A Season of Gratitude

Open mind
Open heart
Open sight
Open hearing

As November began, I noticed that many of my friends were posting on their Facebook something that they were thankful for each day. Some were specific, some were general. I thought it odd that we only focused on gratitude the one month or the one day — Thanksgiving. I also found irony and sadness in the fact that along with all this thankfulness, Black Friday and Black Friday Eve sales were everywhere…in search of  “more”.

So, these month-long posts had me thinking that I used to take the time and effort to write down my daily appreciations. I even bought the most beautiful journals and pen ( I have an obsession with having the “just right” pen) because that would make me want to write. This is sound and solid reasoning, of course.  Then I quit. It was too much. I’ll just make sure that I stay grateful. And, making my children be thankful will remind me to be thankful. Again, sound and solid reasoning. Without fail, this did work…not!

As I enter a new season, literally, winter, I’m making the decision to renew this practice. For you literature folks, you’ll see the irony of  “renewal” in “winter”. I remind myself constantly to be content and grateful for the now, but I’ve stopped making it a habit to write down those moments in writing.  One of my favorite sayings is from Meister Eckhart, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you’, it will be enough”.  As we leave Thanksgiving day, I plan to continue my season of gratitude, and I welcome you to do the same.

Q2 – #IW3: Purpose of Education

7th graders: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Why or Why not? What is your view about the purpose of education? Provide details. Be sure to incorporate your grammar knowledge and learning. Be aware of misplaced or dangling modifiers. Did you use verbals to add excitement to your response?

6th graders: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Why or Why not? What is your view about the purpose of education? Provide details. Be aware of your use of conjunctions (FANBOYS) and punctuation.

 **If you are “stuck” as to where to begin with your response, choose a sentence or two that you agree or disagree with. Brainstorm.

How and Why We Read

“John Green kicks off the Crash Course Literature mini series with a reasonable set of questions. Why do we read? What’s the point of reading critically. John will argue that reading is about effectively communicating with other people. Unlike a direct communication though, the writer has to communicate with a stranger, through time and space, with only “dry dead words on a page.” So how’s that going to work? Find out with Crash Course Literature! Also, readers are empowered during the open letter, so that’s pretty cool.”

“How and Why We Read” by John Greene:


Your collaborative group has chosen a specific vignette for closer study of diction, images, tone. Your team is responsible for facilitating the learning and discussion for your vignette. What skills/concepts do you want your peers to learn? Why? How will you know that they’ve learned what you wanted them to learn? What activity will you have them do, if any? You will have 10-15 minutes to complete your task. One member of your team must post your plan(s) in the comments.

Identify your table number and first name of team members: Table # (Name, Name, Name, etc).

Table 1: “Papa Who Wakes up in the Dark”
Table 2: “Born Bad”
Table 3: “Edna’s Ruthie”
Table 4: “And Some More”

TLT – Critical Thinking Questions

Each table will be responsible for leading the discussions for your “assigned” literature circle questions. Be sure to review your questions so that you come prepared to your collaborative group. On Tuesday, your group will work together and chart your information for your questions on the Big Paper. Use only one marker color to record your work. Be sure that you present your information in an organised manner. Be sure to provide text references, if necessary, and  the name of the contributing team member. On Wednesday, we will have a Silent Big Paper Discussion about each team’s LCQs.

Table 1: Questions 2, 6, 10
Table 2: Questions 3, 7, 11
Table 3: Questions 4, 8, 12
Table 4: Questions 5, 9, 13


Silent Big Paper Discussion: 
Big Papers will be posted around the room.
Be sure to have your team’s chosen marker color in hand.
You will walk around to each team’s Big Paper and SILENTLY respond to the discussion that each team has started for their assigned questions.

TAGT Call to Parents

Dear GT Parents,

The Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (TAGT) is hosting its Annual Parent Conference at the Downtown Dallas Sheraton this Friday, November 30. This conference is only held in the DFW area once every three years. Click here for the schedule: Parent Conference Program

This year’s Parent Conference is unparalleled in that it is being held concurrently with the Professional Annual Conference, providing access to vendors and breakout session experts normally reserved just for educators.  Plan to arrive Friday morning as early as 7:30a (for bonus sessions) or as late as 12:30 pm to sign up and participate – see conference schedule details in the program.  Registration is $55 for members (join on site), $80 for nonmembers.

Do you have a work commitment on Friday? TAGT is hosting a special parent networking session  on Wed evening (11/28) also at the Downtown Dallas Sheraton free of charge. While not as educational, this bonus session was created for parents to have an opportunity to at least connect with the largest state gifted association in the country. The evening program begins at 6:45p after an optional reception.

Take advantage of these events to learn how to better meet the unique needs of your gifted child(ren) and become an informed advocate!


