Friday, February 01, 2013

Weekend Reading: The Good Stuff from My Blog Reader Edition

January's been a bit of a loss. I think there were 5 days in there when I wasn't sick. The first cold I had turned into a secondary infection and required two days off work, one at the start, and one at the end, with antibiotics. The latest cold I've had has lingered and lingered. And then I had to stay home Tuesday this week with a tummy bug Petunia brought home- and I almost never get tummy bugs. (On the bright side, we seem to have stopped the spread with me. A large amount of bleach has been used in this house this week.) I feel OK now, but tire easily and my voice is still a wreck. I alternate between husky and wispy, with the occasional croaking frog or complete loss of sound thrown in. I have no idea what is going on with my voice, and will probably have to take another trip to the doctor if it doesn't sort itself out soon.

So, if I seem to have disappeared from blogs I usually comment on, this is why. I am, to put it mildly, behind in almost all aspects of my life. Also, since I haven't had time to read widely, I don't have the usual thematic collection of links for you this week. Instead, I thought I'd link to some posts that just showed up in my blog reader and that I liked.

First of all, Antropologa has a really thought-provoking post about refugees settled in rural Sweden.

Nicoleandmaggie had an interesting post about gazingus pins. I'm still trying to figure out what mine is. At one point, it was probably shoes, but it isn't anymore.

Laura Vanderkam had a good post about things to think about if you're considering starting a home-based business. If I ever do try to go out on my own, I would be starting a home-based business. So it was interesting to read and think about, even though right now I am a corporate drone and likely to stay one.

Speaking of being a corporate drone, this HBR article about when to quit your job brought me up short. I do not, in fact, want my boss' job, at least not at this particular company. I don't think that means I should quit, though. I'm still learning useful things.

Scalzi had a really nice memoriam for Richard Stern. I like the idea of not being a good enough student for some teachers you meet in college- I know I can look back on some of the classes I had at the U of C and recognize that I'd get a heck of a lot more out of them now. I also laughed out loud at his description of his classmates.

This post from Wil Wheaton is just nice... and a nice reminder that even people the rest of us think of as famous have career ups and downs.  The commercial in question came out today. I was watching for Wil Wheaton and I still had to watch the thing twice to catch him. He's right where it makes sense for him to be. I must have blinked at an inopportune time the first time through!

That's all I have this week. I'm sure there are more great posts waiting in my blog reader- I am not at all caught up. Happy weekend, everyone!


  1. Anonymous5:35 AM

    Wow, that is a great post from wil wheaton.

    I so do not want my boss's job. Administration would SUCK. But that definitely doesn't mean I should quit.

  2. Anonymous5:36 AM

    p.s. hope the sickness stays away for a long long time now!

  3. paola6:17 AM

    Re. voice loss: from my own experience, I have found that it takes at least 2 weeks before you get back to 95%, and another one before complete recovery ( for me, if I can sing along to one of my favourite songs on the radio without straining, I've got my voice back) . I find the combination cough and a sore throat almost always lead to my losing my voice, but it is just probably due to a particular virus around at the time. I now act immediately when I have the start of a sore throat by gargling with asprin 3/4 times a days, which seems to do the trick.

    Hope you feel better soon.

  4. Hope everyone at Casa Cloud has finally kicked the bugs!

    You sound super busy trying to catch up. Timing is everything, and I get the sense now is not a good time for it, but there's an email I'm writing in my head that I'd love to actually type out and send you asking all about Pumpkin's public Kindergarten experience as a gifted kid in a Spanish immersion program. Does the language instruction provide the right kind of challenges to meet her giftedness needs? Would you make the same school choice again? etc

    1. Oh, feel free to send questions! I'll answer them. I saw your post about your first visit and meant to come leave a comment but haven't quite gotten to it yet.

      To answer the questions you ask here- yes, we'd absolutely make the same school choice again. Pumpkin is very, very happy at her school now, and loves learning Spanish. She has friends, and seems well-liked. So in short, we don't worry much about school right now.

