Tuesday, December 15, 2009
1) In 2nd grade, we made little colored picture cards with the times tables on them. For instance, all the "two times" would be pink pencils, "three times" yellow bears, and so forth. We used the cards to practice our times tables.
2) In 2nd grade, we wrote all the numbers up to 1000 in a book made of ten sheets with a grid for 100 numbers on each sheet.
3) In 6th grade, we did timed drills on arithmetic. I thoroughly enjoyed the competition with myself and my classmates to accurately recall and write the answers in these one-minute drills. Probably because I usually did very well. :)
4) When we learned to calculate interest, I was proud of being able to calculate and show my work for ten consecutive years of compound interest all on one line of paper; I don't think the teacher appreciated my itty-bitty writing.
Why did I enjoy, or at least remember, only repetitive activities? Aren't repetitive activities supposed to be mind-numbing? (As an adult, I do find repetitive activities boring, but children aren't just little adults.) There's not a constructivist, "fuzzy math" activity up there, although I suppose you could still find elementary school children today counting up to 1000 jelly beans in a group at some point in their schooling. Imagine my surprise to read today that editors of The Mathematics Teacher, in refusing a paper for publication, stated that "rote drills do not constitute an authentic mathematical practice". Apparently, I didn't actually do math in elementary school. Funny, I ended up a top math student in high school (the kind that went to state contests) and earned a BS in mathematics. All that "inauthentic" math practice back in elementary school gave me a good foundation for mathematical achievement later on. Remembering my own past, while anecdotal and not likely to convince any true believer in the stultifying effects of math drills, helps me be more firm in my resolve to give my children the kind of math foundation I received. I bet in a few years they'll beat me on timed drill contests!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
What's interesting to me is that Failure Free Reading, while emphasizing decoding at the word level and eschewing phonics, apparently brought about an improvement in phonological decoding skills in this study. What mechanism makes that happen? I'd love to see the curriculum itself to see how it facilitates development of phonological decoding ability.
Friday, December 11, 2009
While perusing science news this morning at one of those odd hours I owe to my six-week-old, I came across an article stating that reading remediation positively alters brains:
As the researchers report today in the journal Neuron, brain imaging of children between the ages of 8 and 10 showed that the quality of white matter -- the brain tissue that carries signals between areas of grey matter, where information is processed -- improved substantially after the children received 100 hours of remedial training. After the training, imaging indicated that the capability of the white matter to transmit signals efficiently had increased, and testing showed the children could read better.Did you catch that? The kids got better at phonological decoding, and their brain tissue improved in quality. So, not only will phonics help a child read, but it makes his or her brain better! That's cool. :)
Keller and Just also found that the amount of change in diffusion among the treated group was directly related to the amount of increase in phonological decoding ability. The children who showed the most white matter change also showed the most improvement in reading ability, confirming the link between the brain tissue alteration and reading progress.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
"True," said Ella. "Men are not nearly as evolved as women are, nor as intelligent, evidently."So...not only is the author having a swipe at all men, she's oblivious to the fact that the theory of evolution didn't even come into being until after Darwin began his voyaging in 1831. Don't waste your time on this book.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
see more Lol Celebs
It's nice in our work/status/money/stuff-obsessed culture to see a hero like MacGyver making the choice to quit his employment when family obligations come up.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Our friend topped my tale by telling about how her mother dated Elvis Presley. For real. She went on five dates with Elvis back when he was in Shreveport, but decided not to pursue a longer relationship with him. According to our friend, her mom didn't want to be with someone who'd "always be prettier than she was."
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
1) I wish people would not let their children damage the children's section DVDs. Nearly every Backyardigans video I've ever checked out freezes at some point in the watching thereof, much to the dismay of our little ones.
2) I wish that people would return intact the multi-DVD sets. We just found out that there is a sixth DVD to the 2nd season of MacGyver; it wasn't there when we checked it out, but now that the library has noticed its absence, we might be the ones who end up being charged for its loss.
3) I wish I hadn't had to pay $4.50 to use a parking garage last night when I went to our downtown library, which is located right by a community college branch so all the free parking spots by the library were full.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Can you imagine how good this is going to look on his college applications? "Accomplishments: Discovered ancient temple on summer vacation". Pretty hard to top that!
