Blog

Empathy Makes Education Possible--Online and Off

Sometimes, it can be hard to know just how well remote learning is going in the city. Parents might see what happens for their own children, but not for others. Stories emerge on both ends of the quality spectrum, with some teachers excelling in the new model while others hardly logging in at...

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Parents of New York: Does everyone feel welcome?

Parents of New York is an occasional post sharing the stories, ideas and perspectives of parents or caregivers with children in the New York City public schools. It is inspired by the popular Humans of New York website and book but is not connected to it. If you are interested in being...

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The Governor, the Foundation and the Pandemic

When Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York would partner with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to “reimagine” education in the state, it took many by surprise. One contacted us expressing her concern: “I’m concerned about top-down administration and these kinds of decisions that I...

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Why NYC Needs a Virtual Public School

Originally published in the New York Daily News. Gov. Cuomo has enlisted the Gates Foundation to do a statewide reimagining of public education in light of what we’ve learned from the coronavirus pandemic. That will take time. Here’s an innovation we could implement right now: Create a citywide...

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A Year Without Admissions Screens?

Next year’s high school application season will be unprecedented. High schools that screen applicants won’t be allowed to look at this year’s attendance records, and there will be no standardized test scores or numeric grades for the Spring 2020 semester. While some schools may adapt by using...

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What NYC Can Learn from the World About Reopening Schools

New York City is one of the world’s largest school districts. As officials and families grapple with what it means to reopen schools in September, there’s a lot to be learned not just from other urban districts or states, but also countries. In a report issued by UNESCO, the World Bank, UNICEF...

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Teach Civics to All, in School and at Home

“We need to start teaching civics again,” is a common refrain these days. And for good reason. There’s nothing like a pandemic to help us realize the impact of our individual and collective actions as well as our responsibilities to ourselves and our communities. Recently we made the case...

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Will Schools Be Safe to Attend in the Fall?

In a recent op-ed, teachers union leader Michael Mulgrew argued that schools will need significant health testing upgrades if they are to open in September. He wasn’t just musing generally. He was being specific: “In September, medical personnel need to be available at every schoolhouse door to...

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Restless Kids? Boredomdomdom to the Rescue

Recently, as NYC school’s chancellor Richard Carranza played his guitar and sang to celebrate Arts Day, artist Hervé Tullet uploaded the 7th in a series of short videos called Boredomdomdom. Tullet—illustrator and author of many children’s books, including the New York Times bestseller “Press...

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How Well Does Your Child Write?

In a recent opinion piece, former NYC Deputy Chancellor Phil Weinberg and journalist Peg Tyre argue that with homeschooling sweeping the nation, it is becoming apparent that young people aren’t being taught writing. As they put it: Why do students write so poorly? Mostly, it’s because they...

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What About School Gardens?

“How are we getting the garden to the kids?” This was the question that gardening teacher Kimberly Beazer and garden coordinator Sherri Sandfort-Semon asked themselves during a two-day scramble to pack up and leave school grounds, for distance learning in March. As the two staffers most...

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How Lists are Helping My Child Learn at Home

We’ve struggled as a family to balance learning and working from home. There is a pandemic underway, which is something I try to remember when my frustration boils over. Things changed, though, last week when we created a simple tool and ritual. It’s a list. Before you stop reading at the...

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Should You Take a Covid-19 Gap Year?

With the coronavirus pandemic disrupting the last few months of high school for the Class of 2020, college campuses closed indefinitely, and the possibility of additional outbreaks in the fall, more seniors than ever are considering postponing their college acceptance for a year or choosing a...

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What’s a fair grading policy in a time of crisis? Tell the DOE

New York City has yet to issue guidance or how to handle Spring report card grades –whether it's numerical, letter-based, pass/fail/incomplete or some combination. Here’s your chance to weigh in. Community education councils throughout the city are conducting a survey asking parents what...

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Unhappy with Kindergarten Placement? Here's What To Do

If your child didn't get the kindergarten spot you asked for, try to stay calm. Waitlists at schools move over the spring and summer. We have seen it happen year after year. Children get offers on a rolling basis as families make final choices. Hang in there. The city sent out offers for...

