Sunday, November 30, 2014

Getting my Game On ~ The Meek Moose Rears Her Tired Head

As per usual,  I get really crappy at maintaining the blog during the school year. But it doesn't mean that I've been hiding under my covers- though some days I wish I were able to... blah.

So how did everyone's Thanksgiving break go? I ended up with an extra day, as we received about five inches of snow Wednesday morning.

Ain't it grand?  Don't get me wrong, I liked the extra day off.  It's just that this Alaskan girl can't get excited about snow.  Like- I've done that, ya know?  Kids beyond excited though.  So, yay, Winter!

Today, being the thirtieth of November, I am aware that I completely missed doing the November currently. And I will not dare to link up today, I will wait and do the December one when it comes out (in theory- you never know with me)  But I did go ahead and fill out November's just so you could see what I'd been up to in the last month:

click to go to Farley's post last month

Most of these don't need a lot of further explanation.  I will say that as far as the song goes, my favorite part is when Nicki Minaj is rapping B to the A to the N to the G to the "heyyyyyyy".  I can do that part super duper dorky, yo!

I plan to do another post about this month in honor of The Hour of Code, so I'll just leave it at that for now.

Career direction.  Always a hot topic.  Stay in the classroom, become a specialist, change grade levels- you know, all the normal thoughts you start to have after parent teacher conferences when you have that mini-breakdown about the direction your life is headed.  Today I hope to pursue a career as a full time gamer playing Sims 4 24/7.  Because there's a life I can completely control....

I got a nasty cold just before my birthday.  Nasty enough, in fact, to put me in bed on my birthday, and obnoxiously near death for my entire birthday week.  I missed all of the planned celebrations.  All of which being two.  But for me, that is quite a full social calendar.  I recovered enough the following week to go out to eat with two of my best local girls and we had Mexican food and I wore the birthday sombrero.  I would not allow the staff to come out and clap and sing for me.  That would have been too much.  But I hammed it up for the camera enough to make a random man stop and take my picture.  What he plans to do with that photo- I don't want to know.

Apparently, this thing I am doing is called Duck lips.  I THOUGHT I was just puckering up for the camera.  Since my lips are so lovely. Ha.  But whatevs.  I was not intending duck lips.  I was intending to show off my true dorkiness in the middle picture though- as I'm sure that is much more like my normal face than the other two.  Either way, all three make fantastic profile pictures for my newest experiment and #epicfail of on-line dating.

I came to the obvious conclusion that one cannot marry an outrageously rich organic strawberry farmer, regardless of how ridiculously adorable one is, by sitting around doing nothing.  So I foolishly signed up for this virtual meat market gig. socially awkward as I out of practice as I destined to be single for all eternity as I am.... on-line dating does little more than confirm for me the death of the English language in our culture.  And how irresitible I am to the AARP crowd.  Seriously- old men LOVE me.  I get winked at eighty times a day by 65+ guys wearing cowboy hats.  And they do not know the difference between womEN and womAN.  And I'm sorry if that sounds snobby, but this English major can't handle it.  #butI'mnotsorry  I will say that I recently received an ice breaker message from someone my age, however it began with "Sup" (no, really, it started with Sup) and ended with "Bitches stay back i have no room for drama" (and the i wasn't capitalized. And this line was preceeded by an announcement that he was passionate for all things science, including vaping and hikking.)  So, if you don't mind, I will be hiding under my bed from my phone for the next three decades...

To distract myself from this travesty, I shall throw myself into my work.

Did you know there was a TpT cyber sale tomorrow and Tuesday?  Of course you did.  Here's the ad that's been blasted across your eyeballs as of late:

click to go to my store

I have put the entire store on to the maximum discount for ya'll, and even added in something new- which my children have been LOVING.

Click to go to the product

The product description sums it up for you:

Cute owls and Superheroes?!?! Get outta town!

I have a lot of students this year struggling with sight words. The words on the Dolch lists comprise 80% of everything we read – if I can help my students master these words, then I can concentrate on multi-syllabic decoding, comprehension and other reading strategies. And so can you!

To play this sight word game, students draw a card from a face down pile and read the word aloud to the group. If correct, they keep the card If incorrect, the card goes back into the pile. Bonus cards drawn either entitle the player to draw more cards or lose cards. Bonus cards are not returned to the pile after being drawn. Player with the most cards at the end of the game is the winner.

I have all five sets of Dolch words in separate games, if you want to just zero in on one needy group of students.  I have two videos here for you to see my kids playing the Pre-Primer words game with me.  I only have a couple of kids with trouble on the pre-primer list, but my class is also 80% ESOL this year- so I added in a variation to the basic game where we practiced making up sentences to go along with the words.  You'll see that in the second video.  I've found this variation of the game to be excellent practice for oral language skills with my kids.

