I Didn’t Want To…But I Did

Do you ever have one of those days where you feel drained, stressed out, and like you want nothing more than to do just do for yourself and not worry about anyone else’s wants or needs?

Today was one of those days for me

I didn’t want to get up early this morning and prepare tonight’s dinner to be put in the crock pot. But I did it because I wanted to make sure that my family had a healthy meal.

I didn’t want to finish that hands-on activity that I started yesterday with my students because I knew they would act goofy it would take a lot of energy on my part. But I did it because I knew it was the best way for them to learn.

I didn’t want to have that conversation with the student that was acting out yet again because it sometimes feels like I’m talking to a brick wall. But I did it because I knew he probably has unhealthy things going on in his life right now and just needed someone to care.

I didn’t want to return that phone call to my friend because I knew I would be on the phone longer than I really had time for. But I did it because she sounded unhappy and I knew she needed a shoulder to cry on.

I didn’t want to stay an hour longer at my parents to help with their taxes. But I did it because they needed help and they are always there for me no matter what.

I didn’t want to clean up after dinner because it was Howard’s turn. But I did it because I knew he was tired and needed some time to just relax after a long work day.

I didn’t want to give Lily a bath tonight because our night-time routine started later than usual and I am just plain exhausted. But I did it because she loves her bath time and I want her to be happy.

I didn’t want to take the time to sit down and write a slice tonight. But I did it because I made a commitment to myself.

It’s amazing how much you can push yourself when you’re doing it for the people you care about most in the world, especially when you know that they would do the same for you. 

And tomorrow I will get up and do it all over again, no matter how tired I may be.

 

 

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A Night Out

Howard and I recently purchased tickets to see the Barenaked Ladies and the Violent Femmes in June.

We have gone out on date nights since Lily has been born, but this is going to be a big one. Since the date of the concert is only a few days after our wedding anniversary, my parents have offered to take her overnight.

Once my friend told me that he received the tickets in the mail, the thought of this night out had me feeling giddy!

We get to hang out with friends that we don’t see as often as we used to now that we all have children.

We can be out as late as we want, not worrying about rushing home so we don’t inconvenience whoever is watching Lily.

We can behave as if we were still young and free of any real responsibilities.

We planned on getting a hotel room afterward so that we can act goofy and be as loud as we want without fear of waking up the baby.

We can have a few drinks and sleep in for a bit in the morning – something we haven’t been able to do in a year and a half.

As I searched through numerous hotels on my computer this evening I finally found the place that we would probably be staying at. I finished filling out the reservation information when a bit of panic began to set in.

I have never been away from my daughter overnight.

I know my parents will take good care of her. They love her like she was their own. They even joke around and tell me that she is their baby too. But it’s not going to be ME with her all night.

Should we really do this?

Going to the concert is a definite, but do we really need to be away all night?

Will they go through the whole bedtime routine the way Howard and I do?

Will they check on her while she’s sleeping the way that I do?

Will she notice that we aren’t there all night?

Will she be afraid because she’s sleeping in a different house?

Will she be sad when she wakes up and sees that we aren’t there?

I couldn’t bring myself to hit the submit button.

Maybe I’ll have the courage to do it tomorrow…

The Mystery of Cheerios

Oh, Cheerios! You magical little things! You remind me of the bible story of the fish and loaves of bread – miraculously multiplying to feed thousands.

I spend over an hour cleaning the house only to see Lily pick one (or more) of you up and pop you into her mouth. Where did you come from? I know I didn’t see you on the floor when I finished. I am sure I vacuumed all of you up.

I sometimes lie in my bed and feel you pressed against a bare arm or leg. We never snack on you in our bedrooms. How did you possibly make it up the stairs?

I go to put on my shoes and feel the familiar crunch under my feet. Is there some sort of cheerio party in there that I wasn’t aware of?

I reach into my pocket for my gloves, a receipt, or some change and there you are, mixed in with everything else. I don’t recall bringing you with us anywhere lately.

