Thursday, June 30, 2011

Financial Friday: Menus

My children have new, free toys: pretend menus, aka junk mail. 

Za got a kitchen for Christmas, which means that both of my children now have a play kitchen. I knew Santa Claus was planning to bring her this, so I told relatives she would need pretend food, napkins, tablecloths, etc. It's really cute and I love that my kids are creative with it. They make dinner, they feed baby dolls and their parents, and they organize their items on the shelves. We have had picnics before as well as tea parties.

Where do the 'free toys' come into play? Earlier this week, Ty was sorting through the day's mail and asking what belongs in the recycling. He came across a tiny coupon booklet (about 6 inches) and started flipping through it. He said, "Look! A book! About coffee and hamburgers and French fries." I said, "Yep. It sure is a book." Little did I know it would become a permanent book, along with other advertisements, in our house.

Playing pretend now has a new setting: a restaurant. The "books" are now menus. My husband and I pick entrees from the menus and our children prepare them.

I like the ingenuity, and the reusing/recycling spirit. Since junk mail is free, it also makes me wonder what entertainment I have thrown away for so long.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Augie, my doggie, was my first baby. His first-year scrapbook remains the only one finished from all of my "children." He once snuggled in bed with me. I put ice in his water dish, simply because he liked it that way. He was bathed on a schedule. I bought him doggie treats and toys. He went places with me. I spoiled my cute pound puppy.

Cute mutt.
This situation has drastically changed for little Augie. When we brought Ty home from the hospital, I reluctantly let Augie sniff his head. How could I have changed that much in four days? My change was permanent, in that Augie was moved down on the to-do list. Two years later when Za showed up at home? If he could have, Augie would have rolled his eyes. He knew what this meant: someone new was between him and the top of that list.

He's cute, but he still doesn't belong on the couch.

I still love him and I still take care of him. He is fed, watered, and walked. Sometimes, it is with a frown, without much enthusiasm. My feelings are mixed, ones of loyalty and selfishness; love and exhaustion.

How did it happen that I now view Augie as another being who wants something from me? Someone who I need to take potty, feed, and pet? At the end of the day, after the kids are in bed and I finally sit on the couch without a clang from the kitchen or the "Little Einsteins" theme song blaring, he nuzzles toward me and my arm is heavy as I place it on his head. He needs attention, too. But damn it, I just gave myself away for an entire day. To other people. My little people. I need a break too.

Are you following me on Facebook yet? We are there, simply find Switching Classrooms.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Blog Button

Finally, about time, right? Now go grab my button, off to the left! Thanks!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Educational Theory of the Week: Memorization

Memorization: to commit to memory, to learn by heart.

Memorization is a bit of a dirty word in most education circles. It's not fun, and it normally involves flashcards. People (not just kids) struggle to memorize facts, especially if they deem the information irrelevant or boring. So let's look at the first part of the equation - is memorization necessary?

Knowledge is the first component of Boom's Taxonomy, and comprehension is the second. A basic example is learning multiplication facts, a task I loathed completing, but am now happy I know. Following Bloom's Taxonomy with the multiplication tables would be:

Knowledge - knowing the definition of multiplication and the knowledge of numbers.

Comprehension - understanding the multiplication tables.

Memorization requires a bit of both. The first two stages of Bloom's Taxonomy (knowledge and comprehension) seem a bit boring, a bit uninteresting. Learning vocabulary terms? Remembering the periodic table of elements? Understanding bones and muscles of a body? Never my favorite activities. In all of my years of teaching, I've never seen students get excited over memorizing, either. Students do get excited over writing fabulous speeches with specific and distinct words, blowing up things, and dissecting beings. And such activities cannot take place until memorization has occurred. 

Students cannot analyze a frog leg or evaluate the effectiveness of a speech outline until they have a base to rely upon - a base of knowledge. As a teacher, yes, I think memorization is necessary. Not always fun, but quite needed in all classes, at all levels.

So this non-fun, often boring aspect exists in education. Do students rebel against memorization? Do their parents? What are the repercussions of such behavior? Is school more fun, or do students know less basic facts? Please contribute; I'm open to all sides!

(I did an entire series on Bloom's Taxonomy if you want to understand it better. It is a hierarchy of learning).

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