Saturday, June 11, 2016

Final Project: The truth about Quest

For my final project, The topic I chose to research is the truth about the Quest program and their social development. 

I chose this topic because of the growing attention to the “Quest” program at Buffalo High School. These kids are seen as out of place and nerdy, simply because they are intellectually gifted, but struggle with peer relationships. My primary research plan is to do an in-person interview with Quest teacher, Ryan McCallum. Mr. McCallum has been involved in the Quest program for a while, and his own children recently tested to join Quest. Some questions I have for Mr.McCallum would be regarding his own experience dealing with students that may not fit in. I also would ask how these students tend to handle stressful situations, and what things Mr. McCallum can do to help them adjust.

The Questions I asked Mr. McCallum were:

  1. These kids need social and emotional support - what types of support do you give them?
  2. You have witnessed students go through the quest program that have been very successful, socially. How and Why do you think they differ from others.
  3. How do these students cope with stress and what tools do you provide to help them cope?
  4. I read that High Ability students overall have more behavioral problems than “Gen Ed” students. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  5. How can Peers and teachers help these students to be more exposed to general ed, so they are more adapted to each other?
  6. The quest students have classes together starting in elementary school all the way through high school…. Do you think the quest students are under exposed to other students? Could this hinder their social skills with general ed students?

The Interview with McCallum was as follows:
Interview Conducted with Ryan McCallum on June 7th, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Q: How long have you been in the quest program?

“I have done quest for four years, and before that many years ago I was the gifted advisor at the high school for two years.”

Q: I have read articles claiming that gifted students are better socially than general ed students, but i’ve also read articles that stated the exact opposite. Why is this and what have you seen in your experience?

“Both. there is no universal definition of gifted. There are people who are gifted athletes, but the school has nothing for them. We focus more on the logical and mathematical giftedness. If you are good at science, math, and english you get into Quest. We are only showcasing maybe three gifts (English math and Science) out of a possible nine. When you look at the preparedness of it, the people who are gifted logically and mathematical sometimes do have more social needs, because they are not used to being understood. But also part of being gifted is you could be gifted intrapersonally and interpersonally.”

Q: What is intra and inter?

“Intra is within yourself. You understand yourself very well, and you are gifted in not only applying it to yourself but also helping other people become the best selves they can be. Those people are incredibly gifted socially. Interpersonal are the most gifted socially. there is a recognizable gift that says “I can make relationships at a level my peers can’t” that is a gift.”

Q: Do you feel like the quest kids may be underexposed to General ed students which causes their social problems?

“That’s the hardest thing about the program. For 6 years, they are with teachers that are specifically there for them. And they understand them. But they are only exposed to that, and then suddenly they’re not. And they have teachers that don’t understand what giftedness is, and what they should be aware of, and they haven’t had a chance to develop a relationship with kids outside of the program.There are evident disadvantages to theses students being lumped together, but there are also disadvantages to them not being lumped together. They would be made fun of, teased, ostracized, excluded, they get excluded anyway. Quest needs to do way more to get these kids intermingling with other kids.”

Q: What are you doing right now t help them “Mingle”?

“We are doing way more than the past. Now we are paying attention to what gifts people actually have, if they are gifted in math, should they be in Quest english? Maybe they should be with general ed students. We are also bringing in counselors to work with them  and we are training counselors at the middle school level on issues related to giftedness and trying to create more opportunities for them to branch out. We are still not doing enough, but we are addressing it.”

Q: Do you think the students in quest don’t want to branch out?

“Quest students have a problem with thinking that quest is a badge of honor. We tell the kids “You’re no better than anyone else.” I think every quest kid should be required to be in a sport so that they can see that they are not better than other people. We can’t create this impression that they are better, their parents want to believe that they are better than people, and so it starts at home. Even if we address it so that all quest kids know that they are no better than their peers, their peers still feel like the quest kids are better than them - so we have to deal with that stigma too.”

Q: How can general ed students deal with the quest kids?

“Quest kids need to choose to do more activities. Thats where all the natural interest based relationships happen. Activities are where you learn to appreciate the other gifts that students have. It would be fun for quest to have the least amount of homework - but they should be required to do something else - even youth group. We need to encourage them to go out and meet people that are better than them. School can be super rigorous but we could really cut back on the homework and have them get well rounded.”

Q: So you guys understand that the social aspect of quest may be a problem?

That is the number one complaint. We do surveys each year sent to parents and students, the number one across the board is that their kids are too segregated and they are getting tired of eachother and they need to meet other people.

