Monday, June 6, 2016

Math Talk: A Recordable Moment

Today in math I wasn't planning on teaching addition with regrouping because I wasn't sure that my students were there yet.  We have been working on mastering our facts to 10 so that we have solid foundation.

It has been touch and go and I've been trying to make it as interactive as possible.  My students are always up for anything that I present to them and today was just the same.  I went into today's lesson thinking that I was going to start subtraction (without regrouping), but once I wrote the header on the board, I came to me that I needed to do more addition, but with regrouping this time.

We warmed up with a card game (similar to "war") where students work in pairs with a deck of cards and they each flip a card over and add the faces together.  Whomever adds up the faces correctly first gets the cards.  It has been a major hit with my students (because they are uber competitive and sponges for learning), so I figured it would be a good lead in to the addition with regrouping.

I reconvened everyone and presented a problem where they had to regroup.  We discussed the need to remember the place value columns and what the digits in a two-digit number meant.  We spent a few minutes composing and decomposing numbers to get the idea of what numbers were really made of.

We were then off to the races to try and add with regrouping.  In trying to keep it simple, I stuck with a simple algorithm that they could follow the steps/pattern to.  With everyone engaged and wanting to share what they thought was the "right way", I turned the floor over to them and asked for a turn & talk.  They needed to talk to the person beside them how they were going to solve 38+96.  This is where I went scrambling for my ipad to record a conversation between two students (grade 2s) about what they immediately saw about the numbers and the steps that they were going to take to solve the problem.

This left me so proud of where they have some from since September when they wouldn't even talk about what they saw or what they wondered.  It was an unintentional moment, yet perfect.  I was ecstatic that could capture it on video.  Next time I would stop questioning them and hope that they would continue to talk about what they saw and hopefully get up and demonstrate their ideas on the board to solidify their understanding.

Until tomorrow, I hope that there's sunshine & happiness in your day similar to what I had today with my math talks.

Stephanei :)

Hockey. Is. OVER!

Hockey. Is. OVER.  Yes, you heard it is over. Over. Over. Over!  Yesterday marked the end of DH's hockey school for the season.  We DH has been in full hockey mode since about November and to put this in perspective, #TeamA & #TeamO are just learning how to skate so he is running a hockey school for other people's children.  DH spent much of his paternity leave organizing the behind the scenes aspects of the school in between parenting our two amigos.

This was the first time that balancing home and work life has really been a challenge as now we were both back to our full time jobs and we had two amigos.  There were many days that although I was putting up a brave & positive face, I was crumbling and melting down on the inside because I just could do it anymore.  I couldn't parent and I couldn't teach; both were demanding so much more of me than I was able to offer.

Throughout all this, our home looked much like a sports store with equipment & apparel strewn all over.  Throw in a curious little monkey in #TeamO and you've got yourself a part-time job trying to keep a lid on things.

It was 4 months of single parenting on nights and weekends when DH was out running practices, convening tournaments and coaching games when he had a chance.  I will admit that on more than one occasion I hit up the McD's drive-thru just so that my children would actually eat the meal I put in front of them without coaxing and bribes.

All in all, I hope that the players and parents that participated in some and any capacity this year understand the sacrifice and dedication that not only DH puts into the hockey school but as well as our entire family.  While he was out coaching other people's children he was missing many "firsts" of his own children, quirky comments around the dinner table and the endless cuddles on weekend mornings while we all watched cartoons in the big bed.

Over the next 5 months we will all settle in and enjoy being a family of 4 again so that come November, we will be prepared to lose DH again for another hockey season.

Until then, it will be sunshine & happiness in our house!

Stephanie :)

Monday, March 28, 2016

I did it!

I sometimes think people believe in my technical abilities too much because I have just uncovered something new this morning. I am actually writing this post from my phone!  I have been saying to myself for a very long time now that I wish I could write from my phone because I can't walk around with my laptop for those spur of the moment posts.

Today, being a rainy day off, I took the plunge to see what would happen from my phone. And all be darn, IT WORKED!!!  I've got 100s of ideas flowing through my head so you my be onslaughted with posts over the next bit now that I can post from my phone!

