Monday, January 6, 2020

Why should learning IN school be different than learning OUTSIDE of school?

"If you are unsure how to complete your homework? Ask Google, a friend, your parents, watch YouTube, or use a calculator and of course you can always come to me for help, too."

When I said that to my 4th and 5th grade students as I introduced their first homework of the year, their mouths dropped. "You mean we are allowed to do that?" they asked.

I answered with another question, "What do you usually do when you want to learn something new or figure out how to do something?"

Many students responded they watched how-to videos or found an article on the internet with directions. Some said they asked their friend for help. Some said they just kept practicing and trying different things until they got it.


So why is learning in school any different than learning outside of school?

When students encounter problems in school with reading, writing, math, etc, I want them to use the same strategies they would use to flip water bottles, play baseball, or beat a video game. I want them thinking about how they can learn something new!

As educators, sometimes we seem to get so caught up on what we are supposed to be teaching and students are supposed to be learning, we place emphasis more on content than actual learning.

I realize my elementary students need fundamentals like reading, writing, and basic math. But, I also realize I am preparing my students for jobs in a world that is unknown. I honestly don't know what they will need to know in the future, but I do know they will need to know how to learn. My students need to understand they must use resources including digital sources, experts, and multiple tools to solve problems, innovate, and rule the world. They also need to know, more often than not, one source isn't going to provide the final solution. They're going to need to also use their brain power, creativity, perseverence, and stay committed to the task.

This is what I want my students to learn. So, yes, my students will be using Google, YouTube, experts, calculators, and anything else they think of to help them learn because I'm creating learners not just followers.

It's OK to Argue

I am all about discussion in the classroom. I enjoy hearing the students talk back and forth and participate in meaningful conversations. Learning how to effectively communicate is a life skill and I want to help my 3rd graders develop this skill.

The other day the students were participating in a number talk, where they share strategies they used to solve a math problem. While we have talk moves that help foster positive interactions, we don't always follow the "raise your hand before you speak" rule, but instead will banter back and forth. I see this as more real life application since we don't go around raising our hand every time we want to talk to somebody in the real world. During this particular number talk, a student shared a strategy that many did not agree with and they were quick to say so. The student shared that they almost felt attacked by all who were quick to comment about what was wrong with his idea. 

This led to a teachable moment as we discussed how it is okay to argue, but it is all about how you go about doing it. Some students related this to arguing with their parents and how they would get in trouble for talking back to them. But then others pointed out that if perhaps the students talked to their parents calmly, asked questions, or shared how they felt about something, that their parents may not think they were arguing. We discussed different ways we could express that we disagree with somebody without being disrespectful or hurting the other person's feelings. The students had some great ideas as far as watching how loud their voice was, choosing their words carefully, and even talked about body language. I was impressed!

It is important that we teach our students that it is okay to disagree and argue a point. We want them to critically think, make judgements, and stand up for themselves and what they believe. How will they learn these skills if we never give them an opportunity to question?

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Why I'm Glad Math is Different Now!

I have a confession to make: As a student I never liked math!

Math was never my favorite subject. Give me a good book to read and I was happy. Have me write thank you.

Then I became a teacher.

When I began teaching 11 years ago, conceptual math just becoming a hot topic. Which makes me laugh with all the talk about how much people hate Common Core because of the way it teaches math. The math we teach is NOT common core. Common Core is simply a list of standards that my students need to master as I teach math. It is so frustrating when parents and teachers bash this "common core math", but fail to realize it isn't common core, but the revolution of math. However, I digress!

Teaching conceptual based math has made me a better mathematician. I now "get it". Dare I even say I LIKE math. I like it because I now UNDERSTAND what I'm doing. I now know WHY!

This is a great video that addresses why math is different now.

Why is Math Different Now from raj shah on Vimeo.

My favorite part is when he points out that the naysayers who say that this "new" math is too confusing and they don't get it, are the evidence that the way math was taught didn't work. Otherwise they would understand the math being taught. The math hasn't changed. Math is still math. We are still adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. These people were taught, just like me, to memorize an algorithm because that's the way it's done. They never understood the WHY or HOW.

I don't want my students doing something blindly because "my teacher told me this is how I have to do it" or "I know a trick".  As a teacher, my number 1 goal is to get my students to THINK! I want them to read, solve equations, and write proficiently, but above all I want them to THINK! I want them to ask WHY and HOW. I want them to persevere and problem solve.

So despite all of those people who hate the way "math is taught today", I will continue to teach conceptual based math. I will persevere! I will do my best to make sure that all my students LIKE MATH because they UNDERSTAND math!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Goodbye 2016!

