6.27.2012

Math Journals or How I have learned to like math

I don't like math.  Never have.  I had the world's worst math teachers in school.  Well, at least from 8th grade on.  I think the ones before that were OK, but no one I thought just fabulous.  In 8th grade, the teacher was nuts and went crazy and threw dry erase markers at students.  He was there the whole year, somehow.  I don't remember much from his class.  Did I even go?  Freshman year, I was in Algebra 1 with another weird teacher.  He didn't like me, I didn't like him.  I wasn't mean or rude, but he didn't like me.  I spent more time outside than in class.  I transferred to another class, Algebra A (the slow way to do Algebra) and had another crazy teacher.  He was 8 months away from retirement, didn't really care and I guess teaching kids math who didn't get it wasn't his cup of tea anymore.  The next 2 years, I had a math teacher who was really a science teacher and couldn't really explain the concepts.  If we didn't get it, then something was wrong with us (for me, it's because I am blond, for someone else, it was because they were a football player, etc.).  Then after a trip to summer school to get my D in geometry up to a B- (all I had to do was show up and read my Danielle Steel books!), I had to take Algebra 2 my senior year.  Again, the teacher was close to retirement, but he at least tried to explain things so we could maybe get it.  I didn't.  Never did, never will.  I managed a C-, but I did cry to him and tell him I was going to college and needed a passing grade to go.  He took pity on me and didn't want to see me in summer school.  Bless his heart.  Then in college, I had to take the remedial math that didn't count before I could take the math I needed for my degree in Elementary Education.

Fast forward 15 years.  I still don't like math.  But I am learning to embrace it and make it fun for my students and for me.  I actually enjoy teaching math now (it's only at a 1st grade level, but let me tell you, there are some things that have taken us 4 years to finally understand what it is they want the kids to know!).  I have made it mine.  I follow the curriculum to a point.  I have to be on a certain topic at a certain time to make sure my kids are ready for the benchmark testing.  I do that, but I tweak it to fit the needs of my kids and also to fit the needs of the teacher - there are just some things that are too dumb to teach the way they want us to teach it.  

One thing I have started doing is math journals.  2 year ago, I started them in about March.  The kids who were higher in math (and reading) loved them.  It gave me time to work with the kids who needed the extra help while giving the other kids something to think about and work out in their own way.  I had to go to a math training and the trainer there said it was a good idea, but they weren't having to think outside the box.  Well, they are 6 and their box is still little and sometimes it's still good to think INSIDE the box.  Anyway, last year I did my math journals and tied them to the theme/holiday/science/social studies stuff we were doing.  They used the math concepts, but it was a little here, a little there.  This year, I am still going to use those (some have been posted over the years, please read through and look...if I find them myself, I will link back to them), but I am also going to focus more on the actual topic in math and add to the unit to help expand on it.

Our district uses enVision math, which isn't great, but I like it enough.  We don't do it in order (don't ask), so my topics will not be in order, either, sorry.  We begin the year doing Topics 1, 8 and 9.  Crazy, right?  So far, I have created journal prompts for Topic 1 (Numbers to 12) and Topic 8 (Geometry).  You can check them out at my TpT store here and here.

That's about all I will be doing til after the holiday.  We will be camping this weekend and then I am going to enjoy the long holiday weekend with my family.  I can't believe it's almost July, my last month of vacation.  School starts August 13 for me, which will come a lot faster than I want it to!  Happy Wednesday (or Thursday for some already!)!

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