Until then, back to the little eggs because it's almost lunch time!

Stephanie :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I. Hate. Paper.

Yes, a pretty bold statement, but one I think I need to get out.  Yesterday I experienced perhaps the most stressful hour of my math career.  I gave my grade 1/2 students a "paper test". That's right, just as you read, a paper test.  What an epic fail!

Let me back track for a minute. I am a part of a great opportunity within my school to work with a grade level team (me + 2 others, so not a huge team!) to do a student work study work with a focus on mathematics.  We met last week to discuss the vision and path we wanted to take and thus, created a pre-test for students to complete as a starting off point.

Fast-forward to yesterday. I feverishly worked through my lunch hour to prepare the small packages of manipulatives and paper test for each student and then gathered everyone up at the beginning of our usually exciting math class.  Students were excited asking what we were going to learn today until I calmed them down and started my explanation.  I started out with what we were going to be doing today was not going to be something that was going to be marked for their report card and that it was something that was very different than we are used to having.  I pulled out a package with the manipulatives and the paper and immediately there were hands in the air asking 1,000 questions.  I went over each question one by one and I could see some confidence in their eyes still, so there was hope in my heart too.  I was holding onto that hope because I knew that we had done each of the questions in isolation before, but never in this format.  I sent each student away with their package and almost instantaneously everyone's stress levels rose through the roof.  Because it was a pre-test for the work study, I could not give direct explanations as to what I was looking for in each question.  I read and re-read each question what felt like 100 times to try and ease their anxiety of having this paper in front of them. All of this brought be back to my EQAO days, minus the age of the kids.

With a quick glance at "the paper" and their faces when each child handed in their work, I knew I had just destroyed them.  They looked discouraged, defeated, confused and unmotivated.  This crushed me.  I also knew that they could answer each of those questions had I asked for a verbal response or been able to give them a marker and a piece of chart paper.  I felt deflated as a teacher.  What had I put my students through and how can I make it easier for them?

All of this to say, I hate paper.  My students are used to manipulating, drawing, collaborating and discussing their ideas and learning that when I put a piece of paper, better known as the "test" in front of them, they have no clue how to handle it.  I felt so frustrated with their outcomes and sad towards how they felt they did.  I shared these feelings with my principal and she reminded me that it's not a bad thing that they didn't know what to do and that there are some students that had I put the same paper in front of them would have eaten it right up and known exactly what to do because that's all they know.  All they know are worksheets.  All my students know is manipulating, discussing and collaborating.

Today we're going back to our manipulating and active learning.  There won't be another "paper" until the post-test comes up in a month from now.  Until then, I'll be making it up to my students with snap cube & pattern block free time!

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016: One Word Resolution

As many of you know and am assuming have found me via Twitter, I am a self-confessed Twitter addict.  I check several times a day and addmittingly have it open on the second tab on my school computer all day long.  Over the past week or so I have been seeing numerous posts about a one word resolution and how people are resolving to stick to this one word.  It got me thinking...what would be my word.

While studies show about only 8% of people stick with their new year's resolution, some years I have been in that 8% while many other years I have fallen out of it. (Check out this post here as a prime example!)  I am proud to say that I am nearly finished last year's resolution (was preempted due to being pregnant with #TeamOlivier), so I'm considering myself back in the 8%.  Back to this year though...thinking of one word that I could stick to being better at or changing throughout the year and all I could think of was ME.  My resolution is going to be all about ME.

It sounds selfish of sorts I'm sure, but this year I am going to start putting me first more often.  Ever since becoming a mother almost 3 years ago, I haven't been the number one person I worry about.  I moved farther down the list last year when #TeamOlivier was born and now I think I'm in a position to be number 1 again.  I watch as DH has been off with the little ones for almost 7 months now and how he has managed to still put his needs out there while the kids are still fed and played with, the house gets tidied and he manages to get out to do the things he loves.  I figure, why can't I?!

In many of my brain whirls over the last few days I've been thinking what I want to happen by focusing on me.  I want to get back into the pre-baby shape I was in (best shape of my life by the way!); I want to make time to go out with my friends on a regular basis (drinking wine in a trendy restaurant sans kids was amazing!); I want to go for a massage more often (that's why we have benefits right?!); I want to do things with my kids my DH thinks are silly or unimportant, but that will make me feel like a good parent.

