Sunday, October 25, 2009

Brain-Based Learning: Introduction

My next educational theory in application (to my children) is brain based learning.

Funderstanding (a really neat website) defines brain-based learning:

This learning theory is based on the structure and function of the brain. As long as the brain is not prohibited from fulfilling its normal processes, learning will occur.

The key is that the brain isn't prohibited from fulfilling normal processes. Normal processes include breathing, sleeping, having adequate nutrition, and having general health. (How hard is it to think about school if you have a fever or are vomiting?) 

In my experience, this is the newest of all theories. I did not study it as an undergrad (I graduated in 2001) but did as a grad student (I graduated in 2008). It is so simple and true. 

I think that the cliche "an apple a day" and "you are what you eat" apply to this theory. When students eat junk for breakfast and then heavy, fried starches for lunch, they struggle to think properly. Constipated and thirsty students can't think about math equations or verbals. Sick children without access to health care will struggle. As young children learn so much, so quickly, this theory is why I advocate breastfeeding.

So... this is the start of brain-based learning. As I continue my SAHM life, I will apply brain-based learning to my children (just like I used to do with my students).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This Sickness

Everybody has this nastiness that the news warned the public about months ago. Ty became sick last Thursday and since this is Wednesday, we have to be done with this.

I am ready for health to return, to be able to leave the house, to stop washing bedding and my raw hands. This sickness though, has made another sickness surface, again. 

Ty always has bad ear infections and was taking medicine that made him sicker, so I called the doctor's office that he went to on Monday. I called and a receptionist told me the office didn't open until 9. At 9:04 I called. The last time I looked at the clock, it was 9:21. I'm still on hold, waiting, and thinking.

This health care debate/reform/debacle is really hitting me. Here's why: when I decided to stay home, my husband got insurance. This insurance is fine, but we had to switch doctors and hospitals. As a creature of habit, I'm suffering. 

When I get a nurse, she asks who my son's pediatrician is. I tell the long story of switching and that we haven't found one yet.

Here's the thing: I don't want to find a new one. I want the doctor who came into my hospital room after both babies were born, smiling, telling me they are healthy and great. I want the one who patted my arm and told me that she would figure out a diet that wouldn't make my son sick so I could continue breastfeeding. I want the one who laughed when she saw my daughter "jabber" at 3 months old. I want this one and not a new one. I want the doctor who puts me at ease, knows me, knows my children, and who hung the moon.

Sure, there are other fabulous pediatricians and I need to practice this whole "change" concept. My largest concern is that I am forced to switch to a different doctor who does not know my children's (albeit short) medical histories. This 'sickness' isn't just in Ty's ears, but everywhere.

Monday, October 19, 2009

SAHM Triumph: Empty Laundry Basekts

When I worked, laundry was more than a never ending cycle. It was this mess that constantly hung around, that got in my way, that depressed me, that brought me to a nasty feeling of unbalance. I have five laundry baskets. One is green, and that is the baby's basket because I wash baby laundry in Dreft for the first year. The other four baskets are normally heaped with clean clothes. I can wash laundry and I can dry it too, no problem. Putting it away? Nah. I just dug through until I found matching socks or socks that no one could tell from a difference didn't match. When I became a SAHM, one goal and constant present on my to do list dealt with eliminating heaps of laundry and all its negative connotations.

Like most ideas, that one kept falling behind. True, laundry at my house improved. Husband and I fought over it less, which must mean more of landed where it belongs. It still wasn't folded. At first, I couldn't lift it from the cesarean incision. Then I went back to work. Then I wok up Za while I piddled around in drawers and closets. Then I decided I would always have an excuse and suck it up and do the damn laundry.

So I did. Last week for the first time. It was terrific and I didn't lie to myself and say, "I'll match those socks later" or "I'll hang the shirts up after I clean the closet." (Who cleans a closet? I'm in my closet about 2 minutes of everyday and then I never think about it again). 

Yep, I was pretty happy with myself. I even looked for the camera but couldn't locate it. I forgot all about my thrill and moved on to other business when, tada, the next weekend! AND I DID IT AGAIN. I folded all the laundry. All of it. I didn't hide it, lie to myself, or keep the hamper full. I washed it, dried it, and folded it. It is a huge SAHM triumph and I am proud of me!

As a side note, I finished the Eight Intelligence Series. Any suggestions for what to do next? Brain based learning? Bloom's Taxonomy? Critical Thinking? Cooperative Learning? The possibilities are pretty endless. What would you like to see?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gardner's Eight Intelligences: Logical-Mathematical

This is an eight-part series covering Gardner's eight multiple intelligences and applying the theory with my children in every day life.

Sigh. Double sigh. This is my final eight intelligence blog. Also, this is my most troublesome intelligence personally. I hope I don't pass that onto my children...

Logical-Mathematical intelligence centers around, well, counting. Thomas Edison or other great scientists are mentioned when teachers discuss this intelligence.  Gerald Grow, Ph.D.
has the following to say about this intelligence:

Thanks to Piaget, the logical-mathematical intelligence is the most securely documented of the intelligences. This intelligence derives from the handling of objects, grows into the ability to think concretely about those objects, then develops into the ability to think formally of relations without objects.

When stated so, I become depressed. This intelligence so lacks within me, yet seems so simple. It has been a constant life struggle. I always feel compassion for my students who pay attention, try, study--and still can't find the direct object. I can't find X, so I empathize with them.

