It takes a village

I remember a time in 6th grade when I got stuck on a math problem.  My dad worked on it with me and we got to the right answer, but I didn't get credit for it because I didn't show my work.  My dad tried to figure out how to use my teacher's method, but we ended up solving the problem some other way.  I remember talking about an 8th grade history assignment with my parents, and being honestly stunned when I realized that my mother didn't remember the historical significance of the year 1066, and that she didn't remember that the Spanish Armada collapsed in 1588.  How could anyone forget something so significant?

My library offers a free tutoring program for kids in grades K-12.  We have amazing volunteer tutors who help kids with their math worksheets, grammar assignments, research papers, and even high school chemistry.  One of the (20-something) tutors told me that she was helping one of the kids work on multiplying 2-digit numbers, and had to do a quick wikipedia search to learn the system in order to help the kid with his worksheet.  The system is called lattice multiplication - you use a grid to keep track of the numbers you're multiplying and adding.  I read through a few different articles before finally getting it myself.

(It seemed crazy to me to reinvent the wheel with this crazy box system, when long multiplication (what I learned) is easier and more practical in real life situations.  Then I learned that the lattice method was first described by the mathematician Al-Khwarizmi in the 9th Century.) 

I keep saying that parents are a child's first teacher, that we need to support our schools and teachers, and that parents and schools can't do it alone.  Many of the parents who bring their kids to Homework Hub are recent immigrants who are incredibly dedicated to their child's success in school, and are learning English, math and history at the same time as their kids.  I'm quite pleased with the library's role in helping families achieve academic success - that the library can be (is) such an important part of the community.

I just didn't expect a 9th Century mathematician to trigger an "It Takes a Village" moment.


Online task list

I need to reorganize how I keep track of stuff I want to read online.  I used delicious for several years as a tool to remember all the cool stuff I came across on the web and as a to-do list.  Bookmarking has never been an effective way to keep track of stuff I want to read eventually, mainly because I would keep bookmarking and would rarely go back to read anything.  (And yes, I had a separate tag called 'to-read' in both my browser and my delicious account).  (Similarly, my in-box at work does not serve me well as a to-do list.  I have to write 'respond to So-and-So' on my ever-growing-never-shrinking to-do list, or the email gets buried.)

I really don't want to have two different accounts to keep track of my 'read this when you have time' stuff, but it's probably necessary.  So far I've come across the perfectly named Read It Later (which has extensions for Firefox and other browsers, as well as an Android app) but I can't take a tour before signing up, and am hesitating on that for some reason.  Pinboard looks good, and it's all-in-one, but I really don't want to pay a fee to keep a to-do list.

I also need to pick easier topics, like this one, to write about.  I'm one week back into blogging, and so far I have four draft posts - the future of the digital divide, demographic data and what to do with it, assessment tools and how to use them, and cosplay - and no posts to show for it.  (Okay, the only thing difficult about the cosplay post is that I'm not sure I have anything to say about it.)



Two years ago, I felt that blogging (in general) and the focus of my blog (specifically) had run its course.  I stopped writing, and began to play around with various social media (including being offline completely for awhile). I found some tools that I enjoyed, but missed the process of composing my blog posts.   While many of the reasons to have a blog today still don't apply to me (I'm not marketing or selling anything, I do not aim to drum up major conversations, and am not actually convinced that anyone will want to read this), I really miss the process of reading for and composing blog posts.  I found that writing about something helped make sense out of an idea, and writing is a task that helps me focus my thoughts in a (hopefully) productive direction.

So, here I am.