Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolution Time

I typically do not make a new year's resolution for two very good reasons. One, they are a bit cliche and I don't like being ordinary. Two, I stink at keeping them. When I was young, I had one to wear my retainer at night like I was already supposed to do. I kept that resolution for quite some time, but that is the only one I remember keeping. I am going to make one this year, and expect people to hold me to it.



For 2011, my resolution is to continue with Switching Classrooms. My work at Justmeans (which is where I primarily write now) is great and I enjoy working there. When I began Switching Classrooms, it was to reach parents and explain what happens in the education world. I only dreamed of working for a news organization with a national audience. At Justmeans I feel like I am reaching a wider audience than on my personal blog. That might be true, but I discuss different education topics in different tones for different audiences at my two blogs. This little blog has nagged at me from afar, almost calling me to continue writing it. I am going to try and answer that call.

Happy New Year, Blog Readers. I'll see you soon. :)


Photo Credit: Flickr

Monday, October 4, 2010

Finacial Friday: Cloth Napkins, Part II


Don't fear... I have not lost it. I know today is Monday, but we'll go ahead and do a Financial Friday update. In August, I wrote about using cloth napkins. A few weeks later, I saw a loyal reader who told me she and her family were using this idea! I didn't give them the idea, but we both expressed over concern for the environment. A few weeks after that meeting, I got this email from her:
 
We went to 3rd Sunday Market........my BARGAIN of the day was a box w/ 2 pillowcases & cloth napkins....$10 for the box. Came home & counted & got 30 cloth napkins! Also picked up some solid round bracelets for $3. for napking ring holders.... 
 
Awesome find, Financial Friday Mom. Great bargain.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Justmeans Update


Hello Friends!
For those of you who have not heard, I recently began writing for Justmeans. This news source highlights people, companies, and trends that do business, better. I am a writer in the education channel.
Already, I am busy researching and covering several topics:

These issues and so many more are what affect parents and students. I would love input on what parents, who are the foundation for successful students, want me to research and write. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks so much for all your support and time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Finacial Friday: Cloth Napkins


The easiest and perhaps best step I have taken to cut down costs now that I stay at home is to stop buying paper towels. Paper towels are expensive, and we spent probably $10 a month on them, even with coupons.

When I decided to switch to cloth napkins, I began using my wedding (nice) gifts. After spaghetti sauce and mushed who-knows-what threatened to ruin them, I looked at garage sales. So far, I have found pink butterfly ones, red checked ones, green cotton, and green flowers. The best part? They are dirt cheap at garage sales, and normally in great shape. The most I have ever paid for a set of four is $2-the cost of a roll of paper towels.

Also, cloth napkins are better for the environment. Whatever is dirty, I toss into the washing machine with another load-no special washes for them. Lastly, my goofy friends think I'm some kind of domestic goddess for using these! They are so impressed that I use pretty, cloth napkins. Too funny; if they only knew I was cheap!

Photo Credit: Flickr

Monday, August 2, 2010

Education Alert

I have struggled to keep up with my blog, because I began writing for Justmeans. Justmeans is an organization that believes in doing business, better. Justmeans searches for businesses that work toward a sustainable world.

Justmeans just began a new channel, education, which is where I write. I am blogging about education advances (and flaws). When I began writing at Switching Classrooms, I dreamed of writing for a national source, but did not imagine it would happen so soon. I am thrilled to have my own blog at Justmeans-and the pay is fine, too. :)

I will not post my blog postings from Justmeans here, but you can follow me on facebook or Justmeans.

I plan to still write here, so keep checking back. It may just be sporadic now. Thanks to all my readers who have believed in my dream of making education applicable to everyone, and hopefully, interesting as well.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Educational Theory of the Week: Evaluation

Educational Theory of the Week covers different theories that teachers use and impact our children. They can easily be applied outside of a classroom setting.

And, here it is... the final tier of Bloom's Taxonomy.

Evaluation is assessing and making decisions. As adults, we evaluate every day. Our children do it too!

Questions

Evaluation is easy to incorporate and like other parts, you probably already do.

Did he (insert character's name) do the right thing at the end of the story? Why?
Tell me why you think you should have five more minutes of playtime.
Explain what your favorite colors are, in order of your preference. 
What grade would you give this paper? Why?

Little kids so enjoy evaluating and they are very willing to do so. It helps to guide them to logical and strong support, so that continues as they grow.

Adults do it--like at the grocery store. I like this apple, but this one costs more, this one has more nutrients, and on and on. 



Application to high school students

My former curriculum called for resume and cover letter writing. Those tasks are complex, primarily because they involve so much evaluation. Where does the objective fit best? Should I include this information, or am I being too repetitive? What does this potential employer want to see?

Most importantly, resume and cover letter writing, while using evaluation, activate other parts of Bloom's Taxonomy because it all builds on each other.

Audience's Turn

What did you like about Bloom's Taxonomy? Do you see how it is used? Do you think it is bunk?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Finacial Friday: Cleaning Cabinets

Financial Friday covers a few tricks I have found as a SAHM for cutting down on bills since my family is down an income.


When I moved into my home, I painstakingly arranged the cabinets. In the kitchen, I labeled bags and containers. Dishes were stacked according to size. I regularly checked the "plastics" drawer for cracks and containers without lids. The bathroom was tidy as well. No medicine was expired and I even recycled shoe boxes to separate items.

Not my kitchen, but look at that organization!


It turns out that little kids love to dump out shoe boxes. My cabinets are in disarray (read: the kids find a way into them and my hubby and I hide all the medicine up high and the kids dump everything else out and no one can find anything). The result? We buy stuff we don't need, or we waste money.  I set out to fix this--and found out that I have items I really need.

Bathroom

In the bathroom, the medicine has to stay up high. It looks silly, but my kids find a way into those "child protective" locks. They really do. I did throw out expired medicine, though.

I found tons of useful items: sample shampoos, conditioners, and lotions. Once I piled the dumped bandages together, I realized I will never have to buy any again, or at least this summer. I have enough breast pads for three more children. I have plenty of "female supplies" as well.

Kitchen

In the kitchen, I did not find anything great, but I did get rid of a few items. This past Christmas, I switched to cast iron skillets, so it only made sense to get rid of my yucky chemical-laden old ones. I don't know why I kept them, but they sure hogged space.

I found tea bags, cocoa mixes, and small batches of pasta.

Under the kitchen sink, I discovered unused scrubbing pads and trashcan liners. I believe the trashcan liners were unused because they are an uncommon size, but I will use them for cleaning in the garage or sorting kids' clothes.

Overall, I found tons of usable products and cleared out unusable junk. I don't know how long it will last, but my cabinets are pretty clean. I feel good, and I know I saved some money from not buying doubles.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

SAHM Triumph: Organizing

Yesterday Ty wanted to paint. He painted his pictures, along with the table and chair and a bit of himself. Then his sister wanted to paint, so I set Za up. She climbed on the table and covered herself in paint.

They were really cute and messy. This is a triumph because I stayed calm. Then, while they finished their artwork, I filled the baby pool and plunked their messy butts in it.



Organizing my children's play activities around their messiness and my desire for cleanliness is my SAHM Triumph of the day.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wonder Why Sunday: Dependent Learners

I'm rambling today--lots of questions pouring out faster than I can type them. Feel free to comment and my readers and I can examine this together. 

Last week, I wrote about high school students transitioning to college students. I was inspired by Brian Harke's article, and this blog is in response to his latest post, High School to College Transition, Part Two: Academic Expectations. (It is a solid article with nice ideas, for all parents of future college students).

I'm not going to reiterate the entire post, or analyze its entirety either. One part stood out to me, and I kept rereading it. Right away, Dr. Harke discusses the manner in which freshman enter college. He says:

High schools often reinforce these expectations [that college will be like high school] by unwittingly allowing students to enter college as dependent learners rather than independent learners. I say this not to place blame, but to recognize that up to this point most students have had teams of people supporting them, keeping track of their academic progress and looking out for their best interests. Since this has been their norm for 12 years, new college students are often at a loss when faced with the reality that it is up to them to manage their academic independence.

