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What Happens When You Tear 6th Graders Away From Their Gadgets For 5 Days

Want to know what happens when you take a group of 6th graders outdoors for 5 days without their gadgets? According to this article, researchers found that increased screen time could be having a detrimental effect on our children and their ability to read emotions. Two groups participated in this study. One group spent 5 days outdoors without electronics, while the other group maintained their original schedules.  Students who spent 5 days outdoors showed higher scores on emotional intelligence tests than their counterparts.

Someday I may have time to write my own blog posts. Until then, allow me to share this post I found today.

What Happens When You Tear 6th Graders Away From Their Gadgets for 5 Days 

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Are We Babying Our Kids? Can Riskier Playgrounds Make Healthier Adults?

Some psychologists today attribute the rising frequency of childhood anxiety and depression to over involvement of parents. They say that mental illness and suicide is on the rise in children and teens because these kids are growing up without any sense of control in their own lives. They believe parents need to back off because risky play is crucial to the development of the part of the brain that controls emotions and judgment. In shirt, riskier playgrounds make healthier adults.

Others disagree saying we need more parental involvement. Anyone who has experienced the loss of a child to an accident or other trauma would agree. Read this blog entry  and decide for yourself. Are we hampering the development of our children by hovering over them, or is parent presence a necessity? You decide.


Compass Points Study Skills

What do we do in our summer study skills class? This student summed up his experience using one of the strategies he learned while attending our class! Take a look!


CPDestinations DC Tour 2014

We had a fabulous time with 41 fifth graders touring Washington DC, Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown. Check out our YouTube video!

Compass Points DC Tour 2014

Children taking risks? Harmful or helpful?

If you’ve come to this blog before, you know I follow a wonderful organization called Children and Nature Network. They post valuable information on the importance of getting children outside to experience the world. When I was 6, I remember walking to the town’s movie theater with my best friend Sue. We paid our money for the movie, bought some popcorn, and enjoyed a show. Could you imagine letting your six year old do that today? At what point does parental safety concern turn to micromanagement and control? This blog from C&NN brings to light the impact that having no free play time is having on our children.

My birthday weekend

Last weekend was my birthday, and my husband, knowing what I needed the most, carted me away to BEAUTIFUL Caddo Lake for the weekend. If you have never been to Caddo Lake, it truly is a Texas must-see. It is the only natural lake in the state, and hosts a unique ecosystem similar to the Florida Everglades. Our plan was to put our ski boat in the water and tour the many inlets of the lake, taking pictures of wildlife. True to form, our boat didn’t start. Luckily, the quaint lakeside cabin at which we were staying, came with a complimentary canoe and all required accoutrements. We set off on a two and a half hour excursion of the lake.

Here are some of the beautiful scenes my husband captured on his camera:

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I love to kayak. It instantly became clear that the next time we went to Caddo lake, we needed to bring our kayaks! There were so many places in the shallow lake that you could only reach with a kayak. (Want to try kayaking? Visit

Our second day, we rented a small fishing boat with a motor. We spent four hours on the water and were able to capture some amazing shots of wildlife. Here are my favorites:

These first two are pictures of Barred Owls. We enjoyed hearing these two hoot back and forth.

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Followed by snakes- I think Broad banded Water Snakes, but I am not sure, and a Prothonotary Warbler?

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This weekend is just what I needed! A little sun, a little nature, a little water, a little wildlife, and one on one time with my husband!

Summer Resources and Camps for Students

Looking for something to do with your child this summer? Check these out!

Resources for Gifted Children in DFW

 Academic Summer Camps for the summer of 2014—UTD (Richardson, TX)

UTD offers a variety of academic camps for students ranging in ages from 8-18.  The camps last anywhere from a week to a month depending on choice, and are all held at the UTD campus.  Topics include subjects such as math, robots, rocketry, computer programming, solar cars, and web programming.  Some of the camps are geared especially for the gifted and talented population, but all will appeal to a child that appreciates a challenging environment.


Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science

Alternative or supplemental curriculum designed to teach children challenging mathematical principles through creative problem solving and logic.  Children are trained to look at math and science differently as they work through the curriculum designed by experts in their field of work.  Students can choose to work through math enrichment, computer programming, and college level courses.  While the actual institutes are located in Florida, St. Louis, North Carolina, and Connecticut, they offer distance learning opportunities through online classwork. 


College Experience—SMU (Dallas, TX)

The College Experience offered by SMU is a chance for high performing high school age (grades 11-12) students to experience college in a safe, nurturing environment.  The students live together on campus as they take 6 hours of college classes that can be used towards a bachelor’s degree.  They are led through the process with the aid of SMU faculty and advisors.  Admission is granted after an application process in which students must provide transcripts, recommendations, SAT, PSAT, ACT, and an essay.