Michael said: “When I first swam out, I thought they were just rocks, as most people would, but then I noticed that they were cylindrical and knew that they couldn’t be natural, so I called my dad over.
“I’ve been dragged around a lot of ancient ruins, so if it hadn’t been for that I wouldn’t have looked twice.”
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Not to sound like a whiner, but I've never taken care of a newborn and my own house before. Living abroad in poorer countries generally includes with it the financial ability to hire housekeepers, but this time I'm on my own. I'm very grateful for my little house right now. Who wants to vacuum a McMansion while recovering from childbirth and caring for a newborn?
Monday, November 9, 2009
Lessons are not stressful for either one of us. I especially love it that our formal reading lessons are nearly always under 10 minutes per day. A typical reading lesson can be as simple as sounding out twelve words or so that require application of a specific reading rule. If she's being fidgety, our lessons really are that short. Also, if need be, we spend weeks on the same rule until she understands it. It's not like we have to rush her to reading proficiency...she's barely old enough for kindergarten as it is! It's pleasant to be seeing fruits already from our low-key but consistent approach to teaching her to read.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Ten reasons MacGyver is so awesome:
1) He stops an acid leak with chocolate in the very first episode.
2) It's clear who the bad guys are--the Commies.
3) Rather than hold a gun himself, he'll hand it to the current episode's lady character even though she's never fired a gun before.
4) He's got a soft spot for children.
5) He manages to communicate with people no matter where he is--Central America, Russia, Hungary, even Burma!
6) His one-liner comments are so bad they're funny.
7) His hair is generally handsome and flattering; sadly, his lady co-stars suffer from serious 80's hairstyles.
8) He never needs a map to escape; the man can make it to the border of any country, no matter how cloudy the day.
9) Thanks to their having helped MacGyver, scores of people become asylees.
10) His ingenious solutions always work, no matter how far-fetched and slim the chances.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
This was my third drug-free childbirth, and I can honestly say "ow". Childbirth does hurt, although not the whole time. Contractions do ebb, thankfully, and by being able to change position and spend much of my labor upright and mobile, I think I speed up my labors. The pushing stage certainly goes quickly. I can't imagine needing more than ten minutes or so to push a baby out, but that could just be how my body works. Also, I tend to recover rather quickly which I put partially down to having felt what's going on with my body during labor and delivery (it helps that my babies have been such great little nursers, too).
It was odd to realize that here in the USA, doctors don't typically see you during labor. They do everything through the nurses until the baby is about to come. I don't like that aspect of US hospital birthing. I purposely chose a certified nurse-midwife for all my prenatal care so that I could be assisted by someone who dealt regularly with non-epidural births. In the end, except for her faxing in my birth plan to the hospital ahead of time, she had nothing to do with how my labor was managed because she wasn't on call that night. I was at the mercy of the random nurse assigned to me. Luckily, I ended up with a very supportive nurse during transition, bless her heart!
Friday, October 23, 2009
Such hyper-worriers really do merit a little mocking. There's my sister's neighbor, who informed my sister that "She would never let her children play alone outside!" in their expensive, quiet neighborhood (Doesn't she have any windows in that big house of hers?). And there's the experience of a friend of mine, who was once paying for gas and left her car with her two children (young enough to be strapped in car seats) right outside the open door of the gas station minimart where she could see them. A man came up to her and told her that he'd just called the police on her because she shouldn't have left them in the car. (So, it's safer to unleash them to bring them into the minimart for a 3-minute transaction? Even though she was near them and able to see them?) Another customer heard what had happened and started yelling at the first man for having done such a dumb thing. My friend had to leave because of an urgent appointment, but she called the police later to explain why she hadn't stayed at the minimart. The police reassured her that all was fine and said that the cashier had called them and told them not to come because there was no reason to. Bless the sensible cashier's heart!
There exist many real risks to children, and the book's author respects those. However, there are also many teensy-weensy de minimus risks that are being allowed to overshadow and prevent basically safe, worthwhile, and healthy activities. Free-Range Kids is a good antidote to all the scary stories and worries in which concerned parents sometimes overindulge.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Results There was a significant increase in the number of deliveries and rupture of the membranes at low barometric pressure although there was no significant correlation between onset of labor and barometric pressure. This tendency was noted in both women with spontaneous rupture of the fetal membranes and those with premature rupture of the membranes. On days with a larger change in barometric pressure, regardless of whether it was increasing or decreasing, the number of deliveries increased and the relationship was statistically significant.