I liked that he said "I say this not to place blame" because blaming others for a large problem diverts attention from actually solving the problem. I agree with Dr. Harke. College, trade school, or a job requires people be independent learners. Can you imagine showing up to work and the boss saying, "Did you read the manual? Nope? No time? OK, I'll give you some time today." That does not happen, and I wonder why it does in high school.

I can't imagine that, and I know that never happened to me as an undergraduate, and my goodness, never as a graduate student. It probably shouldn't happen in high school either, especially if teachers are training students for a big world they will enter in four years or less. High school teachers do that, though. I've done that. I have enabled students to stay dependent learners instead of growing as independent learners. Why?

When I entered teaching, I knew not to do that. I just finished college where research and professors told us to give students an assignment or a consequence, and follow through. I started my teaching career with the idea to follow through and stay consistent. And then a few things happened.

Parents, guidance counselors, other teachers, and administrators called me. They came to visit. They were concerned about grades. Many times, parents asked me: when did I plan to offer extra credit? remediation? opportunities to turn in late work? drop lower scores from earlier in the semester? print off my notes because a student "lost" his? print off missing homework? None of my college professors or research studies told me what to when I encountered this. I thought those suggestions were terrible, but I did them (some of them, not all of them).

You can only imagine why I did them, something that probably doesn't need to be written, but it was pressure from everyone. Over years of teaching, I saw this happen countless times: coworkers and community pushed teachers into breaking their rules. It really does create a stream of dependent learners--those who think others are responsible for their education, that they should rely on others to play the active role, to care the most. Some teachers don't give notes clearly enough, some won't accept late work. Teachers won't plan their tests with other teachers so students don't have too many in one day. All of these concerns? What is a teacher to do about them? They come at teachers everyday. Is this what parents want? Some of them do, and when the others hear what some are getting, well, they want it too.

Which leads me to this very large question: Are schools what parents and society want them to be, just like they are? To be cynical, I could say that fried foods made with white flour and nothing fresh is part of our school system. I could also look at kids sleeping in classes and being passed from one grade level to the next when they should repeat. Is it full of 'A papers' that should be rewrites, or 'Ds'? Going back to the theme of dependent learners, are parents and society creating dependent learners? Is this what they asked for, what they paid for, and what they got?

From a trustful, and perhaps inexperienced view, walking through a high school's hall, you would expect see teachers grading papers, bent over students' desks, or researching an original lesson plan. Students would be working, behaving, trying, attentive, and awake. This is probably what everyone wants and sure, this image happens sometimes.

Which image happens more, the first or second? (How many dependent learners go to college? How many independent? Those answers should provide more clues as to the realistic image).

It is upsetting, especially because that first image is never what I had in my mind when I started teaching, and it probably isn't what other teachers envisioned, or even society and parents. It is what happens though, and it molds these dependent learners Dr. Harke mentions.What are we parents and members of society going to do? What do you want to do?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wonder Why Wednesday: Chutes and Ladders

Ty, my three-year old, asked to play "Chutes and Ladders" with me today. We got the game, sat down to play, and reviewed the rules.

I find innumerable teaching moments when we play board games:

1.  We review rules, which works his memory.

2. We have to follow rules, a life skill.

3. We take turns and use niceties as we play.

4. It takes patience, because these preschool games take quite a bit of time.

5. We finish what we start.

So, number 5 did not really happen today, and as usual, I am wondering if I did the right thing.

Ty wanted to disregard the spinning-number part of the game. He wanted to climb ladders and go down chutes. I told him that was fine, but then we were not playing and he could just mess around with the board. This resulted in a screaming crying fit. I stood my ground, but should I have modified the rules, just once?

I wonder, because he is only three. He is small. He wanted to have fun. Is one game of Chutes and Ladders that impressionable for the rest of his life?

I wonder, because what I do matters. I want him to understand rules and know that consistently his father and I enforce them. I want him to know we don't cheat (even though that probably wasn't his intention).

I want him to be happy and know that I love him. I want him to be prepared for life, for me to give him as best a handbook as I can. I just always wonder if I do.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wonder Why Wednesday: High School to College

Time and time again as a high school teacher, I have students return to see me, often for lunch or a quick Facebook chat. After talking for a bit, many casually mention they have left college. I always wonder why.

I believe there are many paths to success. Sometimes I send off students to college shaking my head, because I know he or she does not have the drive, nor the academic skills to stay there. Other times, I do wonder if some of my college dropouts were really gems, just covered in soot, that nobody took the time to dust.

How do we Americans have this problem of college freshman performing so poorly that they leave? Does society expect too many people to attend college? Is college for everyone? Do parents send kids to college with little help?

I read "High School to College Transition, Part I: The Freshman Myth" yesterday. This article built off these questions I always wonder. In it, Brian Harke wrote for the Huffington Post:

...college is one of the biggest transitions a person will make. Therefore, it only makes sense to focus more attention on high school to college transition.

I agree. Harke mentioned several other ways this should happen, such as counselors helping students (at the high school level) and colleges helping at (of course) the college level. Most importantly, he wrote about healthy dialogues that parents should have with their children. As a high school teacher, I see so many parents that think their influence with their teenagers is nil. It isn't, and discussing college in a realistic way will shape students' views and attitudes upon arrival on campus. After all, as Harke so truthfully stated about college:

The students have already arrived with ideas and perceptions about college that are often more romanticized notions than accurate reflections of college life - ideas created by admissions brochures, a campus visit, stereotypes in the media and stories from family or friends. This leaves many new students struggling to adjust to their new environment.

I "went away" to college my junior year. I remember sitting in my dorm room, wondering what to do. I had new towels, a clean room, and a loaded laundry card. I ate some Ramen noodles because I knew that people in college "survived on those" -- whatever that meant. I don't even think I was hungry. I simply did not know what to do. I wonder how many of my students feel that way. I was lucky, figured it out, and graduated. I took plenty of wrong turns and could have quit or "taken a semester off" as so many of my former students word it. When a student tells me of leaving college, I always return to that feeling of eating Ramen noodles, even though I wasn't hungry.

Harke promises to continue writing about the transition from high school to college, and we probably should too. So... what were your expectations when you went to college? How will you help your child make realistic goals and expectations for college? Do you already talk to your child about college? What is a good age to start? What do you talk about? Anything else I left out?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Almost Done Feeling Sorry For Myself

I really am. I can do this whole SAHM gig. I will find time to do writing and blogging, because I love it. I miss all my bloggy and twitter peeps. I am going to get going again, and this my pep talk.

I've wallowed enough. I will ignore the older person who told me over the weekend that I was "a lady of leisure" because I didn't work everyday. Completely dismiss her.

I will balance, I will: I teach two hours in the morning? I have grocery shopping to do? Carpet to vacuum? A husband to watch the telly with? Laundry? Dishwasher? Kitchen floor? Toilets? Kids to read to? posh, posh [insert hand wave above my head]

I will blog as well, because it is important to me.

I will also exercise more, because that is important to me as well.

Shucks, I might get this SAHM concept yet. I will and I will return. This is all just part of the journey.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Getting "It"

And, if you can tell by my lack of posts, I'm struggling again with this SAHM gig. I don't know how to balance the kids wanting food every two seconds, Ty mad because I'm holding Za, writing, blogging, doing laundry, doing dishes, scrubbing floors, showering, exercising, changing diapers, helping go potty, reading, kissing, shopping, and such.

I wonder if I'll ever get it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sleep

I wonder when I get to sleep.
Ever.
Again.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Educational Theory of the Week: Synthesis

Educational Theory of the Week covers different theories that teachers use and impact our children. They can easily be applied outside of a classroom setting.  

Last week in Bloom's Taxonomy, we looked at analysis. This week is synthesis, or taking ideas or objects and putting them together. It of course is building on the other parts of Bloom's Taxonomy. A child must have knowledge of the objects, understand (comprehension) the parts of the objects, be able to apply different uses of the objects, and then analyze them objects. (Phew. It takes longer for me to write that out than for children to do it).


Questions

You can ask your child several questions when working with synthesis from Bloom's Taxonomy.

Can you put these blocks together?
How would you put these train tracks together? 
What plan should we have for going to the park? 
Imagine what would happen in the story next.

