Quick Study Tips for Tests

As finals and other year end tests approach, pass on to your sons these tips for effective studying:

Find a Good Study Spot: Identify a place in your home which will be the designated study spot for tests and quizzes. Make sure it is free from clutter and distraction, and is away from noise and activity.

Review the Main Concepts: Begin your overall study plan by reading through your notes and refreshing your memory on major concepts. This will make it easier to fill in the details later on.

Rephrase What You Know: Restate the main concepts in your own words as if you were teaching it to someone. Being able to clearly explain things ensures that you fully understand them.

Study Out Loud: Read your notes aloud and talk to yourself about them. When you hear yourself think, it is easier to figure out what you know well and what you need to study more.

Rewrite your notes: Make a study guide using your notes. The process of writing what you already know will help cement it into your brain. Organizing the information by subject and section helps keep the information organized in your memory. After you write the guide, continue to use it to study.

We’ll be passing on additional study tips over the next few weeks. Good luck to all our boys on their final exams!!!

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Thoughtful Thursday: Inspiration for Graduates

Graduation season is upon us! (We at GCP are especially excited about this, as one of our young’uns is graduating in a few weeks.) For this week’s Thoughtful Thursday offering, we are serving up a few quotes from commencement speeches to inspire us all. Enjoy.

“You have been tested and tempered by events that your parents and I never imagined we’d see when we sat where you sit … And yet, despite all this — or more likely because of it — yours has become a generation possessed with that most American of ideas: that people who love their country can change it for the better. I dare you to do better. I dare you to be better.” President Barack Obama

“Think hard, always think hard, but don’t worry too much about figuring out a precise strategy, a step-by-step plan. Instead cultivate a faith, a specific faith that, by and large, doing the best you possibly can at what you value doing will bring you the chances and opportunities you need.” Social Psychologist Claude M. Steele

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Former Apple Computer and Pixar Animation CEO Steve Jobs

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

“Every encounter and particularly your mistakes are there to teach you and force you to be more of who you are… [F]igure out what is the next right move. The key to life is to develop an internal moral emotional GPS that can tell you which way to go. Oprah Winfrey

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Inspiration from the Sports World for our Sons

Some inspiration for our boys from the world of sports:

Princeton Renaissance Athlete:

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Caraun Reid, a December 2013 Princeton graduate, is a two time All American and an N.F.L. prospect who some predict could become Princeton’s highest draft pick in over 30 years. As reported in a recent New York Times article found here, Reid, a 305 pound defensive tackle who didn’t play organized football until his freshman year in high school, isn’t just a talented football player awaiting his fate in tomorrow’s draft. He is also a talented singer, who regularly performed with a Princeton a cappella group; a musician who had regular gigs with his jazz band (he plays guitar and drums); a gospel singer and an executive board member of the campus ministry program. Small wonder that one of his challenges as he headed into draft season was convincing scouts that he was sufficiently serious about football. But his stellar performance in a pass rushing academy and the Senior Bowl convinced them that he was N.F.L. material.

Reid’s parents, both immigrants from Jamaica, encouraged their son to maintain balance in his life by combining athletics with music, schoolwork and worship. His father, Courton Reid, explained, “We believe in that — we believe our children should be well-rounded. We’d say you never know what could be your niche.” Good advice for life, and refreshing to hear in a world where athletic boys are trained to be singularly focused on their sport from an early age. Hope things go well for him in tomorrow’s draft.

Kevin Durant, NBA M.V.P:

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Grab a box of tissues and your son and watch Durant’s speech as he accepts the league’s Most Valuable Player Award. Not only does he give a heartfelt personalized shout out to each of his teammates, he saves the highest praise for his mom, thanking her for the many sacrifices she made to raise him and his brother, and calling her “the real M.V.P.”. Great speech from a thoughtful young man with some good home training. You can watch the long-but-worth-it speech here.

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Great Websites for Parents!