All of this to say, I have started the first 3 days off well.  I have been able to workout everyday so far and have taken #TeamAmelie out just the two of us to play in the snow.  Although, I have been unable to put myself first in terms of just letting the kids play so I could get some school work done, I don't regret playing Mr. Potato Head or watching Finding Nemo with them.

Also as a part of my resolution, I want to find me time to do more writing.  There are always a 1000 +1 things swirling in my head, yet I don't get any of them out.  (Thought in my head right now: "Wow, you're ambitious...when per say are you finding all this time?!)

So, here's to 2016 and more of ME. If you had to have a one-word resolution what would it be? Why?

Sunshine & happiness, today & forever!

Stephanie :)

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Spirit of the Season

This year as I think I've mentioned I am at a different school in a very diverse neighbourhood.  I have been apprehensive at times about what is celebrated or recognized and to what extent.  This has been especially at the forefront this past month or so with Christmas.  One thing I knew I wanted to do was to have students write letters to Santa.  I knew I could pull my pedagogical hat on if I was approached as to why I had done this activity, but I knew the excitement with the end result was well worth it.

I found a template off and got everything ready.  We read "The Jolly Christmas Postman" and modelled our letter writing to preparation.  We sat down as a class and wrote our letters, even adding in a drawing or two.  I had explained to the students that I would drop them in the mail that very afternoon right after school.  I was worried that they wouldn't arrive at the North Pole in time for them to be returned before the holiday break.  We had worked right until the deadline! EEEKKK!

Jump forward to December 15th... the magical envelope had arrived!!!  I was giddy with excitement as I brought the envelope up to our classroom.  I had to find the perfect time to give them the letters...not before a lesson but not too late so that I didn't have to rush them out the door.  There was no perfect time that day.  Amidst practicing for the holiday concert and trying to keep a lid on the excitement, I decided to forgo a new art project and pull out the magical envelope.  At first they didn't know who could be writing us letter, but then it clicked.  SANTA!!!

I made sure to hand out all the letters before letting them open them and had our iPad ready to video their reactions.  I am so glad I captured the moment because it was unbelievable. (I am still trying to figure out how to post the video!)

**Note: Keep in mind 95% of my class does not celebrate Christmas in the commercial or religious sense, so this was a first time experience for them.  This is what made it even more magical!

Needless to say, if they remember nothing from this year except that Santa wrote them back, it won't bother me!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and as my students would say Mele Kalikimaka!

Stephanie :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

One Act That Changed Everything

I haven't been online a whole lot since school started two and a half weeks ago, but I took some time tonight to try and catch up what was happening on Facebook.  I was checking my "notifications" when it said I had "memories" from past posts or updates I had made from years past. I usually read them and think nothing more about what I felt or was expressing, but tonight one stuck out to me...

On this day 8 years ago I made the decision that would change my life and my family life forever.  I had left the only "professional" job I had ever known, my safe spot, and what I thought at the time was my dream job with the Ottawa 67's.  I remember September 22nd, 2007 like it was yesterday.  I had gone into the office, and was going to bite the bullet.  I walked into the president's office and week before the biggest night of the season, but I just had to leave.  I said that I was going to go back to school and see where that lead me.  Inside I was scared, afraid yet relieved.  My dream job was becoming work for me.  I had just recently gotten married and the life style of working for a sports franchise just wasn't what I could do for the rest of my life.  I had met some of the most amazing individuals and friends one could ever ask for. I was involved in so many incredible events that I felt there was nothing more to challenge me.  Going back to school was going to be the challenge I needed.

I registered at the University of Ottawa for the winter semester and started out on a career path that I never thought could be so rewarding.  Over the last 8 years I have met even more incredible people, experienced so many unbelievable opportunities and been challenged professionally and personally beyond my wildest imagination each and every day.

So thank you Facebook, for giving me the opportunity to reflect and be grateful for what the last 8 years has brought me.

Stephanie :)