I find you on the floor of my car. Are you sneaking in for a ride?

How do you manage to show up everywhere? What is your secret?

However you do it, my dear Cheerios, we appreciate you always trying to be there for us. Although, we really do not need you to be. We honestly prefer that you stay in the box on the top of the fridge.

But can you share your secret with our money?

The Prodigal Parents

My parents have been on a vacation in Arizona and they are FINALLY coming home tomorrow.

They have been gone forever. I mean, they left on TUESDAY of this week. Just up and left. How could they abandon me like that?

Sure, I was just at their house this past Sunday. Yeah, I talked to them on Monday before they left, but they have been gone for FIVE WHOLE DAYS!

Don’t they know that I have to call and talk to them at least once or twice a day? Aren’t they aware that they are the first people I call when Lily does something incredibly cute or is driving me insane? Apparently not, because they were not here for me to call them.

I couldn’t even call their cell phones because one, they are prepaid and they don’t like to waste the minutes and two, they never even hear their cells when we try to call them anyway.

I had to send Lily to daycare extra days this week. Really? She usually goes to their house twice a week! Do they even know that she’s been asking about them for days? Whenever she sees their picture in the living room she says, “Mike? Maggie?” (How she started calling them by their names and not Grandpa and Grandma is beyond me, but they don’t seem to mind for now.)

Seriously, who do they think they are? Don’t they understand that they are parents? They should get this by now, especially since they have been since they were 21 and 22 years old. And not to mention, have raised three daughters. Sheesh!

I know what you’re thinking. They worked hard, raised their kids, and are retired now. They should get to go off and travel, have fun, do what they want, whenever they want, blah, blah, blah.

Ok, I guess I’ll forgive them this time. I’ll even grace them with my presence tomorrow when they return.

They just better rethink their decision the next time they plan to go off and have fun without me.

Common Core Math Standards: Are They Really that Terrible?

I know, I know. This Slice of Life Challenge is all about writing. We’re supposed to be writing stories and poems about things that we have seen or experienced in recent days. Well, the experience that I am about to write about did happen this past week and has me extremely excited. Also, the math nerd had to come out of me at some point.

So, are the Common Core Math Standards really that terrible?

No, no they are not. In fact, they are actually pretty great.

Many parents, teachers, administrators, and school districts have been all up in arms about these new standards, but I really don’t understand why. Maybe they don’t really understand what they are all about. When they first came out, the writers claimed that they were clearer – more easily understood so that anyone who plays any part in education would know exactly what the students should be learning.

I have to be honest and say that they really are not clearer. I think that a bunch of brilliant mathematicians got together and wrote these things, not understanding that everyone has not seen or understood math the way they have. It even took a lot of decoding on the part of me and my two math coach colleagues to fully understand what they were asking of us – and we are “math people.”

But once you understand what they are asking and you get down to the nitty gritty of teaching and using some of the “new” strategies, I promise you are going to see some amazing things from your students.

I’m going to talk a little bit about fractions – a skill that most teachers dread teaching.

Why do they dread it?

They dread it because students usually don’t understand them and hate learning about them.

Why don’t students understand them?

They don’t understand because in the past they were only taught the process of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing them. They were shown the algorithms and expected to just remember how to do them, without attaching any sort of meaning to it.

Take, for example, multiplying two fractions together.

3/4 x 6/10 = 18/40 = 9/20

Many of us were taught to just multiply the numerators together, multiply the denominators together, get an answer, and simplify if needed.

Simple enough, right? Most students can do this if shown the steps. But do they really know what happened here?

I think back to when I used teach fractions in this manner. Students would come up with the correct solutions but a few things happened:

  • They could do the problem when we were working on the unit and taking the test, but if given the problem later, they couldn’t. They would forget the steps to multiplying because they didn’t really understand what was happening when they multiplied two fractions together.
  • They didn’t know that 9/20 was smaller than 6/10. They saw two bigger numerals and just assumed that they ended up with a larger number.
  • They thought they ended up with a larger number because they were taught from 3rd grade and up that multiplying numbers led to larger numbers.
  • They didn’t realize that when they multiplied the two fractions, they were actually taking part of a part, which in turn would leave them with less than what they began with.

