NYC Private School Spring Tours

Register Now for
NYC Private Schools Spring Tours to
Apply for Fall 2015
Admission season began March 1
(Dalton began registering parents March 1st
Friends Seminary began March 14)

The NYC private school admissions process begins now for Fall 2015.  Start creating the perfect application and read my previous blog entry called What to Expect Applying to NYC Private Schools .  Reserve a spot in spring tours and schedule an appointment for an admissions consultation so you can calmly apply to independent schools and receive several acceptances at the end of the admissions process.  I manage the entire application and admissions process for my clients to ensure they meet all the deadlines and create a winning application so their child is admitted to at least one of their first choice schools.  Several NYC private schools offer spring tours for parents to see schools in April or May before they apply for admission the following fall. The Dalton School is one of the schools where I taught and interviewed applicants for admission that offers spring tours.  Friends Seminary, Hewitt School, Speyer Legacy, Ethical Culture and Fieldston Lower School, Avenues World School and Little Red School House also offer spring tours.  Start preparing  to birth the perfect application, now.

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What to Expect When Applying to NYC Private Schools

Birthing the Perfect Kindergarten Application
Avoid the frantic rush to finish last minute applications and prevent making a mess of the Admissions Process

In previous years, I have helped clients whose child was admitted to Dalton and Brearley, top private schools in New York City, choose which school to enroll their child. Having fabulous independent school choices requires preparing 9 months in advance.  Just as healthy babies don’t appear overnight, robust Kindergarten applications don’t appear overnight. Preparing for admission is a long process and schools don’t accept FedExed applications. Many successful parents in New York City have graduated from top Liberal Arts colleges and Ivy League universities, but have forgotten how much time and effort it took to achieve that goal.  This is not a  D-I-Y (Do-It-Yourself situation), the smartest people ask for help early on. Call in the experts. People hire specialists for everything, be it an orthopedic surgeon  or a Private School Admissions Consultant. Think back to the spring of your Junior year. As a student preparing to apply for college, you may have spent more than a year…

  • Studying for the SATs
  • Developing a portfolio (an athletic highlight reel, exhibited artwork, or articles published in the school newspaper)
  • Becoming a leader of extracurricular activities
  • Becoming a captain of sports teams
  • Developing relationships with teachers for faculty recommendations
  • Writing your college essay

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Gaming in Education: This is Not Your 8-Bit Oregon Trail

Excited to be on Meet-Up’s NYEdTech Panel!
To kick off 2014, NYEdTech’s meet-up group is hosting a panel that I am privileged to sit on. Thank you to Knewton and Pearson for sponsoring! At this panel discussion we’ll be digging into gaming in education. The meet-up group explains the state of gaming in education with the following description: “Sophisticated game developers are creating immersive educational adventures with rich multi-modal, multi-sensory social environments. Students of all educational levels and abilities are being targeted through highly personalized engaging lessons covering the gamut of required content.” They’ll also be exploring “the current state of the market and discuss solutions helping to differentiate in the classroom, aid all learners as well as understand when it goes off the rails”.

The panelists have a wide range of experience working in both the technology field and education field and I’m excited to bring the classroom teacher’s perspective! …read more

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NYC Public School Kindergarten Applications Open

NYC Public School Kindergarten Applications Deadline Extended to February 20, 2014
New York City’s Public School Kindergarten applications have opened today for children born in 2009. There are 3 ways to apply: online, in person, or via phone. Before you apply, be sure to visit each school, however, so that when you rank your choices on the application, you have a good understanding of which schools you would like your child to attend. Some tours are listed here for schools in all 5 boroughs. Please go to each school’s individual website to find out specific information regarding that specific school. Don’t forget that you can also register for the Gifted and Talented Test by November 8, 2013. Please, check out these videos from GreatSchools to help you know what to look for when visiting schools as well as our previous post on What Makes a School Great. …read more

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Tiger Moms, PISA Results, & Global Education

Why did “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior?” cause a media frenzy?
Fear of Failure: America’s Place in a Global Education
Amy Chua’s memoir about Chinese moms shows how education has become more global and has coalesced around a national fear of China taking over the world, solidified by Shanghai’s # 1 ranking on the PISA test.