When the game is over, you can also have your kids write down the words that they "won" and create sentences using them if you'd like to add some extra accountability to the game.

And I reallllly need to work on my positive affirmations, as I say the same thing over and over in the videos.  Maybe I'm just nervous when I film.  Or just a huge dork. As always, there is at least one kid completely off task in the background.  Just keeping it real, yo!

Enjoy the sale, kittens!  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Meek Moose Checks Out Tsu - Be Inspired Teaching Strategies Blog Hop and Giveaway

Right now- at this very moment, my children are upstairs watching Full House on NickatNite.  I confess to not watching this show as a kid, myself.  And, perhaps, had I, maybe I would have thought it was the bee's knees.  But not anymore. It's over-the-top sappiness chills this Walking-Dead-Binge-Watcher's heart to the core.  Blah.

Even more chilling- there's a new social media venue out there.

I know.  Like we needed another one.  However!  I've decided to try the puppy out.  It's like FB, but without the ads.

If you have not heard about it yet, Tsu is different than others because it lets you create your own network within the Tsu community.  I like it because as a page for The Meek Moose on Tsu, I can "be friends" with other teacher's pages and not just a follower.  I feel like it has the potential to have a more direct exchange with other teachers, whereas my FB page is sort of limited.  I plan on keeping both.  It's just another place for me to post inappropriate e-cards and pictures of Beaker from the Muppets.

Tsu requires an invite to join- and you're welcome to join through my page, or any of the other pages in this hop. Just use this link: to sign up. Free, fast, easy peasy.

I'm wondering if my school system has already blocked it? I'm not allowed on Pinterest, or FB from work. And that's probably very smart on their part.

So far, the only bit I've found hard is finding teacher buddies simply. But, the site does use a hashtag system, and if you look up #teacherfriends you can find all sorts of folks.

But let's talk about math, shall we?

I have been taking a class on Monday nights for teaching number sense in the primary grades.  And enjoying it thoroughly, I might add!  It's helped me expand my thinking on what sorts of activities my kids should really be practicing, and what can help them bridge the gaps int heir understandings.  Also, it helps me see what actually might be happening.

Here's a quick and easy game to play to help your kids learn some mathematical lingo and also develop that concept of number.  All you need is ten connecting cubes per player.

Awesome, the folks throwing the cubes around in the background, yeah?  I'm so awesome at classroom management it hurts.

I'm using a lazy susan I picked up from a thrift shop as my spinner- and all I did was tape a paper plate I marked with Scentos to it.  We've rigged up a stapler with a pipe cleaner to be our arrow.

We created the sentence stems and have them posted on a dry erase board near our work table.  If anyone gets stuck they can refer to them to complete the game.

The game is ADORED by my kids.  They love it that the winner is ultimately by chance.  But that doesn't mean that they won't be sore when Lady Luck doesn't go their way...

Baby Girl lost her cubes!
I created a quick freebie for everybody- a little game board with the sentence frames so you could play a version of it if you don't have lazy susan's readily available.  I'm also going to use this small board to send home with my kids so they can pay at home.

To go along with the blog hop, our merry bad of Tsu teachers are having a giveaway. Try your luck with the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall Fun with the Virginia Teacher Bloggers

Got together again with my Virginia girls for a freebie blog hop!

One thing I have liked about blogging is meeting different people.  It's especially nice to meet people close by that you can connect with in person as well.  I'm glad I found my group of VA folks who like to chat and support each other in our teaching adventures.

Growing up in Alaska- can't say I experienced much of "fall".  It generally snows well and good by the first of October.

Ain't that sweet?

bllllllpppppphhhhhttttt!  I've been enjoying the 70ish temps this week.  Regardless of the rain.  And I do like the colors.  Allergic to it all of course, stuffed up more than the soon to be Thanksgiving turkey- but I still like it.

Even in October, we're introducing new routines in second grade.  Today in Math I just added in a station for starting to count coins.  We've got to get up to two bucks in change by the end of the year, so I'm starting us off with hitting the twenty-five cents mark in the next two weeks.  Today was just about pennies.

I've been taking a graduate class in teaching number sense on Monday's, and learning a lot about concept of number and counting and the hierarchy of math development.  Pair this with giving some AMC assessments and discovering a group of kids who can only conceptualize up through the number 6- and I'm thinking "How do I fix this?"

Today I made up a quick twenty-five frame set, printed it on card stock and slipped it in a sheet protector for the kids.  We rolled the die, added on the pennies, and talked about how much we had.

