5 reasons not to share that Common Core worksheet on Facebook

Navy Wife Chronicles:

I am not ashamed to say that I have been stumped by what I’ve been teaching as well as by my own kids’ homework. My husband and I have written a quick note to the teacher that we didn’t know how to explain the homework to our kid. No biggie. Who cares?

Common Core is the latest buzzword that is befuddling everyone, parents and teachers alike. Like everything else in education, it will be misinterpreted many times over and discussed for countless hours at staff meetings and PTA meetings until we come to the inevitable conclusion to quickly sweep it in the corner.

Just like everything else we can’t or won’t understand.

Nothing has changed. Some kids will still be confused by lessons. Teachers, administration, and parents will work tirelessly for their children, the students they serve.

We just have a new buzzword. That’s all.

Originally posted on Overthinking my teaching:

You are browsing Facebook on a Sunday evening. Someone has shared a baffling piece of math homework that was sent home with their child. Accompanying commentary bemoans the current state and future trajectory of mathematics teaching and learning, and lays blame for this at the feet of the Common Core State Standards.

You are baffled by the worksheet too. You are about to click the Share button.

But here are five reasons that’s a bad idea.

1. Credentials are not a trump card.

Almost invariably, the parent who shares the worksheet cites a degree as a credential for the critique. “I have a Bachelor of Science in electronics engineering,” wrote the parent in the recent “Letter to Jack”.

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The math you need to know to be an electronics engineer is different from the math you need to know to be a math teacher. I am quite certain that electronics engineers…

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The Long-Term Decay

Why do I do this to myself?

I happily am a substitute teacher and relish the fact that I don’t have homework, that I don’t have to work every single day, and that I can avoid certain schools if I wanted.

So why did I accept another long-term sub job?

Sometimes I miss NOT being a substitute teacher. Sometimes I love being a regular teacher with my own classroom.

I’m pretty sure it’s easy to track via social media, this blog, and my personal calendar to tell when I’m in a long-term position. I unintentionally fall off the face of the planet. My face is in a permanent scowl from reading so many misspelled words that I just can’t. I leave early for work because if I left any later, traffic would make my commute three times longer than it normally is.

Last fall I taught fifth grade and I loved it! It was very difficult as I was taking over for a substitute teacher who was taking over a teacher on maternity leave. It was no contest. The kids had bonded with him and I was the wicked lady who took over. But I didn’t mind.

Previous to that, I took a kindergarten class for a week. Even though I have claimed in the past that the little ones were my favorite to teach, this claim was long before I had my own children. Five year olds are babies! Luckily they were babies who respond to my read-alouds and singing along to my ukulele. I still see these kids at this new long-term assignment and how they have grown and dare I say, even matured.

I’ve been at this assignment for two months, also for another teacher on maternity leave. [Whatever is in the water at the school district, I want no part of.] Sixth grade has been treating me well.

So well, in fact, that there are talks to hire me part-time for the fall.

Perfect.

I reflected on how this might affect our family and as usual, my husband is very supportive.

The kids? Not so much.

I came home at about 4 pm yesterday because I wanted to correct papers there and prep for the following week before I left for the day. I didn’t want to bring any work home which of course, if you know any teachers, is a lie because there is always work to do.

I asked the youngest who will be turning seven years old in the next couple of months if she missed me. She said, “I like it when you come home.”

“What?” I asked. “I come home everyday!”

The middle one who just turned nine said, “Well, not everyday.” They were referring to a couple of days where I had to stay late for a staff meeting and parent meetings.

“But I still came home!”

They just gave me a look and gave each other a look.

I suppose here is where one would normally queue the working-mother guilt but hey, I don’t have any. Especially now that we are finally a two-parent family after being constantly-growing-despite-one-working-parent family for so long.

If there is any guilt here, it is because I have forgotten who I am and what I used to do to just be me.

I used to write all the time. Anything. I started writing this blog because I thought it would help me deal with everything that was going on in life.

And it has.

But I stopped for every reason in the book. Life didn’t stop however. My ability to deal with stress has slowly declined. Perhaps remembering who I am will help.

I used to read all the time. Anything. Everything. But like everything else, I tend to get slightly obsessed. Case in point, I’ll go on a reading binge getting to the point where I can read a novel between 1-3 days. And that’ll go on for a couple of weeks until I can’t find any book that is as awesome as the previous book.

Don’t forget about my stupid TV series obsession phase. We’ll leave that for later.

But part-time work would be a perfect balance. No, let me rephrase that.