In the era of a shortening 24-hour news cycle it’s amazing that Yale Law School professor, Amy Chua captured the media spotlight. Her essay called Why Chinese Mothers are Superior was published in the Wall Street Journal on January 8, 2011 and ignited a firestorm of debate about extreme parenting in the media. …read more

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Parent-Teacher Conferences: What to Ask, What to Expect, & How to Make the Most of Them

Parent-Teacher Conferences
What to Ask, What to Expect, & How to Make the Most of Them

Parent-Teacher conferences are a great opportunity to outline the rest of the year with your child, their teacher, and yourself but the time can pass so quickly that afterwards you feel like it was a whirlwind and you didn’t even have your questions answered. Don’t let that happen to you. This conference will not be the first, nor the last time in which you’ll be communicating with your child’s teacher, rather it will be an opportunity to touch base, hopefully, since you last spoke. So that your child  feels successful, it is essential that both you and their teacher are in communication and have an action plan for success. In order to take advantage of the opportunity to make a plan, read the tips below to be prepared before, during and after Parent-Teacher conferences!

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School Leadership, What Makes a School Great?- Part 4

School Leadership: What Makes a School Great?- Part 4

School leadership is a selfless act.

School leadership is about taking care of those that are entrusted to you.  It is a selfless act and is not about receiving a title or acknowledgement. Cared for, happy employees are more productive in their work and feel invested in the community they work in. Great principals give recognition to their faculty and are respectful of the work they do. Furthermore, they set challenging stretch goals, set the standard of how to be an ongoing learner and are willing to try new things and experiment without revamping everything. Principals should have their finger on the pulse of the school and be aware of what is going on in various classrooms and distinct relationships in the school. A great school leader has the judgment about what traditions to preserve and when to experiment with something new. They are flexible, especially in their thinking and look for creative solutions to problems as opposed to being stuck in doing the same thing over and over again. …read more

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Great Curriculum & 21st Century Skills: What Makes a School Great?- Part 3

Great Curriculum & 21st Century Skills: What Makes a School Great? Part 3
A Curriculum that teaches students 21st century skills. 21st century skills prepare students to live in a global community with an unknown and rapidly changing future.
How do you spot a school with a great curriculum and learning opportunities?
Maker spaces and time to create and use 21st Century skills like Design thinking and entrepreneurship.
A great curriculum teaches kids 21st century skills: to design, make and be entrepreneurs, in preparation to live globally in a rapidly changing world. The annual Cardboard Challenge sponsored by the Imagination Foundation is one example of an innovative way to incorporate these skills into a school curriculum. The cardboard challenge is an annual celebration of student projects made of cardboard inspired by Caine’s Arcade. The celebration started 2 years ago by Nirvan Mullick to “let children explore their interests and passions, teach valuable ‘21st century’ skills like critical thinking, resourcefulness, perseverance, and teamwork, and bring communities together to foster and celebrate child creativity.” It was started because of a boy named Caine Monroy, a 9 year old boy who made arcade games out of cardboard boxes.

