Thursday, December 29, 2016

So, Your Teenageers Got Some Bad Grades

So, Your Teenager Got Some Bad Grades Last Semester

By Cathie Ericson
Is your teen’s first semester report card less than stellar?
Let me guess your first reaction: You’re ready to jump in with a study plan—and maybe a punishment.
Don’t, cautions Joan Rooney, who directs the tutors for The Princeton Review’s online Homework Help and is a mom herself. “Teens are at a place where they should start doing some of their own assessing and analyzing.”
Instead, she suggests leading with a question, such as, “What do you think went well and what could be improved?” to get teens thinking about factors that contributed to their low grades in high school or middle school.
Once they’ve identified some of the reasons they are struggling in school, you can help them brainstorm solutions, ideally using their own support system and familiar tools. So, for example, if they are chronically forgetting to start assignments with ample time, they might decide to put reminders in their phones or set goals with friends and hold one another accountable.
“You want to help them learn to reflect and problem solve independently, which is a life skill,” points out Rooney. Not to mention, of course, that teens are more likely to own the solution if they helped devise it themselves.
“Imposing a consequence might get compliance, but you won’t be helping them for the long run,” she says.
And, she adds, don’t expect miracles. “They’re not likely to go from zero to 100, so celebrate any success you can find.”

Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. Read more about Cathie at

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dakota Combo January29

Dakota Combo at
Winter Jazz Festival

Sunday, January 29
at The Saint Paul Hotel 

The Dakota Combo will be playing the first public performance at The Saint Paul Hotel Ballroom Main Stage (350 Market St, St. Paul, MN 55102at 1:30pm on Sunday, January 29 during the Winter Jazz Fest. The Winter Jazz Fest is an annual music festival made possible by the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, and takes place on Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, January 29, with special guest Nicholas Payton.

The festival features local and nationally renowned jazz artists, and takes place at venues in downtown St. Paul, including St. Paul Hotel (featuring four stages), Vieux CarrĂ©, Black Dog Cafe, Golden's Lowertown, and St. Paul Winter Carnival in Rice Park. For ticket info and schedule of other performances, visit the Twin Cities Jazz Festival website,

Research Supports Music

Northwestern Study Finds Music Education Changes The Teen Brain

Students at UIC College Prep in Chicago studying music in December 2016. Becky Vevea/WBEZ

Inside the choir room at a Chicago charter school, 41 students sing through several warm ups. The exercise is a basic scale, but it’s sung in a canon, with each section of the choir on a different note.
“There’s 41 of you here, and 41 minds have to be completely locked into what we’re doing in order for us to get that sound,” teacher Kelsey Tortorice tells her students at UIC College Prep, a campus of the Noble Street Network of Charter Schools in Chicago.
A new study by the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University revealed music instruction, and studying music in general, changes the teenage brain, so long as students participate for at least two years.
The researchers found that studying music alters teen brains in a way that makes them better able to focus and process sound -- a development that’s particularly important for learning.
For five years, beginning in 2009, Northwestern neurobiologist Nina Kraus and a team of researchers measured the brains of students in choir or band at UIC College Prep and three other public high schools in Chicago and one in Evanston. Once a year, researchers would record each student’s brain waves as they played various sounds.
They found that after two years, the brains of the students studying music did a better job processing sound and were less distracted by background noise than peers who didn’t study music long term.
“What is really kind of stunning is that these ingredients that are important for language are also the same ones that are strengthened by making music,” Kraus said.
Kraus has conducted similar studies in the past. But the Chicago study was different because music wasn’t optional; it was mandatory for multiple years.
Kate Johnston, choir director at UIC College Prep when the school opened in 2008, said she gave the principal a kind of ultimatum.
“I said, ‘If you hire me, music will not be thought of as just an ancillary subject, but it will be thought of as a core subject, like math and science,’ ” Johnston said. “And he said, ‘Do you mean everybody takes it in the school?’ And I said, ‘why not?’ ”
Johnston linked up with Kraus after former UIC College Prep Principal Oliver Sicat asked if music classes helped with literacy even in the teenage years. When the findings were released, Johnston was thrilled to see scientific proof of something she’s always felt to be true.
“I was grasping for one more piece of data I could hand to a decision-maker and say alright, this matters,” she said. “Do you see this student’s brain from this age to this age? Here’s what it looks like when they had this, and here’s what it looks like when they don’t.”
Johnston now teaches choir at Chicago’s Walter Payton College Prep. The program at her old school, UIC College Prep, doesn’t mandate music all four years any more. And she’s not naive enough to think this study will suddenly make school districts increase their music requirements, though she’s hopeful.
Currently, Chicago Public Schools requires one year of “arts education” for graduation, which can include anything from band to graphic design.
Teacher Kelsey Tortorice leads a student choir at UIC College Prep in Chicago. (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)
Tortorice said the one-year requirement is good, but to really benefit from studying music, there needs to be more of it at all ages.
“It’s very, very obvious when kids come to us whether they had music growing up or not,” she said. “Being able to match a pitch, being able to tap a steady beat. These are things that more than half of our kids are not able to do when they get to us.”
At their holiday concert, Tortorice’s class sang a couple of classics, but also got to sing “All We Got,” a popular song from the latest album from Chicago-native Chance the Rapper.
In late December, after posting a video of their concert, they even got a little attention from Chance himself. He retweeted their video and wrote: “AMAZING!! Music is all we got. You guys sound great!”
Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her at @WBEZeducation.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Hot Notes January 21 Tickets Available Now

