Saturday, October 29, 2016

Celebrating: Math Shifts with Homework

Celebrating this week came on Tuesday evening, and I couldn't wait to write my blog post. I am watching the first game of the World Series.  I don't have a favorite team because my heart is with both cities and their beloved baseball teams.  My second celebration happened subtly.  There are so many posts, blogs, and thoughts about homework that I was overwhelmed. I have tried to wrap my thoughts around homework; my district has allowed me to form my own opinions as long as I can support my decision.  I can do that and I did that at curriculum night the third week of school.  My parent community supported my definition of  homework. 

My definition for Language Arts was simple. Lifelong readers and writers.  Choice with both of them and continue to grow in both reading and writing.  Done!

My definition in Math has ebbed and flowed this year.  I'm at crossroads lately.  I've been on both sides of the track with math homework.  I believe strongly in practice (similar) to reading; however, math computations feels and looks different.   Without going into pages of thoughts on math homework, most of math HW is a review including playing games with parents and writing a reflection, explaining a new skill or old fashion practice of basic facts (which are still  desperately needed needed in fifth grade)

This assignment was a first for me...the idea is home learning.  I composed the email and shared it with my students at the end of math class.  My learners looked a little confused, and I showed them how I had taken a few photos from the day to help help them.  As the emails came in tonight, I realized I had a hit a home run - no pun attended with my first celebration.  Just read what CS wrote me. 
Thanks Ruth for encouraging us to to celebrate throughout the week.  I love when my celebrations stand up and hit a grand slam for me.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Teaching is Messy when You're on a Quest

My one little word continues to grab me and won't let me go. Just once I wish I could scream, "Leave me alone."  I am not ready for another quest.  But then there is life and life gets messy as my friend Ruth Ayres writes about so many times,  I appreciate her honesty especially with those posts.  My messiness is in my classroom this year.  It's with an amazing group of 27 learners. It's really my messiness that I haven't wrapped my thinking even after seven weeks and 1/2 way through our first trimester.

My quest has been for flexible seating, workshop model in all subject areas and most of all visible student learning.  Lyndsey, our literacy coach, saved the day a week ago. I don't even know if she knows this.  But I was totally overwhelmed, and I asked her for more advice. I don't remember anything  except, "You jumped in with both feet in all subject areas."  I didn't even consider that affect on my overwhelming feeling of being lost several times in my quest.  

Fast forward to moments of pure joy... there have been several of them this year.  I believe they are breadcrumbs that help keep me moving forward on my quest.

There two girls are reading The War that Saved my Life.
They started before recess reading in the hallway.
Almost 100 students went to lunch walking by them.
I walked into the hall five minutes into recess, and they were still reading.
"We can't go to recess."  Can we please finish the book?
YES you can :)