The Texas Association for Gifted and Talented boasts a cornucopia of classes including academics, art, leadership, and more. Locations of the classes varies depending on selection with several located in the Dallas area as well as surrounding North Texas cities and beyond. The programs cater to children of all ages. Some are day camps while others are overnight camps. A great resource for a variety of interests.

Collin College (formerly Collin County Community College)

Project First Step is a dual credit/concurrent enrollment program that allows academically gifted high school juniors and seniors to begin their college career while still completing high school. Juniors may take one college course per semester, and seniors may take two courses per semester. There are also courses offered in the summer; however, both juniors and seniors are limited to one course per five-week summer session. Interested students must apply for admission, provide transcripts as well as test scores from STAAR, SAT or ACT, and complete the TSI assessment.


Lone Star Leadership Academy:

Lone Star Leadership Academy is based in Keller, TX and provides summer academic leadership camps for 4th-8th grade students. Participants travel to Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin/San Antonio or Houston/Galveston to develop leadership skills and interactively experience what they are learning in school through visits to significant Texas sites. Bright, gifted and high-achieving students develop leadership skills and learn about the great state of Texas.

Coppell Gifted Association summer camps. In the past, topics have ranged from web development to reader theatre to robotic puppetry. I’ll be teaching a class this summer on the Science of Cooking, using microwaves as our primary preparation method! CGA is also a great resource for parents and educators; the majority of articles I’ve shared in the Coffee Shop discussion board come from CGA’s Facebook page. On their About page, they state that they “support clustering or ability grouping in elementary schools and GT classes in middle and high school.”

The Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented has compiled a list ofsummer programs for gifted students, ranging from art to civic leadership to aquatic science. The programs listed have varying lengths, costs, and grade levels, and are located throughout the state. A few local programs are i2Camp (STEM for middle and high school) and the Lone Star Leadership Academy (leadership development for 4th-8th grade).

For students in Dallas ISD, there are several magnet schools specifically focused on Talented and Gifted students. They are magnet schools, and therefore students must go through an application process and meetseveral requirements (p. 3). However, the magnet schools can provide full-time enrichment and/or acceleration for these students.

Several area universities and schools also offer summer programs, such as Greenhill, UT Arlington, UT Dallas, and even SMU. Here’s another list of summer programs, organized by area of interest.


Dallas, Fort Worth, North Texas Child – magazine ( 

I thought this was specifically for gifted parents, but the more I looked, I realized it was for parents of all types of kids.  It has a lot of information for parents in the DFW area – tips on how to prepare for birth, activities to do with your kid, child care, mom blogs, mom approved doctors, sports, government assistance, education, parenting tips, shopping, etc. Under the education tab, there’s a link for gifted children.  They provide a few suggestions for activities for gifted children, give a few resources for parents, list a few summer camps for the gifted, and then provide contact information for other organizations for gifted children. Honestly, it doesn’t look that good specifically for gifted children, but looks very informational for parents in general.


North Dallas Gifted (

This is a webpage made by gifted parents who appear to be fed up with public schools in the Dallas area and their inability to provide adequately for gifted children. It provides information about who the group is, what their mission is, and so forth. It has links for helping identify who the gifted are, gifted with special needs, and local resources (university support, scholarships, enrichment programs, distance learning).  Under almost every tab it provides useful books, articles, websites and parental tips. It also provides information on Joseph Renzulli’s Three-Ring Model of Giftedness, Howard Gardner’s Multiple-Intelligence Theory, and Robert Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory.
Unchained Brains – KidProv
This program uses humor and focuses on creativity for kids of all ages. It also addresses several academic and real-life skills such as problem solving, collaboration and language arts. Though all programs center around the skill of improv, specific classes address different focuses and different needs, such as Math STAAR prep with humor, golden rules tools, and more.
Focusing on STEM classes, the Hockaday school brings in professionals and college professors to present hands-on experiences to middle school aged participants. They boast a wide-range of variety and go in-depth with professionals from the field.


Duke TIP – Academic Adventures (Fort Worth Country Day School)

Duke Academic Adventures are one day academic workshops for kids in fifth and sixth grades.  Students explore a variety of topics including science, engineering, history, geography, animation, art, and careers. 


Independent Study/Distance Learning

Independent study and distance learning programs are sponsored by many organizations, including Duke TIP, Johns Hopkins CTY, etc.  These courses offer kids the chance to take more advanced or different courses, often at their own pace, and with other students like them through an online environment.  


Parent Support Groups –

There are established support groups for parents of gifted students in many of our local districts. 

Back up and running!

Wow! What a time to have web site issues! I am happy to say that all processes appear to be up and running. Register before midnight tomorrow to save money! Early bird opportunity ends tomorrow, May 7 at midnight!

Changing Educational Paradigms

I urge you to watch this 11 min video. It explains why our educational system is in dire need of reform.

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