We embrace the idea that the best way to cultivate lifelong skills is to spend a lot of time practicing with the right kind of guidance and coaching. To that end, we developed the High Intensity Practice (HIP) program for students in the Upper Division. The program, which we call HIP Thinking, encompasses both math and writing skills. In writing sessions, students are given 20 minutes to write, uninterrupted and in silence, on a variety of prompts. In math sessions, students spend the same amount of time solving problems in small groups. The prompts and problems are designed to provoke bold responses and encourage students to take inventive risks. In these short bursts of creative and analytical freedom, students cultivate essential cognitive skills – mental agility, empathy, extended concentration and stamina – through persistent practice. From 6th to 11th grade, all students take HIP Thinking classes every other day, alternating between math and writing.
Some examples of HIP writing prompts include:
In addition to developing better writers and more nimble problem solvers, the HIP Thinking program allows students to regularly engage in a deeper kind of thinking than that normally demanded in other classroom settings. By practicing often and over a number of years, students develop a set of thinking skills related to the brain’s key executive functions: working memory, cognitive flexibility and inhibitory control (executive function is often likened to the air traffic control system of the brain). HIP may also improve the ability to think abstractly, reason and discern patterns – markers of what psychologists refer to as fluid intelligence. Executive function is strongly associated with long-term academic achievement across disciplines and success in life, more so than even IQ.
A typical HIP Thinking session includes the following steps:
The long-term benefits of HIP are the subject of ongoing research at Avenues, but an initial yearlong study in the 2016-17 school year provided empirical evidence of strong growth in thinking skills. As a regular part of the Upper Division schedule, HIP Thinking builds the intellectual “muscle memory” that will enable students to unleash their creativity while staying focused – in college and beyond.
September 18, 2017
We know that water quality can be tested for pH, salinity, nitrates and other chemicals, but how can we use aquatic macroinvertebrates to assess the health of a river?
September 14, 2017
The augmented reality sandbox featured here was created by upper grades students as a Fifth Term project.
August 29, 2017
The Martha Cooper exhibition at the nearby Steven Kasher Gallery allowed us to learn about art displayed throughout New York neighborhoods.
August 24, 2017
This spring, Global Journeys hosted its first annual Showcase Night highlighting everything the students researched, listened to, photographed and tasted on their programs. With more than 100 parents and students in attendance, it was a great way for the students to share their unforgettable memories with the larger community.
August 17, 2017
The Seahorses and Giraffes have been learning about ocean animals in HuangSe, their nursery Chinese immersion classroom. This unit was contrasted by a land animal study in Yellow, the partner English classroom.