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!)!

6.26.2012

Something got accomplished!

Hello there!  I am productive today.  Kind of, anyway.  I haven't gotten out of my pj's today, and I don't plan in it til later this evening when I have to take my daughter to Girl Scouts.  I have a decent reason - I am tired.  It has been non stop since Friday and I want a break.

Friday we went to the movies and watched Madagascar 3.  Cute movie.  We then went to the Apple store and got my daughter an iPod Touch for her birthday.  She loves our iPads, but sometimes there is not enough to go around.  So now she has her own toy to learn and play with.

On Saturday, I cleaned house all day.  I deep cleaned the kitchen and living room, which needed it, but now that life has happened since then, it's a mess.  Thanks, hubby and your beef jerky making mess.  :(  On Sunday, we celebrated my daughter's birthday.  A lot of bowling and then coming back home for pizza and cupcakes, which I made on Sunday morning, have taken their toll on me.  Yesterday I took my daughter to Legoland and we stayed there with the crowds all day long until we were red in the cheeks and had tired feet.  I had a headache on top of it all, so I was beat last night.  A little Advil PM and I was out til about 9am this morning!  And I have been in pj's since!  That's the perk with vacations, right?  We can relax in pj's as long as we want and no one has to know!


But, I have been productive a bit today.  I have had this idea to start working on stuff for school, but things have gotten in the way, like me not wanting to think about school.  But, this one in particular has been bugging me.  I woke up Sunday morning at 3:30am thinking about it!  Crazy, right?  So, I sat down today and made my newest mini packet for TpT.  Last year, I started doing math using cereal as the manipulatives. My kids loved it and ate it up, literally!  We used frosted mini wheat cereal to find all the ways to make numbers...kinda like the red/yellow counter things in the math, but a lot more exciting!  I put together a little mini unit for the numbers 5 - 10.   Click on the frosted mini wheat guy to pick up your own copy!  The first 3 people who comment on my blog will get their own copy free!  Please make sure to leave me an e-mail address where I can send it!
I have high hopes to get a few more cereal math units up.  Let me know what you think!  And, with that in mind, I should probably get something else done so I can feel a bit more accomplished!  Happy Tuesday!

6.24.2012

If time could just slow down...

Wow!  Time sure does fly when you are having fun.  Or wishing summer lasted forever.  Or not wanting your baby to grow up!  I think I have all these feelings right now!  It's been a busy week and the end of the 4th week of vacation.  Crazy how it is going by in the blink of an eye.

This last week was quite productive.  I went to school 3 days.  3 DAYS!  That's insane and it won't happen again til August.  I went on Monday to see how things looked in my room.  The floors were clean, so that was good.  I worked for 45 minutes, got some things put away and then left.  I felt productive, but I didn't over stay my welcome!  I went again on Wednesday and Thursday.  Wednesday I was there for about 4 hours and Thursday I was there for about 3 hours.  I got a lot done, but kinda made more of a mess.  Oops...I will get to that in August as well.  My walls are pretty much done, as long as I don't change the yellow walls.  

This is an old wall/new wall.  My word wall is the yellow wall, as it was last year.  The black wall is my calendar wall.  I took down the yellow and put up black.  I will add up my write on/wipe off parts once I get them made.  I put the black up to hide the mess from the dry erase markers for the write on walls.  The black looks so much cleaner, don't you think?  Should I leave the word wall yellow or make it black, too?


This wall used to go the other way and it was also yellow, as were all the walls in my room.  I really am digging the black.  This will be the student work display wall for their art.  The little wall will be for the standards and whatever else we are to have up at all times.

This is the same as last year.  This is my nothing wall.  There was never anything on the wall.  It's a weird space.  What do I use it for?  I will probably take it down and put up black paper, but I don't know what to put up there.  Any suggestions?  We have to keep it fire marshall friendly, too.

My other back wall that I use to display work is black as well.  I changed it right before Open House and that's when I decided to go with black.  Some say it's too dark, others say it's OK.  I am also going to be buying the new owl bulletin board set by TREND once Lakeshore has their sale starting on July 5th.  I can't wait.  The owls are bright and cheerful and kinda funky!  It will liven up my room a lot, I think!  

Tomorrow, Monday, is my baby girl's birthday.  She will be 6!  I can't believe she will be that old!  We celebrated today with family and tomorrow she and I will go to Legoland and then to the beach from some mommy-daughter time.  We went bowling today, went to the movies on Friday night and then she went to the movies last night with her grandparents.  All in all, she has had a great birthday weekend!  And, her crazy parents (that would be me!) decided that she needed and iPod for her birthday.  She loves to play on our iPads, so I figured this would be her technology to start with.  You're never too young to start, I guess!  

My goals for this week are to enjoy my summer break a little more while getting some things accomplished.  I need to deep clean my laundry room (never fun), make up a math mini unit, try and finish the book I started the other day and get all packed for camping.  Thursday will be here very quickly and we need to be ready to skip town for the weekend!  

Here's to a great day celebrating my baby's birthday and a great week (or 3 days) getting everything else ready!  Happy Sunday!  



6.19.2012

Sleep...or Why I like summer vacation!

I don't know about you, but I like my sleep.  It may be the lazy part in me, but I like getting a good night's sleep.  I like waking up refreshed in the morning, ready to tackle the list of things I have planned - or more realistically, do a couple things and then wonder where the day has gone.  That was how the day went yesterday!

