Thursday, May 24, 2007

Open House

Iris finished her report and turned it in on Monday morning. She made her diorama Monday night and turned it in this morning. She worked independently for the most part. We corrected the spelling and tried to correct the grammar on her first draft. She took the spelling advice but ignored our "outdated" grammar advice.

The kids were so cute this morning in the school yard, clutching their dioramas proudly. Mark cut the end off of the box that formerly held his new bicycle helmet. Iris ran upstairs to the scrapbook center and chose a few sheets of card stock. She asked for her watercolors which I set out for her. I then went to do the dishes and take a shower. Afterwards, I came down to see if she needed a hand. She was done.

She showed me how she had painted the rabbit hole that the rabbit escaped down into. The cheetah, still hungry, was about to leap up and catch a bird to eat instead. She had obviously internalized the lessons of cheetah life. She had cut up and folded a bunch of putty-colored paper. She said that they were rocks. They blew around so she taped them to the bottom. We were really impressed with her imagination.

Tonight, at the open house, her teacher walked over to us and thanked us for bringing in a wonderful student-made project. It never occurred to either of us to help her with her diorama. However, looking around, we realized that we were the exception to the rule.

Iris attends first grade in the morning and second grade in the afternoon. We visited her second grade classroom and Mark remarked that the dioramas looked the same in both grades. I replied that the parents of first and second graders are roughly the same age and level. ;-)

We are so clueless. It wasn't until I read the baby names book that I learned all those little Madisons are named after Madison Avenue and not the university town. I understand that names are often aspirational. But, Madison Avenue just doesn't resonate with me the way the university does.

My work sometimes takes me to the university town. I adore the students. The intellectual intensity, the midwestern politeness, the blue hair--their moms must be bursting with pride. Iris' cousin is about to join them. He will be starting graduate school there in the fall. Are we proud? What do you think?

Do visit the link to the University of Wisconsin at Madison CIMSS Satellite Blog on the right. Scott currently has a wonderful post about the moon in GOES satellite imagery.


  1. We had a similar diorama display at our school's open house (3rd grade) and a similar experience just recently.

    Our dioramas were supposed to come with a 7 to 8 sentence descriptive paragraph. But all the other kids' paragraphs that I looked at, and there were many, appeared to be written by adults. I didn't realize this with the first one I read; I just had a feeling that I was reading the class valedictorian's college essay, but they were mostly all like that.

    I hope I'm not being overly pessimistic when I suggest that they were copied from online resources. I doubt that writing short, pithy, paragraphs containing multiple phrases like "species diversity", "sagebrush ecology", and "sagebrush steppe" was covered at any length in class.

  2. I was skeptical that (m)any parents would name their child after Madison Avenue...

    The theory widely espoused on the Internet is that the name became popular after the 1984 movie, "Splash," in which the mermaid names herself Madison after seeing a street sign. Apparently the timing is consistent with the upward surge in use as a girl's name.

    (My own addition: at just the same time, Cybil Shepherd's character was "Maddy" on the hit TV show "Moonlighting." Which was supposed to be short for "Madeline," but still...)

    Accepting the "Splash" theory as correct, it is indirectly true that that the name is from Madison Avenue, but you could also say that parents were naming their child after a mermaid.

    My gut instinct is that most parents are not naming their little Madison after a specific thing, but just like the sound of it. The avenue, the college town, the president, the sports arena are all reasonably classy associations.

  3. Are the parents that name their girls Tiffany naming them after Louis Comfort Tiffany or the store?

  4. Tiffany is the medieval form of Theophania, a name traditionally given to girls born on the Epiphany.

    However, given that even fewer people in the 1960s-1980s knew this than knew who Louis Comfort Tiffany is, I suspect it's the jewelry. Or they just think it sounds nice.

    The one I think is weird is people naming their kids Lexus and Camry, and then making the excuse that they're derivative of Alexis and Camryn. No. You named your child after a Toyota.


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