The last blog post I wrote was a bulleted list of life happenings and a statement of my intention to get back into a habit of routinely blogging. The one blog post I wrote in 2016 is evidence of my failure in bringing that idea to life. My July 2016 post was actually a great prelude to this post as it shared some great memories that we made from the beginning of 2016. As we wrap up the year, here's what I want to remember about the last 6 months of 2016...
  • Our whole family made it through the year staying relatively healthy, minus Dave spending the last few months wearing a boot due to pain in his foot. It's getting better and hopefully the boot will go away soon. 
  • Dylan became a working man and worked all summer as a pool lifeguard. He ended the summer with money to pay for his insurance for a year, plus some. He worked so hard, never complaining except for the time he worked 10 days straight and asked me to look it up to make sure that was legal, HA! I was so proud of his work ethic and attitude.
  • Zoe attended her first, overnight and away from mom, summer camp when she attended the University of Maryland Gymnastics Camp. She spent three nights at the college park campus and while she was pretty nervous she ended up having a blast. 
  • Dave and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary! We visited St. Michael's where we got married and then took a leisurely drive home exploring a couple little towns between there and home. One of my favorite days of the year!!
  • I began my 13th year of teaching and my 2nd teaching an accelerated program. I went Pinterest crazy with a Harry Potter and Hogwarts theme in my room.
  • Dylan began 10th grade and says it is his favorite year in school so far! He is enjoying being part of Project Lead the Way, the engineering pathway at his high school. He took drivers training during the first marking period. Honors history is his favorite class and he loves to share what he's learning in the class. He was also recognized at a district ceremony for his academic achievement in 9th grade. Lately, he's been checking out colleges who have an aerospace engineering program as that's what he is interested in majoring in.
  • Zoe began middle school and was thrilled to do so! She is kicking butt in 6th grade.  She has some of Dylan's teachers and likes all of her teachers. She enjoys Spanish the most because she says everyday she learns something new. During one marking period she will be able to take an art class and she can't wait. On the flip side she also has to take one marking period of gym, which is her least favorite thing to do in school. Yes, the gymnasts hates gym!
  • I was accepted into a doctoral program at Wilmington University and successfully completed my first two courses with A's. Definitely a learning experience both academically and emotionally, but very excited to have the opportunity.
  • Zoe turned 12 and celebrated with a zoo in our house! A local animal preserve brought a baby kangaroo, coati, python, sugar glider, and tortoise to our house and everybody had a blast holding and playing with all the animals. She still wants to be a veterinarian as of now.
  • The family went to Hallow-Scream in Busch Gardens in October and had a blast. Everybody is tall enough for Coasters now so it was a great day of rides. At night the park changed over to haunting grounds with multiple haunted trails. Way out of my comfort zone, but I was brave and enjoyed family time, even if it was the first time Dylan said he heard his mom say some bad words! Zoe was not a fan of the trails and ended up sitting out for most of them, but we did talk her into joining us for two. 
  • In November, Zoe got to perform in the opening act of the Kellogg's Tour of Champions in Philly. The tour showcased the US Gymnastics Team (who kicked butt in the 2016 Olympic Games) and she did a dance with other local gymnasts while the athletes came onto the floor. 
  • The fall was filled with Dylan performing with his high school band at Friday night games and many Christmas parades. 
  • Dylan turned the BIG 16 and got his driver's license. He is doing an excellent job driving minus the bush that won't be written about, but will provide a great story later!
  • The holidays were spent with family as the west coast and southern Tuttle's came for Christmas. It is always fun when everybody can get together. My parents and little brother went to visit my other brother and his family so it was strange not being with any Lightfoot's, but I enjoyed seeing their visit through pictures on Facebook. 
So that brings us to 2016...

All in all, it's been a good year! There's much to be accomplished in 2017 and I know many more adventures are to be taken with more memories to be made. 

Here's to hoping I write about some of the adventures as we go and not just another bulleted list in the year!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Bullets to fill in the gaps

Since it's been over a year since I last blogged you can imagine that some adventures have been missed. I'm not sure that I'll be able to write posts to fill in all the gaps so going with some bullets because who doesn't love a bulleted list. So here's just some of the memories that were made since last April as in April of 2015...

  • Dylan conquered his first year in high school!
  • Zoe conquered her last year in elementary school!
  • Both kids maintained high honor roll for the whole year.
  • I finished my first year teaching accelerated students in a brand new program.
  • I completed more college classes and earned my certificate so I could teach gifted and talented students.
  • The whole family visited Tulum, Mexico (our first trip to Mexico) in April 2016. Maybe this will make it's own post sometime soon!
  • Dylan swam on the high school swim team and was invited to swim in the team relay at state champs where he realized he was a little fish in a BIG pond, but that swimming is where his heart is.
  • Dylan also ran track in the spring and decided that running is not at all him and he will never do that again.
  • Zoe kept on flipping in her gymnastics competitions ending the year being 3rd all around in the state.
  • In May 2015 I was admitted to the hospital with a pulmonary embolism. Dr. Garcia at the walk in clinic saved my life! I could have died, but I didn't.
  • Dave, Zoe and I saw Meghan Trainor in concert and she was amazing!
  • Both kids made the local papers...multiple times...Zoe for earning honorable mention in a statewide writing contest and gymnastics and Dylan for swimming on the high school swim team and sharing his experience of swimming on the local team too.
  • I interviewed for an assistant principal position and for the first time ever did not get a job I interviewed for. Learned a lesson in humility. But, then learned that sometimes not getting what you want is a stroke of luck as other obligations and opportunities came about.
  • Dylan passed his lifeguarding course and got his first job as a pool lifeguard.
  • We saw the Blue Man group.
  • Enjoyed a visit from my grandfather and uncle. Got to show them around the beach!
  • Spent a few days in Williamsburg exploring and visited Busch Gardens and Water Country USA where Dave and I went on our honeymoon.
  • Celebrated Dylan's 15th birthday, Zoe's 11th, and Dave and my 16th anniversary!
  • Dylan has had three girlfriends (shhh, don't tell him I told you that) and Zoe still things boys smell (which is fine by Dave and me).
  • I attended ISTE,  a HUGE instructional technology conference and it was so much fun!
  • Enjoyed quite a few beach days, snow days, and holidays.
  • Enjoyed friends and family in this thing we call LIFE!
As I'm thinking about what to add to my bullets I can't help thinking that it's been a pretty good 15 months. We've accomplished a lot, made some great memories, and enjoyed what life had to offer. Sure all of that was between carpooling everywhere, chores, homework, and all those other things that fill in the days. Of course there is much I've missed. I'm sure I'll remember something that I just have to come back and add over the next few days. 

All in all #lifeisgood. Now to not have to write another bulleted list in a year. Instead, hopefully I can get back to recording the good times complete with posts and pictures.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...