Sunday, December 20, 2009

Joy of leisure reading

This weekend I read two books for the fun of it. These were books that I picked up solely for enjoyment rather that education or edification. They were both quick reads that I polished off in a couple of hours. At times, I am reluctant to embrace my "fun" reading as I have so many other things to do that it seems like an indulgence that I can't afford. However, the joy and exuberation I feel after reading a good, wholesome novel is better than chocolate. It is an indulgence that I must make room for on a regular basis. It is not only good for me but Sarah enjoyed watching me read and inquired what the book was about and other questions. She sees me reading frequently (hey, I'm librarian mom) but it was good for her to see me reading for pure pleasure.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pat me on the back parenting

I hate what I like to call "pat me on the back parenting." I am well aware of the fine line between telling and bragging when it comes to your children's activities. But I think you cross the line when you brag about what your child does in terms of charity work. At that point it becomes not so much what your child does, but "look at me I'm such a great parent because my kid did this." It's OK to be proud of your kids and it's OK to tell grandparents or close friends but beyond that just goes too far.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I've been frustrated lately that in the circle of people I know often only viewpoint can get a hearing even though multiple view can be very valid. I have inquired with several trusted friends to see if the alternate view I propose is truly valid and have been assured that yes it is quite true but that yes, it's not the "cool" thing.

Thinking about these alternative viewpoints that are still definitely Christian just slightly outside of mainstream reminded me of several longings. One, I would really like to be involved in a book club or two that reads and discusses a variety of great books--both new and classic. Second, it is really frustrating to be involved in a community where I could have the kind of deep discussion I would like yet everyone is too busy because we are student focused. Finally, it is also frustrating to feel like I'm shut out of the very community in which I'm a member.

p.s. Soapmaking went very well.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Since my last post was a month and a half a go, so much for becoming more frequent in my blog postings. I have started a twitter account though. Twitter, with its character limit, seems more conducive for the "hey this is what I'm doing" type of posts than a blog does. When I post here, I feel like I need to have something of substance to say.

Recently, I purchased the book Totally Cool Soapmaking or Kids for dd and me. So today, we went to Michael's to purchase the needed supplies. I'm really excited as this seems like a very do-able project that can be done in a short amount of time yet have a nice product at the end. We're planning on contributing our efforts to our church bazaar. Each year I have grand plans of making something that do not materialize and then I feel badly. This year, I've decided not to worry about it but the soap will be a nice addition.

Along with the above mentioned book, I have purchased a number of other fun things as well. I still have high hopes of doing a lot of educational activities in the evenings. My desire is much larger than my output. I really want to study history and science with the kids, read great literature, write stories, do math, and in short, homeschool. I also want to do Bible study, church history, missions, and worldview study. Unfortunately, doing all of those things along with any kind of crafty things is downright difficult.

Speaking of worldview study, I was really excited this evening to learn of a new worldview curriculum for elementary kids. It is the worldview only portion of another curriculum designed for Christian schools. The first of four volumes has been released with three more to be published one a year between now and 2012. The first volume has ten lessons with each lesson taking one to two weeks. Because it is worldview without the Bible survey, we can use something else for Bible without feeling like we are overlapping. Now I just need to decide when to begin using it. It might be interesting to do this study in a group as well.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I am recommitting to blogging more faithfully. I feel like my relationship with blogging is similar to a variety of other things I know I should do and are good to do like exercise that just don't quite make it into my day. I have had a great summer and took four weeks off work. Part of those weeks were vacation time in Chicago at ALA and part were family vacation closer to home. ALA with kids went much better than I thought and was a lot of fun. DD already is talking about when we can go back to Chicago. The rest of my time was at home just hanging out with the kids, cleaning some, reading some and just relaxing. Good times!

I'm now back at work for thee second week. Smooth transition back except for computer anomalies. I'm working on exciting new presentations and instruction sessions and am really looking forward to creating some new screencasts.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics

Yesterday I read Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics by Liping Ma. I know this book is way outside of the norm of what I usually read, but I had seen it mentioned on a forum and thought it would be interesting.

The premise of the book is comparing the knowledge and teaching of math between U.S. teachers and Chinese teachers. After reading it, I am shocked and ashamed at the poor performance of the U.S. teachers particularly as they interviewed teachers were selected for being above average. These teachers could not adequately explain why math problems were solved in a particular manner and in some instances could not even solve the problems discussed. On the other hand, the Chinese teachers were able to solve the problems and describe why they chose the methods they did. It seems that a great deal of the "why" is because of a Chinese proverb which states "Know how, and also know why." The Chinese teachers were fluent in the mathematical laws that governed why you take a certain action whereas the U.S. teachers were focused on "well this is the procedure and that's the way you do it because that's how I was taught to do it." One instance also related to linguistic difference in how we say the teen numbers which then impacts how math facts and procedures are taught which was quite fascinating.

What next: I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the information I learned in this book. I'm certainly going to continue to afterschool in the area of mathematics although it is the one area in which dd fights me the most. In particular, she emphasizes "that's not how we learned it at school." Now, I'm going to emphasize that there is more than one way to solve problems and that it is important to be fluent in a variety of methods. I want to go back and become more familiar with the mathematical laws and principles and then make sure I use those terms when discussing mathematics with my daughter. I also think it will be good for my noggin to do math problem solving on a more regular basis.

I wish there was something I could do with this information on a more curricular level at my local elementary and even at the institution where I work but I'm not certain what that would be or how to go about it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lately, I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking about librarianship, particularly related to my workplace. I'd really like to implement some library 2.0 ideas and I'd like to re-do our entire library website. However, neither of those ideas are picking up speed with the people that can enable them to move forward. In fact, one of the ideas was squashed unilaterally with no discussion at all. Yet, among all of these things I have had some research ideas and some project ideas that have surfaced.

1. Reading about library 2.0 and particularly one author's ideas of catalog 2.0 raises questions of how library 2.0 relates to information literacy. By making things easier and more convenient for patrons are we undermining making them more information literate?

2. I'd like to do a lot more screencasts, podcasts and other resources to help educate pratrons on our resources and services. In fact, at least one professor has inquired about a specific resource and a second professor just informed me that there isn't room for my usual presentation in his upcoming compacted class which would give me the perfect reason to begin these projects. Yet, I wonder to what extent having resources professors can assign students to view or that patrons can view at their convenience would impact the number of information literacy sessions offered. Hopefully, these resources would allow class time to explore deeper concepts, but professors and students are so easily contented by surface level content.

3. Related to the past post, our institution is working on reformatting our freshman orientation and experience. This is a great opportunity to include more library exposure for everyone. Unfortunately, knowing that everyone has had a very basic, initial exposure might cause more professors to assume students know what to do or believe them when students claim they have experience. We'll have to really push the fact that students need the support of library instruction that is specific to a course and an assignment rather than general.

4. This morning I finished reading Thinking Outside the Book. I've marked numerous essays to peruse more intently later and take notes on. One essay described how a library created an index of state periodicals not indexed anywhere else. Several ideas come to mind as I know that our library carries numerous publications that aren't indexed anywhere else. Yet I am most intrigued in the possibility of creating an index or specialized finding aid for faculty publications (both books and articles). Thinking about it, it seems a shame that we don't have such an aid already. It would also be interesting to take this idea a step beyond and do a list of alumni publications which could tie in another current institutional initiative.

So many ideas and so little time!