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DC School HUB Blog

Strong Study Habits

Strong Study Habits

By Suzanne Burns, Learning Specialist, Congressional School

Imagine if your student no longer lost sleep over an upcoming test, or had more time to enjoy fun activities.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your child could enter the classroom knowing she is fully prepared for class?  Would you like her to finish projects ahead of time? If any of this sounds appealing to you…read on.  By taking a little time to learn some new study strategies, your child can become more successful in many areas of her schoolwork.

There are a variety of good study techniques and ways for students to become more organized.  Look at a variety of strategies, and work together with your child to decide which strategy works best. Working together allows for student buy-in, which is critical in order for any new study system to last.

If your student is forgetting to turn in her homework, you might want to take a look at the organization system that she is currently using.  Take a trip together to the store and look for pocket folders or binders that can help her to organize her papers more efficiently. Decide together what the new system will be and keep it simple. This might be a three-ring binder, a thirteen pocket accordion binder or individual color-coded folders for each class.  Younger students usually manage better with an accordion binder since assignments are contained in one place, are in the correct location, and can be successfully transported between home and school.

Establishing an assignment tracking system can help students stay on top of work that is due.  If the assignment notebook has not worked well, perhaps your student needs to try using just one piece of paper each day to record assignments.  Large sticky notes can also be useful. Have your student attach one large sticky note to the cover of a book, binder, or worksheet so she can quickly jot assignments down.  The most important part is to ensure the assignment is written on something that will make it home.


Wedding Dresses and Private Schools

Wedding Dresses and Private Schools

by Avery Lawrence, Hipster EduBlogger

What’s got some DC area families so down this spring? Maybe it is the April showers or the high pollen count for some. For others is a bit of buyers remorse to the tune of +/- $30,000.

What did they remorsefully purchase for thirty large? A brand new 2017 Nissan PathfinderA dream wedding?? Nope, it’s private school buyers remorse!

Now the last car I bought was in 2011 and it was less than 30K. I don’t plan on purchasing a new one for 3-4 more years unless I have to. I’m not married yet (….Tim!!!), but most of us ladies only want to do it once. So it better be the best wedding ever… or the right color Pathfinder. In fact, a friend just had a wedding and she LOVED her dress from the first time she saw it up to the final fitting. Then she was looking through a catalog and found a dress she loved EVEN MORE…2 weeks after her wedding on the way home from her honeymoon. After that she was obsessed with buying that dress and redoing her wedding photos. Talk about buyers remorse!*

I’m hearing the same from friends and neighbors who recently committed to the private school lifestyle. But during the courting admission process they liked and followed all of the schools on social media to which they were applying. For some, choosing the schools they accepted was a tough decision. For others, not so tough. But now they see amazing things happening at those schools that are flowing through their social feeds: New buildings being erected. New programs being installed. Eye-catching videos. Kids laughing and learning. Sports teams winning championships. Etcetera.

Ugh!!! Did we choose the right school?

Yes, in most cases you chose the right school. When you are dating 4 men (maybe even all at once ;)) and then finally settle down with THE ONE of course those other guys start to look better (especially when they grow a manbun and manageable beard…just my thing…are you listening, Tim!?!).

In conclusion, be happy that you can afford private school and stop looking at Ex’s (schools that declined your kid and ones you declined) online!!


*She didn’t end up buying the dress, but it took a lot to convince her it was a bad idea.

Building Information Literacy Skills in the Era of Fake News

Building Information Literacy Skills in the Era of Fake News

By Melissa Hill, Librarian, Lowell School

Back in the day when news outlets were limited to television, radio, and print journalism, it was possible to dismiss fake news as the stuff of celebrity tabloids in the grocery store checkout aisle or the broadcast of “War of the Worlds.” While there has always been fake news, distinguishing between fact and fiction in the digital age has become a more complicated task. As Joyce Valenza, Professor of Library and Information Science at Rutgers, notes in “Truth, truthiness, triangulation: A news literacy toolkit for a ‘post-truth’ world”:

News hits us across media platforms and devices, in a landscape populated by all degrees of professional journalists and citizen journalists and satirists and hoaxers and folks paid or personally moved to write intentionally fake news. All of this is compounded by the glories and the drawbacks of user-generated content, citizen journalism, and a world of new news choices.

Yikes! If discerning fact from fiction is this challenging for adults, imagine what it’s like for children.

For all of the amazing technical skills that digital natives possess—they can download and upload videos, remix music, navigate social media websites, create podcasts, edit their own movies—students’ information literacy skills are lagging. The Stanford History Education Group’s 2016 study provides an alarming wake up call:

At present, we worry that democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish. Overall, young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak.

