Maestoso Ideas

Last year for Maestoso, you made a mural of your skin colors to show diversity and you studied the effects of bullying around the world. Thinking of tolerance, diversity, love, honor, pity, pride, compassion, and sacrifice, what would you like to do this year? One idea should relate to an art project in which all can participate, and one idea should incorporate technology.


How and Why We Read

“John Green kicks off the Crash Course Literature mini series with a reasonable set of questions. Why do we read? What’s the point of reading critically? John will argue that reading is about effectively communicating with other people. Unlike a direct communication though, the writer has to communicate with a stranger, through time and space, with only “dry dead words on a page.” So how’s that going to work? Find out with Crash Course Literature! Also, readers are empowered during the open letter, so that’s pretty cool.”

Mark Your Calendars for the ISM Showcase!

ISM Research Showcase:

Wednesday, December 5 from 7pm – 8pm @ Heritage High School

(come and go event)


What is ISM?

ISM is a course offered at FISD high schools and stands for Independent Study and Mentorship. It is a unique and very special opportunity for responsible, high achieving students who are juniors or seniors.

It allows students to investigate, through research and a mentorship with a professional, a topic that is of extreme interest to them.  This then helps students determine whether or not they really want to pursue this field in college.

What is encompassed in the ISM curriculum?


  • Internet articles, magazines, books, etc.
  • Research assessments are due every marking period.  These are “write ups” about your evaluation and opinion of the article; this is not a research paper.
  • Interviews with professionals in your field of study
  • Interviews serve a dual purpose ~ they provide great information regarding what it’s like to actually work in a field of study, and students then ask one of these professionals to be their mentor.
  • Research also helps students generate interview questions and find professionals to interview.

Public Speaking and Presentations

  • Students give various presentations throughout the year about what they are learning.
  • Former ISM students report that learning how to speak comfortably to an audience and to adults in professional settings helped them in scholarship interviews, college admittance interviews, with meeting new people, etc.


  • Eventually becomes a 3” or 4” binder by year’s end.
  • Includes resume, personal mission statement, topic proposal, interview questions, research and interview assessments, product development work, pictures, etc.
  • Very impressive during interviews for college admittance, scholarships, job interviews, etc.  Some former students have used these in college courses.

Resume Writing

  • This will be ready to go for College Night and looks impressive.

Interviewing skills

  • Practice calling to set up appointments, talking to professionals in a business setting, etc. – great practice for scholarship interviews

Business and Social Etiquette

  • Various etiquette rules and “dressing for success” tips are covered.

Topic-related Product Development

  • Occurs 2nd semester with the help of the mentor.

Hands-on experiences in real work environments

  • Students typically see their mentors once a week, but the schedule varies depending on the field of study.  Mentor visits can occur during ISM class time, evenings, weekends, etc.

Some of the topics students have pursued*

  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Graphic Design
  • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  • Sports Law
  • Internal Medicine
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Pediatrics
  • Environmental Science
  • Finance
  • Dentistry/Orthodontics
  • Photography
  • Politics
  • Neo-natal Nursing
  • Cardiology
  • Screenwriting
  • Fashion Design
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Athletic Performance
  • Sports Communication
  • Theater Directing

*(One of the many great qualities about ISM is that the topics students study are as varied and different as the ISM students themselves.)

How do students get into ISM?

  1. Students must pick up an application in the counseling office and return it on time.  Then there’s an interview.
  2. Application includes teacher recommendation forms that need to be completed by all of the applicant’s teachers.
  3. Put ISM on your schedule card; it is not double-blocked.
  4. If you are really serious about ISM, you might consider late arrival or early release for mentor visits.  (This is not necessary, though.)
  5. ISM students must have INTEGRITY and be responsible.

Read Everyday!

After reaching 2 million students with her Fall 2010 Live Webcast, “Read Now with Taylor Swift,” one of the world’s most successful singer-songwriters returned to in a LIVE Webcast about the power of literacy. In this new 30-minute online classroom event, hosted by national radio personality Trey Morgan, Taylor Swift shared “where reading can take you” and how great literature has inspired her writing. Taylor also answered questions from students and performed a song from her new CD, Red.

Metroplex Math Circle–Guest Speaker

This weekend we have a very special guest lecturer.  Mathew Crawford, who will be well known to many MMC attendees as the author of the popular AOPS titles:  Introduction to Number Theory and  Intermediate Algebra.   Mr. Crawford will be bringing with him 50 copies of problem materials which will be available only to the first 50 families to join us.  If you are unfamiliar with Mathew Crawford and his extensive work, the following information comes from the AOPSWiki:

Mathew Crawford is the founder and CEO of MIST Academy, a school for gifted and talented students, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. Crawford won numerous national math championships as a student before attending Washington University in St. Louis on a Compton Fellowship where he studied mathematics and worked on the Human Genome Project at the Institute for Biomedical Computing. After spending several years on Wall Street and eventually running a finance operation from the basement of his apartment, Crawford founded his first education company in 2001, Universal Set Educational Resources, with childhood friend Cameron Matthews. In 2003, Crawford became the first employee of Art of Problem Solving where he helped to write and teach most of the online classes during the first three years of the AoPS online school.

