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!