’re ...
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Dear Colleagues, I am eager to hear any thoughts on my most recent article for Edutopia , which you can access by clicking HERE . I am currently attending the NAIS PoCC conference and will be here until tomorrow afternoon, if folks want to meet up and chat. I certainly don't have all of the answers. I would love to hear your thoughts. I've included the first three paragraphs below: As a high school government and American history teacher, I strive to sidestep perceptions of bias in how I teach and assess by seeking to remain politically neutral. On day one, I tell my students that I don’t care where they reside on the political spectrum—and ...
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We have a generation of research documenting in endless detail the loss of sense of community and connectedness in schools and families, along with loss of core values like courage and caring. We have lost sanctioned, honored, and trustworthy ways for our youth to come of age—many drift into and through adolescence with no benchmarks beyond standardized tests. In an absence of the availability of real traditions, today many youths meet the needs for coming of age through alienation, gangs, helmet sports, drug use, and more. “Coming of Age the Rite Way” is the contemporary rationale for the critical process of coming ...
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NWEA MAP testing

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Our school is contemplating moving from the ERB CTP4 paper/pencil standardized test to the NWEA MAP on-line formative assessment next year. I would appreciate it if other schools who have made this change would share anything about your experience that may be helpful to us. Thank you. Diane Williamson Curriculum/Professional Development Coordinator St. Michael's Episcopal Day School Carmichael, CA 9560
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Carter Latendresse 8 December 2016 NAIS and the Only Responsible Stance on Anthropogenic Climate Change In our commitment to inclusivity, bipartisanship, and debate regarding climate change, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) has paradoxically abdicated its leadership responsibility and already betrayed two generations of students. We have known since the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report in 1990 that anthropogenic climate change is a real and pressing danger. We have today in NAIS a third generation of students who have lived with the known effects of anthropogenic climate change since 1990, ...
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Terminology matters. Over the past five years, our financial aid office has made the effort to eliminate the terms "award" and "awards" when discussing and writing about financial aid decisions. Our thinking -- and we welcome and encourage your feedback on this -- is that the word "award" carries with it the connotation of winning something. That connotation, we believe, can cloud a conversation with a family when we are trying to explain that our financial aid committee decisions are thoughtful and deliberate decisions based on the data and information we reviewed in their financial aid application. Frankly, telling a family that they have been "awarded" ...
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