Level One I called it- told them today only pennies.  Next week- we add in nickels for level TWO.  OOOOOO! They all said.  Level twoooooooo!!   #teacherninja

Sounds too simple, eh?  Twenty-five pennies.  Try it.  Go watch how many of them try to count them by ones.  even after they have told you that one filled in row is always five.  And that the whole rectangle is one ten.  Out comes their finger.  Poke poke poke.  Or they know I'm looking and they try to count with their nose.  This is when I have to cover up a bit with my hand and remind them - "Wait!  How many is in just one row?"  Then we try to work on "and add two more".

Overall, I was pleased with the work we did today.  I found out a lot.  Some kids surprised me with how well they did.  Others baffled me that they struggled.  Some did exactly what I expected them to do, but after working with them a few miutes, tried on some heavier strategies for adding on.

So I came home tonight and decided to spiffy up my twenty-five frame board and give it out as a freebie.  LUCKY YOU!

I'm reprinting this new one on card stock and then slipping it in the sheet protector sleeve for my kids tomorrow.  The sheet protector is my go to when I don't have time to wait in line at the laminator.  I'm super lazy that way, I know.  But, it does have the added bonus of being able to be put in a handy-dandy binder when I'm all done though.

Here's some video of me chatting up some kids playing the game today.  And, yes, super awesome that the kids at the table just behind are completely NOT doing what they are supposed to be doing.  Sheesh.  Oh, well.  Photographic evidence now.  I can just follow them to every station tomorrow....

Click the picture to go get the free download.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Math in the Things I Don't Like to Talk About

That will most likely be the only thing funny about this post.  And it's basically because any time I get ready to talk about anything serious, in my head I hear the words "On a very special, Xena: Warrior Princess".  I tend to handle things that make me uncomfortable with humor.  But in the end- some things aren't funny.

I've been Sunday Scooping for the past few weeks- but I had told myself I was going to do a Math is Real Life post.  And I should do that before I scoop.  And I don't want to lump all of this together in one big post, because it needs to be on its own.

You ever have those dreams where your all teeth fall out?  Or you've got, like, old gum stuck in them and you keep trying to pull it out and it just keeps coming out in long never breaking strings?  Even if you haven't- it's a thing.  Apparently, according to dream psychology, it means you have something to say but you aren't saying it.  Surprising, I know, but there are some things I don't say out loud. Often.

This past Tuesday my chickens died.  I went out in the morning to check on them and found them dead.  Killed by a cat or something during the night.  I'd say my reaction was intense.  My parents worried a bit that I might have been having "an episode".  But I wasn't.  It was just a moment of terrible despair.  I had a lot of emotions wrapped up in those two girls.  I buried them yesterday. My dad helped quite a bit, and now they have a very lovely spot in the back yard.  I won't be getting any new chickens any time soon.  I suppose I will try to hatch some eggs with my class again next May, but we'll see.

 Statistically speaking, Grief happens to everyone.  People work through the stages in different ways and at various rates - all depending on the situation and background of the individual affected.

In the following two infographics, you can see how children experience grief slightly differently than adults:

Now, I am not saying that the death of my chickens is comparable to huge moments of life crisis.  But grief is wrapped up into the things I don't talk about much.

The first being autism.

My oldest son has "moderately severe" autism.  He is not in public education, but goes to a private school.  He will never be a candidate for mainstreaming.  Thus far, he is not capable of learning a trade skill either.  So the reality of my situation is that I can choose to place him a residential home, or he will live with me the rest of his life.  I'm not someone who is comfortable with a residential program.

And why would that have anything to do with grief?

Honestly, because the day they diagnosed him when he was three - the son I thought I had, died.  I had already imagined his whole life by then. I had decided what he'd look like riding a bike, and playing sports, and getting his first car, and dressing up for Senior Prom. The ideas of going to college and meeting a woman and getting married and having children of his own- all gone.  I can remember being in his bedroom watching him sleep that night that they decided.  Just watching him sleep.  Not really realizing it yet, the inevitability of it all, but sensing a great loss.

There was, of course, a period of time where not only I remained hopeful- but also received tons of encouragement from friends, family, and church people on how my son would be healed by God.  Either by miracle or scientific discovery, my son would be "free from autism" by the time he was out of elementary school (note: he's in his last year of middle school now).  I can remember doing two different 40 day prayer fastings for parents of children of autism. I can remember a few different church speakers known supposedly for great healings praying over him. I can remember being told that perhaps I wasn't faithful enough. I can remember being told that God would never help a woman like me.  I haven't taken him to church for years.  And I can't say I much care for going anymore myself.