With older children, they would use synthesis when they write research papers or speeches. They would take their ideas and research and combine them into one object--their paper or speech. Little kids synthesize in different ways, such as building or mixing paint colors.

Application to Ty, age 3

Ty builds and builds. When his little feet plant on the floor each morning, he is building with his blocks.

He's become better as he ages. His towers once fell, bridges collapsed, train tracks didn't go anywhere, it was frustrating. No longer!

When building towers, bridges, and tracks, a little boy must know (knowledge) his materials. (Here is the run-down using the taxonomy!)

* After he knows his supplies, he can predict/explain (comprehension) what will happen, like that small blocks can't be on the bottom. * He constructs (application) his buildings by taking all of these ideas into account. * He analyzes where more blocks need to be so the individual pieces don't fall. * Finally, he creates (synthesis) the entire project, like putting the bridge over the tracks and the trees and flowers around the skyscraper.

Reflection

Synthesis is a huge part of everyday life. It is often expected (as a higher order process it is highly desired in the educational and work fields). How do we make sure our children can reach it?

When we build, Ty and I discuss what worked, and what we could do better. The picture at the top of this is Ty deciding he wanted to arrange his buidling's color with a rainbow pattern.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Finacial Friday: Odd and End Savings

Financial Friday covers a few tricks I have found as a SAHM for cutting down on bills since my family is down an income. 
 
I promised my husband that when I started staying home, I would save money in mysterious ways. (I also promised him that he could be included in a blog, so here you go sweetie). I tried many ways to save money and while some have worked, others not so much. Here are a few of my assignments, and in true teacher style, their grades:

Ironing shirts. (D) My husband takes his work shirts to the dry cleaner to be washed and ironed. That is about $2 a shirt. (Thought process: That is how much a can of starch costs! I can do that!) So, I washed his shirts and set out to iron them. I started off ok, but never finished the first set of shirts. I loathe ironing and my husband thinks I do a messy job, which might be true. Also, I can't iron when the kids are awake. They want to be around me and when they hang out around the ironing board, I am nervous because of the hot iron. It didn't work out and he takes them back to the cleaners. Every once in awhile when the kids are taking long naps, I wash and iron a few shirts. A few.

Cooking from scratch. (B) Staying home with fewer resources (money to buy whatever I want at the store and a lack of time to get to the grocery store) has made me a better cook. I also need to cook FAST sometimes because small stomachs empty quickly. This has left me with odds and ends at home, crying kids, and nothing but my imagination. This works most of the time and I have created dishes I didn't think I had it in me to make. A few failures: homemade bread, spinach noodles, and guacamole made from peas (I read it somewhere). It is sad to throw out the failures, but they are pretty inedible. Most of the time, we do save money from cooking at home, from scratch. 

Buying in bulk. (B+) I never knew this before, but my husband taught me: grocery stores have the price broken down, like per ounce, on their products. When you look at a big box of cereal compared to a small box, the big box probably costs less per ounce than the small box, even though the big box costs more overall. If you buy in bulk, you often save money, which I knew but just didn't know how or why. Because I have more time as a SAHM, I buy in bulk and divide the food between small containers. This also makes traveling pretty easy, as I can grab a container of graham crackers as we run out the door. The only problem I had with this was a few items went bad, so be selective about what you buy in bulk. I bought peaches and divided and froze them, but defrosted they were brown and the kids wouldn't eat them.

Making cards. (A) A few months ago, I went to a bridal shower. As the bride unwrapped her presents, she handed the card to her mother along with the wrapping paper. The mom put it all in a garbage bag. It made me so happy that a complete $1 or more was not put in that bag because I make my own cards. Scrapbook paper, ribbon, glue, stamps, and stickers--I either have the ingredients or can buy them inexpensively. Look at the bins at Wal-Mart or other fabric stores for leftover ribbon, tulle, and sequins. Find out the bride's wedding colors, the mother-to-be's nursery decor, or the birthday child's favorite activities and decorate your card accordingly. My first cards were pretty plain, but they have improved and I am not an artist. Sometimes they are even passed around the party. :)

Those are four simple ways I tried to cut expenses when I became a SAHM. They might work for you or my failures may be your successes. Good luck.

In no way was I compensated for this blog entry. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Grammar

Teaching grammar has a long history.

Grammar, schrammer. hmmm. This blog post is a bit more serious than my other Wonder Why Wednesday posts. It is about grammar, an important aspect of English courses. Have a child? Grammar will influence him or her. The question is how.

Grammar, or the study of the classes of words, their inflections, and their functions and relations in the sentence, is controversial in schools. Years ago, it was thrown out of curriculums. (This happened around the hippie era). I was not taught grammar in school, as you may not have been, and we turned out fine, right? Sure, but it wasn't without struggle. I understand grammar, but as an English major, I had plenty of catchup work at college. Students who study a foreign language need to understand grammatical terms. To use the dictionary, one must understand grammar. The ACT covers it in its English portion. (Grammar, however, cannot just be taught sophomore and junior year and shouldn't just be taught for a test).  It does show that the ACT finds it important, because it is expected that high school students know it when they enter college.

Those are several arguments about grammar, and I tried to break them down further. There are several reasons grammar is controversial:
  • Should it be taught at all? Does it discourage students from writing?
  • When should it be taught? Should it be taught at the elementary levels or should it be introduced later?
  • How should it be taught?
  • Does grammar influence writing?

Should it be taught at all? Does it discourage students from writing?

As a former high school English teacher, teachers should teach grammar. A knowledge of grammar shapes their writing ability. I'm not alone. In a book review by Phyllis Morris Lotchin of The War Against Grammar by David Mulroy, Lotchin states: 

Until 1996, when he [Mulroy] attended a hearing to set academic standards for Wisconsin public schools, he had not suspected that anyone questioned the value of knowing the rules of grammar. It was at this time that he was directed to the NCTE [National Council of Teachers of English] website, which stated that “decades of research” have shown that instruction in “formal grammar” does not accomplish any positive goals and is actually counter productive because it takes time away from more “profitable activities” (xii). Sensing a serious problem, he set about to write this book “to persuade the reader that formal instruction in grammar ought to be emphasized in K-12 education, especially in the middle grades” (xiii)

David Mulroy, a college professor since 1973, knows of the decline in college students' readiness. On the other end, as a high school teacher, I saw it as well. Students would write and they would say, "something is wrong with this paper." I would explain sentence fragments, split infinitives, and so on, but students didn't speak that language. Would you agree that students need a basic knowledge of mathematical terms for a math class? Same idea with English.

When should it be taught? Should it be taught at the elementary levels or should it be introduced later?

I really disagree with the overall concept of introducing grammar later rather than earlier. Grammar is at the knowledge/comprehension stage at Bloom's Taxonomy. It is often boring, as basic memory tasks are. For instance, I remember memorizing the times table and being incredibly bored, but I needed to know them. Grammar is the same. It might be boring, but it is needed. Additionally, children learn language best at a young age. Isn't that why preschools work with foreign languages?

Years ago, NCTE made a serious error when the organization decided to dismiss grammar. We are in the current crisis we have now: students leave high school, unable to write well, unable to read well, and pay to take classes at community colleges to catch up to college level classes. Again, my ideas echo Lotchin's thoughts:

The results have been disastrous. American students now test as “mediocre” in reading abilities in relation to other wealthy nations. Prof. Mulroy argues strongly that an understanding of how the language works is necessary to read complex texts with understanding. Verbal SAT scores began to sink in 1963 with fewer students showing outstanding verbal ability. In 1996, the College Board “recentered” the SAT scores to camouflage this trend (10).
In colleges and universities, this lack of grammar instruction has had several unfortunate results. Fewer American students now study a foreign language. Too, remedial courses in reading and writing have multiplied, with some universities placing up to a fourth of their freshmen in remedial courses (14). Students are handicapped in both writing and reading. In reading complex texts, Prof. Mulroy argues, we discover literal meanings by “applying the rules of lexicography and grammar” (16).


As someone who taught high school English for almost a decade, I saw many students who began grammar in fifth, sixth, or seventh grade. They were still confused by the time they got to me. It needs to be taught younger rather than older, as facts normally are. To understand a language, don't we need to understand the roots? Isn't that why we teach numbers and letters? Grammar is tons of knowledge and comprehension. It may not be exciting, but it is the nuts and bolts of our language, basically, of our communication.