A big part of the CCSS for math relies on the use of concrete materials or models to help students see what is happening. They must also have a strong math vocabulary to go along with these models. Having this as a base will allow them to think more abstractly about the numbers – or understand them when only seeing numbers.

Let’s go back to the problem above. 3/4 x 6/10

If the students understand that the symbol “x” means “of” in this problem, they will know that they are finding part of 6/10, specifically 3/4 of it.

Having them create a model will give them a visual to go along with this.

This model shows us 6/10. We can clearly see that we don’t have a whole object, but just some of the object.

photo 4

Now, if I want to take 3/4 of it, I would have to cut the model into fourths and shade only three of those fourths. But, I only shade three of the six – or the part – that I originally had.

photo 3

This leaves the students understanding where they got the 18/40, understanding that they took a part of part, and SEEING why they end up with less than what they began with. If they also have an understanding of simplifying fractions, they will know that 9/20 is equivalent to, or the same amount as, 18/40.

An additional part of the standards rely on the students using their prior knowledge to see some sort of pattern and solve problems on their own – without the teacher just telling or showing them what to do.

I’m currently working with a 5th grade class that already has an understanding of what the “x” symbol means when it comes to fractions, what regular and improper fractions are, how to draw models for a fraction times a fraction, and how to use the algorithm of just multiplying across.

The other day, the classroom teacher and I posed a problem to them that builds on their schema of fractions.

We first asked them if they could draw 6/5. We did not show them, we had them explore and try on their own. With their understanding that an improper fraction is at least one whole and possibly some left over pieces, they ALL were able to do so without our help.

photo 2

Next we asked them to show us 3/4 of it. Again, they were able to break it up to find the part they were looking for.

photo 1

As you can see, the only issue that most of the students had was coming up with the correct denominator. Most of them thought it was 40 because the two whole objects were broken up into 40 pieces total, which is really not an unreasonable mistake. (Although I must include here, that since they do know the standard algorithm for multiplying fractions, some of them did think there was something “not right” about their answer being 18/40 – something they would have just passed right over in the past.) This showed us as teachers that although the students had a ton of fraction knowledge, their understanding of what a denominator actually is was a bit off. We were able to tailor our conversation according to that. Once we discussed the true definition of the denominator being the total number of pieces it takes to make one whole and not just the total number of pieces there are, they understood their mistake.

The point I am trying to make is that although the Common Core Standards may seem to be a bit wordy and hard to understand at times, they are actually helping our students to understand the math more. These kids are not just memorizing the process of how to do something and then forgetting that process later. They are actually seeing what is happening, knowing where the process comes from, and using that knowledge to solve problems (on their own) that build off of it – not just waiting for us to give them the solutions.

Now I think that is pretty darn awesome!

My thoughts about PARCC on the other hand…well, that’s another long story for a different slice. 😉

Are We in the Clear?

When your children are sad and unwell, you feel sad and unwell.

When they are healthy and happy, you feel happy and healthy.

Today, I finally feel happy and healthy.

She did not get sick once today.

She drank juice and water all day.

She ate crackers, cheerios, and some soup.

She ran around. She played. She danced. She sang. She laughed.

She splashed in the bathtub.

She rocked her Teddy to sleep.

She is now sleeping soundly next to me.

All is right with the world.

Here We Go Again

Laundry.

Laundry.

Laundry.

Diapers.

Diapers.

Diapers.

Pedialyte.

Pedialyte.

Pedialyte.

This has been my day today. Lily is sick once again. This time it’s the nasty stomach bug that is going around.

I pulled an old trick and put everything on single lines so it looks like I wrote more than I did. 😉

Hopefully she will feel better tomorrow and I will have something more positive and happy to write about.

Until then, I need to get back to the laundry, diapers, and Pedialyte.