On April 9, 2012, Nirvan Mullick posted a short video about Caine’s Arcade on Youtube that quickly went viral and now has more than 8 million views. Nirvan was Caine’s first customer to play the cardboard arcade games at his father’s used auto body parts store in Los Angeles. Caine was a boy who had to entertain himself at his Dad’s auto-parts store during the summer, so he started making arcade games out of used cardboard boxes.  As much as his story was heartwarming, it was also “do-able.” Children and schools all over the country started making their own cardboard arcades and teachers formed Facebook groups to share ideas. The Cardboard challenge culminates on October 5th, the National Day of Play and the anniversary of the Flashmob at Caine’s Arcade in the first short film. Caine is a perfect example of a maker who transformed his play into a business. He used 21st century skills like critical thinking through design and resourcefulness to learn while playing. We can see more examples right here in New York. The Blue School is hosting a free Cardboard Challenge party in Dumbo Brooklyn.
Blue School Pop-up Cardboard Challenge
Build boats and bridges out of cardboard
in DUMBO at Main Street Park (the pirate ship park)
Sunday, October 6, 2013
at 11:00 AM – 1 pm
Main Street & Plymouth Street Brooklyn, NY 11201 The Blue School is just one school that is reflecting, reviewing and updating their curriculum to incorporate innovative 21st century skills on a regular basis. But there are many ways to recognize a great school curriculum. As Dale Dougherty, the father of the Maker Movement says, “ can be active participants in constructing a new kind of education for the 21st-century, which will promote the creativity and critical thinking we say we value in people like Steve Jobs.” Encourage your school to incorporate the art of making in their curriculum. It doesn’t have to have a maker space in order to be great because a maker space and makers, can be anywhere; an art classroom, science lab, or even where the Girl Scout troop meets.
A curriculum that teachers review, reflect and update regularly is a tool that lives and breathes, not cemented in time.
Great teachers are always learning new information, new techniques etc. They review, reflect, and update curriculum to incorporate critical thinking and problem-solving skills. A great teacher fosters learning in a community of collaborative, respectful students where mistakes are celebrated and develops each student’s ability to learn in addition to increasing the students’ knowledge of the subject matter. While it is important to have a great teacher at the reins, just as important is their guide, the curriculum. Great teachers must have a curriculum that will bolster their ability to convey critical information, allow their students to explore learning globally and equip them with skills for the 21st century; skills necessary to innovate, create, collaborate and communicate. We must teach students in order to prepare them for jobs that do not exist now. Tony Wagner, the Harvard-based education expert and author of “The Global Achievement Gap,” explains it this way in Friedman’s Op-Ed column for the New York Times, “Teaching for America”. “There are three basic skills (21st century skills) that students need if they want to thrive in a knowledge economy, the ability to do critical thinking and problem-solving; the ability to communicate effectively; and the ability to collaborate”. Evidence of these 21st century skills in schools can be seen in various ways for teachers and students.

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills Do students create projects that require applying knowledge in new ways and using critical thinking and problem solving skills? Are they assigned projects that have multiple design solutions or examples? Do they have problems that encourage them to analyze and challenge what they know?
  • Communicate effectively Do students make presentations, posters or reports? Do they use multimedia, video and audio for school work? Do the teachers use the same technology (multimedia, video, and audio) for teaching? Are there school publications or bulletin boards reporting teachers going to conferences, workshops, visiting other schools travel grants etc.?
  • Collaborate Do students work on group projects? Do you see teachers working together on their grade levels? Are there grade wide field trips? Do you know if  teachers are visiting other classrooms or co-teaching projects or lessons?

In that same way, a curriculum should facilitate critical thinking communicating effectively and collaborating, in class discussions, while Student should be working on. When students learn process as well as content they learn – how to ask questions, critically evaluate data and find answers to questions that have not been solved. These 21st century skills can be represented in many ways in and out of the classroom yet they must permeate the teaching and learning that occurs. The Maker movement, design thinking, and innovative curricula are all effective because they incorporate the teaching of the 21st century skills necessary for our children to succeed. Put your 21st century skills to work and be a maker! Here are some places you can start: Built By Kids Instructables DIY Smiles, Sharon

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Join the Maker Movement

Wouldn’t it be fun to learn to build a robot or motorize your Legos?
You can. Join the Maker Movement. This Saturday 9/21/13 & Sunday 9/22/13, 10 am – 6 pm, at World Makerfaire at the New York Hall of Science.
The Maker Movement is the widespread adoption of Do It Yourself – DIY, culture where anyone can learn to design and create things with modern technology tools.  MAKE Magazine’s How to articles and YouTube videos teach people skills in quilting, woodworking, welding, knitting, electronic circuit boards wiring and robot building, thus making it accessible to everyone. At MakerFaire Bay Area in May, I met Dale Dougherty the father of the Maker Movement.  He is the CEO of Maker Media, the publisher of MAKE Magazine and creator of the MakerFaire. This photo shows me and Dale Dougherty at Makerfaire Education Day. I was a Makerfaire tour guide for a 6th grade class from Los Altos, CA on Education Day. Dale talked about the importance of teachers who spread their passion for making things to students. Dale described how these old skills have been updated with new technology and tools and sparked a new generation of wood carpenters, knitters, quilters, robot builders and more.

Bay Area MakerFaire, May 2013
I witnessed a host of kids being makers, creators, and innovators. I met Sylvia Todd of Sylvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show.  Sylvia had just returned from a visit to the White House Science Fair to demonstrate her robot that paints for President Barack Obama.