How should it be taught? 

I agree that grammar taught in context and not with drills/worksheets/practice sentences works best. When a lesson is true to students' lives, they understand it better. Is there some point in which we (parents/teachers) must instill the "unfun" material and connect it to life? (This is assuming that grammar is not fun. Some people think it is). Can we do both?

I think the difference is how you teach grammar. Should it be taught with reading lessons? Sure! Should it be taught in one unit and then put away on a shelf? I hope not. Grammar should be discussed every day as it is such a large part of an "English curriculum." It is a part of writing and reading and should be taught as such, from a young age.

Does grammar influence writing?

This might be a bit repetitive, but parents always asked me this. Grammar is sentence structure and writing is essentially sentences. When you understand the background behind what you do, you typically do it better.

Those are my thoughts on grammar with a bit of research thrown in. This is also part of a larger debate that English teachers have and I have dealt with it for years. I've gone to a NCTE convention and listened to their beliefs. Which, Lotchin states: While the NCTE is still not promoting “hard-edged standards in grammar,” it has declared that teachers need to “know about” traditional grammar (115). The NCTE seems to be changing their ideas. Should schools and parents change as well? What do you think about grammar? Join in the conversation, please, as this will affect your child.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SAHM Triumph: Pepping

I always pat my kids--their legs, heads, and hands. I think kids are calmer when their parents or caregivers touch them. Debra Moore, PhD. repeats my thoughts:

Children instinctively initiate and seek out touch when they need it. In fact, the absence of this behavior is a red flag for possible neurological damage or a possible history of abuse. As we grow older, we may begin to receive less and less touch. We may hesitate to initiate it ourselves. We may come to associate touch exclusively with sexuality. We forget that we still need touch as much as we did when we were youngsters. 

Is this why adults enjoy massages so much? It also makes me wonder if some kids seek out touch, but in inappropriate ways and then get in trouble.

Petting my children does calm them and put them to sleep. It is relaxing and I love it as well. Lately, Ty has began "pepping" me as he pats me. He touches my hair or rubs my back. It is adorable, and I it makes me love being a mommy. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Educational Theory of the Week: Analysis

Educational Theory of the Week covers different theories that teachers use and impact our children. They can easily be applied outside of a classroom setting. 

Last week, I wrote about application. The next step in Bloom's Taxonomy is analysis. Analysis is taking a complex idea and breaking it down. What is considered a "complex idea" of course, depends on the child.

Questions

You can ask your child several questions when working the analytical part of Bloom's Taxonomy.

Can you tell the difference between ___ and ___?
What could have happened at the end of the story?
Why would he have done that?
What made him mad? Why?
Have you seen that before? Was this time different or the same?


Application to Ty, age 3


Ty has a favorite book right now, William the Vehicle King. Quite honestly, I'm ready to return it to the library because the second I finish it, he wants me to read it again. It's one of those books -- the ones both parents have memorized. Anyway, to spark things up and keep my sanity, I ask Ty lots of analytical questions about the story which he patiently thinks over.

Basically, there is a little boy who plays with cars and they crash. (This, of course, is why he loves it). As William lines up his cars, I ask Ty what he thinks of the line. Is it straight? Should he watch for the door opening? Is it smart to put cars on a cat? Why would a cat not like cars on it? Do cats like to move around? Why would William do this? Is he in a hurry?

More than likely, you ask these sort of questions when dealing with your child, such as reading books or with his behavior. You probably already ask analytical questions. Also, do you see how analysis questions build off the lower part of Bloom's Taxonomy? Typically, children already engaged knowledge, comprehension, and application, like Ty knows what a car and a cat are, and that cars are rough and cats don't like roughness. 


Audience

Here is a struggle of mine -- I almost always relate ideas to literature, former English teacher and all. How can you apply analysis to other areas, maybe math? Any ideas?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wonder Why Wednesday: Miss USA

I watched Miss USA the other night and because it was on early, my kids were awake. People who know me probably find it odd that I watch this. I find it odd. I wonder why would I watch a beauty pageant:


1. I've always watched pageants. When I was little, I wanted to be in beauty pageants. My parents discouraged this.
2. I like society. I like the way society plays off little actions. Beauty pageants are part of our society and they are interesting when you look at them from a humanities point of view. I find the interactions between women and their beauty and perceived beauty and all that fascinating.
3. I would never be in a beauty pageant now, but I think people (as long as they don't harm someone) should do what makes them happy.

As I watch this, I wonder what my little girl thinks of the show. I wonder what my little boy thinks of the show. True, they are quite young, but I believe information gets through to them. Very few people look like those ladies in bikinis, mostly because everyone else works everyday while the contestants are at the gym. While I don't think I would ever flat out forbid a beauty pageant in my home, I wonder when I need to set the example of, "you know, that show is outdated. Girls don't really do that anymore. I don't feel like watching it." (This is the stuff I think about when I watch Miss USA).

I wonder at what point I need to say, "maybe we'll turn the television off" when they ask to watch it. If I do that, will they rebel? Should I let them watch it if they see fit? I wonder at what point I shape their gender roles and identities in society too much. Can parents do that too much? I wonder.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

SAHM Struggle: I'm a zoo animal

The analogy is not original, but my SAHM status makes me empathetic toward zoo animals. My kids stare at me and hang on me. Sometimes their little hands pull my pants down. I try to load the dishwasher, wipe the table, switch the laundry, answer the phone, or pee, and they are watching. I am the oldest of ten children. I like to be alone sometimes, maybe because I was seldom alone when I was younger. I always like to pee alone!

Because my children always watch me, this makes me nervous. Am I eating like a monster mess? Am I working too much? not enough? Being impatient with them? on the phone? Rolling my eyes at the television? I don't want to teach them nasty habits, which I'm sure I have like other people do too. I also want to be realistic around them, because people are, well, real. They should be real. I should be real. I don't want them to grow up and say with an exaggerated head shake and eye roll to the sky, "my mom always..."

Aside from the analytical part of the zoo animal idea, I don't know what to do when I feel like this. I feel slightly cornered, suffocated, and overwhelmed. (I feel exactly like I did when students would surround my desk during lunch break. Students aren't my kids and they are tons older. I would just go to the restroom or lounge. My house doesn't have a lounge). I love my babies and want to help them. Do the kids need extra hugs? kisses? attention? I can't really pinpoint a pattern-they just get like this sometimes. They stare at me and hang on me. My mind goes so fast that I don't know what to do. I don't know what they want or really what I want from the situation either.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Educational Theory of the Week: Application

We are moving along with Bloom's Taxonomy. I skipped last week (and maybe the week before that)--sorry! The mommy job does not understand schedules and between teething and "read this" requests, blogging went to the back of my mind. I know you all understand. (smile, cyber hug)

To review (yep, that's the teacher in me), let's look at Knowledge and Comprehension before we move onto Application. Knowledge is the basic concepts, or the facts your child knows. Comprehension is understanding what you know.

Application is when we apply what we know and understand to our situation, our life.

Questions

You can ask your child several questions to use the application section of Bloom's Taxonomy.

Which shirt are you going to wear: the long sleeve or short sleeve?
Write the letter ___ or the number ___.
Explain what happened in the story.
Will you show me how to add these numbers?
Can you show me what happened?

Application

Ty, age 3

A few weeks ago, my hubby and I filled Ty's sandbox with sand for the season. Naturally thrilled, he began playing and throwing sand everywhere. We had just finished planting a garden, and Ty was now handling the sand as he had the dirt. He threw it up in the air and rubbed it on his face. I asked him if he remembered getting garden dirt in his eyes and having to go in the house.

He remembered and I applied that example to his new situation. He applied it too and began making neater piles--he stopped throwing the sand around so much. He applied a previous lesson to a new situation.

Audience

One of the biggest ways parents work with their children is to make crossovers with situations. Parents teach that it is wrong to lie (knowledge) and we want our children to apply that idea to lots of different situations. In what way do you use application with your children?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Financial Friday, shopping and coupons

Financial Friday covers a few tricks I have found as a SAHM for cutting down on bills since my family is down an income. 

