If you are reading this and do not know yet – snow is coming, Atlanta. Snow is coming to Atlanta!
By now you've stocked up on the essentials (water, milk, chocolate), charged all your devices, and committed to sweatpants and your favorite pair of fuzzy socks. And blizzard or bust, you've been given an opportunity – a day to hermit away inside. Now make it work for you. Here are a few suggestions for making your snow day count:
1. The Low-Hanging Fruit: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Catching Up on Email
Fine, great, I get it: This is the easiest, low-hangingest of all possible fruit. I am the first to lose an hour or five going down the rabbit hole of social media (look at all the pretty pictures of snow! It's almost like we're at Sundance, too!). But ugh, doesn't Facebook get enough of your time already? And yes, Lord knows there's always a backlog of emails to get to. But if you waste this precious Gift of Time just knocking off emails, then the time wasters will have won. So put a cap on how long you spend on this category; otherwise, this will just be like any other random day when you don't leave your apartment or put on anything non-elasticized.
2. Write That Thing You Keep Meaning to Write
Now we're getting somewhere! This is the perfect time to dig into that think piece you've been meaning to write. Or that book proposal outline. Or that grant application. Or that spec script. Whatever it is you keep wishing you'd finished—or even started—know that you'll keep wishing that for weeks, months, and maybe even years unless you make a conscious decision to use your time NOW!
3. Start Getting Your Tax Stuff in Order
It's January. You have a sudden burst of free time. Throw on some tunes and tackle that ridiculous pile of papers on your desk (and counter, and fridge, and floor). You will be so grateful to yourself in a few weeks, and also you will have legitimately earned that smug feeling that comes from being ahead of the thing that is stressing out everyone else.
4. Watch A Movie, errr, an Intelligent Movie
Thanks to my good friends at IMDB, here is a list of great movies for intelligent people. The resident MIS blogger-in-chief is partial to number 12 and 64 on the list as well as going off list with "Love Actually".
5. Catch Up on Work
No explanation needed. Moving on.
6. Don't Forget to Exercise
If you're housebound, you're not going for a brisk walk, run, trot or whatever it is you people do at the gym. Heed what TEDster Nilofer Merchant says about constant sitting (it's the new smoking). Get outside and have a snowball/dirt fight! (And if you have snowbound kids, maybe this will tucker them out enough for a nap.) Just make sure you're all in sensible footwear.
7. Read a Book
Reading books: Fun while you're doing it, and fun afterward when thinking about what you did it. If you can’t get to a library, check out Prime Reading from Amazon – an abundance of free selections await
The snow is coming so be safe, be warm and don’t forget the bread.
“For a moment she rediscovered the purpose for her life. She was here on earth to grasp the meaning of its wild enchantment, and to call each thing by its right name. By its right name.”
--Boris Pasternak, 20th Century Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator
The above quote from Boris Pasternak became popular in the mainstream in 2007 with the release of the film Into the Wild, the story of Christopher McCandless who left his life of privilege to explore the world in its most primitive form – Alaska. It’s also one of my personal favorite quotes because calling something by its right and proper name is the first step in giving identification, respect and recognition.
Recently, there has been more debate over using the terms gifted and talented identifiers so as not to marginalize other students, and whether it even matters to identify a student as gifted at all (Maybe My Child Is Gifted. Maybe Not. Maybe It Doesn’t Matter. By Farrah Alexander).
MIS is a school that serves gifted and high achieving students, and we have found that it is necessary and appropriate to use the correct terminology when identifying gifted students. Ensuring that all students have access to educational programs that are tailored to their specific needs means no student’s potential goes untapped. This is no less true for a gifted learner than any other student.
Part of what characterizes a student as gifted and talented is when they display superior abilities in academic, intellectual and creative pursuits. It’s not as if gifted students receive a better school lunch, free concierge service during school hours or use of the ever-illusive teacher bathroom. Gifted students simply learn differently and at a different pace than the rest of student population.
