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.
Our viewbook provides a comprehensive summary of an Avenues education.
February 14, 2019
The 7th grade Mandarin Chinese class moved on to complete a new project, called “给校长的建议信,” or ”writing persuasive letters about school issues to the head of school.”
February 12, 2019
What do you do with a classroom full of kindergarteners when it snows?
February 8, 2019
The 11th grade U.S. history classes were tasked with breaking into small groups and designing a memorial for Andrew Jackson that somehow took into account the complex nature of his presidency.
February 7, 2019
The pre-K Penguins and Seals decided to turn our uninspiring dramatic play corner into a full working campsite – a close getaway that would feel quiet and cozy.
February 6, 2019
This winter, the 7th and 8th graders of Avenues presented their "Totally 80s" chorus concert. These 21st-century students explored the history, fashion and culture of the late 20th century through the lens of 1980s music.