And not because I feel like I was not faithful enough.  Or that God wouldn't help a woman like me.  I don't have an issue with God at all.  I have an issue with people that pretend God speaks to them.

The math of autism:

Click to go to website and better view of infographic

I don't talk about it because people make this weird face if I do. A mixed face of feeling bad, but happy it's not them, and not even knowing what to say.  And actually- no one has to say anything. I'd be glad if it wasn't me either.  I've actually found myself jealous of women whose children "only" have Asperger's.  But it's all perspective- because they're going through something too.

My second source of grief being wrapped up around my youngest son's father.

The relationship was abusive.  For the last five years up until this past May.  And I have struggled quite a lot in the grief aspect of the failure of that relationship - because I had wanted it to have been the real magical thing I thought it was in the beginning.  And I have a lot of anger at myself for being stupid and letting myself stay in that situation.  But that's because I never understood the math of abusive relationships myself.

Every single one.

#1, #3, #4, #5, #7, #10
This occurred in my thirties- but they say that teenagers in high school and the college years are going through this right now and their parents don't even realize.  Their parents think everything is fine.  It's worth educating yourself about if you have any contact with teens.

And the math behind why I finally got out:

Some folks think it's terrible that I don't want my son to ever see his father again.  And I agree that it's an ugly thing to do.  It causes me a lot of turmoil to have made the decision.  But in the end, I love my son too much.  I don't ever want him to change because of being exposed to domestic violence.

I'm willing to be ugly to save my son from this.

Yesterday, when I buried my chickens, I realized that in five months, I received more love from Peep and Ruby than I had in five years from this man that I lamented the loss of.  And why was I going to cry myself to sleep over someone who can't hold a candle to a chicken?  So, at the moment, I'm feeling peaceful.  Not over it, mind you.  I still have PTSD because of the relationship and will deal with that for some time- but I don't feel like I need to cry.

And why talk about any of this anyway?  Why even open my mouth since I haven't much wanted to?  I'm tired of being a prisoner, I guess.  And I also believe I'm not the only one. Teachers tend to have a nurturing personality.  We take on fixer-uppers.  We have a belief that we can help and change someone through the power of love.  So I think, yeah, there are other women out there still holding on to tomorrow- believing that he'll change, he'll see the light.  Like a child who finally makes progress in reading.  But it's not like that.  And it's not going to be like that.  And you're killing yourself waiting on tomorrow.  And you don't have to wait.  You could start healing and living today.

Teachers who aren't experiencing this- your students might be.  And it's worth researching so you can identify signs.

I didn't write this post at all for comments.  If you'd like to leave one, that is fine.  If you'd like to send me an email, that's fine too.  But I don't need an "I'm so sorry."  Really, I don't. Even though I appreciate the love and encouragement I get from so many different people.  I wrote this because I needed to. Maybe I'll be able to keep my teeth in my dreams for awhile.  And because I think there is someone who needed to read it.  And I hope it helped, whoever you might be.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Meek Moose Blogs Twice in One Week

Stop the presses!  And I even plan on blogging again tomorrow.  AND Sunday.  So whooooooooot.

Whatever dragged me from my den of exhaustion?  A linky, obviously.  Farley's Currently.


As I worked on my laptop finishing up my interims, I decided to put on something I was so familiar with I wouldn't need to look up constantly to see what was happening.  I LOVE Chuck.  I do.  And I've watched them all, a million times.  My mother, on the other hand, has never seen an episode.  Also, you should know that she is the ultimate tv show viewer, in that she has the keenest suspension of disbelief of anyone I've eve known.  When she watches a show, she is IN THE SHOW.  Her fists sometimes come up during fight scenes and she'll punch a little bit while saying "You get 'em buddy!"  Sometimes, I find this the most irritating thing in the world.  Until I realize I can video tape her expression and post it on Youtube.  Mark this intensity!!!  She's not sure if Chuck will make it out of the Bamboo Dragon restaurant alive!


Nothing says "I am ready to do absolutely nothing this weekend!" like coming home to put on a pair of elastic waist pants. That is all I have to say about that.



See what I did there? #punny


I'm assuming that the clarity is near the bottom...

Trick or Treat

I'm going with Trick.  I apologize for the out-of-focus, but my camera man is seven, and still in training.  Still though- you'll get the idea.
Whenever I've given a number line to kids to use as a tool to help them solve math problems- they always end up counting the number they start with as part of the equation, and end up being off in their answer by one.  So I ran across this pin on having a life size number line:

And decided to make one with painter's tape on my tile floor.

