May is Mental Health Awareness Month, sponsored by the Americal Psychological Association. Mental health is critical to our overall health and well-being, and yet mental health is often not prioritized as it should be. Those with mental illnesses are often reluctant to talk to someone, or even admit to themselves that something isn't right. Teenagers are not exempt from mental illness -- how often do we hear of teen suicide, cutting, or teens with eating disorders? Most of us likely know someone with ADD/ADHD, anxiety or depression, or we have dealt with these issues ourselves. Autism is a mental health disorder, as is obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and Tourette Syndrome. Post-traumatic stress disorder isn't just reserved for veterans of war, but often affects those who've experienced abuse, assault, a traumatic experience or the death of a close friend or loved one. We are all touched by mental illness in some way. We all need to recognize that our mental health is just as important as our physical health.
Please click here for a list of local mental health resources.
One of the most difficult parts of mental illness is how alone we can feel. Bibliotherapy is finding help through books and poetry. We find characters who have similar thoughts and experiences -- this helps us feel understood and not alone. We relate to these characters, empathize with them and others, and learn from their experiences and reactions. Below is a list of books compiled by a teen librarian and blogger whose awesome mental health blog post inspired me to do the same. Books in bold type can be found in the ALHS Library.
Bibliotherapy list here.
You can vote for your favorites at http://www.ala.org/yalsa/reads4teens/ beginning August 15th!
Winners announced during Teen Read Week (October 18-24, 2015)
I must admit I don't know much about coding. Basic HTML is my <b>limit</b>... as you can see. But lately, teaching coding has been a topic of discussion among our tech-savviest educators. And today I came across this Lifehacker article which not only covers various ways you can teach yourself to code, but also why you'd want to, and also provides links to numerous excellent resources. It's a great read, even if you don't know anything (or care to know anything) about the world of computer programming.
Did you know there are apps that teach toddlers how to code? While you can go to pretty much any university and get a degree in computer science, you can also get a free coding education online from Harvard (among others). While computer programming isn't new, its mainstream popularity and practicality continues to climb. We hear of high school students creating (and making popular and financially successful) iPhone apps all the time. So that begs the question... how necessary is a college degree for a successful coding career?
So what do you think? Should coding be taught in high schools? Or is it better left to explore on your own? Is it valuable? Or will it soon be replaced by something else?
The New York Times came out with this article today about why we kiss beneath the mistletoe. 'Tis the season, after all.
"It appears in Norse mythology: After Baldr, the son of the goddess Frigga, is killed with a mistletoe arrow, Frigga decrees that mistletoe will never again be used as a weapon and that she will place a kiss on anyone who passes under it."
Sophomore English classes have been the in the library the past two weeks researching recurring themes and characters throughout literature -- those that have appeared in and inspired new pieces of art, music, and literature. Students examined various characters, including several mythological ones: Cupid, Venus, Hercules, Thor, and others. We can add (holiday) traditions to our understanding of how modern culture has been influenced by mythology. Freshman English classes will be starting their research project after the holidays -- also based in mythology's influences in the modern world.
The (former) science teacher in me would be remiss to omit the fascinating botany of mistletoe -- an evergreen parasitic plant which grows on and infects its host tree. Mistletoe plants with berries (white or red) are female plants, while mistletoe plants with pollen (no berries) are male plants. Mistletoe plants take over a tree using a fascinating reproductive adaptation -- the seeds of the fruit are spread via animal excretion. That is, in the case of mistletoe, birds eat the berries, cannot digest the seeds, and pass them (with built-in fertilizer) to produce new plants. As the seed germinates, it penetrates the bark of the tree and taps into the tree's water and food supply (carried via straw-like tubes called xylem and phloem). The mistletoe plant redirects the food and water toward itself, cutting off the supply for the tree. Thus the mistletoe benefits, and the tree is harmed -- an excellent example of parasitism in plants.
Perry, E. J., and C. L. Elmore. "How to Manage Pests." Mistletoe Management Guidelines--UC IPM. UC Davis, Feb. 2006. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.
Schlossberg, Tatiana. "Why We Kiss Beneath the Mistletoe." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Dec. 2014. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.