I spend tons of time clipping coupons, downloading them on my Kroger card and finding them online. One of my SAHM tasks is to cut the grocery bill down. In addition to the above coupon tips, I do the following:

1. I mark specials. If CVS has diapers on sale and they have sent me store coupons, I find manufacture coupons as well. Plus, stores like CVS or Walgreens often have a two day special where they have a %20 off coupon. Drugstores can be more expensive, but with regular coupons in addition to the percent off, diapers, wipes and even sunscreen can be a good deal.

2. I look at the back of stores. See this picture? My local Kroger had a "manager's special" on the baby section. It was hidden way in the back of the store that I accidentally passed. With my extra coupons, this pile was more than %50 off.

3. I get organized. I write out grocery lists on sticky notes. The meat section gets a sticky note, as does the produce section. All coupons are attached to their appropriate sticky note. When I'm done with a section of the store, I put it all away so I don't lose coupons or continue to read over the same list again and again - or combing through the same coupons.



4. I am realistic. Some people drive anywhere for a good deal. If I have to spend extra gas money, tons of time and load my kids into the car for a long trip, I don't count it as smart shopping. I guess it depends on the amount of product you're buying.

Any shopping tips I forgot?

In no way was I compensated for this blog entry. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation

The large and sometimes difficult to dissect action plan from the Childhood Obesity Task Force, Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation, is out. I was happy to see it, as I recently signed Ty up for preschool. Within all the paperwork from that day was a really sad example of a menu. Hot dogs, chicken nuggets, corn, fries.. just general starches and processed food with nothing fresh. The hot dogs really shocked me, as I thought everyone regarded those as "sometime foods" and not as a staple in a three year old's diet. Who knew? I didn't know.

I also didn't realize the statistics, either. According to the task force: 

One in every three children (31.7%) ages 2-19 is overweight or obese.

One third of all children born in the year 2000 are expected to develop diabetes during their lifetime.

Overall, medical spending on adults that was attributed to obesity topped approximately $40 billion in 1998, and by 2008, increased to an estimated $147 billion. Excess weight is also costly during childhood, estimated at $3 billion per year in direct medical costs.

Yikes. Those are scary, but the task force thinks that they know what to do, and this is the list:

1. create a healthy start on life for our children, from pregnancy through early childhood;
2. empower parents and caregivers to make healthy choices for their families;
3. serve healthier food in schools;
4. ensure access to healthy, affordable food; and
5. increase opportunities for physical activity.

I feel like I have seen obesity in America change from childhood to adulthood. We all have feelings associated with the problem. Active and healthy children lead to smarter students and happier and productive citizens, and a better world. (I know, I know. I'm a bit corny, but I am a teacher. I believe in all of this!)

I am worried about #3--serve healthier food in schools, especially since Ty is heading to preschool with such a menu. I am going to delve into this a bit more. Anyone want to give me ideas of where to start? Should I contact the preschool? Send lunch to school everyday? Any advice, at all?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wonder Why Wednesday: Sad

I've been gone for a bit, blog readers. This whole balance a mommy and work at home gig is hurting me. I decided I needed a break and have been going to bed at night (woo-hoo!) so I can be the best mommy/teacher to my little monsters. We have played Candy Land and colored and read books and discussed colors and written grocery lists. We have not, however, made it to the grocery store.

So while I am a bit more rested, organized, and happy with my happy children, I of course have wonderings swirling in my head. I wonder why I am sad that I cannot be superwoman and do it all. My blog has fallen behind and that makes me sad. I wonder why I don't have the balance I search for in life. I look at a year ago as I packed my classroom. I have made great strides in this past year. Life is no longer the rush or mess it was when I left the house everyday for work. I'm better rested, but I still wonder: did I sacrifice too much of myself so I would have pieces to give to others?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Finacial Friday: Nestle's quote

Financial Friday is coming out on Thursday because it is important. (I boycott Nestle and encourage others to boycott as well. This is a simple overview of why Nestle is unethical). I stumbled upon an article today and it is not directly about breastfeeding, but it really is:

CNN reports controversy surrounding KFC's pink bucket campaign. Fried chicken is high in fat, hence an ironic connection to breast cancer cure and prevention. I agree--it is ironic and fast food/fried chicken is not conducive for a healthy body weight. Research shows that having a healthy body weight lowers cancer risk.

What I find interesting is what Nestle says about marketing and public health. Here is Nestle talking about the issue:

"Nestle tells CNN, "The goals of food companies, alas, are not the same as the goals of public health. Food companies are businesses that must sell expanding numbers of products. While it seems possible that their goals and those of public health could overlap, they rarely do. Buckets for the Cure gets money for whatever it does. KFC sells more buckets. Sounds good, if you don't think about it too much."

Take that quote and apply it to Nestle's marketing of formula -- sounds good if you don't think about it too much. They (Nestle) don't have the same goals of public heath, which is clearly for mothers to breastfeed.

For more information on those who raise awareness of Nestle's improprieties, visit some sites:

Boycott Nestle

PhD in Parenting

Baby Milk Action

SAHM Triumph: Surface areas

I babysat today and no, I do not mean my own children. Other kids spent the day with me, almost the same ages as my babies. It was a long day and not because anyone misbehaved (just a little) but because I had four kids three years or younger in my house.

When I watch other kids, I try my hardest to keep everything together. I go into "60's mode" and pretend that my husband will get bent out of shape if he arrives home to a messy house. This in turn causes the house to be cleaner than if he came home on a regular day. I rotate the laundry and dishwasher all day. I sweep the floor. Toys are in toy boxes. Trash is in the trashcan. Shoes are in the closet. I can't do this every day. I am exhausted as I type this. I didn't "play hard" with my kids. I spoke to them and we interacted, but I maybe read one book. I was just too busy, which is why I always put housework behind educating my children.

Most importantly, the counters are clean. Clearing off counters (and the kitchen table, island and living room side tables and my desk) is hard. I don't like it. I want to put stuff away, but what if I forget where I put something? What if I throw something away and I need it later? I'm not a hoarder or really even a pack-rat. It is easier to procrastinate with mail, coupons, receipts, cards, and invitations than to organize them. Not today, though. My surface areas are clean, unlike most days and that is my SAHM Triumph of the day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sesame Street Breastfeeding Clip

I wonder why this Sesame Street clip is not played on television anymore. I remember seeing it before and it made me very happy. I hope it makes you happy too.

(Thanks to Kelly Mom for finding it).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wonder Why Wednesday

I wonder why left to my own devices, I will invent the worst, the unhealthiest snacks. I try so diligently to eat well. And then I find myself in the kitchen making waffles with chocolate chips sandwiched between them. (That tastes exactly like a warm chocolate chip cookie, by the way).

I wonder what inspires me to mix sour cream and cream cheese together and see what I can put them in. I wonder if other people do this. If I stop and think about it, I don't even like dairy.

I wonder why I will do so well for so long (with treats built in) and then I'm just like, I need to make a cake. I don't need a cake! Who needs a cake? Cake has no redeeming nutritional value. And I know that.

I wonder why I know what is good and then I do what is bad. I bet that is a common theme in our culture. I wonder why.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Educational Theory of the Week: Comprehension

I always seek different ways of explaining all this educational lingo. Browsing through different sites for more on Benjamin Bloom to continue Bloom's Taxonomy, I found this explanation for this educational theory

Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain, from the simple recall or recognition of facts, as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest order which is classified as evaluation. 

("Cognitive domain" by the way, just means classifications of ways to think and reason).

After covering knowledge last week, we are moving on with comprehension.  After you have basic knowledge, the next level is comprehension, which means to understand. (Do you see how understanding something is more difficult than just knowing something? That's why comprehension is harder than knowledge. So easy-just educational lingo mixed in).

To activate the comprehension section, a few questions you could ask are:

What happened after ___ happened in the story? (describe) 
Tell me what happened in the story we just read. (review)
Which color is peach and not pink? (identify)
Where was the ___ that we saw at the museum? (locate)

Other terms that include the comprehension level include: classify, describe, discuss, explain, express, identify, indicate, locate, recognize, report, restate, review, select, translate.