As we do from time to time, GCP has scouted the web and found some really interesting sites for you to check out:

The Educators’ Spin On It: Recently voted “Best on Pinterest” by Parents Magazine, this pinterest board (found here) and website (found here) are chock full of interesting and creative ideas for fun projects for parents and kids to do together. Two former elementary school teachers have pooled their experience as educators and moms to create these sites through which they pass along all sorts of creative ways to make “everyday moments into teachable opportunities”. At both sites you will find activities about reading, math, science, literacy, cooking, gardening, crafting, writing, and learning a second language for Ages 0 to 8. Lots of really great suggestions, just in time as you start to plan how to help your children avoid the “summer slide” away from active learning.

Speaking of the brain drain that summer break can bring on, here is your chance to hear more about it, and have your questions about it answered as well. On Thursday May 8th, 9pm EST, Educational Psychologist Michele Borba will participate in the first ever Parent Toolkit Twitter Chat, where she will answer your questions about how to help your children stay sharp over the summer. We wrote about the Parent Toolkit back in October 2013 (Education Nation: Parent’s Toolkit, October 3, 2013), a website that offers parents great resources to hep guide their children’s academic development. Here’s how the Parent’s Toolkit Twitter chat works: Send your questions to @EducationNation now using #ToolkitTalk and join them for the live conversation with Michele on May 8th where she will answer your questions and more. And be sure to check out the Parent’s Toolkit website here. Great and useful stuff!

Summer Reading 2014 Sites: Despite what you may be experiencing weather wise in your neck of the woods, Summer is approaching quickly, and along with Summer comes Summer Reading Programs!

Today Scholastic announced its 2014 Summer Reading Challenge. This is its annual effort to encourage reading globally. Head over to their Summer Reading Challenge website (found here) and read all about it. Children are encouraged to read every day, log their minutes into a global log, take weekly challenges and earn rewards, and help set a new reading world record. This year’s theme is “Reading Under the Stars”, and the home page features videos from astronauts (a diverse crew of astronauts, thank you Scholastic) talking about their work in space and encouraging kids to join the Summer Reading Challenge.

Does your teenager like to read the New York Times? Even if he doesn’t, would you want to encourage him to do so? The New York Times recently announced its Fifth Annual New York Times Summer Reading Contest. Every Friday from June 13 through Aug. 15 they will ask teenagers ages 13-19 the same question: What interested you most in The Times this week? Young readers are encouraged to pick any NYT article, essay, video, photograph published in 2014 and post their answer. Winning posts will be featured online the following Tuesdays. Check out the details of this contest here.

There is all sorts of good summer reading info on the 2014 Summer Reading at New York Libraries website, found here. Book lists, craft suggestions, and much more. Go to the Parent’s section here to find additional summer reading tips and materials.

Enjoy perusing all these great sites, and try to figure out how to incorporate some of their suggestions into your son’s summer!

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Thoughtful Thursday: May Day

Today, May 1st, is May Day. May Day celebrates the arrival of Spring, and in many parts of the world children dance around the maypole as part of the May Day commemoration. In many cultures, May Day, also known as International Worker’s Day or Labor Day, is also a day of celebrating work and workers.

This week’s Thoughtful Thursday offerings pay tribute to both celebrations of May Day. An excerpt from “May Day” by Ralph Waldo Emerson heralds the arrival of Spring, and Sara Teasdale’s “May Day” describes the wondrous new growth of the season. Two poems related to work and working round out our Thoughtful Thursday. “Always Finish” is a quick inspirational ditty we can encourage our sons to memorize, and Edgar Guest’s “Results and Roses” reminds us of the value of hard work. Enjoy.

Excerpt from May Day

Wreaths for the May! for happy Spring
To-day shall all her dowry bring,
The love of kind, the joy, the grace,
Hymen of element and race,
Knowing well to celebrate
With song and hue and star and state,
With tender light and youthful cheer,
The spousals of the new-born year.
Lo Love’s inundation poured
Over space and race abroad!

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1881)

May Day

A delicate fabric of bird song
Floats in the air,
The smell of wet wild earth
Is everywhere.
Red small leaves of the maple
Are clenched like a hand,
Like girls at their first communion
The pear trees stand.
Oh I must pass nothing by
Without loving it much,
The raindrop try with my lips,
The grass with my touch;
For how can I be sure
I shall see again
The world on the first of May
Shining after the rain?

Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)

ALWAYS FINISH

If a task is once begun,
Never leave it till it’s done.
Be the labor great or small,
Do it well or not at all.

Anonymous

RESULTS AND ROSES

The man who wants a garden fair,
Or small or very big,
With flowers growing here and there,
Must bend his back and dig.

The things are mighty few on earth
That wishes can attain.
Whate’er we want of any worth
We’ve got to work to gain.

It matters not what goal you seek
Its secret here reposes:
You’ve got to dig from week to week
To get Results or Roses.

Edgar Guest (1881-1959)

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Boys and the Power of 8th Grade Grades

In a recent report on gender, economic mobility and college success, a team of Columbia and Ohio State University researchers have concluded that they have seen the future, and it doesn’t look good for boys.

In their paper, found here and reported in the NY Times here, they assert that eighth grade report cards tell the story: if an 8th grader gets A’s and B’s, that student will likely earn a college degree. If he or she gets B’s and C’s, he or she is much less likely to complete college. By the 8th grade, girls are already well outpacing the boys academically on a national basis, which the researchers believe explains why women have had much greater success than men in completing their college degrees.

The researchers’ rationale behind using 8th grades as predictors is that social and behavioral skills, which are key to academic success in college, are established by 8th grade. The gap in these skills between girls and boys starts in kindergarten and widens through 5th grade. The researchers believe this gap to be “considerably larger” than the gap between children from poor and middle class families and the gap between black and white children.

This study aligns with what we at GCP have been talking about for years now: it is very important that our sons get and stay focused academically at an early age, and we parents have to do all within our power to support and help them in this effort. For those of us with sons who bombed the 8th grade; do not despair, all is not lost. Boys can and do get it together in high school, but they need attention and focus to make sure they are making their best efforts. This is a wake up call for all of us to focus not only on our individual sons’ performance, but on what needs to be done with a national school system that produces such lopsided results.

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Talk to Your Sons About The L.A.Clippers

It has been front page news for a few days now: L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling allegedly made some outrageously offensive racist comments about Black people to his Black and Hispanic girlfriend. Talk to your sons about this situation, and ask them what they would do if they played for or were the coach of the L.A. Clippers.

The team decided to play yesterday’s game, and staging a silent protest during warm-ups, and they are playing again on Monday night. Would your son have decided to play the game? Talk about the issues that probably came up during a team discussion: whether they should forfeit the playoff game that they’d been working all season to get to play in, or whether they should continue to play for an owner who appears to have made blatantly racist comments. Talk about all the competing pressures on the team: the instinct to walk away from the game, likely supported by outraged family and friends, versus the urge to prove to themselves that they have the ability to win, coupled with the potential economic consequences of refusing to play, and how much does that matter under these circumstances?

Certainly you have had may versions of these conversations with friends and co-workers over the past few days, conversations which will continue as the playoff games continue and the NBA Commissioner attempts to authenticate the recording of these comments and determine the league’s response. But take the time to talk with your sons about this situation, and keep talking with them about it as events unfold. More importantly, keep listening to their thoughts about these events. Ask them what they would do going forward if they were a Clippers player, if they were the NBA Commissioner. Keep talking, and keep listening.

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Thoughtful Thursday: Spring Poems

Notwithstanding the strong chill in the air and the whipping winds that continue to greet us each morning on the East Coast, it is Spring, so it is about time that we pay tribute to the season on Thoughtful Thursday. We shall do so with a hodgepodge of poems about Spring.

We begin with two poems by classic African American poets: “Spring Song” written by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and Langston Hughes’ ode to Spring, “In Time of Silver Rain”.

We conclude with two contemporary poets’ works, “In Perpetual Spring” by Amy Gerstler, which was included in her book of poetry which won the 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award, and “Today” by Billy Collins, who served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003. Enjoy.

Spring Song

A blue–bell springs upon the ledge,
A lark sits singing in the hedge;
Sweet perfumes scent the balmy air,
And life is brimming everywhere.
What lark and breeze and bluebird sing,
Is Spring, Spring, Spring!

No more the air is sharp and cold;
The planter wends across the wold,
And, glad, beneath the shining sky
We wander forth, my love and I.
And ever in our hearts doth ring
This song of Spring, Spring!

