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.
December 7, 2018
Given the fact that students in 2nd grade are being asked to participate in that digital world without the direct oversight of their teachers as they complete their homework, we needed to ensure our 2nd grade digital citizenship curriculum prepared students for that responsibility.
December 5, 2018
The Goldfish and Starfish embarked on a study of Frida Kahlo. They learned about her artistic life, where she was from and about her love for making self-portraits. Our pre-K curriculum already incorporates self-portraits, so this was the perfect way to connect the study of Frida Kahlo to a familiar theme.
November 30, 2018
This November, the Avenues 8th grade saw Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway production of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, starring Jeff Daniels and Celia Keenan-Bolger, at the Shubert Theater on Broadway.
November 28, 2018
The kindergarten’s World Course offers a great way for students to feel comfortable with one another, and what better way than having a museum shown to the class about themselves!
November 21, 2018
Digital citizenship is an effort to explicitly teach students how to act responsibly, safely and respectfully in our digital world. This year, we began an effort to both explicitly teach these skills to our Lower Division grades at the start of the year and also weave these concepts throughout all we do for the rest of the school year.