Likely the problem with the label gifted student is that it has the word gift in it, which means getting something without earning it. It can imply entitlement, elitism, or the idea that some people have something special and others don’t. We certainly agree that every human being has unique gifts and talents! The term gifted doesn’t refer to these characteristics shared be everyone, and really is a misnomer. Gifted students have differences in the way they learn, and really thrive when they can explore complex topics, create connections across subject areas, and engage in problem solving instead of practice and memorization.
The pace is also different in a gifted classroom, and varies by subject. For gifted students who excel in math, it may be that they may take longer to finish a writing assignment, and a traditional classroom where students are moving at relatively the same pace through relatively the same material doesn’t work for their strengths or their weaknesses.
This reminds me of the challenge we have when we use the word “fat” to describe something in food. The problem with the word “fat” is that it has “fat” in the name. People think eating fats will make you fat when in fact there are as many healthy fats as there are unhealthy fats. Unfortunately for us, we cannot unilaterally change the terminology for the word gifted, so we use what we have.
In a response to Ms. Alexander’s blog, Heather Boorman, a writer and licensed clinical social worker who advocates for awareness and support for gifted and talented individuals, wrote that Alexander's piece doesn't make her mad, but instead makes her feel sad:
"I’m sad because the misconception of giftedness is so rampant. I’m sad because giftedness continues to be thought of only in terms of education and intellect, when in truth, it has very little to do with education. It has to do with living and experiencing life more intensely. It has to do with being wired differently. Which, trust me, has some great benefits and some great disadvantages."
And not all gifted students are successful. Researchers estimate that between 18 to 25 percent of gifted students drop out of school, and gifted dropouts are disproportionally from lower socioeconomic and minority backgrounds. Compare that with the national dropout rate of 6.5 percent. Even when gifted students stay in school, many of them underachieve—that is, their actual achievement is far below their expected achievement.
Underachievement is particularly troublesome because gifted students have great potential to be future leaders, entrepreneurs, inventors, and influencers. A recent study by Kell, Lubinski, and Benbow showed that 44 percent of high-ability students whose potential was recognized before age 13 went on to earn a doctorate degree, compared with a national rate of only 2 percent. These young, talented students also made substantial creative and intellectual contributions in their respective fields before the age of 40. For such potential to be realized, though, educators and policymakers must nurture gifted students’ talents and provide appropriate instructional supports.
Giftedness matters. Identifying giftedness matters. Properly naming giftedness matters. It doesn’t mean just doing more work. It doesn’t mean just doing work faster. Gifted education is a complex set of accommodations to support the differences in our students’ brains. And call it by its name, by its right name.
Close your eyes for a few quick moments and think about everything you ate yesterday. Don't forget the creamer in your morning coffee or that handful of snacks mid-day. What did you eat? Can you recall all of it?
If you can remember most everything you ingested, how much of what you ate consisted of something sugary? Let's answer that later.
The consumption of food and drink with an excess amount of sugar has been a national talking-point over the past few years. In 2013, New York City proposed the so-called "Soda Ban" intended to prohibit the sale of many sweetened drinks more than 16 ounces. In 2014, the New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, ruled that the New York City Board of Health, in adopting the regulation, exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority. Whatever political affiliation you may have and side of the argument you may be on, I think we can all agree that drinking an excess amount of sweetened drinks can lead to obesity, and in the United States, obesity is a problem in both our youth and our adults. A 2011 study from the New Harvard School of Public Health found that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to more than 180,000 obesity-related deaths worldwide each year. And, a study from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) details an increase in added sugars consumed by American adults by more than 30% over the past three decades. A correlation can be made that an increased amount of sugar consumption can lead to a greater risk of obesity, which can lead to adverse health effects such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and even mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.
From an intellictual standpoint, we know the effects sugar has on our body. We've heard this drum beat for many years and will continue for many years to come. Pragmatically, we know a mass amount of sugar is not good for our well-being.
But what effect does sugar have on our brain? Would you believe me if I told you that sugar has an effect on your brain similar to illegal drugs?