Week’s Updates 11.26.12

Welcome Back from your Thanksgiving Break! I hope it was wonderful and restful and fun!

Tuesday: Tutorials end at 3:55 PM
Wednesday: AM Faculty Meeting – NO Tutorials – Make arrangements with your Mentors/Mentees; 6th period: Yearbook photos during for Mentors
Thursday: Tutorials end at 3:55 PM
Friday:  No PM tutorials — TEDxKids @SMU

Save the Date: ISM Research Showcase

Event Details:

December 5 from 7pm-8pm @ Heritage High School. This is a come-and-go (gallery-style) event.

What is ISM?

ISM is a course offered at FISD high schools and stands for Independent Study and Mentorship.

It is a unique and very special opportunity for responsible, high achieving students who are juniors or seniors.

It allows students to investigate, through research and a mentorship with a professional, a topic that is of extreme interest to them.  This then helps students determine whether or not they really want to pursue this field in college.

 What is encompassed in the ISM curriculum?


  • Internet articles, magazines, books, etc.
  • Research assessments are due every marking period.  These are “write ups” about your evaluation and opinion of the article; this is not a research paper.
  • Interviews with professionals in your field of study
  • Interviews serve a dual purpose ~ they provide great information regarding what it’s like to actually work in a field of study, and students then ask one of these professionals to be their mentor.
  • Research also helps students generate interview questions and find professionals to interview.

Public Speaking and Presentations

  • Students give various presentations throughout the year about what they are learning.
  • Former ISM students report that learning how to speak comfortably to an audience and to adults in professional settings helped them in scholarship interviews, college admittance interviews, with meeting new people, etc.


  • Eventually becomes a 3” or 4” binder by year’s end.
  • Includes resume, personal mission statement, topic proposal, interview questions, research and interview assessments, product development work, pictures, etc.
  • Very impressive during interviews for college admittance, scholarships, job interviews, etc.  Some former students have used these in college courses.

Resume Writing

  • This will be ready to go for College Night and looks impressive.

Interviewing skills

  • Practice calling to set up appointments, talking to professionals in a business setting, etc. – great practice for scholarship interviews

Business and Social Etiquette

  • Various etiquette rules and “dressing for success” tips are covered.

Topic-related Product Development

  • Occurs 2nd semester with the help of the mentor.

Hands-on experiences in real work environments

  • Students typically see their mentors once a week, but the schedule varies depending on the field of study.  Mentor visits can occur during ISM class time, evenings, weekends, etc.

 Some of the topics students have pursued* 

Veterinary Medicine
Graphic Design
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Sports Law
Internal Medicine
Mechanical Engineering
Environmental Science
Neo-natal Nursing
Fashion Design
Biomedical Engineering
Athletic Performance
Sports Communication
Theater Directing
*(One of the many great qualities about ISM is that the topics students study are as varied and different as the ISM students themselves.)

How do students get into ISM?

  1. Students must pick up an application in the counseling office and return it on time.  Then there’s an interview.
  2. Application includes teacher recommendation forms that need to be completed by all of the applicant’s teachers.
  3. Put ISM on your schedule card; it is not double-blocked.
  4. If you are really serious about ISM, you might consider late arrival or early release for mentor visits.  (This is not necessary, though.)
  5. ISM students must have INTEGRITY and be responsible.



Maus-ome 8th grade Mentors:

Get ready! We are going to TEDxKids @SMU on Friday, November 30. It’s a day about kids for kids. You will hear adults and kids sharing stories with “ideas worth spreading” in a high-energy, engaging format. You might even get to present a speaker! 🙂

This is the fourth year that I’ve taken students, and I’m especially excited that two of my former students will be a part of TEDxKids this year: Amit Banerjee is a speaker/presenter and Olivia Callan is a student host.

Come get your Permission Form. 

Pack a sack lunch and wear comfortable, appropriate clothing.

Event Details:
Friday, November 30, 2012
12:30 – 5:00pm
City Performance Hall, Dallas, TX

Website: http://www.tedxsmu.org/tedxkids-smu-2012/
Speaker lineup: http://www.tedxsmu.org/participate/speakers/

About TEDxKids @SMU
The TEDx and TED model of conferences are an ideal platform to present new, engaging ideas to the next generation of leaders, artists, creators, innovators, and  inventors. Short, bursty presentations by astounding thinkers on a broad array of topics ranging from the science of yo-yo’s to space exploration take students out of the classrooms and into a setting where the teachers are the people actually thinking up and executing these big ideas.

Community Service Requirement
As part of our commitment to the students in the Dallas area, we offer this program free of charge for students to attend, but require that students commit to completing a service learning project. At TEDxKids, students will have the opportunity to sign up for one of several volunteer experiences coordinated through TEDxSMU, or to propose a service learning project of their choosing.