Bedtime Stories

We love to read at bedtime and always have.  Even before the boys could talk, we read stories at bedtime.  And, of course, they know that if they want to procrastinate bedtime, ask Mom if they can read a book (or 10).

Bedtime Math

IMG_20160113_204043

In addition to reading, my boys love Math.  On a whim, one will ask me, “Mommy, what is 45 x 34?”  I always wonder what makes them ask such a math problem at such a random time.  Just tonight, as I was tucking him into bed, my younger son, asked me what is 30 + 30 + 30.  Obviously, something made him ask me that, but I have no idea what that something was!

I was so happy to have found “Bedtime Math” by Laura Overdeck and illustrated by Jim Paillot.  My older son is so proud to tell friends and family that Bedtime Math is “a fun excuse for staying up late”.  He even took it to our New Year’s Eve gathering with friends and told their kids (ages 7 and 4) just that!  “I brought Bedtime Math!  It’s a fun excuse for staying up late!”

Each night, we read between three and five Bedtime Math problems.  The backdrop to the story problems make us laugh!  One of our favorites deals with the 10 second rule and how long you have before your dropped food is too gross to eat.  These short pre-Math problem paragraphs definitely get my kids interested in what is coming up.

The story problems are their favorite parts!  There are three problems for each scenario.  The “wee-ones” is always done by my youngest.  The “little kids” is done by either of my kids.  I like it when my younger son tries to do these problems because in many cases they are a challenge for him and will get him doing math in his head and not on his fingers.  The “big kids” problems are great for my older son because it has allowed him to do fractions, multiplication and division – something that he has not yet gotten to in school.  And, he has to reason through many of the problems because they are story problems and they involve a few steps to get to the answer.  Again, I am not sure how much of that reasoning and problem solving he is getting in school on a day to day basis.

I just noticed that there is a Bedtime Math website and app that I will definitely explore!  Stay tuned for my thoughts on those!

Extending my Boundaries

Trying Something New

Today, I did it.  I practiced what I preached, took a step (or ten) out of my comfort zone and I tried something new.  I did my first Google Hangout on Air broadcast for Professional Development.

A Passion for Presenting

Many people that I encounter every day would prefer not to present to adults.  This makes sense.  We are teachers and every day we present to children.  But, adults?  They are definitely a different breed.  They take out their cell phones, talk to each other, pass notes, make comments under their breath and even sometimes, they may put their head down and take a nap during a presentation.  No, no, I didn’t just describe my class of high school students – really, I am talking about adults!

It is true; adults make a difficult audience.  Especially teachers!  Ask any teacher and he / she will tell you the same thing.  But, for some reason, I love to present to teachers.  I enjoy getting them engaged in something that they may have previously had no interest.  I like the interaction, the Q & A, and the feedback.  I like feeling like I can help them help their students!  It is truly exhilarating to feel the adrenaline flowing through a great presentation and an engaged audience.

Each time that I present, I rely a lot on the audience’s reactions.  I did this while I was in the classroom, too.  I could gauge how interesting (or boring) my lesson was by looking at my room full of students.  Facial expressions give a lot away.  I gear my presentations towards the looks I get from the audience.

Google Hangout on Air

TILO presents

I was very grateful to have the opportunity to present today with Stephanie Sholtis from the Brunswick City School District.  We both agreed to try something new together.  (And, everything is better when you have a friend!)  TILOhio (the Tech Integrator’s Group in Ohio) requested presenters for the online Professional Development, and Stephanie and I signed up.  We presented “15 Excellent Chrome Extensions”.  Neither of us had ever done a PD like this before so we were a little nervous!

The broadcast began and all was well.  We had sound, video and, most importantly, internet.  The introductions had passed and I had even made it through my first extension.  When I went to close my screenshare and pass it over to Stephanie, I got the cascading that often happens when I screenshare in Google Hangouts on Air.  I WAS HORRIFIED.

But, really, what could I do?  Nothing.  I just watched part of the HOA with my kids and Will asked me if I was embarrassed.  I told him the truth, yes, I was but I couldn’t do anything about it.  I told him that I had to take it in stride, like “Pete the Cat”, and say “It’s all good.”

As I watched the HOA this evening, it really wasn’t that bad.  I think that the faces that I made as I was trying to fix my problem were worse than anything.  But, as I told my kids, I moved on.  I continued and I still conveyed the message that I wanted to convey.  Eventually, it started working again and the rest of the presentation continued without any problems.  But, it was a difficult presentation to do because I couldn’t see any of the reactions of my audience.

Lessons Learned

My lessons learned: Do more “blind” presentations, without seeing the reactions of an audience.

My boys’ lessons learned: Sometimes Mom has to be like Pete the Cat and say, “It’s all good.”

Your lesson learned: 15 Excellent Chrome Extensions – try them at home or in school!

 

A “Maze”y Day

As I looked out the window today at the snow falling and the wind ferociously blowing, I knew that I didn’t want to go outside.  At the same time, I knew that my boys couldn’t watch TV all day.  So, I decided to introduce both boys to a new app that I had found.

Mazes

Will, my older son, loves mazes and has loved mazes since he could pick up a pencil and follow one.  We do mazes all the time!  Recently, I found a new app that allows users to create their own mazes.  Oh, how fun!!  I always let my boys be my app-user guinea pigs and I knew that I wanted them to try this one.