Monday, October 19, 2009
- The actress who plays Jane is truly lovely.
- Beautiful attention to setting, be it a humble countryside home or a magnificent estate.
- Very pretty music.
- The hairstyles are just horrible.
- Too short and choppy with unnecessary modern phrases and actions thrown in throughout.
- Irrationally sympathetic treatment of Mrs. Bennet's character near the end.
This version of Pride and Prejudice comes too soon after the 1995 version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, which puts it at a serious disadvantage because it compares so poorly with it in regards to plot and character development. The 2005 version is simply too short to do justice to Jane Austen's wonderful writing and complex characters. Still, it is enjoyable to watch once in a while and takes much less time to view than the 1995 version.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
1) Make sure dd2 feels very secure in her parents' love and build her excitement and appreciation for being a big sister;
2) Pack some sort of bag for the hospital (being without a toothbrush isn't nice);
3) Prepare myself pyschologically to be a mother of a newborn again; and
4) Make my "birth plan" "cute" so that the nurses in the hospital will actually read it.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Today, we made a "shaker table" out of cardboard, rubber bands, and marbles (which we bought today especially for the experiment) to simulate the motion of the earth shaking during an earthquake. Then we made buildings out of toothpicks and gumdrops and tested their ability to stay standing on our shaker table. It was a fair amount of work, but even dd2 got into the building action...it didn't hurt that she was allowed to eat some of the gumdrops.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
It was an OK movie. As someone who used to work day-in, day-out with fiancee and spouse visa applicants, I found I was rooting for Sandra Bullock's character to get deported and barred from the USA for fraud. She's one of the protagonists of the film, so I'm fairly sure my feelings on the subject were quite different from how the film writers imagined audiences reacting. Honestly, though, what's so awful about her having to spend the rest of her life outside the USA when she didn't even care enough to return her immigration lawyer's phone calls before it reached the point where her status expired? It's not like having to live in Canada is some sort of lifelong torment.
I really enjoyed the nods to While You Were Sleeping, which is one of my favorite movies. Bullock's co-star, Ryan Reynolds, did a good job and seems to have promise for more good roles. And the Alaskan scenery was lovely.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Within the United States, Colorado’s performance against other states is itself quite mediocre, 28th in 4th grade mathematics and 18th in 8th grade mathematics according to the latest NAEP data, well below where it should be given Colorado’s relative wealth.As a mother with a bachelors degree in mathematics, I'm going to seek the best math curriculum I can for my children. "Fuzzy" math with little mastery just won't cut it, and as long as my local school district uses the Everyday Math curriculum, we will be voting with our feet against it by either homeschooling or going to a charter school. Is there a chance the local school administration will pay attention to this report and actually adopt Singapore Math?
Singapore’s approach to elementary mathematics education first came to the attention of U.S. educators in 1997 with the release of the results of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Singapore’s fourth and eighth grade students placed first in mathematics, well ahead of students in the U.S. and other Western countries, and that performance has stayed strong. The Singapore system was lauded for providing “textbooks [that] build deep understanding of mathematical concepts while traditional U.S. textbooks rarely get beyond definitions and formulas (AIR report, 2005).” While countries such as Japan and Korea have also done well in international testing, Singapore is the only Asian country where English is the medium of instruction for all state-approved schools in grades K-12, meaning that their curriculum is written in English.
Singapore’s curriculum offers another advantage to states like Colorado with growing numbers of English Language Learners. Only 20 percent of the students who come to school in Singapore can speak English, the language of schooling. Because of that dynamic, the curriculum is sensitive to the limited understanding of non-English speaking students.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I've read a lot about direct instruction, but I'd never before given much thought to art as something where direct instruction can be utilized. Art just seems to be such a "free-spirit" kind of subject. But I can certainly see why a child might enjoy art more when given specific instruction and tools to get a satisfyingly good result. Is it possible that one of the reasons that most modern art, especially student art, leaves me cold and underwhelmed is that they aren't being taught much technical mastery of the skills necessary to convincingly express an object, an emotion, etc.?
