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.
November 17, 2017
For the second year in a row, Global Journeys returned to YMCA Camp Greenkill in Huguenot, New York, to host our weekend-long instructor training retreat. In addition to a number of pre-program preparations and extensive planning throughout the year, Global Journeys encourages instructors to take part in this weekend-long training. This fall, the Global Journeys team, along with 21 faculty/staff participated in the intensive two-day retreat.
November 15, 2017
Our 11th grade American Studies students began the year with a personal narrative assignment that prompted them to think about their views of their immediate surroundings and society. Students responded to one of the following prompts: Have you ever had to voice an unpopular opinion? Was there a time when you were a minority in a situation? Have you ever made a mistake that affected the people or the situation around you?
November 14, 2017
During the week of October 10, 2017, Avenues hosted 24 exchange students from Liceo 7 de Niñas de Providencia high school in Santiago, Chile.
November 13, 2017
In order to ease into the new freedoms 5th grade students will gain in the years to come, they participate in the Fab Five. The Fab Five is an opportunity in which, for one hour a week, students transition between five different elective classes. All 5th grade classes are mixed together and assigned to one elective for six to eight weeks.
November 9, 2017
The first unit of the year in 6th grade math is “Integers.” In this unit, students expand their knowledge of whole numbers to include negative numbers. For meaningful and lasting learning to take place, it is crucial for students to make connections to what they are learning.