A Post to be Proud Of

Writing previously about our most-read posts in 2023 had me reflecting on past posts I’ve written for HonorsGradU. I’ve been a writer on this blog since 2019, so with four years of blog posts floating around this website, I have plenty of work to sift through. So, as humble as possible, I’d like to share my top five favorite posts that I have written for this blog.

Helicopter Mom was one of the very first blog posts I ever wrote and still is one of my favorites. I think about this post often and remind myself of the topics I learned this day and I continue in motherhood and teaching. I also wrote Helicopter Mom Part II a few years later and felt like it was also a great reflection post for me.

A little background on this post… I initially had this post written in February 2020 and scheduled to post in March 2020. However, once the COVID shutdown started, I quickly realized that I needed to modify my original writings to better fit the situation. It ended up becoming our most-read post in 2020, and for good reason.

This isn’t necessarily a post, but a page on our blog that leads to several other pages. This page has been my pride and joy since I started it. Several times I have sent the link to this page to friends and family when they ask me questions about sensory bins and how or when to start them or when they want more information on play-based learning. It has been such a work in progress over the last several years and I am proud of that!

The story of Mr. Meyers is one that I find myself often thinking about. It’s a story about teachers and the influence and lessons they teach us, beyond just math, writing, and reading.

I had a group of friends over the other day and our discussion led to children’s activities and where to start. I ended up not only sending them my page on early childhood resources, but I also giving them several books and book recommendations on the subject. I truly belive that most of life’s problems can be solved by reading a book!

There have been many blog posts over the last several years, I could make this list much, much longer but I won’t gloat too much 😉

Do you have any favorite posts from HonorsGradU? Tell us in the comments!

A 2023 Recap From HonorsGradU

2023 was an incredible year for the HonorsGradU blog. We had some amazing posts and series that have rolled out on our website, not just this year but in years past. Let’s recap our most popular posts this year based on views.

Coming in at number one is our true colors personality testing and how to use it in the classroom. This series was just one of the few that we’ve done on personality testing for the classroom, but so far it has been our most popular. Some may feel that personality testing puts them into a box, but we feel that personality testing is just another way to learn more about ourselves and can be used as a tool to understand our circumstances and thinking process better.

Our second most popular post is a great article (and one of our originals from back in 2013!) giving tips and advice on graduation day. Graduation day is such a big day, it’s not a day you’ll want to miss important things, so small things like chapstick in your pocket can make a big difference.

The third most popular post this year was my initial post about late summer birthdays and deciding whether to red-shirt kids for kindergarten, or not. This initial post led to more and more through the years as I continued to go through this decision-making process with my two older kids.

Forever one of our most popular posts: Chemical vs. Physical Changes! It can be such a tricky topic to know, let alone teach, so Mary did a great breakdown for all of us to get it all straight.

My very first personality testing series was on the Myers-Briggs personality testing and is still one of my favorite subjects to talk about. It looks like it’s also one of everyone’s favorite topics to read about on the blog, too because it was our 5th most popular post for the year. Going down the MBTI rabbit hole is worth it, in my opinion.

I am excited to see what 2024 brings for HonorsGradU. We already have some great posts and series up our sleeve, but if there is something you’d like to see here, please let us know in the comments!

Scholarship Reminder: Specific Goals!

A requirement on our scholarship application is to write out your goals for your project. The application states: “Your goal(s) should be specific and reasonable, considering both short-term and long-term. If you have multiple goals, type each one on a new bullet point.”

And when we say specific, we really do mean specific. This plays off of our post from last week about telling us your story. If you’re telling us about your specific goals, it’s telling us more about your overall project. Here are a few examples: 

Short-term goal: Plant flowers in our city park. Long-term goal: Attract more bees  

Revamped to more specific: 

Short-term goals:
-Reach out to our town’s local nursery and ask them for locally grown wildflower donations.
-Raise money to purchase additional local wildflowers
-Plan a day to gather the community so that we can work together to plant the wildflowers

Long-term goals:
– Help upkeep the wildflowers by weeding and watering when needed
– Attract more bees, butterflies, and other insects to our area
– Help local gardens and farms benefit from the higher number of bees in the area with the addition of wildflower beds

Can you see how much more information these specific goals give us and how deeper of a picture it paints when they are written in detail instead of in a general sense? 

Our email is also always open to any questions you may have or guidance needed during the process.

You can see more about the scholarship requirements by downloading our checklist here.

For more information on the scholarship, head here.

For our 2023 final submission link, head here.

Ways To Help Reluctant Readers

We have a reluctant reader in our house. She has been from the beginning! It’s very interesting though because she loves learning to read and work with letters to put them together into words. But when it comes to actually reading the books, she’s never very into it. Here are a few ideas on how to help reluctant readers love books a little more. 

Stop pushing it. Let the child come to the books, don’t push the books onto the child! 

Make it fun. Yes, interactive board books may seem too young for a kid in elementary school. But if they are opening a book and choosing to read or listen to words on a page, then it’s worth overlooking the suggested age range. Reading is reading. 