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Let’s Be Honest, This Isn't Really Online Learning

Yes, teachers are trying to teach online. Yes, students are using web-based tools to engage with school. But we mustn’t mistake what we are observing for online learning. It’s not. I say this because, if the feedback I am hearing from teachers and families is to be believed, no one is...

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What the DOE's Remote Learning Survey Will and Won't Answer

A month after students in the city started learning remotely, the DOE is checking in with families to see how it’s been going. They want all parents as well as students in grades 6-12 to take this short, anonymous survey by Friday, May 1st. We encourage you all to do so. It will help the DOE...

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Should NYC Public Schools Have Websites? Many Don't.

NYC public school websites should not be optional because, as the pandemic has shown (and some city schools have already figured out), a website can be much more than a marketing tool. Done well, the website can serve as a central hub for distance learning, providing parents and students with...

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What Will September Look Like? Perhaps Not What You Think

In their recent letter to families, the mayor and chancellor committed to a “stronger” September than ever when school re-open. I, like many parents, long for that day when children can return to their schools. My son misses his friends. He’s getting tired of his parents day in and day out. Of...

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June Regents are Cancelled. How Many More will Graduate?

The New York State Board of Regents recently announced the cancellation of all Regents exams this June in the wake of school shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. As long as a student passes any courses that culminate in Regents exams this June (or subsequently in summer school), or was...

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What You Can Learn From a School Website

A good school website tells you what you need to know about a school without even stepping inside—a reality we now face until schools can once again open their doors for tours. The Department of Education has a page for every school and, while it includes important information, such as the...

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Top 20: Large Neighborhood & Small Selective High Schools are in Demand

Large high schools with enrollment of at least 1000 continue to be in demand as they comprise more than half of this year’s list of the 20 high schools with the most number of applications, according to Department of Education (DOE) data provided to InsideSchools. The list does not include the...

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A Hotline Where Students Are Helping Students

IntegrateNYC is a student-led nonprofit in New York City that advocates for meaningful education reform. In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, they launched a hotline for young people to call or text in order to get information and support. It’s a phenomenal achievement. I had the pleasure of...

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The Art of Looking the Other Way During What Used to Be Spring Break

Today would have been the first day of Spring Break for NYC schools. Instead, we attempt to continue with business as usual. During a global pandemic. As a dad, I’m struggling. When I shared news that all—not just some—of Spring Break was cancelled with my son last week, I found myself trying to...

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In Case You Missed It

At InsideSchools we’ve been busy providing support to parents, teachers and students during these hectic and challenging times. In case you missed them, here’s a round-up of posts we published in recent weeks in response to our readers’ requests for help. Admissions September may seem a long...

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High School Admissions: 7th-graders start researching your options now

High school admissions season doesn't kick off until September, but if you’re a current 7th-grader, you should start exploring your options this spring to avoid a last-minute scramble. The big benefit of starting your search early is that you have the time to cast a wide net. There are over 400...

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Introducing our Elementary School Guided Search

Applying to kindergarten in New York City can be daunting. What’s the difference between a district and a zone? A program and a school? It may surprise many to learn you can apply to up to 12 different kindergarten programs. Now, InsideSchools has a new tool to help parents find an elementary...

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Meanwhile, the Magnolias

As our spaces feel smaller and distance learning begins to lose any sheen of novelty it may have had, it is uplifting to see buds give way to blossoms and blooms in the city. It also occurred to me, as I walked at a proper social distance, in the park, that I knew the name of every flower and...

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How Toilet Paper Can Help You Teach Math at Home

I was coaching a middle school team of teachers last year when I observed a 7th grade math class. The teacher, whose name for the life of me I can’t locate in my notes, was remarkable. Her approach was relatively simple. She wrote a problem on the board. Students had five minutes to solve it....

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Homeschooling ELA Online? You Got This!

On a recent episode of the podcast, Extra Help with InsideSchools I shared some suggestions for managing students’ ELA (English language arts) instruction online and at home. One of my key suggestions is to think about helping your child with reading in four phases: denotation, connotation,...

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Who Gets into NYC's Specialized High Schools

The Department of Education recently released the results from the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT). Each year, we hear how few Black students get into Stuyvesant (only 10 this year), but little is heard about the other seven schools or whether this has changed over time. To...