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Why is this blog-worthy? Because my children might have "swine flu", more correctly known as H1N1 flu. Dd5's sudden fever would especially fit the swine flu symptoms. We know that a family was in church Sunday who had a son suffering with swine flu recently. I'm all for being generally churchgoing folks, but I wish they'd decided to stay home. There are many pregnant women, including myself, at church, and we are at high risk for serious complications from swine flu. If dd5 has swine flu, my chances of avoiding it are very slim.
We'll see how the day goes....at least it's not the weekend....yet.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Mostly cloudy. Chance of rain showers in the evening and overnight...then chance of snow showers early in the morning. Lows 32 to 38. North winds 10 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation 30 percent.Did someone forget to tell Mother Nature that it's still September?!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I look forward to seeing the movie version now--Anthony Hopkins, Gwyneth Paltrow, and less swearing!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
DW enjoyed the intelligent adult conversation she had at a gathering of an acquaintance of mine. I was certainly glad to see her enjoying herself, while I mainly watched the children and hung around my colleagues. I kind of wondered whether they joined me out of discomfort in the other room or if it was kindness to me...
As topics turned, we talked a little of dod's (dear oldest daughter) school arrangements. Naturally, one of my colleagues had nothing disparaging to say about homeschooling or the fact that we're trying to get our girls to be bilingual, though they seldom actually speak German. Hrm.
So here are my reasons I want my girls to be bilingual:
- Knowing two languages makes life more fun.
- Daughter's friend: "What did they say in this non-subtitled movie?"
- Daughter: "Oh, he just said X with a terrible accent. He's definitely NOT German."
- Daughter's friend: "Wow, that's so cool that you speak German!"
- Daughter's friend: "What did they say in this non-subtitled movie?"
- It makes that pesky language requirement in school either obsolete or fillable by a third language.
- "Ha ha! I already speak two languages, so my other class this semester is college canoeing!"
- Cool resumé filler.
- Languages: English, German.
- Broadened travel horizons.
- Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein! (plus other places where Germans would be more welcomed than US folks)
- Easy way to throw off telemarketers.
- dod: "Hier bei Familie X."
- telemarketer: "Congratulations! You qualify for the platinum card!"
- dod: "Ich hab' gar kein Interesse daran, aber möchtest Du etwas schönes von mir kaufen?"
- telemarketer: "Does anyone there speak English?"
- dod: "Eigentlich schon. Aber das möchte ich Dir nicht zugeben, oder?"
- telemarketer: "Um, okay. Goodbye!"
- dod: "Hier bei Familie X."
- Bilinguals tend to do better in school.
- Must be all those extra linguistic neurons.
- Sort-of-secret language from strangers and others around us.
- [In public]: "Siehst du den Mann da? Sein Hund hat keine Nase!"
- "Dann wie riecht er?"
- It's so cute when little children speak foreign languages.
- Really, it is!
- Linguistic family bonding!
- "In this house, we obey the rules of der neuen Rechtschreibung!"
- People who speak with accents are just generally more attractive.
- This one needs no explanation!
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
1 lb. queso fresco (grated)Easy and yummy! I think I'll use less cheese and water next time, though, because mine came out flatter than I remember them.
1 cup almidon de yuca/yucca flour
1 slightly beaten egg
1 tsp baking powder
1-2 tablespoons water (just enough to make it so the dough sticks together)
Stir it all together to get a dough, make your rolls with the dough (about 20 or so of them), and bake on a slightly greased pan in a 375F oven for about 20 minutes (until the rolls are golden brown).
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
I'm basically convinced by his arguments, although I do think that schools need to continue to dedicate some time to analysis of what is read in order to develop critical thinking skills. In my experience, focusing solely on fact-accrual leads to "smart" people who don't know how to think things through and express their arguments clearly.
Now to apply some insights gained from reading this book to teaching my daughter--1) Keep reading to her, lots, and expose her to intelligent and interesting books (not those lame leveled-readers that are boring). 2) Cover many content fields and try to stick with each field for more than one book/video at a time so that she is able to focus on an area of content knowledge for a while. 3) Teach her anything that interests her, even if I didn't "study" it until high school (obviously, teach it at a level that is appropriate for her). 4) Expose my children to higher-level vocabulary in context and rarely use slang with them. 5) Find good meaty source books for learning about history, science, art, etc.; formalistic inquiry-based and/or nonsubstantive textbooks will not help her develop much subject knowledge.