Application, to Za

Za is a one year old and so we don't do much talking through ideas together. We do, however, work on comprehension. She has a favorite book, and it is about body parts. We read the book frequently and even though we don't review it as is typical of reviewing books, we do discuss the ideas. Throughout the day, we recall/review or work on her comprehension of the ideas in the book. We talk about the face and all its parts, which is locating and recognizing. Dad and I ask lots of questions about where is and what is (as we point).



Audience


Comprehension is part of all of our lives, in that we must remember what we read and see. Some ideas are easier to comprehend than others, primarily because we enjoy those ideas. How can you incorporate comprehension into your child's every day life?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

SAHM Triumph: Balancing

Just a bit ago, I was struggling with this SAHM balancing act. Today could have been a good day, or it could be that I am accomplished with this whole gig. I marked everything off my to-do-list today and I have energy to spare.

The kids and I got up this morning, ate, and went to the grocery store. Ty loves those little carts at Kroger's and darn it, he is just so cute pushing it. Of course, he put chocolate pudding in his cart and batteries for his Winnie the Pooh car (he even bought the right size) which was $10 I didn't anticipate on spending. He stayed occupied the entire trip though and I consider it a success, $10 or not.

We came home, unloaded the car, ate lunch, played, and napped. I made a cake and taught night classes while dada and papa watched the kids. I came home and went on a run. Then I wrote a few pages on an article I have due this Sunday.

Accomplished? Tired? Proud? Yes. It makes me confident that I can juggle this crazy SAHM world. Maybe I won't write anymore "SAHM struggles" blogs. Probably not but I will be thrilled with more days like today.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Educational Theory of the Week: Knowledge

I am still partying with the Ultimate Blog Party of 2010. I luckily (it was all luck--I had no plan) got in line at just the right time and my blog is #12 on the list. As I write this, there are over 1500 family blogs on the list of party guests. This is fun and I am meeting so many people. Here is the button again, as I am still partying. You can join if you like.

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

And now, back to Bloom's Taxonomy. The first section is knowledge. This is the base for all other learning. Knowledge is acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition. When activating this part of the learning process according to Bloom's Taxonomy, you can ask questions like:

What is this (object, picture, event)?
Can you name/list (steps, characters)?
Who said...?
When did ___ happen?
We just did ___. What will we do next?

True and false questions are also knowledge based. When you are asking for knowledge to be recalled (normally facts, not opinions) you are using the knowledge base of Bloom's Taxonomy.

Application to real life kids, namely, Ty

The hubby and I did this consistently with Ty last summer for two areas: when he was identifying colors and noticing the differences between vehicles.

1. Colors can be tough for little kids. (Think how pink and red, blue and green can be tough to differentiate). Teaching them colors is basic knowledge. We did lots of repeating and asking about different instances. We didn't just do colors with colored pencils and sidewalk chalk; we did it everywhere. The carpet, furniture, walls, toys, outfits--if it had a color, we identified it.

Once, anything that moved was a "car." We really pushed to differentiate between cars, vans, motorcycles, boats, trucks, etc. Again, we worked to explain the different parts and sections that separate vehicle types from each other. That one has a two wheels, it is a motorcycle.

Audience

How do you use knowledge with your kids? Do you go back to knowledge type questions for review? Do you use such questions less and less as your children get older, or is it the other way around?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Hello, new readers! (For readers who don't know what I am doing, I did not finally lose it. I am participating in a blog party and you should too). :)
Ultimate Blog Party 2010
My name is Lauralee Moss. I've had a busy year and am so glad I recorded it on my blog. Here is background: After I graduated from SIUC in 2001, I moved to Peoria, IL to begin teaching high school English. I soon fell in love and was married. Two years later, my handsome son Ty was born followed by baby girl Za two years after that. Seven years after moving for a great job, I threw in the towel as I could no longer balance my teaching career, mothering, a house, and a husband. I miss my old job, and so my blog was born.

I write about education and my children and how I see connections in my everyday life with them. I am so blessed and happy to be home with them, but I will always be a teacher at heart. In my blog, I journal all my thoughts and reflections about teaching my children.

I so look forward to meeting everyone as the blog party continues!

(If I had to choose a prize, I really like (1) Target and the (2) bumper stickers! I also love amazon, so the (3) gift certificates from there would be great too. If that won't work, 104, 102, and 91 look awesome too! I am a lover of all things chocolate and coffee and I have a three year old son. Anything that touches on that is perfect).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

SAHM Struggle: Organization

Organization with kids is a "haha" rub my tummy joke. Even though I consider myself put-together and organized, my house is not. This is a huge struggle for me mentally because I like organization so much. I am paid to write about organization. I did my master's research project on organization. (I'll spare you the link to that one). I guest blog about organization. I organize my pictures and my bills; my scrapbooking supplies and my laundry. This ongoing organization struggle with my kids, though, needs some analysis.

Their attention spans are short and I understand that. They want to read a book, oh eat Cheerios, and oh look! outside!! So getting them to clean up is the relatively difficult part. Keeping them picked up. All of this would tie back to....

Toys. They have a thousand toys and that probably isn't an exaggeration. Ty may have 200 cars. Za is only one but her doll collection is extensive. Why? (analyze, analyze) Both sets of grandparents are divorced. They have many aunts and uncles. We live in a close neighborhood and my kids get presents from our neighbors for both Christmas and birthdays. We are fortunate to have so many caring and loving people love our kids. I must do something about the toys though, regardless of the sentimentality.

We can't play in the playroom and we look for puzzle pieces more often than we put them together. That, of course, goes back to the short attention span because once we find all of Mr. Potato Head, we need to move on. It is very cyclical.

I can donate some of them or put some away. I could build shelves (or talk my hubby into doing so, right?) My current SAHM struggle is the mass of toys we have and the disorganization it causes. This will turn into a triumph, I am sure. Any advice, on how to do so?

SAHM Struggle: Dumb People

Like Rush Limbaugh. I now rank him with Bill Maher.

Bashing breastfeeding (when they are really bashing babies who desire optimal nutrition) is cheap. It really isn't worth discussing. Who knew these two men would have something in common? They mock mothers who try to breastfeed. Very, very funny.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wonder Why Wednesday

One of my loyal blog readers and friends sent me the popular breastfeeding story of the week. I sing the praises of breastfeeding and acknowledge that while it has difficulties, breastfeeding pays off. I don't shake my fingers at moms who don't breastfeed because, well, I'm not perfect and (to throw in another cliche) the deck is pretty stacked against breastfeeding moms. That is why I was so excited to read the story over and over about the money saving side of breastfeeding. So often, people will throw themselves into a cause if money can be saved.

I've pondered that research these last few days and even looked for a few more ideas about feeding our children healthily. All ideas point one way: feed our kids better and they will be smarter and healthier and parents and the nation will save money on health care costs and on buying food (apples are cheaper than processed apple pies). So why doesn't America just buck up and do it? I wonder how we got this way? Was it just one advancement on top of another? One way to make our life easier, but in the process, really making it harder? I wonder why we eat the way we do. When did it become acceptable for us to eat like every day was Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

SAHM Triumph: The Cutting Board is in the Dishwasher

When I once ran around like a crazy and stayed up all night grading papers and went to work before my kids were awake, I would long to use my kitchen supplies. I had a big wedding and received very nice kitchen gadgets. I used them when it was just the hubby for dinner dates. Now that I continually have two more eaters and know the importance of making food and not dumping some processed junk on a plate, I want to develop positive eating habits for my kids.

As a SAHM, I take my job seriously and that includes food preparation. (Not that I didn't take my mommy job seriously before, but now that I have one less job and am on a budget, I really do have more time to worry about food). Last night I chopped onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and carrots for dinner. Did my kids eat it all? Nope. Did my husband eat it all? Nope. I did, however, serve them vegetables that I chopped myself, on two cutting boards. I presented a healthy meal to them and hopefully, some day, they will eat it all because they are accustomed to healthy dinners.

Does this seem silly? Maybe. Am I happy and proud? Yep, and that is why my SAHM Triumph of the week is that I have two cutting boards in my dishwasher right at this very second.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Educational Theory of the Week: Bloom's Taxonomy

A new month, and a new educational theory in practice. As I suggested last week (or maybe more than a week ago), we'll look at Bloom's Taxonomy and how it relates to our children's everyday learning.