Google + Summer Camp
This past July and August MAKE magazine and company did it again, pairing with Google + to  put together a free “virtual summer camp.” While targeting teens, 13-18 years old, because of the virtual nature, “tinkerers” of all ages can still do many of the activities with their parents. The Maker Camp is one inventive way to keep kids engaged and involved in all types of interesting projects, even during the school year. The camp not only gives them a chance to experiment and try their hand at all things, such as toy design and fabrication or creating their own version of the classic games like Operation, but it also encourages them to learn through trial and error in the most relaxed setting they know, their home!

The Maker movement which has taken off in the past decade has become more pervasive because the internet has created spaces where “passionate makers find other passionate makers” to share, collaborate, and create together. This movement is especially important for children of all ages because it encourages any and every child to harness their creative nature in order to hone their problem solving skills. Children are makers at heart. They use Rainbow Loom to learn how to make bracelets, some, eventually being able to create their own jewelry with semi-precious stones, perhaps. They build houses, cars and toys with legos or wood.

I hope you’re getting excited because now its your turn! At World Maker Faire this weekend (9/21/13-9/22/13) the creating continues…

World MakerFaire, New York City, September 2013

New York City welcomes World MakerFaire, from September 21-22, 2013 at the NY Hall of Science in Queens. I have no doubt that it will be just as exciting, inspiring, and innovative, as MakerFaire Bay Area this past spring.

Come play with Roominate Toy, a wired dollhouse. Since, many girls already grow up playing with dollhouses, creators Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen, created Roominate, so they can wire those rooms to have lights that they’ll be able to switch off and on using the complete circuit that comes with each kit.

After stopping by Roominate’s booth, try your hand at building your own Marshmallow shooter using PVC pipe. See how far your “mallow” can travel using just air pressure!

And before you head out for the day, be sure to make a keepsake. Solder your very own Maker Shed pin, with lights and all.

Bring the Maker movement into your home; innovate and create.  Don’t forget to go inside the NY Hall of Science to see the museum’s maker space and other makers inside. I’ll be at MakerFaire this weekend, will you?!

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In the comments below show us your photos of your favorite makerfaire activity or your favorite young maker!

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Let’s Teach All Kids to Code

Coding Gives Kids the Power to Create Kids Not Just Consume Media
Programming or Coding is the new literacy skill in the 21st century
Digital Literacy in the 21st century includes Programming as well as using technology tools
At World Makerfaire in September 2013 I met my hero, MIT Media Lab professor, Mitchel Resnick, the father of Scratch and Lego Mindstorms robots.



The table above  shows Software Tools, listed from Basic at the bottom-most left to Most Advanced Programming at the top-most right of the table. Scratch, Gamestar Mechanic and Gamemaker have full online communities to share and play games together.

Every child can learn to code and have fun doing it. Learning to code can start as simple as programming a turtle to move on the screen and draw a square. I want all students to become producers and not just consumers. Logo is a computer programming language invented in 1967 by Seymour Papert at MIT Media Lab to teach kids how to program.  Simple commands in logo FD 50 stands for forward 50 steps and RT 90 stands for right turn 90 degrees directed a turtle across the screen.

Logo started as a simple programming language directing green arrow on a black screen that has evolved into several forms from Scratch an online platform with puzzle pieces students connect to program, to more advanced forms of programming language called MicroworldsEX.  Scratch is an enormous online platform and community with more that 1.5 million registered users and more than 3 million projects shared by kids from all over the world.

“Coding is today’s language of creativity. All our children deserve a chance to become creators instead consumers of computer science.” – Maria Klawe, President, Harvey Mudd College

What I love about teaching students to code is that it’s a multi-step creative process. Unlike many other school projects, mistakes are a fun discovery of the possibilities of what the “turtle” can do. First you decide what you want to make and what you want your program to do.  Then you make a plan.  Plans can be simple or very detailed.

Then you start the coding process:

  • Write the program
  • Compile the code
  • Run the program
  • Observe what the program creates
  • Make changes to the program and repeat steps 2 – 5

Coding involves breaking down a larger project into steps. In this case, you would repeat the five steps over and over again until the program does what you planned. Programming teaches students to persevere until the program works and make changes based on observations and trial and error.  Some programming languages are icon based drag and drop programming environments.  They eliminate the compiling step because you do not have to type in the text.