Here is a good "money quote" from The Knowledge Deficit:
Breadth of knowledge is the single factor within human control that contributes most to academic achievement and general cognitive competence.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
This morning we got up much earlier than usual so we could go see the hot air balloons launch at Colorado Balloon Classic. It was fun and impressive, but now we have a day of fatigued Mommy and children ahead of us. About an hour ago, I lost my patience with my dd4, who kept pestering me to help her make a boat pop-up. I thought I'd already done what she asked and instead of "seeking to understand", I raised my voice at her and told her to leave me alone. Then dd2 damaged dd4's work in progress, and tears and frustration erupted from both of them. Mother really does set the tone of the home. I realized what I'd done and apologized, explaining I was tired and shouldn't have yelled. With some more tears, dd4 forgave me, and I helped her make a new pop-up boat. I even got into the crafting mood and made a pop-up pumpkin patch for dd2 to play with. Now the two are sharing their pop-ups with each other. Whew. Learning moment for me. Early naps today for all!
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
- Using Your Senses
- A Walk Outdoors
- Planting Bean Seeds
- A Walk to Look for Trees
- Tree Shapes
- Leaf Shapes
- The Needs of Living Things
- Observing Animals
- The Needs of Bean Plants
- Inferring and Comparing the Needs of Living Things
- Planning a Terrarium
- Gathering Material and Planting a Terrarium
- Collecting Animals for a Terrarium
If this book is an example of the breadth and depth I'm expected to cover in kindergarten science with my child, I've worried for nothing. After all, just this afternoon, we talked about platelets clotting in her nose capillaries (she had a bloody nose, probably from picking it) and researched the Kuiper belt on the internet (she had picked up a book about Pluto and was "reading" it to me).
Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
So, how do we get cheap energy? Oil is still fairly cheap now, but google "peak oil" if you want something new to worry about. "Green" forms of energy have yet to become really affordable. Where's my "Mr. Fusion"?
Friday, August 28, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
1) My oldest sister did it successfully, so I've seen a good example of it.
2) My mom was a schoolteacher. She worked for the NEA just after her marriage and was disgusted by the alcohol abuse and promiscuous sex indulged in by her co-workers when they went to conventions. She still has a deep dislike of the NEA and always had books in the house like Why Johnny Can't Read and other such books about the negative aspects of newer school curricula. She encouraged us to read them, and I actually did, bookworm that I was.
3) My mom was an elementary schoolteacher, so she saw the "reading wars" up close and was very frustrated at the "look-say" way of teaching literacy and the general disrespect shown to parents' wishes about when/how their children should be taught to read. She taught us all how to read independently of the schools.
4) My parents were always very interested in education issues. My father once ran for school board. When I was a preschooler, they ran a private school for a year or two. As a result, we had a house full of textbooks and quality books. Much of my childhood reading was out of older textbooks, and I remember using a couple of them to help my youngest brother learn to read back when I was in high school. My skills with younger children have developed quite a bit since those days, so I'm pretty sure I can teach my own children how to read. :)
5) Ed schools and publishers have been turning out many nonsensical, busy-work-filled curricula for decades now, and they've gotten entrenched in the schools. Most annoying, they mock or downplay phonics instruction, which approach appears logical for those unaware of the reasons for the irregularities in written English. I've learned five or so languages now, and one thing I'm convinced of is that reading and writing are obviously based on symbol-sound correlation (i.e. phonics) in most modern languages, including English. Teaching "sight words" and "guessing strategies" is much less effective and even harmful to developing readers. Tutoring a couple of local boys this last school year convinced me that even "balanced literacy" is counterproductive and producing many poor readers. The schools aren't getting a chance to ruin my daughters' reading abilities with their non-evidence-based popular methods. Especially since we're raising them to be bilingual in German and English, and they'll need an ability to read phonetically to figure out all those lovely compound German words!
6) I didn't sacrifice my health, comfort, a second income (potentially substantial, given that I'm an attorney), etc. to be a full-time mother just so my offspring can spend their best waking hours in the company of other immature children and an overworked teacher. I brought them into the world, and I take full responsibility for raising them (well, dh has some responsibility, too). Also, why should the schools get them all day just as they're starting to become good company? (Not that infants aren't wonderful, but they sure lack conversational skills...)