When I went to graduate school a couple of years ago, my professors taught me that a new Bloom's Taxonomy was around. I dislike change and even though I gave it a good shot, never warmed up to the new one. I will be using the old one.

The basic gist of Bloom's Taxonomy is that skills and tasks can be categorized. When you ask your children certain questions, those questions can be put in a certain category (see the list below). The order increases in difficulty.

1. Knowledge
2. Comprehension
3. Application
4. Analysis
5. Synthesis
6. Evaluation

Why is this useful? It is the first idea that is taught in educational classes. It is the root of most ideas in education, and for good reason. If teachers or parents only ask questions from the 'comprehension' tier, children won't be pressed to look deeper into subjects and ideas. I plan to take the next 6 weeks to explain these more, but here is a basic idea of how this works:

Example scenario: Ty tying his shoes (which he loves to practice).
1. Knowledge: Ty knows what shoes are and that they need tied.
2. Comprehension: Ty describes what he's doing with the laces and starts to get them ready (lines them up) to tie.
3. Application: Ty makes an 'X' (he is applying a letter to the situation of tying shoes) and sticks one lace through the 'X.'
4. Analysis: Ty knows he has to break apart the steps. He tries to go onto the next step, looping. (He isn't there yet).
5. Synthesis: Ty tries to create a new way to tie his shoes. He knows that circles are involved and so he makes circles out of the laces and smashes them together.
6. Evaluation: Ty evaluates the situation. He cannot get his fingers to work correctly (the whole "fine motor skills" gig) and gets frustrated or calmly asks for help.

There is an overview! We'll break down Bloom's Taxonomy and talk about different questions to ask our kids. Have a great week!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Frustrating Friday, aka-Financial Friday

Today is supposed to be 'Financial Friday' and I had a theme of Cheerios. I even took pictures for my post. I cannot get the cord to connect and open the camera, so that idea was shot. I could still talk about finances, but hey, I'm frustrated and since I like alliteration so much, we'll switch to one of my lists and discuss my frustrations.

1. Augie, the doggie. Wants to go outside. All the time. And he runs away. Why can't I have a dog that goes out and pees? The beagle puts his nose to the ground and runs. Every time I take the dog out, the kids want to go, which involves lots: shoes, jackets, the leash, everything.

2. I fell off the Weight Watchers Wagon. I host a bridal shower April 24th and I better hop back on. I was doing so well and then I thought, brownies, hmmm, just one. Yeah, just one pan.

3. I need to grocery shop. Not small grocery shop, but the "I don't have bread and I don't even have flour to make bread if I had to" type grocery shopping trip. I took the kids grocery shopping about 5 minutes ago and when I pulled into the store, I turned behind and they were both asleep. Good for naps, bad for stomachs. (We're back home, they are asleep, and I am blogging, obviously).

4. I need a nap too. I am so tired, but this house is trashed and I have assignments to write. I don't know which to do.

5. I need to call the gym and pay my fee (sigh). I have to go exercise. I have done pretty well around the house with my DVDs and walks. These last 10 pounds, every time I think they are going away, they zoom right back to my hips.

Anyway, my sentences all begin with "I need." Frustrating, especially because when I look at all those "I need"s I start to feel guilty. It's the mommy-cycle of doing so much and then needing something for yourself and your kids and not getting it done. I will though. I always do. :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool's Day

So busy! So pretty! What a wonderful week with my kiddies. They have played hard-outside! It is wonderful. Not so much for my writing, but for everything else.

In honor of April Fool's Day, I am posting my favorite April Fool's joke, ever. It was for 2009's day and is by Dr. Jay Gordon. It was controversial and satirical, which is also great. Here it is:

Press Release

4/1/2009

American Academy of Pediatrics—For Immediate Release


Dr. David T. Tayloe, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics which represents 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists has announced that it is severing all ties with the infant formula industry.

"This method of feeding substitution has harmed millions of children both in America and throughout the world and we pediatricians can no longer continue our relationship with the manufacturers of infant formula." said Dr. Tayloe, who assumed the post of AAP President in October of 2008.

"Our alliance with the pharmaceutical industry is unethical. Our accepting millions of dollars and continuing to allow these business people to influence our policies while sponsoring our
speakers, conferences and conventions is an ongoing embarrassment and we will end this ethical problem right now."

"Further, I would like to apologize for our past mistakes involving the breastfeeding advertisement campaign and allowing the maker of Similac infant formula to print its corporate logo on the cover of a special edition of the academy's book on breastfeeding."

"Again, I can cannot express enough regret and can assure you that the AAP will immediately seek compliance with the WHO Code and will promote the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative."

Sincerely,
David T. Tayloe, MD, President of the American Academy of
Pediatrics April 1, 2009

And of course... I feel breastfeeding is beyond important, especially since breastfeeding surrounds my blog's theme of *education.* Here is another idea from Dr. Gordon which emphasizes why breastfeeding is so important:

"According to the AAP’s own Breastfeeding Section, at least one thousand new scientific and medical papers on topics related to breast and bottle feeding have been published in just the past four years. Taken as a whole, this mounting body of research reveals dramatically different health outcomes for populations of breast and formula-fed babies, even when controlling for socioeconomic and other factors."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SAHM Struggle: Mentally Draining

I had employee orientation this morning for a *very* part-time job at a local community college. When I got up this morning, I immediately made coffee (of course) and knocked off a glass dish I scrubbed clean last night. It hit the sink and splintered everywhere. I cut my hand, but not like last time. In fact, the dish is still in the sink because I am fearful of cleaning it up, which is totally out of character for me. My orientation ran an hour over so I was in a hurry to get to the sitters, and when I picked up the kids, they didn't want to leave because they were outside playing. They did not want to leave, so I promised them we would return outside when we got home.

Ty immediately took off his shoes and within minutes, had a "foot ouchie." Poor man had a splinter. This sounds really lame, but I was so nervous to remove it from his little foot. Then I felt even more lame that I was mentally preparing myself the way I was. The splinters of the day were making me jumpy.

I got everything ready and of course he cried and kicked. I hated hurting him and remembered all the times my mom removed splinters for me. That got me to thinking that I should have given him more of a pep talk about what I was going to do and then I worried he didn't understand. Sometimes little kids don't understand and I should have helped him more.

Today is almost over though. The hubby said he would help me clean up the glass and Ty seems to have forgotten the ouchie. I am going to watch a television show with my hubby and we are going to bed early (aka: before midnight). Tomorrow will not be such a draining day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Youth Television Messages

As I sit and reflect upon the day, I wonder about the television my kids watch. Ty's favorite show is "Mickey Mouse." My hubby and I like this show, sing the songs, and dance the hot dog dance with Ty. I know he learns more than the standard information from it and I wonder, what does "Mickey Mouse" teach him?

I like "Mickey Mouse." It isn't annoying like other kiddie television shows and it has important lessons. It works with letters and numbers. It also has nice music which is great for vocabulary development. My husband and I talk to Ty about what he sees.

The characters aren't bad either. Donald is the young grump, Goofy is the original funny guy, Pluto is the loyal companion, and of course Mickey is Mr. Popular and the leader of it all. Minnie and Daisy wear high heels and bows. Yep. They giggle too. Yep. I can't think of any distinguishing characteristics those female characters have. Can anyone think of the type of characters these two ladies are, creative or specific? I can't. This led to me wondering...

What do Disney writers think? That it is fine to form well-developed male characters but not to distribute to females any defining, specific, or wonderful characteristics? I wonder why their male counterparts are so interesting. I wonder why the writers did this. Was it intentional? (If it was unintentional, I wonder about Disney, which doesn't sound realistic to me. That business seems to know what is going on). Donald walks around, offensive and grumpy. Goofy has smelly feet and a poor diet. Minnie and Daisy? They are pretty unoffensive. They don't even need to offend--they just need personalities.

I wonder what my little boy thinks of this. Does he think that it is fine for girls not to have defining personality traits? Does he think that all females should be cute cookie-cutters with pretty outfits, bows, and high heels? If he doesn't, will he?