Dire, right? No need to despair!

As librarians we are focused on teaching children how to find, evaluate, and use information efficiently and effectively. The Stanford Study and the increased presence of fake news serve as further confirmation that if we want to raise an informed citizenry and electorate, we need to teach students how to evaluate information and provide them with reliable resources for research.


7 Tips To Make Family Friendly Fat Burning Meals

7 Tips To Make Family Friendly Fat Burning Meals

By Diana Keuilian, DCschoolHUB Guest Blogger and Bestselling Author

Wouldn’t it be great if all your favorite comfort meals naturally promoted fat loss? I think that would be awesome.

My old favorite comfort meals were fried fish tacos, fully-loaded veggie burritos, angel hair pasta with mizithra cheese and cheese-smothered veggie burgers with fries. Yummmmmmmm! Unfortunately these old favorites brought on rapid fat storage.

Due to my love of food, in my twenties I went from a size 4 to a size 12.

In my frustration I tried portion control, and began to limit the amount of foods that I ate. This began a yo-yo cycle of eating less food one day, more the next, and never seeing the results I wanted.

Over the past few years I’ve read countless books on nutrition and have finally landed on the formula for creating meals that promote fat loss, and taste good while doing it.

Oh and this method of eating has effortlessly brought me back to that size 4 🙂

This is what I discovered…

Fat Burning Tip #1) Focus On Protein
The base of a fat burning meal is a healthy serving of quality, lean protein. Choose from organic, hormone-free chicken, pork, beef, lamb, veal, fish or eggs.

No wonder I was gaining weight! Most of my favorite meals had very little to do with protein. After giving up meat at age 12, I spent the next 18 years as a junk food vegetarian. Most of my meals were made up of processed grains and sugar.

Why is protein so important? Protein supports and fuels your lean tissues, namely your muscles, and does not have an effect on blood sugar levels, which would promote fat storage. 


Fat Burning Tip #2) Ditch Grains and Refined Sugar

A fat burning meal does not contain a serving of grains or starches. Yes, I realize that this goes against everything that we have been taught or experienced with dinners. Most meals are plated with a jumbo serving of noodles, pasta, potatoes, rice, has been breaded or is served with bread, tortillas, chips or buns.

As I learned the hard way, these carbs are more than we need, and end up being stored as fat. And, yes, it is possible to create fat-burning dinners that satisfy even the hungriest meat-and-potatoes members of your family.

This was the hardest part for me to get used to. Grains and sugar are filled with fat-promoting carbs, and as you saw above, my favorite meals were all carb-ed out.

There’s really no reason, other than habit, to eat grains or sugar on a regular basis. Once I removed these from my diet, and got out of the habit of eating them, I no longer craved or even found my old favorites very appealing.

Fat Burning Tip #3) Bring On The Veggies

After you remove the grains and sugars from your meal, add a bunch of fiber-filled veggies instead. One of my favorite things to do now when building a fat burning meal is to get a bowl, add a few handfuls of organic spinach and arugula, and then top it with protein and some cooked veggies. Add a light homemade dressing and you’re looking at the perfect, quick fat burning meal.

Fiber-filled veggies are important for many reasons in addition to the fiber. They are filled with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which your body needs.  They are also very low in calories compared to the amount of space that they take up in your stomach. So you’ll get full faster on fewer calories.

Fat Burning Tip #4) Quality Ingredients

Ingredients are the building blocks to a healthy meal so pay attention to the quality of the ingredients you use. Fast food just isn’t going to cut it! Be willing to spend a little more on the foods that you eat. Quality is much more important that quantity.

When choosing meat look for organic, antibiotic and hormone-free. Avoid processed meats, like lunchmeats, as these contain potentially harmful additives and lots of salt. Also avoid highly processed soy fake meats.

Choose foods that are:

  • Fresh, organic and seasonal
  • Pronounceable ingredients
  • Whole foods


Fat Burning Tip #5) Use A Healthy Cooking Method

The method in which you cook your meal determines how many calories, how much added fat, and the number of nutrients that survive.

Don’t prepare meals like this:

  • Fried and battered
  • Processed and packaged
  • Doused with cream sauce

Choose these cooking methods:

  • Grilled
  • Baked
  • Broiled
  • Steamed

Fat Burning Tip #6) Cook With Coconut Oil

I used to always cook with vegetable oil, never realizing how harmful it was to my fat loss efforts. Unfortunately most people use harmful, unstable and fat promoting oils when they cook.