Part-time work will be a perfect balance. There is no reason that I can’t be in charge of my own life. If I feel that something needs to change, I need to be the one that changes it.

Last fall I stopped running regularly but still completed the half-marathon that I was working toward for the past three years. Last month I completed my second half-marathon. I came in second to last but I don’t care. I wanted the medal and I got it. This week I have even gotten up early to run one or two miles four days this week! I hurt but eh, thank God I can still run.

Thank God I can still feel.

I will know more in the next month about my job assignment. Let’s hear it for taking charge. 

The Usual Effect

As I sit at my neighborhood Starbucks, reluctantly finishing up teacher prep for the following week, I can’t help but eavesdrop on the patrons.

As a mother and teacher, I am highly skilled in keeping a straight face.

Conversations at 8 in the morning don’t make any sense, especially if you’re a silent, uninvited guest. A group of women in their thirties talking about their husbands’ and children’s behavior, which is one in the same according to one fair-haired woman. A couple of college guys after a run discussing on how difficult it is to write without lines.

A older woman who just came up to me, I kid you not, to wish me a happy Easter and a reminder that Jesus loves me.

To which I replied, “Thank you… And He loves you too!”

She beamed and yelled, “Amen!” and left without another word.

If my friends were sitting next to me, they would have politely waited until the woman exited the establishment before losing it. Not because they are disrespectful and hate Christians or old people.

I have a very dry sense of humor and sometimes my delivery is unintentionally suspect.

It’s a gift, really.

The lady caught me off guard and I don’t like being rude, especially since I know that there is a tendency for many to be uncomfortable and even downright ornery when it comes to matters of religion, Christian or otherwise.

We get the usual religious prowlers [strong word but I'm going to keep it; it was a spelling word for my students this week] all the time. The Mormons on their bikes with their awesome suspenders. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and their pamphlets. My aunts who are some sort of Christian that always leave me with more questions than I have time to ask.

But I don’t mind. It does not take anything away from me to listen to them, to smile, and to accept whatever they would like to share even if it means we recycle it after they leave. Usually that’s all they would like to do.

Usually.

Now if people started to overstep a boundary and wanted to teach our children what we don’t believe in, we’ll politely decline and thank them for their time. There is no need, no obligation, no desire for me to argue. That is just what we believe.

About thirty minutes ago, a dad walked in with his two little boys. They were obviously running late but for some reason dad still needed to come in for a cup of joe.

He handed a drink to the older boy of about five.

Boom. No problem.

He then handed a drink to the younger boy who was probably about four. The boy’s face crumpled up.

Now I’m a sucker for the little ones so I felt bad for him. For a millisecond because I, for one, do love coming to Starbucks a couple of times a month, I will bring my children here even less frequently because come on, four dollars for a drink? Times three kids times me? Um, no thanks.

The dad said, “What’s wrong?”

The kid said, I KID YOU NOT, “DAD! I DON’T WANT THIS! I WANT MY USUAL!”

Yeah, pretty sure I could not keep a straight face.

Deck the Halls

Fall flew by so fast that we forgot to carve pumpkins and decorate for Thanksgiving!

Since I’ve gone back to working as a regular substitute teacher, I have a lot more time. I know, it has only been a week but I really feel the difference!

See? I’ve even decorated for Christmas!

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I would have done a tutorial on the wreath hanging over the fauxplace (fake fireplace) but I don’t even know what I was doing!

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Here are five Advent calendars I’ve collected over the years. We have the chocolate ones stored in the pantry to keep away from the dogs. Quick note: most holiday decor you see in my home was bought the day AFTER said holiday.

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I cut the letters out of cardboard from a box that I was going to throw into the recycling bin. The tinsel is from the Dollar Tree. I used staples to secure the tinsel to the cardboard and binder clips to hang from the blinds.

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We have two Advent candle wreaths. Both are put on cake stands for height. One is from the Catholic Store in Sacramento and the other is handmade by M during a CFF class a few years ago. The wreath was probably about two or three dollars after Christmas. The battery operated candles around the wreath were originally $4 for two but during an after-Christmas sale, I’m pretty sure I bought all eight candles for the price of two.