My kids now have this muscle memory of standing on the starting number and not counting until they move away from it.  So when we started using paper ones, they remembered.  It also ended up being a great way to talk about equality and non-equality using the vocabulary true or not true.  No matter what the kids suggest, we test it, and decide if it was true or not true.  Then the child who made an error walks to the correct number, and everyone can make an inequality statement, while the child who made the mistake doesn't feel bad about it.  We didn't say "WRONG!" and erase it, just made the inequality sign.

They use this as one of their math workshop rotations and take turns making up equations and walking them out.  After they do the subtraction problem, they chose someone else's equation and guess at the opposing addition family fact and test their theory.  That has also helped kids learn to get the numbers in the correct places; since they've tested out their ideas before deciding on a final answer.

It is amazingly easy to do, and the kids enjoy it. Let me know if you give it a try and get more insight!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Meek Moose is an Unmotivated Blob

I do actually have plans to blog more than once a week.  Seriously, I do.  I'm just crap at it.  At least the Sunday Scoop keeps me current.  Although- I could probably easily rewrite the same things every week.  Because I'm also crap at getting anything I put on a list done.  I have the efficiency of a sloth dead in a tree. But even that might be too efficient.  It is, after all, decomposing at a steady rate.  I wouldn't say that I'm doing anything even near that level of efficiency.  Unless you count gaining weight.

BUT- I did start four different drafts of blog posts- so hopefully that will help me get it done. For now though, let's scoop it.

Things I HAVE to do:

1) If I don't take my daughter shopping today, I do truly believe she will stab me with her fork at dinner.  She has decided that she needs something.  Something I'm not allowed to say because Dear God, if a person from North Dakota read it and somehow told someone else and it would certainly get all the way back to here to where we are Eighteen Kabillion states away. So I won't say exactly what it is.  But I will say she does not need it.  And I doubt that she will need it any time soon.  She is not following in the footsteps of her mother in this, seeing as she's a waif.  But whatever.  I'll go buy her one.  She can learn early how annoying they are.

2) I'm taking a grad class in Teaching Numeracy in K - 2.  It's actually a great class, but I am a sloth, remember- and I don't really do my homework like I should.  So I'm actually going to try to do it tonight instead of tomorrow on the way to class.  Like I normally do. 

3) If I don't do laundry, I'll be wearing a bathing suit as underwear tomorrow.  And I sincerely doubt I'd fit in it anyway.  So here we go high efficiency Tide - let's knock this out.  Or, at least, do one load.  I don't want to be an over achiever or anything.  I miss my sister.  She was really, really excellent at keeping the laundry going.  One day if I can afford a housekeeper, I can only hope she can keep up with the laundry as well as Traci did.

Thing I HOPE to do:
1) I went all slacky-mcslack-slack on my 100 Days Project of water coloring birds.  And I would actually like to make an attempt to finish it.  i think I might have one week left.  So we'll see.

2) This morning I found the skiddish Ruby outside of the chicken coop.  After ten minutes of chasing her in circles, I finally caught her - sort of - and put her back inside the run.  It was actually more like I got my hands underneath her just enough to give her the right amount of panicked LIFT to achieve flight over the fencing.  Anyway- I'm hoping to have a sit down with Captain America today and show him this pallet plan I found on-line.

Something I'm HAPPY to do:

1) I was listening to my regular radio morning show during my commute and they were talking about coffee creamer.  So I decided to try some out.  Over at "The -Mart" I discovered a bottle of Southern Butter Pecan.  It told me right on the label that it would taste like Pecan Pie.  SOLD!!!  And yes.  Yes it does.  So, my coffee is now even more ridiculous than it was with milk and finely ground sugar, annnnnnnnd I ended up using it in my oatmeal instead of regular milk and I will NEVER go back.  Until I'm 400 pounds, and maybe I'll stop to think, "Ya know, maybe that coffee creamer in the oatmeal was not the best idea..."  But I doubt it.  if I get myself to 400 pounds, I think it will be obvious that I don't actually give a shit about that sort of thing.  Bring me the truckload of pancakes please.

And now, to fill out this little tidbit from my friend Haley at Owls&Lessons, etc:   It actaully makes me feel like I sort of wrote lesson plans.  Even though I didn't.  Never do. Seriously, I suck.

Pinterest Finds for the Week to help with above:

Reading:  Hoping this really helps make the sequencing concrete.

Science: I bought this last week from Teaching with Style and it's wonderful!  Mucho Awesome, folks! Click to go TpT and get one.

Football Sunday, ya'll!  I'm sure I'll manage to do nothing I planned.