7) Discovery math is largely unrealistic and wastes a lot of time. It took humans millennia to develop modern mathematics. Expecting students to come up with it on their own is unrealistic and leads to frustration. Also, group math projects are overused and not nearly as helpful as educators seem to think. Left to themselves, children often "discover" wrong conclusions, and they remember those wrong conclusions. Exercises with prompt, corrective feedback are essential to becoming proficient in math. Since I graduated in mathematics, I feel strongly that my daughters can excel in math, and I will help them do so.
8) School socialization is negative in more ways than I can list. There's a reason I left high school at 16; it started with me becoming a bullied pariah in 5th grade. I am still dealing with effects of the persecution I received from schoolfellows. A little negative social experience--I'm fine with my children having to deal with that as appropriate for their age and maturity. In fact, I plan to have my children participate in public school on a part-time basis. Have them spend all day in a public school setting? No way. By the time they get to high school, they are awash in rude behavior, low scholastic expectations, immodest clothes, immorality, a ridiculous emphasis on proms and clothes, omnipresent encouragement to have boyfriends/girlfriends, rated-R language, substance abuse, self-destructive behavior, moral relativity, cheating, and racial/class/ability discrimination (I'd like my children to learn to "look upon the heart" rather than just the outward appearance).
9) Children aren't inmates. I'm very grateful that my parents weren't the type who made us go to school all the time, no matter what. If we had a legitimate reason for not wanting to go, they were just as happy to let us not go to school. As a result, we weren't the type to "cut" class. Where's the rebellion in an excused absence, anyway?
10) Healthwise, it doesn't make sense to force little children into mingling with hundreds of other children everyday and high school students into being away from home for over 12 hours a day (dh was often away from home from 5:30 a.m. until after dinnertime when he was in high school). Adults aren't even at work that long!
11) Public schools are not the place anymore, if indeed they ever were, to be fairly exposed to more than one side of a story; there's always a subtext of "this is the right answer for the test" (well, except for some discovery math questions ;) ). For children to be exposed to many facts, even those which aren't politically correct, homeschooling seems to be the best way to go. I want my children to learn to weigh different theories, respect those who have come to different conclusions than they have, and make logical, calm arguments in support of their own political/scientific/social/etc. conclusions.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Here's what I liked about it:
1) Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway are just cute, especially when they have blue hair or orange skin.
Here's what I didn't like about it:
1) Completely over-the-top characters and scenarios
2) Reinforcement of the stupid idea that a) one should spend more time fussing over wedding arrangements than making sure that one is marrying wisely and b) wedding celebrations should cost more than your average house down payment.
3) One of the brides breaks up with her groom, even though most of the foreshadowing of the breakup makes it look as though he's the one dissatisfied with what's going on and we never see him mistreat her. To be consistent, he should have done the breaking up.
I highly recommend this documentary to any pregnant woman. One caveat: be careful who you watch it with because ladies delivering babies aren't exactly focused on modesty.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I admit, I'm still smarting over the blowsy, stained-shirt-wearing woman who accosted me today in the supermarket parking lot and railed at me for letting my younger daughter--a remarkably large and agile child for her age--climb on the grocery cart (I had actually been rather pleased with myself for having been able to keep her safely contained for more than half the shopping trip, energetic, willful toddler that she is) and threatened to call child protection services and the police on me for child endangerment. I'm the type of mother who avoids driving on the freeway, generally drives just below the speed limit, has plastic safety plugs and latches all over her house, and stands worriedly under the aforementioned child as she stretches her climbing abilities (which are advanced) on playground equipment! I really don't appreciate people who don't know my daughter's capabilities threatening to call down police power on me when she misbehaves. What am I supposed to do? Spank her? I strictly limit the use of that disciplinary measure since it's too easy to use counterproductively. Leave her in the car or at home alone? Not remotely an option. Or just not take her shopping...easier said than done if you've ever tried to buy a family's supply of groceries at those self-check stations which are often the only open lanes in the morning.... Now I understand why my older sister just had her groceries delivered for a while. :P
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
But, here's my big "however" about this book. Mr. Gatto, while pointing out the ineffectiveness of many schools to actually educate, is on a crusade against standardized testing. Why? Doesn't he realize that standardized testing is the only way for those not personally involved with a school to find out to what degree it is successfully producing students who can read and do basic math? We can't just trust that schools are seeing to instruction in these basic skills. (And we just can't do away with all schools, either.) As Mr. Gatto points out on page 197 when discussing the lack of sufficient--despite being legally-mandated--physical exercise in New York City schools,
96 percent of all schools in New York City break the law with impunity in a matter threatening the health of the students. What makes it even more ominous is that school officials are known far and wide for lacking independent judgment and courage in the face of bureaucratic superiors; but something in this particular matter must give them confidence that they won't be held personally liable.I am not against standardized tests per se, and I have no inclination to take part in a "Bartleby Project" campaign against them (I never liked Melville's fictional scrivener; he seemed an empty, purposeless man unworthy of emulation). Standardized tests serve an important function: holding schools accountable for academic instruction. If schools can get away with insufficient P.E. time, then they are certainly capable of not doing any effective academic teaching where no way exists to catch them being delinquent in that basic duty.
