Posts about Student Learning

February 20, 2015

Independent Study Redefined: The BASIS Independent Senior Research Project (Part 2 of 3)

In anticipation of a special lecture on the BASIS Independent College Counseling and Senior Research Project Programs, this new three-part series offers a closer look at one of the hallmarks of a BASIS Independent education: The Senior Research Project.

In Part 1 of the series, we took a look at the purpose of the Senior Research Project. We discussed how they work and why they’re a valuable experience for BASIS Independent Seniors. Part 2 is all about the projects themselves.

Part 2: What are some examples of the Senior Research Project (SRP)?

Senior Research Projects are all about exploring passions.

As long as the topic they choose is educational, the seniors have free reign to design a project of their choosing. For some students, the Senior Research Project solidifies what it is they would like to further pursue in their academic and professional endeavors, and for others, it is simply an opportunity to dig deeper on a topic that piqued their interest in class.  

Project Highlights

Topics students choose range from studying robotic surgery for bladder cancer treatment to studying the process of learning to play a musical instrument and everywhere in between. Here are some select projects from the Class(es) of 2015:

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December 22, 2014

An Experiment in Learning: 7th Graders Teach Kindergarteners

Demonstrating Mastery…The BASIS Independent Way

McLaughlinHahnThe middle school science curriculum at BASIS Independent Brooklyn is expansive, breaking down the sciences into the core disciplines of chemistry, physics, and biology, each taken 3 times per week throughout the year.  In biology, students just wrapped up a unit on functions and parts of cells, a fairly complex topic.  Dr. Angela Hahn, Subject Expert Teacher for 6th, 7th and 8th grade biology and chemistry, works daily to break down complex subjects not typically seen until high school in American schools (or even college) to make them comprehensible to the 12 year old mind, finding key access points along the way to connect with students. 

Dr. Hahn is, as all BASIS Independent teachers are, a firm believer that if a student really ‘knows’ something and they can teach it to someone else, in their own words, then they have mastered it.  This simple concept is the genesis of what came to be an experiment in what it means to be a student – and a teacher – for our 7th graders.

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December 10, 2014

“The Child is father of the Man”: The learning culture of high expectations and high support

Because of the reputation of our program and the national results and international recognition we have attained, it is only natural that families are curious for our take on balancing high expectations and support at BASIS Independent Brooklyn. Read on for my take below:


Schools with very high academic expectations can easily become dystopian, highly engineered obstacle courses that lay waste to childhood. “Childhood” can signify quite different meanings to us all depending upon culture and personal experience. For me, when I think about “childhood,” I do not dwell too long on notions of innocence, but more on a hungry openness to new experiences and a capacity to feel and think with an intensity that weakens with the passing of the years.

One of my favorite statements about learning was made by the Russian writer, Alexander Herzen: “We think the purpose of a child is to grow up because it does grow up. But its purpose is to play, to enjoy itself, to be a child. If we merely look at the end of the process, the purpose of life is death.”

Herzen is invoking here a conception of play as a profoundly empowering human activity, and warning us that if we do not learn the joy and force of such play as children, our adult lives will be the less for it. Play, not as distraction from more important tasks, but as an activity that involves a total engagement in the complexity and revelations of the moment, a mind and an imagination supremely preoccupied by the invention at hand.

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November 20, 2014

The Living Stream: Assessment of Student Learning

Mark Reford, CEO, BASIS Independent Schools

There are a myriad of opinions and schools of thought on assessing student learning. It's one of the topics that comes up most often when we meet with families and community members to share more about our STEM-focused, liberal arts program. Here's our take.

Whenever a parent meets their child’s teacher, whether during the formality of a parent-teacher conference or the random chat in the local park on a Sunday afternoon, the first question is always, “How is my child doing?” This is entirely as it should be. Parents care. And so do master/mistress teachers. They too ask this question day-by-day, sometimes minute-by-minute, about all the children in their classes.

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Inspired by the blissful feeling of uncovering connections, our blog Eureka! Brooklyn is about sharing moments that capture the essence of what it is to be a BASIS Independent student, teacher, administrator, or family.

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