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.
June 19, 2018
The American Library Association recently released their list of the top 10 books that were challenged in 2017 – and I must admit, a lot of those that made the list are some books I really enjoyed. More importantly, many of the books that made those lists are incredibly popular with our students.
June 12, 2018
Detailed description is one of the paramount skills in foundational Chinese. The more advanced a student becomes in their language facility, the more accurate and nuanced the description becomes.
June 11, 2018
On Tuesday, June 5, the class of 2018 graduated from Avenues New York. They're moving on to great things, and we couldn't be happier for them.
June 6, 2018
As part of a yearlong interdisciplinary project, Avenues 2nd graders have been working with Jan Kath gallery to design carpets. The students created designs based on radial symmetry, and the gallery’s artisans wove them—by hand—into gorgeous carpets.
June 6, 2018
This spring, the 5th graders have been creating paper mache food objects in art class. The goal was was to feature these food objects in a “community supermarket." And last week, the students installed their store, called Billy’s Art Mart, on the fifth floor of our school.