And worse (maybe just as bad, I don't know which is worse), I wonder if my little girl thinks she is supposed to be very standard, very run of the mill, very middle of the road, with nothing to distinguish herself from other females, aside from the color of bow she wears? I wonder if she will think that her darling personality is too bold, too boisterous, or too silly.

Just wondering.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SAHM Triumph: Snuggles

Ty loves to say, "sit on the couch and snuggle wif me." This breaks my heart and well, I always do it.
I adore snuggling my babies, even though they are not tiny anymore. I know the day will come when they want to run the neighborhood, or sulk in their rooms, or drive their cars, or sit in a dorm room and snuggle with someone else.

Sometimes I get down on myself because I am not doing laundry, unloading the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, or the other million mom-tasks.

Sometimes, though, the kids need love in the form of snuggles. I think Ty says that because I tell my kids that when they are tiny, "let's snuggle together." He's heard me say it many times. I think that part (not all) of raising well-rounded kids is teaching them they are loved. So, although snuggling is one of my favorite mom duties, it is an important one. That is why petting my kids' hair and snuggling them on the couch is my SAHM triumph of the day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Educational Theory of the Week: Brain-Based Learning Principle 12

This is it for brain based learning. While I think it is incredibly fun and honestly tied to life, the ideas of it are difficult. The "brain" is, well, difficult and complex. Talking about brain-based learning barely chisels away the slightest bit of it. (Be sure you comment down at the bottom if you have any requests for next Monday!)

Here is the twelve and last concept:

Each brain is unique.


This summarizes what all parents and teachers know. Children learn best when they have environments that are personalized. Everyone's experiences shape who he or she is and everyone feels comfortable learning in a unique way.

Parents do a good job of "knowing" their kids and therefore teaching them well. The sticky part is when they get into school. Too much (for an assortment amount of reasons, too many to account here) of education does not take the unique brain into account. This is why parents must advocate for their children and help them at home.

And there they are--all twelve brain based learning core principles. Enjoy your Monday, and please drop a comment with ideas for our new learning theories/practices. Possibilities: Bloom's Taxonomy, cooperative learning, or technology. Inclusion? Our world influences education and almost everything has a "name" so I'll listen to my blog readers ideas! Let me know and thanks!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

SAHM Struggle: Balancing!

As my dedicated readers can see from lack of posting this week, work and my kids kept me busy this week. I struggle with posting this because I don't want to sound bratty. This is a recurring struggle in my SAHM world and it isn't getting better.

When I started working at home, I knew that it would be hard. The kids want something, I lose my train of thought, Za unplugs the computer, the dog pukes everywhere, Ty wants more TV. I refuse to let the TV babysit my kids, so of course, I help him. I cleanup the dog puke. I plug the computer back in. I do puzzles and read stories. I love it. I enjoy being with my kids. That is my mommy job and I am so lucky to have it.

I do need to get a little bit of work done though. Just a little, just for that extra bit of money and for a bit of adult interaction for my sanity.

I don't miss deadlines and I think (and hope) my clients are happy. I succeed in mommy-ing and writing. Is this the balance? Is there any other balance, or is this just it? I feel like I am going to lose it, but I don't?

And despite my hand wringing and setbacks, I do get my work done. I just wish it wasn't at one in the morning. That seems to be my time where I can work and get it all done. Of course, that has drawbacks. I'm tired and my head hurts.

So, I'm torn with this balancing act. Any advice? This SAHM is tired, has a headache, pleased clients, and happy kiddies. Something tells me though that I still need balancing advice.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Educational Theory of the Week: Brain-Based Learning, Core Principle 11

The eleventh and second to last brain based learning principle is:

Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat.

(Obviously). The patient teacher or friend who helped you figure out the tough math question, your fingers on the piano, or bike riding not only knew what to teach, but how to teach. This educational theory is easy to apply whiles teaching our kids, because we love them and are so darn cute. Does your patience diminish as they get older? I know my patience sometimes does, but I always try (and sure, I fail sometimes) to regain my patience.

Example


The example that immediately
came to me was of course, potty-training because we just finished that. (It is over and Ty is trained, yay). It took a long time, lots of tears, and plenty of patience from the teacher. How? Why? Well, I hate messes. Especially messy messes. But potty-training isn't about me, it was about Ty. So even though the downstairs bathroom was sanitized more in six months than it had been in the previous 4 years we've lived here, being patient was best. Looking back, our worst days were the days when Ty probably felt threatened by my impatience or frustrations. Instead of thinking about what to do or how to solve his problems, he was worried about my reactions.

This is such a fine line, one I think about. How do we challenge our kids without threatening them, or pushing too much?


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Before You Quit Your Job...


This has been my first week posting daily and I'm pretty happy with how it is going. I've knocked the educational theories down to Monday only so that we can start off the week with one and work it really well for a full week. I'm going to continue chronicling my SAHM adventures because:

  1. They really are adventures. My kids wear me out!
  2. I want to look back at all of this and smile and if I don't record it as I go, I'll forget and just never get around to it.
  3. I want to relate to other moms and dads who stay home. Parenting, while working or staying home, can be really alienating. I think that blogging and all Internet connections provide support for those doing this difficult job of parenting!
Anyway, back to finances for this Friday-I guess I'm sort of digging the alliteration with this week. Today was inspired by a discussion I had with a friend I'll call Janice. It was funny because as I continued with my daily posts, I was stuck with what to do for Friday. After I got off the phone, finances made sense. What person who quits his or her job doesn't worry about money? My hubby and I did and still do.

Janice called and wanted to know what financial considerations my family took before I quit my job as a teacher to be a SAHM. I really wish I could have told her we had money stocked away and sold our second car before I quit. That is not the case. Here (from an English teacher, not someone with any sort of a degree or background in finances) are a few ideas.

Preparation 
As I prepared to quit my job, I did prepare my finances. 

  1. The hubby and I got rid of our piddly credit cards. All the store cards and "back up" cards-we eliminated. Gone. Anytime I thought about putting a shirt on a credit card, I looked at my babies and put the shirt back on the rack. 
  2. We traded in our gas guzzler for a smaller, used car. Our payment went down, and our gas bill did too.
  3. We modified our food bills. Groceries--fresh food and less canned and eating out--gone.

In Hindsight
Sure, we really tried, but if I could do it again, I would try to pinch a few more dollars.

  1. Eating out. I know this contradicts the previous list. We did cut out eating out, but not totally. We did as a family, but with friends or coworkers, not so much. Especially at the end of my school year, everyone wanted to "have lunch one more time." Think about it: going out to eat for one person is a minimum of $7, and that's if you go to Subway. $7 for an unemployed person (which I am now) is good money.
  2. Coupons/deal hunting. Now I have no problem searching for the best place for an oil change. Before, I don't remember what I did. I just wasn't used to looking for deals. I would have started that practice beforehand. 
  3. Looking for small jobs. I write on the side and substitute teach as well. Getting into these gigs took some time. I would have done all that paperwork and searching before so I was ready to go when I quit.
Any other tips for those thinking of becoming a SAHM? 

Wonder Why Wednesday: Singing in the...

I sing and hum to my children, often like most parents. I am a bad singer, but they really like it, among other things I do for them. Music and my singing calms them. None of their family members have musical inclinations, so they will probably have a strong musical intelligence. Nonetheless, we do lots of singing.

Why do kids like singing so much? They learn when singing-the alphabet, rhyming, numbers, and animal sounds-but it goes beyond the facts that have been put to words. Tonight when my hubby ran in the store to grab something, I was left alone with two tired children and so I naturally sang to them, which calmed them. I've made long drives and sang to soothe crying babies until my throat hurt. So I know kids like singing, but why?


The entire brain is engaged and stimulated when singing, according to this
interesting article. Chicago Children's Museum also provides these facts:
  • Singing with a recording is not as productive as singing with another person.
  • Singing enhances language learning.
  • Singing stimulates both new learning and memory. 
So, is it a fair assessment that my kids are happy because they are learning? They receive gratification because they are communicating? Maybe they are happy because mom is silly. Maybe they are happy because of the tone of my voice. Maybe, my singing makes them happy for all these reasons.