You must face the fact that an outlaw ethic runs throughout institutional schooling. It's well-hidden inside ugly buildings, masked by dull people, mindless drills, and the boring nature of almost everything associated with schools, but make no mistake--under orders from somewhere, this institution is perfectly capable of lying about life-and-death matters, so how much more readily about standardized testing?
For the record, I am against more than one or two days per year being spent taking or even preparing overtly for standardized tests. They should be written well in order to accurately measure proficiency in reading and math and science comprehension, proficiency which should already be being developed by the teachers and curriculum throughout the year. Teachers should have no need to "teach to the test" because the test should be measuring that which they should have been teaching all along.
While I learned much from Weapons of Mass Instruction, I am not enamored of this book in large part because of the author's unwillingness to recognize any value in a moderate amount of standardized testing. I have no philosophical objection to my children being tested as Colorado law requires (first in 3rd grade, then every second year thereafter). I expect the exams to be easy for my children because I will have educated them far above the standard, which is actually quite a low level these days. Any shortcomings they might have in their exam scores, I will take responsibility for and work to remedy, as becomes an adult who has taken charge of a child's education.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
So, the moral is, if you ever are granted a wish and you have a hard time choosing between fame and money, choose the money if you plan to travel internationally. :)
Friday, August 14, 2009
To not make a fool of one's self in a pageant, er, I mean scholarship competition, one must look the part (just watch Miss Congeniality for proof of this). So I went to a nail salon and got long acrylic nails. Wow! I felt so glamorous! Until I tried to wash my hair and realized that I was scratching my scalp and loosening my expensive new nails in my thick hair. When I went to work, I realized that I had to hold my hands differently to use my computer keyboard. All of the sudden, I became much less able to use my fingertips. I had traded in useful fingertips for nails that felt unnatural and required "fills" every week or two. Ugh. After one or two fills, I got rid of my long nails, and I've never worn fake nails since.
This morning, I had reason to be very grateful for my short fingernails. My two-year-old daughter was with me on my bed, and she lost her balance and fell into me. My finger and fingernail, what little there is of it, were pressed into her left eye socket as her head fell onto my hand. She cried for a few moments, but no lasting harm was done. Imagine what could have happened to her if I had long, thick fingernails! No, such vanities are not for me and certainly not worth an increased risk of injuring my still-awkward little ones.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Seriously, how absurd! So, we're about to start being some of those counter-culture homeschoolers. Our dd will still spend most of her day with me, and she'll learn how to read (for real, not just memorizing 100 words) by Christmas by working with me for just a few minutes a day. She's been in a linguistically-rich home all her life, and she can already sound out simple CVC words. (Did I mention recently how much I love the starfall.com website?) We recently started doing one page a day (we do go back and re-read the little stories from previous days because she likes the pictures and accompanying text) from Reading With Phonics* by Julie Hay and Charles Wingo. I can tell she is ready to steadily and easily progress through the entire book as long as I don't push her too fast and burn out her interest. Hooray for great reading instruction books and more time with dd, who is very dear to me indeed.
*Note: this Lippincott book is old and has some humorously un-P.C. things in it. For example, yesterday's reading ended with the sentence "Toy guns are fun." (Well, they are, aren't they?)