When sugar hits your tongue, it sends a signal to the pleasure sensors of the brain which then releases dopamine, a well-known neurotransmitter that spikes when we do things that we enjoy. If we get too much dopamine, it can trigger addiction by causing our body to crave more. Fortunately, sugar doesn't produce dopamine spikes as violently as drugs, but it does have a unique effect. And it's one that explains why you can make an amazing meal on Sunday to eat for the rest of the week, and by Wednesday can't stand the sight of it, but can eat the same sugary snack day after day without getting bored.
Every problem has a solution, so what should be done? It's unrealistic to think that just by reading this blog, you all will go cold turkey and give up sweets completely. I won't. I like a hit of artificially-sweetened vanilla creamer in the morning and a few M&M's to close out my day. But steps can be made to decrease the amount of sugar we consume.
In fact, the MIS Chef is very conscious of what she puts into the food she feeds our kids:
"As a Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry Chef I find that 'sweet things' are a crowd pleaser for all ages, but it's my job to provide delicious treats without the use of high fructose sugars. Natural sweeteners are not only delicious but provide unique and distinctive flavor profiles to various dishes. In my kitchen I utilize Natural sweeteners like honey, agave and fresh fruit. These alternatives can be added to oatmeal, yogurt, cakes, and even savory dishes. A great method to increase the natural sweetness in various fruit is by roasting them. Applying the Maillard method to caramelize the fruit increases the fruit's natural sweetness without having to add loads of additional sugar. Sugar, like most foods, is okay in moderation. While cooking for young, thriving minds the idea of balance is extremely important. If sugary breakfasts, desserts and snacks are a must have in your household try a alternative to syrup with your families pancakes like roasted peaches. The roasted peaches provide the sweetness your family craves but also provide antioxidants and natural sources of energy. Other sugar substitutes like adding apples and honey to oatmeal and fresh berries to yogurts or even to salads bring exciting versatility to meals, while also satisfying the body's craving for a little something sweet."
Is there a war on sugar? That's up to you to decide. Does an excess amount of sugar effect you and your kids? Yes. That's without debate.
Circling back to the question above, how much sugar did you consume yesterday? Was it excessive? Was it just right? These are questions you should consider for the overall health and wellness of you and your family.
This week's blog is from an outstanding member of the MIS faculty, Mr. Ashley Scott.
No really. I’m asked that question every time I explain what I did during the summer. It comes right after “Aren’t you glad you get to relax without students?”
I guess the idea that I, a teacher, would spend my summers not only in another country to learn Spanish but also to teach children English is a foreign concept to many of my family and friends. The idea that I would use my summers to not only become a student but to also volunteer my time to teach is probably not what most people envision when they think of their child’s teacher. Well, their child’s teacher doesn’t work for MIS.
I’ve gone to Guatemala for the past two summers. Four weeks the first year and three and a half weeks this summer. I didn’t go to tour. I didn’t go to walk the ancient ruins. I didn’t go to relax at the beach. I’ve gone and will continue to go to learn, teach and fellowship. But lets be clear, the most important reason I’ve gone is to learn. At MIS, I’ve finally found a professional environment that values growth and understands the importance of every teacher’s need to occasionally try on the shoes of a student.
Spanish is the last thing I learned in Guatemala. Both times there, I lived with Mingo and Kina Tuch who taught me about family. They have six kids (including me). I can’t express adequately how close the Tuch family is. During the birthday week of the town I lived in, San Pedro, there is one day where everyone in the town celebrates until 3am. When I say 3am….I mean at least 3am. There are ferris wheels, musical groups, cannons, street food and other carnival rides.
On this day, family members come back home. So, imagine my surprise when I came home for dinner to a house full of 40 people. Every one of these people spoke to me (in Tz’ utujil at first then Spanish), hugged me and welcomed me to the family. Outside of my own family, I had never felt that much genuine love.