Take it at their pace. Yes, it may be frustrating to not completely finish a 10-page book in one sitting. But if halfway through they need a break, consider it a win that you made it through 5 of the 10 pages. 

Model, model, model. There is a lot of power in a child watching their parent, teacher, or other trusted adult pick up a physical book and read it. I listen to audiobooks on my phone every day, but once I started reading physical books, my daughter started picking up books and reading a lot more often. 

Let them choose. Allowing them choices in the literature they pick up instead of assigning certain titles can give them a lot more interest in books. 

Utilize TV or video game characters. Just because a book is based on a tv show, movie, or videogame does not make it bad. Books are books. If they are picking it up, taking it in, and reading the words, it’s reading. And reading is reading. It can be a big advantage for you to take a beloved character and change the setting from the tv to a book. 

Above all, accept the fact that not everyone has to love reading. We all have different interests, likes, and dislikes. Celebrate their reading however and whenever you can. You may have a child that celebrates reading 100 books in a year! Amazing! And you may have a child that celebrates co-reading a full chapter book with a trusted adult or peer. Also amazing! Reading is reading! 

What are ways you support your reluctant readers? 

Photo by Min An

Mental Health Accessibility in New Mexico is About to Improve, Thanks to This High School Teen

Mental health is such a buzzword right now. It’s finally getting the recognition and attention it deserves! There’s still so much work to be done in the world with the overall aspect of mental health and the accessibility to it, and a high school student in New Mexico not only realizes this but is working towards changing it. She writes, 

My goal is to create a local nonprofit dedicated to prioritizing the mental health of adolescent athletes. This is a need I see in our community as I and many other adolescent athletes in New Mexico suffer from mental health issues related to our sports. After extensively looking, I don’t feel there are any other organizations doing the work locally (or even nationally) to fill this need. 

My goal is to have three branches of this organization-

1. Outreach: This branch would be responsible for creating a new coaches and athletes curriculum dedicated to improving athletes’ well-being in sports. This branch would also be in charge of spreading this curriculum to school teams and other private club sports organizations in the community.

2. Advocacy: This branch would be in charge of creating legislative and policy teams in certain organizations. For example, one idea I have is to reform APS health classes in how it approaches mental health subjects and specifically nutrition.

3. Community: This branch would be responsible for running the organization’s social media pages and creating a website with resources for athletes themselves to access. I’ve already started on the website and hope to finish it soon.

While this is a huge project to take on and one that very well may not be successful, it’s an idea I’ve had for a long time and I finally feel brave enough to approach it. There are some logistical aspects I’m not sure how to go about but I’m willing to put in the work and learn from others in order to attempt to make this a success.

I have the support of a community service coordinator at my school and I have connections with multiple mental health professionals who could help. I have a fair amount of time to commit to this project and I’ve done extensive academic research regarding adolescent athletes’ mental health. I plan to connect with more athletic professionals in my state to promote this curriculum I hope to design for adolescent sports organizations. I also plan to connect with government resources to make this a certified non-profit in my state.

Happy Holidays From HonorsGradU

The holidays are here and happening! It’s a great time to look back on the last year to see where our blog has gone.

We’ve published multiple book lists, personality tests regarding how they can be applied in the classroom, advice columns for scholarship applicants, and more. We also awarded $55,000 in scholarship money to five deserving, hard-working students.

My personal favorite is the discussions that have developed in the comments on our posts. Connecting with our readers and continuing the conversations beyond the base post make the information written come alive and is given more meaning!

Overall, this year has been one to remember, and we want to thank you, our readers, for being here and appreciating the content we place before you.

From all of us on the HonorsGradU team, happy holidays!

The 2022 Scholarship Winners- My Thoughts

For the ‘21-’22 scholarship season, our beloved blog writer Kassidy took over the submissions and hand selecting the top five winners, which I know is no small feat after having done it myself! 

It starts with reading through every single submission at least twice. And then reading and re-reading, again and again, to somewhat rank them. After picking out which applications are on the higher end of the ranking, then comes multiple phone calls to schools and mentors to hear about the projects from their point of view, as well as hearing about the student’s personality and work ethic. We then read each submission over and over again and again, ensuring that each applicant has followed all of the rules and guidelines, make more phone calls if needed, and discuss, discuss, and discuss amongst all of the scholarship board members to narrow it down to the top five.  

So when I say it’s no small feat, I mean it! And Kassidy absolutely took it in stride and found five incredible winners for our 2022 awards. 

Shoshana Folic with Wishing’ U Well saw an immediate problem within her community and filled it. And the coolest part is that she started on a community level and it grew and grew into something huge! We are so proud to have Shoshana as our top winner. 

We also saw foldable tiny houses, fiddle groups that closed the generational age gap, community gardens, and kits to help the displaced people in the community. You can read about all of the past winners here. 

Reading through their stories is truly so inspiring to see how these youth are changing and improving their communities. With kids like these in our world, we don’t need to worry about our future. These scholarship applications are proof that empathetic, kind, caring kids are out there and willing and ready to help.