“Learning to code makes kids feel empowered, creative, and confident. If we want our young women to retain these traits into adulthood, a great option is to expose them to computer programming in their youth.” -Susan Wojcicki, Senior Vice President, Google

When kids first learn to code compiling the program usually involves clicking on a button and waiting while the computer checks your program for errors.  Compiling translates the text of your program into machine language the computer can read. It is similar to spell-check the computer tells you if there are any syntax errors in the code usually by color coding lines with errors to show in red text.  Once all the grammar mistakes are corrected the text turns black or green. In this instance, kids can appreciate mistakes as information and observations, rather than failures, a key piece in the learning process.

Now you are ready to run the program to see if the program does what you planned.

Coding teaches you how to work through a problem and figure out different solutions through trial and error.

There is something so satisfying about the ability to recognize and correct your own mistakes. Making a mistake  in computer programming does not involve the personal judgment of a teachers “red X” on your paper. The impersonal nature of computers highlighting errors means students don’t take mistakes, failures or bugs in programs personally the way they do when a teacher may correct them.  Programming maintains a positive relationship with learning even for students who struggle greatly and may begin to hate teachers after receiving a poor grade or a paper marked with many mistakes in a difficult class. Learning to code or programming teaches students not to become emotionally upset or too invested in one answer. Kids also become makers and producers of digital media not just consumers.

At StartUp Weekend NYCEdu (March 1st to 3rd), I was challenged to spend 54 hours developing and designing a product that would “solve problems in the education space.”  I’m pleased to say that my group, KickArt Games, was voted Audience Favorite by our peers. In only 54 hours, our team of developers, designers, educators, and business people created an art history based iPad App for kids! I mention this because, I would not have felt as confident or capable, had I not had experience with coding.

“Here we are, 2013, we ALL depend on technology to communicate, to bank, and none of us know how to read and write code. It’s important for these kids, right now, starting at 8 years old, to read and write code.”-, Musician/The Black Eyed Peas and Entrepreneur

We wrote a blog post earlier about Grace Hopper and Ada Lovelace, one of the first programmers in history.  The Grace Hopper celebration in October 2 – 5, 2013 sponsored by Anita Borg Institute produced an incredibly successful conference this year with more than 4600 women coders in attendance. Non-profits such as “Girls Who Code“, and “Black Girls Code“, are closing the gender and skills gap, as well as encourage young people to learn how to program in order to attain critical thinking and problem solving skills which are required in almost all jobs today. “Programming: the New Literacy”, an article from Edutopia, is also an accurate prediction of the future.  As a response to that article about technology as a tool, I stated that “The best education teaches student to solve problems creatively and think critically. Programming is the best way to teach both.” We know that coding and programming made technology “enthusiasts” such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg who they are today, but did you know that  NBA All-Star, Chris Bosh, and Black Eyed Peas front man, are also techno-savvy as highlighted by this video from  Mitchel Resnick gave a wonderful TED talk about students learning to code as another means of expression.  He developed Scratch at the MIT Media Lab to teach students code and create interactive stories and games.

Learning to code is much more like playing jazz music than math programs incorporate creative expression in every problem that is solved.
Digital literacy is no longer a wave of the future. Kids need to learn to code. It teaches them to persevere, solve problems creatively and think critically.

Thus, is petitioning to  Make Computer Science Count, by having these classes count as a math or science requirement, as part of the fight to ensure that children have the richest education possible and lifelong skills. Building and programming robots teaches the same skills and more. The classes where my students learn the most by far are programming and robotics. These classes should be mandatory for all students. Unfortunately, until the United States pays and trains teachers at a much higher level, these skills will continue to be taught only at a select few schools.”

To learn more about the organizations mentioned in this post go to:

‘Girls Who Code’ Is on a Mission to Close the Computer Science Gender Gap

Girls Learning Coding Is Key to Closing the Skills Gap

The table and article below are great Reference Guides to find the right software tool for you or your kids to learn to code!

10 places where anyone can learn to code

Software Tool

Gamestar Mechanic
Focuses on design, not programming, a very good place to start at any age.

Learn programming with interactive animations/games.

Learn programming on Xbox or PC with 3D.

Stagecast Creator
Drag-and-drop multimedia and game builder.

A game toolkit to make iOS games

Quickly build interactive simulations and games. Free trial.

Game Maker
2D game-making across devices.

Learn programming in a 3D modeling environment for animations and games

Wanna learn to code? Here are 10 places where anyone can learn to code! Share your thoughts with us below.

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