Clemente, mi maestro, facilitated my Spanish lessons. Clemente taught me patience. When I arrived in San Pedro the first year, I thought I knew some Spanish. Ok, let me explain…knowing some Spanish words does not constitute knowing Spanish. I failed my pretest and immediately became discouraged. I know my face showed defeat. My ego definitely felt it. But Clemente would say, “poco a poco, hermano. (little by little, brother)”. Through each conjugation, each new verb, present tense and future tense and each past tense (I won’t even mention the verbs Estar and Ser) he was extremely patient and supported and motivated me. And boy did I need it. Many times I spoke to myself and decided that I wasn’t coming back the next day. I wanted to quit. Before the day ended, he would give me another tip that would help, meaningful homework I could practice and words of encouragement I could rally behind. He taught me how to be a better teacher.
After school, I would volunteer with Los niños de lago (The children of the lake). Los niños de lago is an organization that provides social and educational support for underprivileged Guatemalan children ages 6-16. After loading my head up with Spanish, I would attempt to go and teach English by using my newly acquired Spanish. Let me just say, their English was far better than my Spanish. My Spanish speaking consisted of me repeating my self several times until someone would just nod his or her head in hopes I would just stop.
In my attempt to teach English, I was laughed at (often), asked about my hair more times than I can count (es su pelo real?), asked if I know President Obama and tricked into several soccer games. We couldn’t start the day without me giving Elisa a hug, telling Omar that we would play soccer after our lesson and allowing Veronica to see my pictures in my phone. Most days, we never started on time and sometimes we didn’t finish the day’s (formal) lesson. However, what we learned from each other was invaluable. Yes, I learned more Spanish and they learned more English in an authentic real world scenario but we also developed relationships. They began to trust me and I began to trust them. I learned to take risks. I fumbled around Spanish like bull in a china chop. I butchered the language and was self conscious about speaking until I heard the students speak English. They were not afraid, embarrassed or hesitant. So I threw caution to the wind and just spoke.
Yes, I go to Guatemala to learn Spanish, but that’s not all I learn. I learn how to be a better dad, the skills to be a better teacher and courage to try new things even if I could possibly fail. I learn how to be a better human. So, “Who goes to Guatemala to learn Spanish?” Hago y tu debo también (I do and you should too).
The MIS resident blogger-in-chief is taking the week off, but have no fear. Dynamic MIS faculty member Tiffany Blassingame takes the reins for this week's blog.
We’ve all heard about the amount of learning that students lose during the summer break. But one important thing to know is that summer does not necessarily mean that time will be lost. Here are three tips to help your child gain time during the summer!
Tip #1-Read: Parents often ask, “What can I do to help my child with his/her reading over the summer?” More often than not, they are looking for the best workbooks, apps, camps, or programs. But the truth is, the #1 way to gain reading skills is for your child to just read. Read whatever he/she enjoys–graphic novels, sports magazines, humorous fiction, a favorite series, nonfiction, whatever! Sure, your child also needs to tackle the summer reading requirements (if any) from school, but find time to let them get lost in a good story.
Tip #2-Relax: Don’t overschedule your summer. Give you and your child permission to rest. The school year can be pretty demanding for families. Develop a summer schedule that works for your family. If your kids enjoy sleeping in, then allow them that opportunity. If mealtime is important to your family, then don’t rush through lunch just to make sure your child gets that math practice in. Enjoy your downtime and schedule your child’s work time. Use Time Timer as a visual way to keep track of your child’s work time. When the timer goes off, it’s done. Allow him/her to go back to the activities that are enjoyable.
Click here to view the various products offered from TimeTimer.
Tip #3-Rejuvenate passions: All camps do not need to be academic or focused on your child’s weakness(es). Allow your child time to enjoy his/her passions without the typical worries of arranging their hobby around their school schedule. It’s their summer, too! Check out the daily themes in this family’s summer schedule.image
These are just a few ideas for creating a summer where time is gained and not lost. If you’re headed back to school in a few weeks, it’s not too late to start with some of these tips! The key is consistency, not duration.
Interested in jump-starting your child for back-to-school, schedule a Student Assessment and observation to help your child gain organizing and time-management skills to prepare for the upcoming school year!
Your organizing coach,