For life is life and love is love,
‘Twixt maid and man or dove and dove.
Life may be short, life may be long,
But love will come, and to its song
Shall this refrain for ever cling
Of Spring, Spring, Spring!

Paul Laurence Dunbar

In Time of Silver Rain

In time of silver rain
The earth puts forth new life again,
Green grasses grow
And flowers lift their heads,
And over all the plain
The wonder spreads

Of Life,
Of Life,
Of life!

In time of silver rain
The butterflies lift silken wings
To catch a rainbow cry,
And trees put forth new leaves to sing
In joy beneath the sky
As down the roadway
Passing boys and girls
Go singing, too,

In time of silver rain
When spring
And life
Are new.

Langston Hughes

In Perpetual Spring

Gardens are also good places
to sulk. You pass beds of
spiky voodoo lilies
and trip over the roots
of a sweet gum tree,
in search of medieval
plants whose leaves,
when they drop off
turn into birds
if they fall on land,
and colored carp if they
plop into water.

Suddenly the archetypal
human desire for peace
with every other species
wells up in you. The lion
and the lamb cuddling up.
The snake and the snail, kissing.
Even the prick of the thistle,
queen of the weeds, revives
your secret belief
in perpetual spring,
your faith that for every hurt
there is a leaf to cure it.

Amy Gerstler

Today

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

Billy Collins

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April is Volunteer Month — Tell Your Sons About This Inspirational Volunteer

Did you know that April, in addition to being Poetry month and Mathematics month is also Volunteer month? (Who makes these designations, we ask?) Anyway, in April we pay tribute to the people who dedicate themselves to taking action and solving problems in our communities. And here at GCP we are happy to spread the word about young Hector Montoya, a 9 year old from Grand Prairie, Texas, who took impressive action to solve a community problem.

Hector had been saving up his money to buy a Playstation 4 game console, when he learned that a house in a nearby town had caught fire, and the mother and daughter in the house were killed. Hector decided to use his $300 in Playstation 4 savings to buy almost 100 smoke detectors for homes in his neighborhood for people who didn’t have them, including seniors and shut-ins. “It really hurts my heart to see people die in a fire,” Hector told local reporters. “Saving a life is more important”. When people heard of his good deed via the local news, they also responded generously, by rewarding Hector with a new Playstation 4, and contributing an additional $150 towards the purchase of additional smoke detectors.

Check out the video here. Share Hector’s story with your sons and talk with them about the importance of doing for others, not just in April but every month!

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Thoughtful Thursday: Thinking about Math

Did you know that April was Math Awareness month? So we at GCP are turning our thoughts to mathematics. We pay tribute to Benjamin Banneker, present some math quotes, and, as April is still Poetry Month as well, present a math based Langston Hughes poem. Enjoy.

Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806) was a largely self-educated mathematician, astronomer, compiler of almanacs, inventor and writer. He was born on November 9, 1731, in Ellicott’s Mills, Maryland. A free black who owned a farm near Baltimore, Banneker was largely self-educated in astronomy by watching the stars and in mathematics by reading borrowed textbooks. He constructed a wooden clock in his early twenties, despite having seen only one other timepiece in his life. His knowledge of astronomy helped him author a commercially successful series of almanacs. He corresponded with Thomas Jefferson on the topics of slavery and racial equality. He firmly believed, and was quoted as saying, “The colour of the skin is in no way connected with strength of the mind or intellectual powers.”

Math Quotes

“Some mathematician, I believe, has said that true pleasure lies not in the discovery of truth, but in the search for it.” Tolstoy

“Perfect numbers like perfect men are very rare.” Rene Descartes

“Mathematics is like love, a simple idea, but it can get complicated.” Anonymous

“Do not worry too much about your difficulties in mathematics, I can assure you that mine are still greater.”–Albert Einstein

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” Albert Einstein

“Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.” Issac Newton

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein

Problems

2 and 2 are 4.
4 and 4 are 8.

But what would happen
If the last 4 was late?

And how would it be
If one 2 was me?

Or if the first 4 was you
Divided by 2?

Langston Hughes

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