The good news is that coconut oil is an amazing, healthy oil that not only tastes great but also helps promote fat loss. Among its many benefits, coconut oil is stable, even at high temperatures. It’s filled with lauric acid, which boosts the immune system and helps ward off infections.

Best of all, coconut oil has been shown to increase metabolism and thyroid activity, which boosts fat burning.

Fat Burning Tip #7) Enjoy Dessert of Fresh Fruit

When is the last time that you bit into a fresh, organic, perfectly ripe piece of fruit? Delicious, wasn’t it? I used to overlook fruit as the perfect dessert that it is, and instead would eat artificially flavored, cane sugar sweetened, processed desserts that encourage rapid weight gain and declined health.

I’m not going to say that ice cream and chocolate don’t taste awesome, because they do. But eating desserts like that on a regular basis is one of the big reasons that I kept gaining weight back in my twenties. By making the simple switch from refined sugar desserts to desserts of organic, fresh fruit I was able to lose weight without feeling deprived.

Let’s bring fruit back to its rightful place as our favorite, most popular after-dinner sweet. Out with the refined sugar and corn syrup and in with Nature’s sweetest gift…fresh fruit.

Hope that you have enjoyed these 7 Tips To Make Fat Burning Meals. I’m walking proof that this way of eating truly delivers results without deprivation or boring, bland meals.

I love food WAY too much to give up flavorful, delicious dinners, snacks and desserts. In fact, I’m so passionate about creating fat burning foods that, for the first time ever, I’ve put all of my best recipes and eating secrets together into a full Family Friendly Fat Burning Meals program.

This system has over 100 of my family’s favorite fat burning recipes – which I used to effortlessly reverse the weight I had gained in my twenties. It’s tasty stuff like Chicken Enchiladas, Baked Chicken Nuggets, Make-Your-Own Tacos, Healthy Brownies, Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies and much, much more.

Here’s a page where you can learn more about my Family Friendly Fat Burning Meals Program.

Tips For Choosing Summer Camp For Your Child

Tips For Choosing Summer Camp For Your Child

by Laura Pearson, Guest Blogger, Edutude

Perhaps you are running out of ideas for activities to keep your child busy during the summer months. Maybe you want your child to meet other children their age or discover new interests and skills. Whatever your reason for considering sending your child to summer camp, there are a few things to take into consideration.

Consider the Length

When finding summer camps, are you looking for a half-day, full-day, or overnight camp? According to Simply Circle, half-day camps are typically held for around three hours in the morning or afternoon and provide your child with a few hours of activities. This is a good option for children who are attending summer camp for the first time. Keep in mind that you will need to arrange for someone to pick your child up, so if your work schedule isn’t flexible and you don’t have additional support, you might consider a full-day camp. Full-day camps typically last about six hours, with the possibility of before- and after-care depending on the program. The day is typically a little more structured than a half-day, with scheduled activities like swimming, snacks, and lunch. Overnight camps offer some of the same types of activities as a half- or full-day camp, but it is important that you make sure your child is ready to spend a few days, or a week, away from home. The typical age to attend an overnight camp is about age nine, but only you know the comfort level of your child.

Consider the Cost

Summer camp costs vary depending on your location, camp type, and the number of children attending. Day camps are the most affordable option, with Care estimating the cost to range from $100 to $500 a week depending on whether the camp is hosted by a nonprofit or for-profit organization. Specialty or private camps will typically run from about $500 to $1,000 a week, with overnight camps being the most expensive at about $700 to up to $2,000 or more a week. Keep in mind that prices may be higher or lower depending on your situation, but there is a camp budget suited for everyone.

There are ways to cut costs as well. According to the American Camp Association (ACA), summer camps often offer discounts for things such as early registration, full-season, or multiple campers from a single family. Some camps offer scholarships and financial assistance, so be sure to ask if your income qualifies. Local churches, civic organizations, clubs, sororities, and fraternities may also have funds available to help send children to camp. The ACA also encourages parents to ask whether the camp participates in income-eligible subsidy programs, and look into ways to deduct camp expenses from taxes such as the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. Planning ahead could also be beneficial in financing summer camp. If you know you want to send your child to summer camp, set aside a little bit of money each month. Consider letting your child be involved too by setting up a chore and reward system. The ACA says, “The bottom line about camp costs is that there’s a camp for just about every budget.”

Consider ACA-Accredited Camp

According to the ACA, accreditation is voluntary but assures you that the summer camp is dedicated to providing a safe and fun environment for your child by evaluating the camp on up to 300 different standards. ACA accreditation goes beyond standard state licensing requirements and looks at standards such as appropriate staff-to-camper ratios, first-aid facilities, staff training, and goals for camp activities that are developmentally based. To find an ACA-accredited camp, use their website search tool. Regardless of whether the camp is ACA-accredited, make sure the summer camp meets state standards for health, cleanliness, food service, camp staff, and emergency management plans to ensure your child has a great experience at summer camp.