Along with an interview, I read three different article about gifted and talented children and social develpment. The findings in my articles and interview were very consistent. Mr. McCallum stated some of the same things that the articles claimed, and cleared the air on some questionable statements. One article stated that “Clinically referred intellectually gifted children tended to have increased behavioral problems.” (Francis, Hawes, and Abbott NP) This resonated with me, So I asked Mr. McCallum his thoughts. He shared with me that the students that have increased behavioral problems are the ones that are gifted, but weren’t given the outlet, like Quest, to let their creativity out. They hold in their giftedness, and do drugs or slack to make themselves seem dumb, or fit in... to feel normal. These students need to be challenged, and that is where Quest comes in as a very effective option.

My view of Quest student’s has changed entirely. They are not “Nerds”. They are intellectually gifted students that need a place to fit in. Not to say that these students aren’t underexposed, but this program challenges these student’s abilities more than any other General Ed class would.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Religion vs. Jesus

The number of young adults leaving church is astounding, and has been continually growing throughout the past years. 70% of young adults, ages 18-22 have dropped out of their evangelical church. Why?

26% claimed their church members seemed judgmental and hypocritical
20% didn't feel connected to their church or the people at the church
15% felt that the church members were unfriendly and unwelcoming. 
This. Is. A. Problem. And I blame religion.

I am frustrated. I am frustrated at the Judgement, and the gossip that I have witnessed. The thing is though, This isn’t the churches fault. It’s religion’s fault. The church is so brainwashed by the idea of religion, and identifying themselves in their own group, that they lose sight of the fact that JESUS should be our main focus. Religion has taught us to judge non believers, rather than love them and help them find God. Religion taught the church family to gossip about those who are not on the right path, rather than to reach out to them and help them find their way. Shouldn’t a church be a safe haven? a place we can go to escape trouble and spend time with our Lord? I am seeing that less and less these days.
The church struggles to understand that EVERY christian religion believes in God.. and shouldn’t that be our only goal? Evangelical, Catholic, Lutheran, we are the same, we are a family. So why do we try to separate ourselves from each other? Why is a Lutheran frowned upon when she marries a Catholic? Both people in the marriage believe and love Jesus, isn’t that all we want?
Jesus did not tell us that we must all practice religion in order to receive eternity. he said we must accept our lord in our hearts. Salvation is NOT found in a religion or good works, but in a Person The LORD JESUS CHRIST!
Jesus didn’t die so we could have religion – He died so we could have a deep and personal relationship with God.
We are all sinners. My sin makes me no better than any other person. I was taught in Sunday school that “a sin is a sin in the eyes of God”, yet some people of the church judge other’s sins, as if they are worse than their own. Members of the church put themselves on a pedestal, and make themselves more holy than others. This is so wrong.
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” Romans 3:23
In John Chapter 8, A woman was caught in adultery. She was then taken to town where she would be stoned. the town people yelled “Jesus, The law of Moses says to stone her for her sin!” but Jesus responded “Alright, but let the one who hasn’t sinned be the first to throw a stone”
Jesus understands that we are all sinners, and no sin is better than the other. But the cool thing about Jesus is that He hung out with the sinners, the lowest of the low, to show them the grace of our God. As Christians, we are called to be missionaries. We should be speaking to those who are struggling, those who are unbelievers. Instead, we intermingle amongst ourselves. What does this do to help? We want as many people to come to Christ as possible, yet we make our religion seem so secluded and private that people are scared to join.
the beauty of being a christian is that I am imperfect and I boast in my flaws. I am a sinner, yet Jesus loves me and He forgives me. I am Saved.
We have no right to call ourselves worthy of God’s love. We are so unworthy. But that is the beauty of Jesus. He picks us up, he dusts us off, and he makes us new. He died for us. He loves us so much.
A church should be a place where we strive to get to know God. HE should be the center of our thoughts. I shouldn’t have to hide my sins and failures in fear of being judged.

I want to end this with part of a poem that is close to my heart. From “Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus” by Jefferson Bethke:
While being murdered, He yelled
“Father forgive them for they know not what they do”
Because when He was dangling on the cross, He was thinking of you
And He absorbed all your sin, and he buried it in the tomb
Which is why I am kneeling at the cross, saying, “Cmon, There’s room.”
So for religion – no I hate it: infact I literally resent it
Because when Jesus said “It is finished,” I believe He meant it.

Jesus is amazing. He loves us so much. He sacrificed his life for us and our sins. We are so imperfect, and we are so flawed, but because of our Lord’s unconditional love, we were made new, and we were forgiven. As Christian’s we are called to be like Jesus. We are called to love everyone despite any sin, and any shortcomings.
My only goal in life is to not show people what religion i’m a part of, but show people that God lives in me. God is good, and He is real.
This is also a good read/Watch: I don’t want to be a christian anymore
Religion says DO, Jesus says DONE.

