Sunday, June 26, 2011

SIG Happens

Wyatt and I have been SIG campers for a week now.  He is loving every minute of it and I am finally feeling like I can breathe.  While he enjoys the stimulation of a multitude of new classes and material he has never seen before, I am struggling to create lessons for classes I have never taught before.

Even though I am unsure of my curriculum, I love the SIG methodology for teachers!  It gives you so much freedom to meet the objectives of the teacher and the student without having to worry about a stupid state test.   Basically, I create objectives for the course and then the student creates a personal objective.  We meet and discuss how the activities created by the teacher and chosen by the student can meet all objectives.  How empowering for the student and the teacher!  This week has almost made me like teaching again... Almost.  But I still hate the hours.

The four classes I am teaching are Word Power, Gaming through the Centuries, SIG Apprentice, and Thinking Outside and Beyond the Box.

Word Power is basically expanding the student's vocabulary by researching and using Latin and Greek root word derivations.  I have introduced them to Sarah Kay and the power of spoken word poetry.  She was a hit!  If you haven't heard of her, check out her Ted Talk: Sarah Kay Ted Talk  We'll be using their root word derivations dictionaries to create many new products from their Word Power Menu over the next two weeks.

I have Wyatt in my class for Gaming through the Centuries.  This is a new class to SIG so I really got to come up with my own idea of what the class should be.  I started this week with ancient board games - learning how to play the game as well as why each culture created a particular game.  I think the anthropology lessons in this class are more interesting than just learning new games.  The first thing I noticed about the gifted kids in this class is that they may know a lot about playing games, but they do not know anything about gamesmanship.  So while teaching them Senet, Mancala, and Chess, I have had to work very hard to teach them that when playing a game someone is going to lose.  You win some, you lose some.  Deal with it!  Wyatt likes to win as much as anyone, but he has always handled losing well.  Since he was very small we started a rule in our home: the winner puts the game away.  Trust me, no winner gloats for very long while putting tiny pieces back correctly.  If you would like to learn about ancient board games, check out this link: Ancient Board Games  Next week, we look at ancient and modern sports.  I have planned a quidditch match for next Friday so say a prayer for me!

SIG Apprentice has been so much fun!  I get to be Donald Trump and give my 6 young business women competitions to see who gets to be the Apprentice and who hear's, "You're Fired!"  This week's competitions were "Pulling the Strings," "Eco-Friendly Photo Debate", and "Picture Frame Business Plan."  Pulling the strings is a cooperative learning lesson for team building where teams must work together pulling strings attached to a pen to play tic-tac-toe.  Very funny and revealing about personalities right off the bat.  The photo debate idea came to me as I was walking around the Emory campus and seeing signs everywhere about how "Green" Emory is.  I thought we should put it to the test.  I sent one team with their phone cameras to find all signs of eco-friendly practices on campus and the other team to find all signs of waste.  It was a close debate, but waste won, unfortunately.  These high school students really impressed me with our last competition of the week.  Teams created and mass produced a picture frame design and then created a business plan for their new company.  I feel very good about our future business leaders.  Their presentations were awesome!  If you'd like to see where we are:   Emory Campus Tour

My last class of the day is Thinking Outside and Beyond the Box.  I love teaching this class!  It has been so much fun sharing creative thinking strategies and new perspectives with these young gifted minds.  I even got to impress them with my own adventure into inventing when I showed them my Full Bathtub Website.  We will have our own invention convention before the end of camp.  I can't wait to see what creative ideas these kids come up with!  How creative are you?  Try the exercises I did in class: Creative Thinking Exercises

Hope I have wowed you with SIG!  Next, I'll let Wyatt tell of his impressions so stay tuned!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

First SIG, then Sabbatical

Wyatt at SIG with Emory's mascot- Dooley
First SIG, then Sabbatical!  First SIG, then Sabbatical!  This is my new mantra... this and Focus and Finish!  I am very distracted by other committments which has made me extremely grumpy and not a fun person to be around.  I am trying to tackle one thing at a time to prevent adult onset ADD.  So now do my new mantras make sense?

This sabbatical year is about new adventures and breaking out of the same old routines.  I have never taught summer school much less taught at a summer camp for the gifted.  This is definitely a new regime.

How did I get myself into this you may ask? (Believe me, my husband has asked me that about a thousand times this past week.) It all started innocently enough.  While attending the National Association for the Gifted Children (NAGC) convention in Atlanta this past fall, I met the coordinator for the Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG).  When I saw they had a camp at Emory University, I was interested in sending our son, Wyatt.  The coordinator suggested that I teach while Wyatt attends to off set the expense of the camp.  Great Idea!  But no way would I give up three+ weeks of the summer if I were starting back to teach the last week of July when pre-planning begins for teachers in Cherokee County.  When we decided to take our sabbatical leap of faith in April, I applied for a teaching position with SIG and registered Wyatt for the camp.  So here we are at orientation.

Classes begin tomorrow.

First SIG, then Sabbatical....

Saturday, June 11, 2011

When Will The Sabbatical Begin?

Our Fripp Island Rental Home
I think at this point I want to know the answer to this question as much as most of the people who know about our field trip year plan.  The current answer - "NO TIME SOON!"

Yes, we both quit our jobs and yes, school is out for the summer.  However, the details of making major changes in our family life daunts our waking hours.  Greg is a detail man and I am a big picture woman.  Somewhere in the middle of both our minds we will get it done, but right now, I'm not so sure.

We began the summer with... WORK!  We went to one of our rental properties to ready the home for the summer rental season.  [For those of you who don't know, Greg and I own and manage our own property rental business.  It is not a big business by any stretch having only 4 properties to take care of, but making a go of it in this economy means we have to do most of the improvements and upkeep of the homes ourselves.  Our only vacation rental property is on Fripp Island in South Carolina.]  Owning a home near the ocean means you must work, work, work.  During this week, we have pressure washed the whole exterior, caulked and painted porch posts, hung new curtains, replaced all bedding, installed two new bunk beds, updated pictures and decor, and created a back porch retreat off the master suite.  Hopefully, these upgrades will keep the house rentals up and help fund our field trip year!

While at Fripp, my next hurdle looms large... teaching at the Summer Institute for the Gifted.  Instead of playing golf and relaxing with the family, I must plan lessons for my first season teaching with SIG which I will begin as soon as we return.  Lesson planning at the beach leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  How do I get myself into more work when I am trying to work less???