Ms. Pearson believes students can learn more when they have fun doing so. She and Edutude strive to find unique, creative ways for parents and educators to encourage students to be challenged, motivated and excited by learning.

Are You A Bad Person For Sending Your Kid To Private School?

Are You A Bad Person For Sending Your Kid To Private School?

By G. Ruga, Editor, Paying for Private School: Tips and tricks for sending your child to private school

A recent Slate article proposed that if you send your kid to private school you are a bad person.

The thesis for this claim is that if every single child to public school they would improve.

No studies or data are presented to back this up.

And she might be right – but convince us!

Will putting more people into a bad system help? Maybe. But why didn’t it help from the previous generation? Or the one before that? Were those parents lazy? Didn’t they use their influence and connections to improve the education system? Is it better?

An alternate approach is creative destruction. In a system where bad actors (second rate phone companies, restaurants that get everyone sick) are allowed to fail and good actors (first rate phone companies, barf-free restaurants) are enabled to thrive, over time, the bias tends towards more good actors.

That is the private school system. A public school can be reformed but, until folks move away it can also continue to operate “as is”. Indeed, private schools put pressure on public schools to get better by their higher performance. I emotionally get the “we all need to go to public schools to improve it”. Then I think of the clogged roads and how teleworking is opting out and improves my circumstances and enables more of a scare resource (roads) to be more available to those who need it.

We can do better than sacrificing a child’s education in the hopes that doing so might improve the over all system. A better use of these energies is to educate the children who need it now.

A Pain Free Day for Head of School Pane

A Pain Free Day for Head of School Pane

by Garrick, student at The Woods Academy and guest blogger for Head of School Joe Powers

Today, I was able to work as the Head of School at The Woods Academy. The first words, or phrases, that come mind to describe the day are: fun, interesting, faster than a normal school day, sometimes annoying, but overall, it was a good day.

I learned several lessons today as well. One is that you need to be calm as the Head of School. Second is that you need to learn to say no to people sometimes. Lastly, I learned that I need to be careful sharing my plans because not all can participate sometimes. These were good lessons learned on the job as the Head of School.

There were many highlights from the day. Shaking hands as students entered the back door in the morning was great, even though it was so cold. Teaching PE class was fun. I was also allowed to have a cup of tea while I handed out the birthday stickers. We even learned that we had a student’s birthday listed wrong. So we made the correction. Skipping my classes was fun and having lunch with my friends was great as well.

The biggest challenge I faced was that everyone asked me questions. I think I had received over 100 questions by 11am. The hardest questions were the ones where people asked for certain privileges. I think this is why I learned that it is important to learn to say “no” at times.

Overall, it was a great day. I would recommend that other students should try to be the Head of School for the day. Just remember to smile a lot in this job.


When Art Makes a Difference

When Art Makes a Difference

by Sarah Philip, Art Teacher, Congressional School

My journey began in the Arts and Crafts shack at camp. The seemingly endless supply of beads, gimp, and string for macramé were a delight. Each summer was guided by a caring, creative artist, enhancing and inspiring the community. Formal art classes did not come until Middle School, where I was left wanting to learn more about how to combine my love for textiles and jewelry within a more traditional program. With two grandmothers gifted in embroidery, one who worked for Hattie Carnegie, the other, who created monumental tapestries, I was bound and determined to explore anything involving yarn. The loom in the bedroom of a childhood friend’s mother, an art teacher herself, fascinated me for years until I could finally take a weaving class in college, where I majored in French Literature. How does this personal fascination impact me as an art teacher? The fear I had as an adolescent with scant art skills, left when I explored colors, textures, and patterns in weaving, inspiring me to go back to school years later to pursue art education. I searched for my essence, what I could do to impact the world, even in a small way. Teaching art allows me to exercise my creativity on a daily basis and encourage young children to find success in connecting imagination and process to their experiences.

My parents believed in learning and visiting museums was a regular event. It was not until I was older that I truly appreciated the gift of familiarity with certain artworks. Famous paintings became friends to visit, each meeting a chance to create new memories. Students, too, grow from reexamining artwork, building connections to new learning and skills. In art class, we experience success and failures regularly; it is a safe environment for exploration of mathematical concepts, historical facts, and scientific discoveries.