Ty is learning to count. Right now, he just overcame saying "1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 7, 8, 9, 10." He likes to repeat for emphasis the last part. We counted cars (he loves cars) and that helped. We've moved onto 'adding' which is really him counting his noodles and me dropping a few more onto his plate and him continuing to count. This intelligence is probably just forming in him right now. He's fine, I'm sure. This intelligence makes me jumpy, though. (I don't wonder why I saved it for last in my writing). 

It is a silly notion that parents don't "rub off" or affect or shape their children. (I'm big into nurture, not nature). Parents do influence their children's intelligences. I must not overly complain about math to my children. I don't want this area to be a "boys are good at math and girls are bad." My husband was fabulous at math classes and I never was. We can't change math's part in our lives, but we can give a united and supportive front when working with this intelligence.

Photo Credit

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Guest Blogger

Hello Followers! I guest blogged for a great writer I met through Twitter. (You can follow me @switchclassroom).

Cortney's website is: I was the guest writer for Ask the Teacher Tuesday. (She is @Cortney_plus2 . She tweets fun stuff).

Naturally, I wrote about organization. That is my favorite topic dealing with organization. I am working on an organization website and this is the sort of information I plan to cover.

My guest blogging post is here! Yay!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gardner's Eight Intelligences: Bodily-Kinesthetic

This is an eight-part series covering Gardner's eight multiple intelligences and applying the theory with my children in every day life. This is my sevent of eight posts in the Eight Intelligences Series. 

This intelligence is easy to figure out from the name: it concerns the body. Students with this intelligence learn when they carry out the physical activity. Yes, these students are good at PE, but they also apply this intelligence to other areas. Chemistry, physics, geology, geography, band, and drama are subjects these students enjoy. They enjoy being part of a collaboration; it is easier for their minds to build transitions and connections when they can recall that doing of an activity or learning.

Ty just assaulted my back with a complete slam of his body. (I did not write that to impact my writing; he really did). As a two year old, he experiments and learns through his body all day. He is learning about his body--balance, jumping--but I think this intelligence is way beyond that. 

When I sit in class listening to a professor's yammering, I take notes. My brain hears the message and like a wire connected to my hand, I write it all down. I know you aren't supposed to mimeograph the entire message, but that is how I learn. Later, reviewing my notes, they are minus a few points and need clarification. Because I wrote almost the entire lecture, I just add. I can do this because I remember what was said. I easily take 6-8 pages of notes in a 50 minute class period.


I would classify this as bodily-kinesthetic and others might categorize it under linguistic (such as I like to see letters) or intrapersonal (such as I know what helps me in class). It might be a bit of both.

As I continue this eight-part series, I wonder why some possess so clearly a strong intelligence and others' intelligences run together. Ty's intelligences seem to be a collage. He runs into me because he is curious and wants to learn what will happen. Will he get in trouble? Will it hurt? Will he bounce? Why does mom react one way and dad another? (He just jumped on his dad). Little kids (Ty is now 2.9) learn through their bodies--chewing, doing, touching. 

Typically, not many kids end up with a strong bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. Is this because adults frequently discourage such behavior? No jumping, wrestling, licking, tasting, dumping, messing, mixing, or experimenting. I do this, even though I guilt myself because I normally quit the fight. Maybe we should all quit, for the betterment of kids. If we agree that well-rounded children turn into resilient adults, we might consider that such people have  heightened awareness of their intelligences, and learn a little bit from each one. Parents and teachers might stifle the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence at a young age, which not only disadvantages the future student, but also hurts his other intelligences.

Writing, jumping, swimming - how does your child learn through his bodily-kinesthetic intelligence? 

Photo Credit

Friday, October 2, 2009

Gardner's Eight Intelligences: Spatial

This is an eight-part series covering Gardner's eight multiple intelligences and applying the theory with my children in every day life.

This is my sixth of eight posts in the Eight Intelligences Series.

Spatial intelligence is "picture smart." They are also called visual learners. Basically, if a spatial learner is assembling a bookshelf, she would look at the pictures to figure out the steps. (An interpersonal learner would ask someone for help, an intrapersonal learner would think about and figure it out herself, a linguistic learner would read the directions). Spatial learners use pictures, television, movies, and posters to learn. Unfortunately, spatial learners are normally associated with special education. As students continue in school, they draw less and are taught less by a variety of means. This is controversial, as many educators believe that the farther students continue in school, the more they should be trained and accustomed to life for college or a career. (Can you work with taxes' paperwork or research with predominately pictures?) As few professors or employees teach through drawings or pictures, the written and spoken word becomes dominant in the classroom. I have torn feelings about this, which runs into many other areas of education. Read: another blog, another time.

Ty and Za love pictures. I hang pictures in their playroom and painted shapes on the walls during a rainy day. They always talk about the shapes on the wall and like them. (Za doesn't talk about them, but she does slap at them). 

When we read books, Za focuses on the pictures. Ty, now 2.8, looks at the pictures and guesses at the words. The pictures are supplemental to his linguistic skills. I encourage him to draw, but he doesn't really care to do so. He enjoys combing through magazines, looking at pictures. We cut out pictures he likes and put them on his playroom wall with a label.

*I wonder*: Should spatial intelligence be supplemental to another intelligence? Is it meant to be the sole intelligence? Are spatial learners at a disadvantage the majority of the time? Do most of us start out as spatial learners and then adapt to other, more common intelligences?

Drawing, of course, is in many professions: architecture, graphic design, and on and on. The problem that educators see is so many other studies must go into these professions. It is problematic if students learn this way only (or heavily this way), instead of this way in addition to another?