I woke up relatively early (6:30...hubby had court) and then managed to get a workout in.  Ate breakfast, read for a bit (I was trying to finally finish a book that I have been working on forever. ), showered, didn't bother to do my hair, then went to do what was on my list of things to do.  I had an order at Lakeshore to pick up, went to school for a bit (like 45 minutes, but got stuff done), ran to the library to sign my daughter up for the dumb reading program this summer (last year was so good...this year not so much.  They want you to go every day to sign that they read.  Um, it's 5 miles from my house and gas is still a bit pricey in So Cal, so we aren't going every day!), came home, ate lunch and then proceeded to fall asleep on the couch.  For 2 hours.  While my daughter played on the iPad.  It was glorious.  We then got up, went in the pool (I finished it yesterday, thank goodness!) had dinner and then I sat for the next hour to finish the darn book.  But it's done!  Yay!

I had big plans yesterday to get some things done.  I wanted to work on stuff for the beginning of the year.  I wanted to make some zucchini cookies.  I wanted needed to finish the laundry that was in the dryer.  Nope.  None of it got done.  There is always today, right?

Let's see how the day will pan out - woke up at 8:15.  Watched GMA in bed til 9.  Got up, changed clothes, went for a walk, came home, had breakfast with my daughter then came on the computer.  Hmmm...not looking promising so far!  Actually, I think I will go shred some zucchini, make something with it, finish that load of laundry and then see where that leaves me.  There is a project at the library that my daughter wants to do, so we will go today, do that (hopefully) and sign the reading slip for the day.  Maybe, just maybe I will have some time tonight to get something done for work.  Lots of ideas in my head, nothing coming out!  ;)

Happy Tuesday!

6.17.2012

I'm baaaaaaack!

Wow!  I took a longer than expected break from blogging.  No real reason behind it really, other than I didn't want to.  I didn't have anything to say, nothing to share and nothing that was of any interest to others.  Honestly, I doubt I have any of that today, but I am going to write anyway!

I have been on vacation for 3 weeks now.  I have loved my break.  I was very sad when I realized it had been 3 weeks already.  That means there are only 6 weeks left.  Or 7.  I have to count.  Either way, it's going to fast!  I don't even have my pool ready yet!  But, we did get our family vacation in for the summer, and now we have little trips planned.

We spent a week in Orlando at our new-to-us timeshare.  We got it for a steal, so we didn't mind going.  We flew out on 6/3 at 6:30 am and landed at 3:30pm.  A long day for sure - with nothing to eat.  We were all a bit hungry, crabby and tired.  We got to our timeshare, checked in and checked out of consciousness!  We then spent the next 5 days at the various Disney parks.  The first day and a half was spend sweating to death!  On Monday, it was 96* with a ton of humidity - it was the hottest day of the year there so far.  Yay me!  Tuesday thru Saturday we had rain at some point in the day.  Light rain, heavy rain, torrential rain - we had it all.  But we managed to make it thru the parks as dry as we could be and have some fun.  Next year we won't go back for all 5 days to the parks, but we will actually relax on vacation a bit!  We flew back home to sunny and not-so-hot Cali on 6/10.  We left Orlando at 6:30am and landed at 8am.  Another crazy long day, but glad to be home!  This last week was spend cleaning, organizing and trying to decrapify my house.  Still getting the decrapification process completed.  But it's a good feeling to get rid of the junk we don't really need!

Thursday I was blessed with jury duty.  I was actually supposed to go tomorrow, but I didn't want to!  I hate jury duty.  I should respect the process, but I don't.  I hate sitting there waiting all day doing nothing.  Thursday was a light jury pool day, so we all were pulled for a case.  Of course, it started at 9:30 with the judge giving us his speech and then dismissing the people who were lucky enough to be able to leave by 10.  The rest of us had to wait, fill out a survey and then wait some more.  The courtroom we were going to was in the process of being used by a case that was finishing up, so we had to wait.  We were released for lunch at 11:30 and told to be back by 1:30.  Then we had to wait til 3:30 before anything happened.  We finally got to the courtroom at 3:30 and started the questioning by the judge.  I was not happy with the case (nasty, nasty case) and I let the judge know that I could not keep an open mind.  There were a few others who felt the same way, but I was "yelled" at by the judge for my inability to keep an open mind.  I guess having a hubby for a lawyer doesn't help me there!  The judge decided to recess for the night, but not before he released 5 people - luckily I was one of those people!  The other poor people had to be back on Friday.  I was never so happy to be out of there and not have to sit on the jury.  I would have been kicked off eventually, as they took special care to tell us to mark on our survey if we were mandated reporters.  Hubby said the defense attny would not want a teacher on this case anyway...so, my civic duty is done for the year and I can enjoy the rest of my vacation!

I have ***finally*** started reading The Daily 5.  I want to implement it, but I am having trouble wrapping my mind around it fitting into my schedule.  I have 90 minutes in the morning before recess, but part of that time (20 - 30 mins) is my daily opening time.  I do my calendar, poem, read aloud, etc. during that time.  After the 90 minutes, we have recess, then we have focus time, where my kids are spread out between ELD and intervention and I am lucky if I have half my kids at that time.  Then there is 30 minutes before lunch for writing instruction.  After lunch is math for a little over an hour and then the afternoon leaves time (3 days a week anyway) for science or social studies or art or....Get the picture?  And I am trying to figure out how to get the Houghton Mifflin stuff in there, as it is an updated program and our district is going to be making sure we implement the new parts.  Good times!  So, how does it all fit in?  I love the concept, but I am having trouble fitting it in to my brain!  Any help here would be greatly appreciated!

I have gotten the urge to start planning for next year.  I left with things scattered about, half done and a box that needs to be put away and it's starting to bug me!  I'm going to go in this week for a bit tomorrow and Tuesday and hopefully that will help me relax a bit.  I have lots of ideas, but getting them done is another thing.  Maybe by the end of the week I will have something to share with you all!

Happy Sunday!  Here's to a great week of vacation, playing in the pool and finally finishing the book I have been working on!