His competition achievements include:

  • National MathCounts written test champion in 7th grade (perfect score of 46) and second place in 8th grade (score of 44).
  • Two-time perfect scorer on the AHSME.
  • Perfect score on the AIME as a freshman.
  • Three-time invitee to the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program.
  • Member of a top 4 Putnam team.
  • Youngest winner of the National Mu Alpha Theta convention.
  • Only 5-time winner of the Alabama State Written Examination (Algebra II/Trig once, Comprehensive four times).
  • Twice among ARML high scorers (tie-breakers) and Zachary Sobol Award winner.

Crawford also writes competition problems and performs duties for many math competitions:

  • USAMTS problem writer and grader (2004-2006)
  • iTest head test writer (2007 and 2008)
  • Birmingham and Alabama MATHCOUNTS coordinator
  • Mu Alpha Theta test writer and proof reader
  • Co-coach of the Missouri ARML team (1996,1997)
  • Coach of the San Diego ARML team (2005,2006)
  • Coach of the Alabama ARML team (2008, 2010-present)
  • Headed up the grading of the Power Round for the Georgia ARML site (2010)
  • San Diego Math League test writer and problem writer for the San Diego Math Olympiad (2004-6)

His first book, Introduction to Number Theory was published by AoPS in June, 2006. He is also coauthor of the Intermediate Algebra text, which came out in April, 2008.

Crawford’s user page can be found here.

What is Metroplex Math Circle?
“Metroplex Math Circle is intended primarily for students who are 14 and older and show a strong desire to go beyond a standard high school curriculum. Many of these students will use their experience at MMC to excel in national math competitions or to better prepare them for work at elite universities. Younger students with demonstrated mathematical talents are also welcome to participate in the MMC lectures.”

“One thing that separates Math Circles from other math programs is the expectation that much of the material will be new to the students and may not be 100% understood after the first exposure.  This is to be expected for even the most talented students and is intended to encourage rather than discourage their further exploration of mathematics.

This can be a difficult transition for students who are used to excelling in math classes that build one new concept upon another.  After each session we will try to provide links and resources so that students can study independently the new ideas to which they have been exposed.

Understanding only a third of a challenging concept at Math Circle can still be considered a great accomplishment and is good preparation for the challenges of collegiate or professional mathematics.”

Directions and additional information about MMC can be found on their web page using the link in the message below or by visiting:

Election Day Rhetoric Activity

Learning Targets for Election Day Activities:

  • I can compare and contrast persuasive commercial advertisements.
  • I can analyze how words, images, graphics, and sounds work together in various forms to impact meaning. This means that I can interpret how visual and sound techniques influence the message.
  • I can evaluate the role of media in focusing attention on events and informing opinion on issues. This means that I can evaluate various techniques used to create a point of view in media and the impact on audience.

Part One: Election Day Trivia

Directions- Read through the following websites to learn about Election Day.

1) Explore current coverage of the election with Scholastic. Make sure to explore the results of the Scholastic Student Election, information about the Electorial College, and more information about each candidate.

2) Read student-generated reports about the election with Time for Kids. Focus on understanding how the candidates view important issues and meet the vice presidential candidates.

3) Learn more about campaign finance and read Tweets from the presidential candidates with CNN.

4) Did you know that there are other candidates besides Obama and Romney running in the presidential election? Meet the third party candidates with Al Jeezera.

Part Two: Rhetoric in Commercial Advertisements

Directions- Follow the steps below to analyze political advertisements from presidential candidates in the 2012 election.

1) Think about what you already know about political commercials:

  • What kinds of commercials have you seen on the TV or internet about the election?
  • What kinds of political ads are most memorable? Why?

2) Watch one of commercial clips listed below two times. Just watch the clip during the first showing, and take notes on the graphic organizer during the second showing.

3) Complete the graphic organizer for the commercial. Now, choose another commercial clip listed below. Watch the clip two times (just watch the first time, and take notes during the second showing).

4) Complete the graphic organizer for the commercial. Repeat for all of the clips below.

YouTube Links for Advertisements:

Obama Sponsored

Romney Sponsored

5) After you have viewed all of the commercial advertisements, reflect in a blog comment below. Look back over your notes. Which campaign has the most effective ads? Why?

Try not to be persuaded by who you think is the best candidate; strictly focus on the advertisements. Post your response and rationale below. Make sure your post is listed under your first name. Do not put your last name; if needed, just put the last initial.

Please refrain from discussing the policies of the candidates. Keep your post focused on the effectiveness of the advertisements. Effective advertisements do not necessarily mean effective policies. Just focus on the ad.

Your post will not immediately show on the site. I will go through this afternoon and approve them. Check back later to see which candidate had the most effective advertisements!

“What do I do when I am finished?”

  • Turn in your completed packet to the tray.