My parents believed in learning and visiting museums was a regular event. It was not until I was older that I truly appreciated the gift of familiarity with certain artworks. Famous paintings became friends to visit, each meeting a chance to create new memories. Students, too, grow from reexamining artwork, building connections to new learning and skills. In art class, we experience success and failures regularly; it is a safe environment for exploration of mathematical concepts, historical facts, and scientific discoveries.

An informal poll of my current fourth graders revealed that creating art has benefits that are both intrinsic and extrinsic. As art teachers, we experience the joy of sharing what we love and fostering impactful experiences in our students. My students believe that “art makes the world better and not plain!” They find art to be a way to express feelings, destress, and inspire imagination. “You can raw/paint/make anything!” Despite the frenetic pace of school life, my students value beauty, creativity, and actively exploring opportunities to add visually to the world around them.

Old School vs. New School: BASIS Independent McLean

Old School vs. New School: BASIS Independent McLean

By Brett Graham, DC school HUB Correspondent

Today, private schools are seeing a shift backed by research on how students learn best. From that research new schools are establishing themselves to push the needle in a much needed new direction.

There are a few schools newly established or on the horizon of opening that are testing the traditional and even progressive models of education. Over the next several weeks we will continue to highlight some of them, including Blyth-Templeton AcademyFusion Academy, and Acton Academy. Today we will focus on BASIS Independent McLean.

Walking up to the front doors of BASIS Independent McLean, one cannot help but think that awesomely smart stuff is going on inside. Then when you run into Head of School Sean Aiken, you know it to be true. With a look that screams wacky, fun-loving professor and a pedigree to back it up, Sean is the face of a new generation of top school administrators. More from Sean in a minute.

The BASIS.ed model that created BASIS Independent McLean was the brainchild of Dr. Michael and Olga Block, two economists who felt that the American education system lacked challenge and adequate rigor. The result was the creation of BASIS Tucson Primary in 1998 located in Tucson, Arizona. Since then the BASIS.ed brand has spread across the United States with 16 charter schools and 4 other BASIS Independent schools.

The brand’s McLean location opened this past fall in 2016 accepting students age 3 up to grade 10. It will add grade 11 and 12 in subsequent years. The ideal schools size is 800 students. That’s a tall order for a school in such a competitive marketing. In an exclusive interview with DC school HUB, Sean Aiken talks about how they see themselves as different from other area schools. “Our goal is to provide an educational experience that allows our students to perform at the highest international levels, and as not all of our neighbors use those same metrics of evaluation, sometimes it’s difficult to compare.  That said, our curriculum is enriched with challenging content in both the liberal arts and sciences and as we grow we look forward to continuing to evolve to meet the needs of 21st century problems.”

A source who works at an independent school that will compete with BASIS Independent McLean for students, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, “You’re darn right we are watching this closely. Our school has a projected 80% plus overlap with who we serve and where they live. Certainly we will see many applicants also applying to BASIS [Independent McLean]. Others are more skeptical of the future of the school. A quick look at our favorite gossip website (who we trolled for weeks until they banded us) has a lot of parents leaving because the school is too rigorous.

The longevity of the BASIS.ed model has yet to be tested. Will it last in the DC area or will it be seen a short-term fad? Time will tell.

To learn more about BASIS Independent McLean click here.

Lending A Helping Hand Might Help When You’re Stressed

Lending A Helping Hand Might Help When You’re Stressed

by Marissa Kushner, Ph.D., Georgetown Psychology Associates

For many of us, we strive for balance among the demands of multiple roles and responsibilities. Consequently, navigating life’s daily stress becomes a part of the routine. While our body’s response to acute stress can be adaptive (particularly when faced with actual threat), chronic activation of the stress response system results in increased risk for several negative physical and emotional outcomes. As such, identifying effective methods to reduce stress, and its associated consequences, is critical.  Interestingly, research has suggested that helping others and engaging in prosocial behavior may mitigate the negative impact of stress.

In a recent article in Clinical Psychological Science, Emily Ansell and colleagues published findings about how engaging in prosocial behavior (in naturalistic settings) impacted adults’ response to daily stressors. Interestingly, Ansell and colleagues found that engaging in prosocial behavior toward strangers and acquaintances (e.g., asking someone if they need help, helping someone with schoolwork) buffered the negative impact of stress on individuals’ mood and mental health.

Notably, the authors acknowledged that it currently is unknown how engagement in prosocial behavior decreases the negative outcomes associated with stress.  However, what is clear is that helping others, even those with whom we do not have a close relationship, is a way to protect ourselves from the adverse impacts of stress.  As we close the door on 2016, hopefully we can reflect on the year ahead and increase our efforts to take better care of ourselves and those around us by incorporating small acts of kindness into our 2017 daily routines.

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