      Now your other question is harder. The language learning is keeping her from getting bored, but she is still way ahead of most other kids academically. I don't think she is as far ahead as Nicoleandmaggie's DC1 (for instance), but she is clearly an outlier in her class. I think the language learning keeps her from getting bored with the reading, social sciences, and science part of the curriculum- even if she knows what they're teaching she doesn't know the Spanish words. However, she's bored with the math, and has gotten a little frustrated with that. I think we'll be OK through Kindergarten with just giving her some harder problems at home. So while they're doing "minus 1" I can write her a set of harder subtraction problems, and that seems to keep her happy. But clearly that won't work for ever. Next year, we'll have to talk to her teacher about how she'll be challenged. My Mom (who used to be a teacher of 1st and 3rd grades) says that depending on the philosophy in use at school, they may not do different math groups, and will instead do work where kids at different levels will solve the problems differently. The example she gave was figuring out area- some kids will have to count out all the little squares, while the more advanced kids will see the shortcuts. So we'll have to figure out what the philosophy in use at our school is, and figure out how to advocate for getting Pumpkin the challenge she needs.

      The experience of immersion was probably really good for her- she was really freaked out at first by not knowing Spanish, and she worked at learning Spanish, and now she's one of the top in her class. We point to that example when she gets frustrated about learning something else, and it actually seems to work. So that's a good thing, I think.

    2. Anonymous11:31 AM

      Hush-- My colleagues' gifted kids in the Spanish program in our town (two families, two different years/sets of teachers/schools) both told us it was great the first year, but after that they were back to the same problem they'd been having of school not being challenging enough. But they were completely fluent in Spanish! Both wanted their second kids to go through the same program though, despite the lack of challenge after the first year.

      Our needs were such that we couldn't wait the additional year we'd need to start Kindergarten or first grade so we didn't have that as an option. DC1 is getting Spanish and French, but is learning much more traditionally and mostly knows basic nouns and phrases (think the first semester of high school language).

    3. That's a good point- did you ask at the Spanish school about their gifted and talented program? Our school has one- but it doesn't start until 2nd grade (like most here in CA). Also, all teachers at the school have some training in teaching gifted kids. Already, I see Pumpkin's teacher giving her slightly modified assignments, when possible. Not extra, just modified. We've made the decision not to push on this during Kindergarten, though, for two reasons: (1) Spanish learning is keeping Pumpkin engaged and giving her some challenges, and (2) we think that since the teacher is already juggling kids at very different levels of Spanish learning (some kids were fluent speakers at the start of the year, some were like Pumpkin, and some are still struggling to learn it) and since there are kids in Pumpkin's class who didn't know their alphabet in English yet, we'll let her decide for herself how much tailoring she can do for Pumpkin. We think that the Spanish understanding situation will be more even in 1st grade, and we can expect a little more tailoring of things for Pumpkin then. We'll see.

    4. Hmm... I might have to tackle language immersion as a way to up the challenge factor over on my gifted blog. We're basically doing more advanced stuff in the AM since it's PM kindergarten around here. And I'm trying to think longer term about projects to keep the kid's interest. Learning a language could definitely be one.

    5. Thanks - you've already answered all of my questions here. Awesome.

      Due to the influences of our nanny and the bilingual Montessori preschool he attends, my son already understands spoken Spanish. I think one year of Spanish immersion Kindergarten would be enough to move him out of silent mode and into speaking Spanish, and my guess is it would be analogous to @Nicoleandmaggie's friends' experiences, maxing out at one year until school is no longer challenging enough. There is no per se gifted program with trained teachers at all, anywhere, in our small town. The closest thing to a quasi-gifted curriculum would be the public school for homeschooling families - we're due to check that out next week.

    6. Anonymous10:41 AM

      @hush-- Some good books that talk about the options for when there's no gifted program are, "Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds," (by Laura Vanderkam), "A Nation Deceived" (available online), and "Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom."

      A lot of K-8 teachers use the techniques in "Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom" as part of their training, even if they don't have specifically gifted training, because of the push towards mixed ability classes and away from tracking. So something you can ask about is how teachers deal with students of differing abilities. Cluster grouping or other differentiated work may even be a better solution for gifted kids than a limited pull-out program.


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