calm breeze

Monday, July 30, 2012

Teaching (and Learning) as a Parent

"Parents are teachers too."

Teachers know this (many are parents themselves) and most average parents latch onto this nib of knowledge as well.  However, not all parents act on it or enable themselves to become their child's most important, life-long teacher.

My son Cole is only four years old.  From my pregnancy on, I have tried to be my son's teacher: reading to him on a daily basis (or more!); color/letter/number recognition; early reading skills; trips to inspire his mind and passions; anything that means us spending time together - learning together.

But being my son's teacher is so much more that all of the 'academic' stuff.

Shortly after my son was born, I got a jogging stroller and began running again. (I had run up until I was almost eight months pregnant.)  Running on the local rail-trail was one of the only ways I could get him to sleep some days.  And it gave me a chance to have some 'me time' while still juggling with how to be a new mom.  Fall and winter put a stop to my running.  I attempted to pick it back up the next spring while I coached a Girls-On-The-Run team.  Cole would have nothing to do with the jogging stroller - absolutely nothing.  He had the tenacity to learn to walk at nine months old and no one and nothing was going to stop him from his new found locomotion.  While I was coaching girls, Cole was watching and running with them too!  Now, he wasn't running miles and miles...but he was having fun.  P.S. - The jogging stroller was seldom used again.  Cole refused to sit in it and would repeatedly try to climb out. 

Last year, I embraced Cole's desire to run with me by entering him into a race (gasp!).  Grand Haven's YMCA has a series of summer races and each of them has a 'race' for the 8year and under set - the Tot Trot.  The Tot Trot wasn't so much a running race as an obstacle course but Cole loved it!  Events this year have prevented us from partaking of this again.

But more recently, Cole has heard me talking about the Color Run in Grand Rapids (  I am very excited about running in this race.  It will be my fourth 5K this summer and one that is mainly about FUN!  This morning, Cole expressed his disappointment that he wouldn't be running with me.  Now, I know that my son is still a few years away from being able to run 'miles' with me - but try telling him that!  So I promised him that we would run a "paint ball" race together (that is Cole's concept of the Color Run) when he was big enough and that I hoped we would run together 'lots.'

I was amazed at my son.  He wants to run.  Because of certain circumstances, Cole is usually at daycare or with a family member while I run.  He does not see me run...only the before and after running.  Even though he is not actively involved in my running, he has a desire to run with me.  By talking about it and by making it something important to myself, I have 'taught' my son that running is cool, fun, and something he wants to do.

I am so surprised at myself!  I am not 'athletic' by a long stretch.  I did not participate in sports until high school and even then it was usually only for a season and non-contact.  I was the quiet, book worm type.  My sister was the athlete.  My brothers played soccer in elementary.  But looking back, while my parents encouraged sports, they never participated themselves.  Had I expressed an inclination for any sport, they would have supported it and found lessons and equipment.  But I did not SEE them running/swimming/golfing/etc.  Therefore, I didn't not learn to want to 'play' at an early age.

So is Cole seeing my running at an early age a key to his life as a healthy, active adult?  I hope so.  Being a role-model is part of being a parent (and a teacher!) too.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Turn On CC Math...a seriously cool interactive tool to unpack the CCSS

Ever heard of a learning trajectory (otherwise known as learning pathways)?  Some wonderful individuals from the North Carolina University developed "Turnonccmath" which is a fabulously interactive tool that shows the learning trajectories for each of the CCSS domains across grade levels as well as 'unpacking' individual domains through each path.  It is very easy to read and navigate!  But....being that this is a purely interactive tool, you cannot print directly from the site.
 To the left is the learning trajectory for Addition and Subtraction as it flows from kindergarten to fourth grade.

I still need to delve into this site a little more....but I thought I'd leave a trail of crumbs so someone can come and rescue me in a few hours!  This will be a useful resource as I dive into teaching math this year.

Welcome to my blog!

In my desire to cultivate my professional life through technology, I have begun my own teaching blog.  I hope to share my ideas and classroom creations with you as well as to learn, discuss, and collaborate with fellow educators.

A little bit about me:

I am going into my third year of teaching and my second year of teaching 4th Grade.  This year, however, I will be self-contained for the first time in my career.  Last year I team taught ELA and Social Studies.  I am excited (but slightly terrified) to be teaching math and science! 

While I will not go into specifics about my school, locations, or students, I will share that I live and teach in Michigan.  My school is in an area where poverty and low socioeconomic status are concerns.  We are currently 'tweaking' our RTI program to a 'push-in' model vs. a 'pull-out' like last year.  State and federal budget cuts have taken their toll on most local schools - bare bones funding have resulted in out-of-date text books and instigated a lot of creative teaching.  We are currently bridging our prior curriculum that followed the standards and benchmarks laid out by the State of Michigan (and the state-wide assessment M.E.A.P.) to the CCSS. 

This has been the first summer where I have had the ability to plan for the following school year.  I was laid-off last summer like many teachers in Michigan.  It was been a real treat creating lessons and planning curriculum for the same grade level!  The thrill of it has been one of the highlights of my summer...and the project list for my classroom keeps growing longer and longer....Pinterest is not helping!

In future posts, I will going into more of my teaching philosophy and my implementation of Readers Workshop, Writers Workshop, Daily 5/Cafe, and Math Centers.  Eventually, I would like to post and share some of my more unique lessons and teaching tools that I have created....who knows...a Teachers Pay Teachers store my be in my future?