National Geographic Puzzle Explorer

Geo Maze Maker

I am not sure were I learned of this app: National Geographic Puzzle Explorer Geo Maze Maker.  This app combines maze-making skills and geography. Kids use problem solving skills to create their maze and test their maze.  Then, they can share their own maze with other people.  Each maze is set in a different area of the world, so the kids can learn about cultural regions throughout the world.  The photographs are amazing (obviously, this is a National Geographic app) and all of the text is read to the child.  This is so great because my 5 year old can play on the app AND benefit from all of the great non-fiction material.

Thinking of the Parents

Many of these cool educational apps that I have found are very much geared towards teachers and how teachers can use the app in their classroom.  I love that, because, after all, I am a teacher!  But, sometimes, I feel like many app designers or marketers are forgetting about the parent market.  Parents also want to know how to use these apps which their children.  National Geographic has obviously considered this!  Right on their website, there is an Instructor’s Tool Kit AND a Parent’s Tool Kit.  Thank you, National Geographic!!  Wow!

Everything is best shared

Will was so proud of his mazes today!  He wanted me to go on his iPad and play.  Geo Maze allows the user to share his mazes so that anyone can play the maze that your child created!  The downside is that the link to share comes as an e-mail link which is copied to your clipboard.  I explained how this worked to Will and showed him how to insert that link into an e-mail to send to me.  Zach (my 5 year old) did not really understand how to paste the link and send an e-mail, so he required a little more assistance.  It was so cool watching them sitting on the couch, making their own mazes and sharing the mazes with each other!

Reflections on 2015

Looking Back

Yesterday, my younger son, Zach, had an allergic reaction to medication he was taking and ended up in the doctor’s office with hives.  As we sat for about 45 minutes in the doctor’s office (it was a Saturday, so I guess it was to be expected), we looked at pictures and videos on my phone that I had taken over the course of our two week Christmas break.  We both enjoyed looking at the pictures from the orchestra, my birthday, Christmas, a ski trip, New Year’s and any other random snapshots that I managed to get!  Today, that look back has really made me reflect on the year that just passed.

The Looking Glass of Facebook

After Zach and I returned home from the doctor’s, I decided to do my own look back at the past year and I turned to Facebook.  Why not?  All of my most important and favorite pictures are there!  Even my boys like to look on Facebook to “like” a photo of one of their friends.  So, I looked back and my posts and my photos of 2015.

One photo that was posted of me stood out among the others.  Persevere

This is a photo of me.  I exercise daily and often (at least 4 times per week) wake up between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. to do this.  Why? I really don’t know what motivates me.  But, as I look at this picture of me, I am amazed that I am looking at myself.  As a child, I was the last picked to join the kickball team, the last runner on the cross country trail and the least likely to succeed in any sport.  But, here I am, waking up like a crazy person to get out there and get my workout in.

So, what happened and why the change?  I was forced to take gym in college to graduate.  I took ballroom dancing, skiing and then, during the first semester of my senior year, I still had two gym credits left to take.  I needed an easy class, so I took walking.  Yes, there was a class called walking – well, I am sure that it had another name, but that is what my friend Jill and I called it.  So, we took walking together and it was fun!  We walked and we talked.  I should have realized it then, but didn’t.  I thrive on social fitness.

As I look at the picture above, I think about how my social fitness has truly impacted my life – both personal and professional.  I workout with Beth Anne of RALABALA, who is amazing and encouraging and tough, all at the same time.  There is an incredible group of women who work out together, and we hold each other accountable.  Beth Anne always tells us that she coaches us on “functional fitness”.  I didn’t realize what that meant until I had to carry a sleeping Zach from the Magic Kingdom to our nearby hotel this summer in 95° heat and humidity.  For me, these workouts go beyond social and functional fitness.

Lesson Learned – Persevere

Beth Anne’s workouts are ridiculously difficult.  On New Year’s Day, I almost gave up, but something inside of me told me to keep going through that 2nd set of 90 seconds of hand release push ups.  Tomorrow morning, when I wake up at 5 a.m. to go do my workout, I will workout and know that I can tackle anything in my day after the insanity of 6 a.m. – 7 a.m.  All it takes is some persistence and telling yourself that nothing is impossible.

When I head into work tomorrow, I know that I will hear “I can’t…I don’t have time…That won’t work…”  And, I am not a classroom teacher, I am a coach. (Or, in my district, my title is Curriculum Facilitator).  So, these comments are coming from my colleagues, not from students.  What I do on a day-to-day basis is not unlike Beth Anne.  I encourage people, and convince them to persist and persevere through the difficult part of their day.  In my case, I help teachers integrate technology into their classroom instruction and for many teachers, this is incredibly challenging.  I know, wholeheartedly, that if they can persevere, the rewards will be plentiful.

As Beth Anne, so eloquently posted in my favorite Facebook post of 2015, “Push past comfortable, get stronger, it is in you! I love seeing the change in people when they realize they CAN do something.” So, bring on 2016, and realize that you CAN do something.

 

Happy New Year!

Beginning 2016

Last year, my New Year’s resolutions were to get on Twitter and to blog.  So, I got on Twitter very successfully, but the blogging didn’t happen.  2016 will be my year to blog.

new year's