Merry Happy Hot Notes!
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Jazzy entertainment, tasty food, lots of friends, dancing, and FUN!
All proceeds go to Southwest's performing arts!
Get your tickets to Hot Notes on a Cold Night.
The Best Party of the Year!

Saturday, January 21, 7:00 p.m.
St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church,
3450 Irving Avenue South, Minneapolis
Buy Your Tickets Online for $37.50, or at the door for $50. (To get a table of 8 and 2 bottles of wine, click sponsorships.)
Or mail this form to:
Hot Notes Tickets c/o Bonnie Gruen
3834 Washburn Ave. S.,
Minneapolis, MN 55410
Hot Notes on a Cold Night 2
Don't miss this fun night!
Please consider making a financial gift to the Southwest High School Performing Arts Council as part of your year-end giving.

Just visit our website and click on the “donate” button to support all the great performing arts programs at Southwest.

Thank you!
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You are receiving this email because your child participates in the SWHS Performing Arts: music - theatre - dance!

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Coming Home from College Is Different and the Same

By Jessica Port
Coming home from college is always a surprise in one way or another.
“Why is there a weight set in my room?”
I probably would’ve missed it if the red steel machine hadn’t clashed so horribly with the purple walls. Or if it wasn’t taking up most of my walking space.
“Where did we even get this? Why did we even get this?”
“It’s your brother’s. He wanted to start working out.”
“In my room?”
It all looked the same, save for the exercise equipment. And it all looked so different.
Coming home from college for each visit, something else is off. Big changes like my brother re-purposing my room. Small things, like a re-wallpapered bathroom, or new medicine for the dog. New plates and new pots.
Once a new dog.

Coming Home From College

Beyond the physical changes, I noticed the huge differences from my dorm life. There were empty rooms all over instead of a single crowded dorm room. There was no food within walking distance. Meals were a family affair, not spent alone in front of Netflix with a Lean Cuisine and homework, or in a crowded dining hall.
Coming home from college for each visit, something else is off. 
And there was no one to bake cookies with at 11:00 p.m. while playing video games. All of a sudden I was back to negotiating the car, told to do errands, or asked to let the dogs out.
I had become so used to my college life—setting my own schedule: classes for three hours, find lunch, go to another class, homework, club meeting, homework. Sleep? Repeat. Suddenly I was trapped at home with nowhere to go because it’s 8° F and I don’t have a car.
I have forgotten how to behave outside of college. There are no deadlines. Someone controls when and what you eat. There are curfews. There are other adults you need to be considerate of.
Sometimes, you realize you don’t know your family anymore. “Didn’t I tell you? Your brother totaled the car/Your aunt and uncle moved to Arkansas/The neighbor’s dog passed away.”
“I’m pretty sure you didn’t tell me that.”
“How weird, I could’ve sworn I did.”
Coming home from college is always a bit weird, as I need to relearn the house rules. Here’s where to put the dishes, which I haven’t done in months. Here’s where to put the shoes, which are now stashed under my bed.
Loving daughter, awkward child, annoying sister, every little piece of me that I hadn’t needed in college is suddenly back.
Here’s how to make the bed, even though I’ll just sleep there again tonight.
Yet, when the holiday season hits, I start getting intolerant  the swing of things. My family comes back together, and I remember who I’m supposed to be. Loving daughter, awkward child, annoying sister, every little piece of me that I hadn’t needed in college is suddenly back.
It’s hard, having to move between two homes. Because at some point, my school became home too. My roommates, dormmates, clubmates, became a hodgepodge family. I was suddenly like two different people, a there and a here. There, I can be whoever I want. Here, I’m who I had been before.
But, the oddest thing about it all, at least for me, is that it’s still home. The house is in the same place. My bedroom is where I left it. The rooms get rearranged more and more, and sometimes my room is used for storage. But this place, these rooms, this family, will always feel like a part of who I am.
Who knows. Maybe I can spend this holiday lifting weights?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

