When Will It Stop?

Ferguson

We’ve seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge go viral over the last two weeks on social media; people happily dumping buckets of ice water over their heads to raise money for a worthy cause. During this same period of time, Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri and protests have continued in that city and around the country. In the aftermath of the death of Michael Brown, may we engage thoughtfully and critically in examining the situation in Ferguson and stand together on the side of justice and equality?

We need to make empowering choices to actively plan how to take actions that will dismantle injustice when it happens in America. So here’s a #FergusonChallenge:

Share a story about how the events in Ferguson have resonated with you, and then donate to an organization that promotes underserved youth, racial justice, and/or police accountability.

Here a story that resonates with TURNING STONEchoice. It is one of the Letters to the Editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch titled When Ferguson Hits Home August 21, 2014

I never thought I would be living so close to conflict. If I jumped on the highway and zoomed down a few exits, I’d be visiting Ferguson. We are that close, yet we are so far away. Our entire city and country has become focused on what is, and even more alarming, what is not happening in a town within our town. Yet we attempt to put distance between our neighborhoods, just like we attempt to say what’s happening in the Middle East is happening “over there.” Well, folks, “over there” just came to our backyards, and it is madly screaming for our attention.

None of us know the whole story of the incident that led to this massive turmoil my neighbors are embracing without choice. I grieve with every single person involved in this story. There is not one person who is unaffected by this tragedy, including those of us who attempt to drown out the sirens because it’s happening “over there.” It’s “here,” people. The world is watching us, and most importantly our children are silently observing every step we take.

I wonder what would happen if we embraced all those who were hurting tonight, and realized that grieving is actually taking place on both sides of the police line. What if we all held ourselves accountable and allowed each other to take a deep breath when confusion, fear or anger sets in to release a potential breath of hope? I wonder if we’d find peace.

Jen McCurdy  •  St. Louis County

The choice is yours to empower your children and help guide them through purposeful and empowering choice making to help end intolerance and create a peaceful world.

As TURNING STONEchoice always teaches children and adults in our communities, and as the writer of this letter suggests, the first thing we must do is to take that “breath of hope”.

Michael Brown

ACLU of Missouri Foundation: http://www.aclu-mo.org/get-involved/
Amnesty International: http://www.amnestyusa.org/donate-to-amnesty
Ferguson Youth Initiative: http://fyifergyouth.org/
Ferguson Bail Fund: http://antistatestl.noblogs.org/…/bail-and-legal-fund…/
Or buy an “I Am Human” tee-shirt to support protestors on the ground: http://teespring.com/IAMHUMANDONTSHOOT

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The Five-Second Rule

 

lollipopHave you ever had those incredible moments of frustration that make you want to run, screaming, down the street?  Sure, you have, if you are a teacher, parent or both.  Your role is typically challenged by moments that require every ounce of maturity and wisdom to get you through the day.  Sometimes, it takes a sweet treat to help work through that frustration.

I am reminded of a sticky lollipop falling to the floor and tiny hands rescuing it from the grimy kitchen surface.   With a resounding pitch, my seven-year-old claimed it: “Five-second rule!”  Then, he quickly popped it into his mouth and went about his business.

Yes, the “five-second rule” still lives on, my friends.  I hadn’t heard it in some time, and, at that moment, I thought: What if I took five seconds not to react to people or circumstance? It takes mental awareness and self-control not to lash out when people, places, or life irritates me.   What if I stopped and took five seconds to breathe, or five seconds to be still or five seconds to think about my next course of action?

It’s a simple technique to engage our critical thinking skill set and bring us to a place of interaction vs. reaction.   Modeling this behavior reinforces the developing process that we teach our charges.  When we “walk the talk” our actions carry a stronger message over the words pouring out of our lips.

Sometimes taking five seconds is the difference between enjoying the lollipop or crushing it mercilessly, so the next time you find yourself on the brink, think: Five-second rule!

For more information on the TURNING STONEchoice process please visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Sammy@TSC

 

 

School – No Books Allowed

21st+Century+Word+CloudA technological tidal wave has taken over schools and the future of text books is slowly morphing to their electronic cousins.  With the majority of advocates toting technology as the skill of the future, it may be hard to defend the paper back.  Educators, parents and IT gurus have all chimed in on the pros and cons of moving to digital text books. Deliberation over a complete integration is not taken lightly and some concerns linger.

Do students have the capacity to carrying the burden of such a responsibility?  When everything is said and done, an ipad or similar tablet is a very thin, portable computer.  Our children will be responsible for the physical safety of a computer. When kids are notorious for losing items like text books or even the shoes off their feet, is it a reasonable expectation to think that they can keep a tablet safe and secure?  Consider, some school districts struggle with theft and vandalism of their technological resources.

Yes, students embrace technology, yet, struggle with responsible use.  Students currently are using Smart boards, ipads, and desktops during the school day and will then utilize cell phones to interact with family and friends, bring their electronic text books home, do research for school projects on the internet, type up their homework assignments on chat boards and then blow off some steam to play video games, watch some TV or surf the web.

This amount of “screen time” is not maintaining a healthy balance.  Students struggle with unplugging.  There are actual cases of addiction to video games and internet surfing.   Evidence also supports too much screen time can cause a medical condition called computer vision syndrome which causes eye strain and damage.  Additionally, any screen time leading up to bedtime has been proven to effect melatonin levels in the body causing sleep deprivation.

Students need to understand how their overall health is affected by their time spent using digital gadgets, so they can make positive choices.   Equipping students with strategies to balance their leisure screen time with academic responsibilities may prove to be an eye and sleep saver.