Friday, May 16, 2014


     In class we discussed the role of satire news. Satire is a form of news that is meant to be funny, but it also has a hidden truth to it as well. Satuirday Night Live is a form of satire. So is the Colbert report, or the Onion. I never realized how much satire was around. Best Onion Headlines.
    I think that traditional media outlets do a good job of getting information to you quickly and efficiently. News sources like KSTP and WCCO are convenient and a good way to get news. I personally would not rely on satire news to get all of my information. though it may be funny, I don't know that it is perfectly reliable. I like to watch the weekend update on Saturday Night Live, but I watch this for its entertainment, not for it's information.
    Teenagers tend to find their news and information on the internet because that is how their generation was raised. a lot of students like comedy and satire because it is easier to understand. As much as teens hate to admit, they still are pretty shielded from the real issues of the world. Not many teenagers understand much about politics. They may understand the basic facts, and when satire shows make fun of it, they feel like they are in the loop and they know something.
    I think fake news can be kind of sketchy, because they feed us false information. Some people that don't understand sarcasm may actually believe that it is true, and they might freak out. Sometimes CNN can get a hold of these things and put them on their website thinking it is true and that creates a giant pandemonium. (How a fake Google news story spread online)
In class we made up our own Satire news stories. This was actually fun because we were in a way complaining and trying to make a point about an issue in the school, but at the same time we were making jokes and it was all just kind of light hearted, 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Role in media

In class we have been talking about the role of the media, and how it creates our reality.  Traditional print media still serves a big role in our community. Many people still use the newspaper to keep in touch with local and world news. Many people use this because it gives us a real, non bias story. Older people are more likely to read a traditional newspaper, rather than an internet source.
                There are some dangers that we may face when able to choose which sources we want to get our news from.  If we want celebrity news, we may go to TMZ. This site is not very reliable in the fact that it exaggerates their stories. This site is just one example. Many sites will stretch the truth or be very bias, and you will not get the real story. Another factor that can be dangerous is word of mouth and rumors. Facebook and twitter are main culprits of this awful crime. For example: This week a boy in my grade died. Everybody on facebook was making up different things and I saw so many different reasons why he died… soon people were making up ridiculous rumors and not one part of that rumor was the truth. It is hard to trust any social media site, because you can never know if any of it is the full truth.
                When I am in college I will most likely read my news on the internet, but when I get out of college I will get a newspaper. By then I will be more mature and I will probably have to know what is going on in the world.

Friday, April 25, 2014

10 days of Facebook

I'd just like to brag that I got four more questions right on the Pew research quiz than I did last time I took it. I got 7 right! 

      Anyways..... I was monitoring Facebook for my news source with the 10 days of news. It was very interesting. Most of the news had to do with pop culture. For example, rappers cutting off their junk and Lindsey Lohan faking a miscarriage. I also looked to Facebook statuses curious to see if there was news being reported through my friends. All that I saw were People posting about teen pregnancies and engagements. 
      My news source customized and filtered my news to the things that it thought I would like. I was not a huge fan of that. I wish I would be able to see all news, instead of just the stuff that Facebook thought I would like.
      I think the point of news is to be informed. whether it be news about Syria, or news about Miley Cyrus, It is still important to be "in the loop". That also answers the question "why is news important?".  News keeps us updated throughout the world, and I think everybody likes to be informed. I also have a theory that too much news can be harmful. I think that if people get super obsessed with all the bad things that go on in the world, they will go crazy. There is a lot of bad in the world, but at some point we have to choose to ignore it. (Is news bad for you?)
      I like to catch up on news. Mostly I pay attention to celebrities and pop culture, but every once in a while I will click over to the news on my television so I can be updated on things locally and around the world. I HATE politics though. It bores me. I don't think I am old enough to even understand politics, I have never had an interest. I don't even know what it means when the government shuts down..
      I never knew that Facebook had a handy thing on the side that shared news. I think it is fairly new. I think that I will continue to look at that when and if I ever go on Facebook. I think people should go on a trusty news site if they want accurate news. CNN is a million times more reliable than say TMZ. On TMZ they lie a lot.
     News is really anything that readers havent seen or heard of, and it catches their attention. Thats why viral videos such as "gangnam Style" were so popular. I don't really understand why videos such as "cute cats" are considered news, but most people would probably rather click on that than the depressing news in third world countries. (Cute cats...)

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Good Story

Ignore the dog in the background...... She was eating a napkin. This is My mom (Jenny), Sydney's Mom (Julie), & Our Aunt (Lisa) telling a story about how we lost Elijah (Julie's son) and Keenan (Lisa's son) at green lake, and all of the events that occurred.