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Rituals to Start and End the Day

Every morning in my public elementary school classroom (many years ago now), I greeted each child by name as they entered the room. And at the end of the day, each student had a job to do, such as feeding the fish, sharpening pencils, dusting the shelves or watering the plants. These rituals...

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Deep Cleansing Breath: Managing Anxiety at Home

These days everyone is juggling a lot of new routines and stresses. Over the past couple of weeks parents have had to become online tech experts, master schedulers and entertainment coordinators, while grappling with social isolation and for many, economic hardship. It’s important to manage...

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Free Daily Online Art Classes for 3-6 year olds

For those of you at home with younger kids, here’s a recommendation for a lovely interlude of drawing, Monday - Friday mornings at 10 a.m. Wendy MacNaughton, who drew the illustrations for the cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, has launched #drawtogether on Instagram Live. Wendy dances onto the...

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New Podcast Series Offers Parents and Teachers "Extra Help"

Earlier this week, we launched Extra Help with InsideSchools, a podcast series devoted to helping families and teachers in New York City navigate the move to citywide online learning and homeschooling. We created it to respond to the tons of questions from readers about the city’s response to...

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Fun Video About How Germs Spread

We love this video by Mark Rober that turns the scary topic of germs into a fun experiment for kids. It will show your kids how quickly glow-in-the-dark “germs” can spread around a classroom—from hands to desks and phones and faces—and teach them why it’s so important to wash their hands for a...

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I'm Just a Parent Trying to Keep it Together Right Now

Everywhere you look right now, you see stories of parents trying to figure out how to manage their child’s online learning. I’m one of those parents, too, and can share a glimpse into the reality in our home. My 10-year-old has been getting messages from teachers who are trying to learn how to...

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NYC 8th-graders get high school admissions results

The wait is over for 78,463 8th-graders. High school placements were sent out this week. Students will be able to see them immediately via their MySchools account. Students will also receive their letters in the mail. The percent of students receiving their first choice increased slightly this...

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COVID-19 Update: NYC Schools

We’re all feeling in a state of flux as schools are closed and the New York City Department of Education (DOE) takes on the herculean task of providing online instruction to roughly one million students. To help you manage all the information and adjust to new routines, we’re keeping track of...

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First, make a schedule

One of the first things we look for when we visit classrooms around the city is the daily schedule. It’s often posted on the wall near the door. In an elementary school classroom, it outlines how much time is given to math, reading, science, play and other subjects. In a middle or high school...

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Every Year on St. Patrick’s Day, I Ditched My Lesson Plan

Even amidst COVID-19, today is still St. Patrick’s Day. I taught English for six years. And it didn’t matter what I had originally planned, every year that March 17th fell on a weekday I suspended traditional instruction. On what grounds, you ask? My family is Irish. Like, Irish Irish. All my...

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15 Tips and Tricks for Online Learning

With schools closed until at least April 20, you are surely wondering how your students or children will possibly stay engaged and keep learning for weeks, if not months at home. Anyone who’s had to join video meetings for work knows the pitfalls of such technology...now imagine a Zoom meeting...

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The Commute: How Long is Too Long?

As anxious 8th-graders wait to find out where they’ll be going to high school next year, City Limits reports on the reality that many of them will face in September—long commutes. When I advise parents and students on the high school admissions process, I always encourage them to “block out the...

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A 1,000 Day Vision for InsideSchools

For 18 years, InsideSchools has provided an invaluable public service: free independent reviews of the city’s schools, resources for families navigating the school system, and a trustworthy perspective on the city education scene. As a project of the Center for New York City Affairs, the work of...

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High-quality options abound for public Pre-K and 3-K!

The pre-K landscape in NYC is constantly shifting: since last year’s application season, more than 166 programs have closed, merged, or shifted out of the DOE Universal Pre-K system, and 540 new programs have opened or expanded their grade offerings to include pre-K and/or 3-K! We’ve recently...

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Notes from the Field: Are Desks and Chairs Holding Students Back?

As I write this from my standing desk at work, it occurs to me that in hundreds of school visits over my nine years at InsideSchools, I’ve seen only two standing desks in classrooms. One was on my recent visit to PS 51, where, in a single classroom, I spotted not only a standing desk, but also...

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