During Winter Break Visit MIA

Minneapolis Institute of Art -- MIA
2400 Third Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Gallery Hours

Open for Martin Luther: Art and the Reformation 10am-5pm
Tuesday: 10 am–5 pm
Wednesday: 10 am–5 pm
Thursday: 10 am–9 pm
Friday: 10 am–9 pm
Saturday: 10 am–5 pm
Sunday: 11 am–5 pm

The museum is closed July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.


Galleries Free
Public tours Free
General exhibitions Free
MAEP exhibitions Free
Third Thursday Free
Family Day Free
Rated T @ Mia Free
School Groups Free
General admission is free; no reservations required.
Special exhibitions, classes, and some talks and special events do require tickets; reservations are recommended.

For specific event info, visit the calendar listings or our tickets page »

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Southwest Sophomore Olivia Youngdahl Needs Your Vote

Place your vote

Olivia Youngdahl, Minneapolis Southwest G, Sophomore: Youngdahl finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers en route to a 64-24 victory over Minneapolis Patrick Henry. Youngdahl leads her team in both points per game (14.1) and rebounds per game (9).

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Talking to Your Teenager

My Daughter Doesn’t Want to Spend Time with Family
Dear Your Teen:
Our family has been a very active outdoorsy family over the years and both our kids have been gung-ho about it, but this year our 12-year-old daughter suddenly screeched to a halt. Now she no longer wants to be involved in anything with the rest of the family — she would rather squirrel away in her room. She used to be the first one off the high dive and now she doesn’t even want to go swimming. What happened? I have asked about doing family things that she wants to do and her reply is basically: “I don’t know” or “nothing.” We realize this may have to do with entering a teen phase, but does anyone know how to navigate it and is there another side? Our son, who is two years older, never went through this, so it is baffling. Thank you!
When a Teen Doesn’t Want to Spend Time with Family
While it’s a common trend among young teens to withdraw from prior activities, you do want to make sure there is not more to it in your daughter’s case.
To determine if this is more than her attempt to separate and form her own identity, first try a conversation about how she has been feeling. Many parents find that their kids share the most while riding in the car, nonchalantly talking in front of a TV show, or at bedtime. I would ask about her mood, friendships and worries. If you don’t get anywhere yet your intuition tells you there is more, reach out to a trusted adult friend or family member or a school counselor to find out if she is upset about something or facing depression or anxiety. Other signs of these disorders include change in affect, appetite, sleep, energy, academic functioning, interests.
Once you have moved past the concerning possibilities, I advise the following. Remember this is a normal aspect of a teen’s development, even though, as you have seen in your own family, not every teen goes through this phase.
1. Give Advanced Notice
In order to increase participation, first, I would include your child in planning. For example, “We are going to go on a hike next weekend, is there a day or time that you prefer?” I recommend this because often times parents have to learn that their child will begin to make her own plans and needs more notice about family activities. Also, you are showing respect and increasing the likelihood she will join in.
2. Decide What is Non-Negotiable and What is Not
Next, prioritize events and communicate your priorities in advance. For example:
“We’re going to Grandma’s Sunday, and we need you to come.”
“I know it may not be your favorite thing, but going to your brother’s play is non-negotiable.
My college roommate is coming for lunch this weekend and she’d love to see you, but it’s optional. Let me know if you want to join us.”
It’s also good to explain: “We understand you want more time to your self now that you are older, and we will give you a pass when we can, but we will let you know when it’s not okay to opt out.”
3. Look for Activities Your Teen Will Enjoy
Lastly, don’t push a singular activity, as you might create more resistance to it. Find activities that your teen enjoys and join in.
What I see most often in young teens is that they behave as though they want less attention from their parents. Nonetheless I advise parents to still be around as much as possible, because the teen still needs you there — at a distance, and on-demand :).

Wendy Moyal, M.D., is a child and adolescent psychiatrist with the Child Mind Institute.