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I was pleasantly surprised at how this Christmas tree and snow globe display turned out. The mini faux trees were less than a buck after Christmas and each kid decorates his/her own with ornaments. The snow globes were all on sale, again after Christmas. A made one in her preschool and the tiny one was free from a store promotion. The tinsel trees, two large and three small, were made with Dollar Tree tinsel and cereal boxes. Yep, take cereal boxes (or poster board), shape into a cone shape, and staple a lot of tinsel on it. You can’t see them very well but one tree was made with gold cord. The most awesome thing about the trees was that the stored well. The cones fit into each other and I forgot how many I made so I marveled at how many trees kept coming out of that storage bin!

And finally… Our Christmas tree. Let me tell you something. I used to be nit-picky when it came to ornament placement, preferring a random scattering and evenness throughout the tree.

Used to be.

R set up the tree. The kids decorated all by themselves. I only touched the tree to put my favorite Harry Potter ornaments up high (no paws allowed). Are there too many ornaments on one side? Is the ribbon crooked?

I don’t even know. I haven’t noticed and that’s a wonderful feeling.

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Less is More… At The Happiest Place on Earth!

For the first time in our marriage, I feel like this Christmas is the Christmas I’ve been waiting for forever. R is finally retired, finally home. It doesn’t matter to me that I’m almost a size fluffier than last year. It doesn’t matter to me that we don’t have a lot to give to our families.

This Christmas is OUR Christmas.

R and I have spent many evenings talking about Christmas present planning and how our kids will probably end up with less than previous years. And to be completely honest, I don’t care.

That sounds totally insensitive but hear me out.

Our kids don’t need THINGS. Our kids need OUR TIME.

I think our kids get it. They’ve been without Daddy for so long that it puts everything else into perspective. Their wishlists are much shorter. They want to DO STUFF with Daddy, whether it’s baking lemon bars from scratch or having “just Daddy” bring the kid to karate. They want to spend hours with Daddy in front of the TV playing Minecraft. They want to eat popcorn, drink hot chocolate, and watch their favorite Youtube videos and movies. Simple things that our kids have been denied for so many years are worth far more than anything I could buy.

And yet, here I am updating my blog that I have sadly neglected from THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH. Trust me, we have scrimped and saved for this trip for a while not to mention the huge military discounts and tickets that have made an otherwise extravagant vacation a lot more affordable.

Tomorrow M turns 12 years old. It wasn’t too long ago that R and I were talking about his future retirement date, the year when that tiny baby born in Georgia twelve years ago would be in sixth grade. That seemed like so far off in the future. Who could imagine that a tiny seven pound, four ounce baby would grow so quickly?

We didn’t.

This year will be the last year our kids are on the same academic schedule. He goes into junior high and there will be at least three months during the year when he will be at school while the girls are off.

This trip is giving us a little more time with him, with us as a family.

During our six hour trek, we got a flat tire on the Grapevine, a mountainous section of Highway 5. For some reason, I didn’t feel like driving like I usually do. And maybe this is why. Maybe I would have reacted foolishly or would have been driving too fast. I could feel my anxiety spike. Stuck on the most dangerous part of the freeway. I can’t even tell you how many times I held my breath for fear that a huge 18-wheeler would slam into us or the kind tow truck driver to put the spare on our vehicle. Had R tried to do it himself, we wouldn’t have known that the spare needed air or even that we were missing some parts to even change the tire! Add to that that the flat was on the left side of the car? Uh, yeah. I was pretty adamant that we leave this sort of thing to a professional. I almost lost R three years ago; I was not about to ponder that again.

Luckily a CHP officer called a tow truck for us and we were on our way. We took it easy driving through the mountains, even stopping to play in the snow. I later found out that the entire freeway was closed the day before because of the weather!

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Needless to say, we were exhausted by the time we reached the hotel. R had an extremely difficult time getting out of the car and needed to use his cane yet when I suggested we just use valet instead of self-parking and a bell hop instead of carrying everything ourselves, he refused. And as his wife and BFF, I can’t make him do or admit anything. Only be there if he needs something or changes his mind, something I am still learning. We ordered Domino’s pizza and enjoyed this evening’s fireworks show from our room.

We have all the time in the world.

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The Chiweenie Salutation

Ho ho ho!

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The Marine Mammal Conservation, Part 2

In May we visited the Marine Mammal Center in the Bay Area where sick or injured marine mammals found along the California coast are sent to recover. Last week we visited again and brought along a special guest… Daddy!

Our son M decided that the two hour drive was too long so he stayed with grandma getting spoiled with her sole attention and endless amounts of cookies and chips. After all, that’s what grandmas are for, right?