Striking a balance with amount of use is second to the ways students have misused technology.  The media is filled with sick and sad stories of social media harassment, bullying and individuals that stalk and prey on children. Cell phones are used to take pictures without permission or record a crime.   Developing the critical thinking skills of the 21st century student is crucial to making safe and smart choices with technology.

Jennifer Patrick, a 7th grade social studies teacher shares her experience and perspective, “My school supplies us with a Social Studies textbook for every student. Our department has not transitioned to digital books, yet.  I used to give each kid a textbook to keep at home. Now I make the offer optional.  I can probably count on my hands the number of times we use the textbook in class each year.  It serves mainly as a supplement.  The wealth of text rich resources available online makes learning meaningful and promotes deeper thinking . . . experiences that traditional textbooks rarely offer.  Given my content area, I think digital books make exploring history more appealing to 21st century learners than the “dusty old textbooks”.  I recognize the concerns about the cost and access to technology for digital books to be feasible.  However, considering our tech savvy audience and the fact that these resources will never be outdated, I would fully support a move to digital books.”

Michael Rubright from EIRC (Educational Information & Resource Center) is responsible for technology rollouts schools are currently using like web based text books and tablet integration in the classroom. He believes educators should be partnering with businesses that understand the role of technology in schools and rely on the experts to help provide technology policies that address issues and concerns.  Rubright suggests an upfront tutorial for teachers, staff and students, on how to use the technology appropriately, “This is key to setting expectations for usage.”

Guidance and training on how to use digital textbooks or any technology is not necessarily the challenge. The challenge lies with the level of responsibility for the resource, an understanding of how to best balance technology and the appropriate use.  Without the continued effort to foster a student’s ability to make positive choices, students will not only struggle with technology, but with life in general.

For more information on the TURNING STONEchoice process please visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Sammy@TSC

Why We Accept Unhealthy Relationships

 

friendshiphand

Some news stories grip you right in the gut with an immediate reaction of condemnation for those who have committed unspeakable acts.  The reaction is multifold when those involved are children, teenagers, or the disabled.

The article that follows this author’s preface reveals details of a high-functioning, autistic teenager who was abused by two teenage girls.  The startling fact is his insistence on maintaining a friendship with his abusers.

It may be easy for us to assume his autism is the cause for the way he feels.  Then again, there are many teens–adults, too–who struggle with the concept of a healthy friendship or a romantic relationship.  This could be distorted by the primary relationship with parents, the modeling of a relationship, the warped perspective of friendships on television, and even the natural immaturity of young people.

I believe this teenage boy is representative of many, in the sense that we all want for attention and want to feel like we belong.  The emptiness of being ignored or passed by can be more difficult to endure than the slights of a so-called-friend or sporadic verbal or physical abuse that might accompany a relationship.

The identification of a true friend and the qualities of a healthy friendship is not simple.  This process requires a skill set that includes critical thinking and questioning.  Would a friend call me names? Would a friend laugh at me when I am seriously hurt?  Would a friend lie to me?

To be clear, real, solid friendships go through their ups and downs.  If you have a high level of respect and care for each other, then, most likely, you are in possession of a priceless gift–a true friend.

Understanding the imperative relationship to have is the one with self, to accept a high level of self-respect, appreciate one’s quirks and to embrace being alone.  We spend more time with ourselves than anyone else, best to develop that friendship.

“You can never be happy as someone’s other half unless you can be happy as a whole all on your own.” –Anonymous

Follow link for original story

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/autistic-md-boy-says-he-wants-to-resume-relationship-with-girls-accused-of-abusing-him/2014/04/20/21551f20-c266-11e3-bcec-b71ee10e9bc3_story.html

For more information about our programs for parents and educators please follow http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Sammy@TURNING STONEchoice

 

 

Grit

Fall and get up

With over ten years of back-yard observation, I have witnessed scores of children “wipe out” a gazillion times. There is the simple trip-and-fall, the oh-that’s-gotta-hurt, and the paranormal tumble, with its subsequent ride to the ER. What has impressed me most throughout my years of observation is the one kid–no matter the classification of wipeout or injury—who stands up, brushes himself or herself off, and keeps on going. That is the kid who has “grit.”

Parents and teachers easily spot grit in a child. It’s the “thing” that gives you some assurance that this kid will be all right in life, because he or she can take the hard knocks and persevere.

How important is grit? Some researchers claim grit is a better predictor of success than I.Q. A 2013 report from the Department of Education claims that kids are learning to “do school,” but aren’t learning the skills they need in life– skills like critical thinking and positive-choice making, which are crucial to every area of life.

However, schools across the nation are becoming more proactive in recognizing the value of determination, effort, and hard work and are providing additional resources for the development of critical thinking skills, which improve self-confidence. One can argue that grit is just a byproduct of confidence, but, although we may see grit as a natural way for some, and not for others, researchers are hopeful that the qualities that define grit, like persistence, tenacity, and resilience, are teachable. The difficulty is trying to quantify the unquantifiable.

How can we develop grit? As parents and teachers, we can simply back off and let the struggles and natural consequences of life occur. Think of a butterfly working its way out of the cocoon. Without the struggle to free itself from the cocoon, the butterfly cannot develop the wing strength to fly, and it will die. It is a test of personal restraint, not to rescue students by giving hints to questions that may prove to be challenging or to take over tasks at home with which kids may struggle. Through every struggle, our children will develop persistence, resilience, and, finally, grit.

What are your “gritty” experiences as parents and teachers? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

For more information about our programs for parents and educators please follow http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Sammy@TURNING STONEchoice