Thursday, March 26, 2015

Math, Part 2

My blogger friend, Alyce, said it best: Isn't that the great thing about a blog--reflection heaven? That's what my last post on Tuesday was. 

After mulling it over and looking at my kids' math papers again, this is what I decided to do: I am fortunate to have a SpEd para come into my room for the first part of math. When she came into the room on Wednesday, I grabbed her and told her my plan. 

I put all my struggling students over on one side of the room. I told the para - just do the Vertical Method {or for us old school people, the traditional method, or the regrouping method, or heaven forbid - borrowing way - you take your pick!}

So even though the rest of the class was doing the number bond way, this group of 7 kids was just doing the traditional method.

And guess what?? Three of my friends were getting it – yay! One other friend was close. And ok, one friend was doing a great job of copying – lol.  And two of my SpEd boys --- well, we’ve got some work to do.

Then today, we were supposed to do some number bond stuff to subtract. I just looked at it and said, No. So we reviewed the traditional way to subtract. {I was telling this to my hub-bub at supper, and I showed him what we were supposed to do --- and I had to laugh. He was like, "what??"} 
Again, I put my struggling friends together. This was a little more difficult, because subtraction with regrouping just is. But with more consistent practice on the same method, I’m hopeful.

We did get an email today that we will be continuing with Engage NY next year. I’m not sure what I’ll do. But it’s a ways away.

I do want to thank my bloggy friends for their kind words. It is so helpful and encouraging!

And of course the best news of all, tomorrow’s Friday!

Monday, March 23, 2015


I was thinking that it had been more than a week since I had blogged last, but then I checked and it said Saturday, so I was thinking, phew! But wait... March 14th is more than a week ago. Argh! 

And just so you know, today was my first day back after Spring Break. The morning cruised right along - and I was thinking, we are getting so much done! And then the afternoon seemed to move as slow to molasses. 

So grading papers this evening. Math papers. Fun. Not! One set was from before Spring Break, when I had a sub. The other was today's. 

And I'm thinking - the rich get richer. Or, you either got it or you don't. 
And finally, I'm not sure what to do. 

We are using Engage NY. I can see what they are wanting us to do - we've been working on double and triple digit addition and subtraction since before Christmas. And they are showing different ways to work problems. I can see how this would be beneficial, and I realize that I use some of these different strategies myself. 

However, I'm beginning to feel like my kids who struggle, are to some extent struggling because we switch gears on them at least once a week. We've worked problems using the Vertical Method (the traditional method), the Arrow Way, with a place value chart, using number bonds. I understand that the different alternatives give more choices to find the easiest, more efficient way to solve a problem --- but for my struggling students, I'm afraid it's just confusing. 

I think it happens about this time every year. I realize we should have spent more time on basic math facts. We should have spent more time on understanding numbers past 100, or 200. We should have.....

I'm also struggling personally with a curriculum that my district has told me to use "with fidelity." No wait, you don't have to do this part of it. Oh sorry, didn't you know that we'd changed that. 

And finally, I'm struggling with my kids that ARE getting math quickly. I need a way to make math engaging for them - as well as a desire to keep exploring. 

Apparently this has just turned into a venting post. Sometimes I just need those. 

However, any thoughts, suggestions, ideas are welcome :)

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Well, I've been a little MIA lately. I had finished up my classes for my ESOL endorsement, and then scheduled the Praxis test for that. And just to be safe, I purchased the practice test. Whoa, that was a good idea! Because it showed me right away that there were definite gaps in my knowledge. So, in the something's gotta give category, blog posts went by the wayside, so I could study, study, study, for my test. 

I'm nervous to tell you that I unofficially passed, because what if I looked at the numbers wrong on the computer screen, or remembered them wrong, or, or, or.....

I had to go to another town to take the test, so I was out of the classroom on Thursday. And Friday, well, Friday was the day before Spring Break. Ahem. I'm sure you know how people are like on those days -- and by that I mean this teacher! 

So we did this:

Our story this last week was a cute one called "A Goat in the Rug." From the point of view of Geraldine the goat, the story takes us through the process of cutting the goat's wool, dying it, spinning it, and weaving a rug. I wanted to do some kind of weaving this year, but from what I read online, real weaving would just make me tear my hair out. And I didn't really need that at this point in the year. So I thought of this. The kids did not go as far as I had hoped. I had cut (well, my delightful sub cut for me!!! - I know and wow!!) yarn in about 2 foot lengths. My thought was the kids would use a couple different yarns to make a design, but that just didn't happen. Next year, I'm thinking I'll cut lengths closer to 3 feet. {Well, looking back at the pictures, some of them did use two different yarns.}

Anyway, it was a fun little project - mostly - but it also showed ones who don't pay attention; ones who don't get under, over, under, over; and lack of perseverance. Hmmm. 

Happy Spring Break to me - and maybe to you, too!