What Do We Want Our Children to Get Out of School?

What Do We Want Our Children to Get Out of School?

What do parents want their children to learn in school?  To learn specific academic content?  To be an independent learner?  To be compliant (e.g., follow directions and rules)?  To successfully navigate peer and adult relationships (e.g., social skills)?  To cultivate a range of study skills, which work for them?  In an article What Do Parents…

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TSS Teacher Credentialing and Skills

TSS Teacher Credentialing and Skills

The Sycamore School (TSS) has a unique approach to learning. We utilize a mastery-based approach to meet students where they are, address any gaps in skills, and move them forward at their own pace. Learning is engaging, purposeful, and individualized. Instead of traditional grades, we offer narrative feedback and authentic assessments to tell students where…

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High School Psych Experience

The Sycamore School's high school psych experience class

At The Sycamore School, each cohort has a different experience class. This transdisciplinary class weaves together language arts, science, history, and math under a common theme. This year, our high school cohort’s experience theme is Psychology. They will read fiction and nonfiction books, participate in book talks, conduct psychology experiments, and learn about historical events,…

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Return to In-Person Learning: How You Can Help Your Child

This fall, parents around the country took a deep breath and cautiously, worriedly, and maybe even gleefully sent their children back to school for a return to in-person learning. As our students return to school, parents may still be filled with anxiety asking themselves questions, such as:  Will my child be safe at school?  Will…

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Why Your Student Needs a Progressive No Grades High School

High School student at The Sycamore School, also known as TSS, a private high school in Northern Virginia.

What if a high school has no grades? No Advanced Placement (AP) classes. No International Baccalaureate (IB) program. To most parents in Northern Virginia, this is profoundly unsettling information. They ask, “How will my child get into college?”. The current model is not working for many students, but parents are afraid of the unknown. What…

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TSS Earns Cognia Accreditation

TSS students in class

“Is your school accredited?” Since opening The Sycamore School, that has been one of the most common questions. Answering that seemingly simple question was not easy and required some explanation. Schools can only apply for accreditation after they have been open for at least three years; some accreditation organizations require five years. As soon as…

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Summer Break Update

Summer Break Update at The Sycamore School - featured image

Summer: a time for barbecues, swimming pools, and some much-needed R&R. The weather outside may be slowing everyone down, but here at The Sycamore School (TSS), we’ve hit the ground running. The staff has been hard at work to get set up for the 2021-2022 school year, planning experiences and electives, re-organizing the school, and…

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Let’s Take A Walk Experience

Lubber Run Middle School Arlington

How do I fit into my community? How does my community affect my identity? What about my environment shapes my point of view? These are the questions we pondered this past year in the Middle School experience class, Let’s Take a Walk (LTAW). At The Sycamore School, instead of separate core classes, our students engage…

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A Unique Approach to Math

At The Sycamore School, we take a different approach to math instruction.  As an independent private school, we are unencumbered by arbitrary year-end standardized tests. Students are free to follow their choice of math concepts throughout the year in a manner that makes the most sense to them and a timeline that works for their…

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Why Grading Erodes our Students’ Love of Learning

Our education system is getting derailed, and as parents, we are unwittingly becoming part of the problem. Somehow, we have lost what education and school are all about: learning.  We want our kids to love learning and thrive in school. However, as a culture, we’ve become obsessed with achievement and accolades. Grades serve as academic…

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Ecosystems Experience

Owl Pellet Lab

Ecosystems Experience Blog – by Jon McKenney  At The Sycamore School, instead of separate core classes, students engage in transdisciplinary experiences each semester that weave together content from english, science, history, and math under a unifying theme. Past themes have included Identity, Civilizations, Motion, and Forensics. This year, our Middle School 2 cohort (6th and…

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Remote Learning Part II

Remote Learning

Over the summer, we created a comprehensive COVID reopening plan which offered our students the choice of full time in-person or remote instruction. The vast majority of our students chose in-person and it has gone incredibly well. We certainly had our share of adjustments but overall the fall in-person instruction was quite successful. I think…

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