Along the way, we stopped at Travis AFB to pick up tickets to {a secret destination to be revealed in a future post!}. We saw far more deer at the MMC than marine mammals which is bittersweet; on one hand we wanted to see and hear seals and sea lions yet on the other, this means that far more seals are healthier! This certainly won’t be our last visit. I am so happy that our children, especially A, are concerned for the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants.

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The Thanksgiving Malfunction

I am rarely on Filipino time, aka late. I like to go to my destination early, get good parking, and leave early whenever possible. This is particularly important when I have to keep R’s anxiety in mind.

This Thanksgiving we drove to my aunt’s house and arrived an hour before everyone. R was able to stake out a good spot to rest, aka nap. My family and friends know that when we need to go WE NEED TO GO.

This year was no exception. Delicious food, a missing turkey that I was allegedly supposed to bring, and lots of little cousins for the kids to play with.

It was a great day.

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With the exception of my two older cousins, all of the little ones that aren’t my kids are my second cousins. Their grandmother or grandfather was my father’s sibling. Isn’t it amazing how different they look? When they all get together it is as if no time has passed.

The Technology Exploration

Last month I took a day off to chaperone my son’s trip to the Rosecrucian Museum and the Technology Museum in San Jose, California. Only a teacher would take the day off… To spend time with MORE KIDS!

We have been there before with R, who wanted to bring us since he had a field trip with his DLI class fourteen years ago so I did not even mind being rushed through a tour with a million kids. Okay, so it wasn’t a million kids but it sure felt like it on the two hour drive back! If you are ever in the Silicon Valley, I highly recommend it.

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Because of traffic, our group had to head to the tech museum first. We didn’t mind.

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I was so excited about the science lab. I inserted glow in the dark DNA into jellyfish!

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I met a cool dude.

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Saw this in the gift shop. Yep, I wanted it all but only bought the Bazinga mug.

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The Fifth Grade Finality

Next week is my last week subbing for a fifth grade class. I have been with this amazing bunch of kids for the past seven weeks and although they have sent me home with a migraine numerous times, I’m a little surprised that I am not emotional over this as I have seen incredible growth academically and maturity, in some WAY more than others. But I accepted this position knowing that it was not permanent.

It will be time to move on.

I look forward to this group finally getting to MEET their teacher who had been out on maternity leave the entire first third of the school year. It will be good for all of them to finally get some sort of routine going.

Make no mistake, I am not shy about taking credit, not for their accomplishments, but helping them get to where they are now. Some of these include (but are not limited to):

* Almost 100% of students doing their homework every evening
* 100% of students taking responsibility for NOT DOING THEIR HOMEWORK which includes missing their recess AND writing this on their weekly report that goes home to their families
* 100% of students taking responsibility for BREAKING THE RULES, in particular being rude or disrespectful to anyone in the class, including myself, by missing their recess and TALKING ABOUT THEIR MISTAKES and APOLOGIZING
* 100% of students writing on THE CORRECT SIDE OF BINDER PAPER (notebook paper to all of my east coast pals) with a correct heading and without tearing it out of their binder, holes intact
* Almost 100% improvement of student achievement between math pretests and chapter tests. Some kids went from a C to an A! One even went from an F to an A! (I will be meeting with the vice principal about the student who did not improve. We may need to modify her work and possibly do additional testing.)
* 100% of students excited about the huge change in teachers coming up in a week. Sadly, I did not get the fab intro I am giving their regular teacher but hey, that’s why I get paid the big bucks (that was sarcasm BTW).

This job assignment brings up great questions: Do I want to look for a regular teaching job? Do I want to keep subbing? Do I want to keep working as a long term substitute teacher?

I am unsure how to answer these questions though my acceptance of two long term sub jobs after Christmas break has answered the last one. One position is for a week in a first/second grade combination class. The other is for yet another teacher on maternity leave but that position is for the end of the school year and the students have always had that teacher. I can say with certainty that that position will be far easier than this one. I will have plans all ready!

This week one of the students said, “I am going to miss you, Miss G.”

My heart stopped beating a little. A sweet sentiment from a good kid. Others in the class nodded in agreement.

“Aw, that is very sweet,” I said. “But you are going to have so much fun with your teacher!” I lowered my voice, “I’m gonna miss all of you too… FROM DISNEYLAND! WOO HOO!”

To which they replied with groans.

See? It wouldn’t be a day with this sub without her being goofy.

Here are pics from a science experiment to show how celery transports water. Also some props for the scarecrow contest.

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What? Hey kid, you’ve never seen a teacher walk around with two scarecrows and a guitar before? No? Me neither…

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