kitchen table math, the sequel: 12/27/09 - 1/3/10

Saturday, January 2, 2010

a sentence is like a bicycle...

We're on clean-up duty this weekend: huge, ginormous stacks of dog-eared, dusty pdf-file print-outs are going away!

Buried deep in the bedroom pile* I found my KISS grammar printout, which led me to the ATEG page (that was inevitable) and from thence to Tips for Teaching Grammar. At that point it was just a short hop to Pamela Dykstra on bicycles & appositives.

And then on to this, and best of all this.

Happy New Year!

*shorter than the under-the-desk pile but taller than the family room coffee-table pile

The Book Knight on Liberal Arts Education

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year

I've been mulling this year's resolutions. So far I'm thinking they may have to be mostly about 2 of the kids:
  • daily PSAT prep for C. (which means daily math, mostly)
  • daily GrammarTrainer for Andrew (we were going great guns until I fell off the wagon)
  • teach Andrew to pedal a bike (so not looking forward to that one)
Still need a resolution for me. Possibly: make enough money to pay somebody else to do test prep. That would be good.

Actually, this is the one I'm gearing up for:
A year ago, the Lincoln, Neb., artist and writer was so disorganized that she spent much of her time looking for misplaced supplies in her office clutter. To find all the Web sites where she had posted her artwork, "I often had to Google my own name," she says. But she made a resolution last New Year's Day to get organized, and now, a year later, she is sticking to it. With the clutter gone and her deadlines and routines under control, she says, "my life is so much easier."

A Cheat Sheet for Making New Year's Resolutions
by Sue Shellenbarger

Speaking of office clutter, we bought Billy bookshelves at Ikea today. The corner combination. So, clearly, I need a resolution to go with.

And, speaking of resolve, I am now basically a strict vegetarian.* Well, strict except for the Swedish meatballs. I've lost 7 pounds.

It took me three months to stop eating meat, chicken, fish, dairy, eggs, refined carbohydrates, salt, and olive oil,** but after a quarter century of trying I still can't organize my office.

That is preposterous.

* I refuse to use the word 'vegan' in public.
** still eating some salt & vegetable oil

Monday, December 28, 2009

Darn Pesky Content and Skills

Yesterday, we had some relatives over for a late Christmas gathering. During the meal, my niece complained about how she didn't like having to memorize stuff in high school just to forget it all after the test. My nephew complained about having to memorize math formulas with no explanation. Their conclusion? Memorizing stuff is bad. I asked them whether remembering things is bad.

Since my son was in Kindergarten, teachers have been trying to convince me that remembering knowledge and mastery of skills are not that important. My niece and nephew see real problems, but come to the wrong conclusion. My nephew wants an explanation (and he many have gotten none), but assumes that the skills would all be easy if he first had understanding.

Then the topic switched to class participation. I was surprised to find that they were all for it. My niece, in particular, liked being able to discuss topics with others in the classroom. She said that she learned better that way. I asked about shy kids and the concensus was that this would be good for them too. Unfortunately, our conversation followed a common route - it went all over the place and was used mainly as a vehicle for expressing their own opinion. All teachers and no students. They had the confidence to express their views, but little to back it up.

It could be that many kids are not shy. They just don't want to waste their time. After a short time, I changed the subject.