Monday, August 3, 2009
I looked on Amazon.com and was surprised to see that there's a batch of similar books in the works: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, Darcy's Hunger: A Vampire Retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Bites Back. Scary!
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
The last of these I find especially interesting and sad--is academia so politicized that he has to ignore the implications of his own findings that basics are essential? No one I've read on "back-to-basics" type blogs is disputing that by the time students graduate from high school, they should be capable of critical thinking and all those great "21st century skills" (which I think we needed 10 years ago, too...); they're instead reacting to seeing children who have been "educated" with methods that result in them not even being able to read and calculate proficiently. If you can't automatically come up with 64 / 8, good luck understanding algebra concepts! And if you can't read unfamiliar words, just try to analyze the meaning of the paragraph that contains them! "Basics" are essential building blocks to higher-level skills, and there shouldn't be anything embarrassing or distasteful to Willingham about admitting that pedagogical methods should get the basics covered before attempting to teach higher-level skills. After all, unless I didn't understand him, it's exactly what he was saying in his book.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
The parts of the book I found most useful were about "working memory"(the average human brain can only consciously deal with a limited number of facts at a time, so it's better to "chunk" the information pieces together or have practiced recall of the information pieces to the point where they are automatically available to the working memory as needed), intelligence is malleable (so praise kids for their effort, not for "being smart"), lessons should be planned so that the students will think about what you actually want them to remember instead of the nifty attention-grabber that doesn't have any important meaning, and students should be given tasks that are just the right level of do-able challenge for them (too little challenge, and they're bored; too much, and they'll give up).
Besides the above, there is much interesting and helpful information in Willingham's book. I recommend this important book about how humans think and learn to anyone who is teaching or raising children.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
This pregnancy, I have been a stay-at-home mom with many opportunities to walk and hike. I'm in control of my diet, too. Thanks to very unpleasant "morning sickness" and my lifestyle changes, I only gained about 10 lbs. by 23 weeks of pregnancy. Because I began pregnancy overweight, this is good news! I'm very grateful for our double stroller and walkable streets.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.Isn't that a wonderful promise? God will give anyone wisdom liberally who asks for it sincerely.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Having seen this on Panay is one of the reasons why I never want the U.S. government to become the major health provider in this country.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
However, I'm really worried about all the headlines his death is creating at a time when our Congress and President are set to destroy our economy for years to come. What a lame distraction when energy costs are about to be taxed in the USA as never before!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
A couple of weeks ago, I got called to do a survey. I answered all their questions except for the final one about credit card usage (like I would tell a stranger that!). I generally do surveys because I once worked as a telephone interviewer and I sympathize with the difficulties involved in such a job.At the end of this supposed survey, they said that my name was being entered into a drawing. I ignored that because I didn't do the survey for any other reason than to help out the person on the other end of the line.
A few days ago, I got a call saying I had won $500 and a free vacation in the drawing associated with the survey. They said they were also going to ask me to participate in some market research to help them with a product of theirs that was in development. That appealed to my scientific curiosity, so I agreed. Then they said they needed to make an appointment to come by and deliver the gift certificates. I agreed, but only for a time when my husband would be at home, too. I then checked out the named product (a home air cleaning system named Blue Max) with Google, but didn't find any information about it, consistent with its being a product in development.
Imagine our surprise when the delivery man turned out to be a vacuum salesman, lugging a well-past-development-stage vacuum cleaner made by Silver King. We tried to be polite and informed him that our present vacuum cleaner was adequate for our needs and that we were not in the market for a new vacuum cleaner. However, the salesman just went on and on with his presentation, even though we kept telling him that we were fine with our home's present level of dust. He yelled at our children when they got in the way of his demonstration. Finally, he gave up and said that the vacuum cleaner was only for people who were interested in having a healthy, clean home. Then he packed up his bulky vacuum cleaner in silence and left his dirty demonstration filters on our floor. He gave us the promised certificates, but they had so many conditions and extra fees attached to their use that they were worthless to us and we threw them away.
Does that kind of bait-and-switch marketing actually work for Silver King? We found it profoundly dishonest and disrespectful, and it caused us to feel so negatively about the company that you couldn't give us one of their vacuum cleaners now.