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Algebra and Life (and the secret to successful home school math)

19 Feb

Beginner Home school Math Mistakes
           I began homeschooling in August 2016 using Saxon math.  Cherry Pie in Algebra 2, Pumpkin Pie in 8/7, and Tamale Pie in 6/5, I had been given the textbooks my children needed (for free!), and I figured I should use what I had rather than spend money on dreamy manipulative heavy curriculum (MathUSee.)  The benefit to using Saxon was (aside from being able to start for free) that it is a respected curriculum.  So when friends and family members raised their eyebrows and worried that I was going to be one of those home school moms whose children just played and wasted time, I could say, “I’m using Saxon math,” and they all relaxed and got off my case.  However, I second guessed myself more than anyone realized.  I worried that I should buy a different program that might be better for my children.   I worried that the daily work was too repetitive and boring and took too much time.  I worried that Saxon was not helping my kids to see the real beauty that is in math.
            By October 2016, I could tell Cherry Pie was definitely struggling.  I thought a different program would be the solution for her.  I also realized she needed to review Algebra 1, which she had supposedly learned in 8th grade.  So I picked up a textbook called EZ Algebra at my favorite used curriculum store.  Each chapter was written in story form.  This would be fun and interesting, I hoped.  A textbook written in story form seemed to fit with what I understood “living books” were (Charlotte Mason method).  Reading how the characters solved their math problems might help her understand the “why” behind the math.  But many of the homework problems in the new book were tricky and made leaps beyond the instruction that were not intuitive for her or me.  If neither Cherry Pie nor I could figure out how to get the answer, we were sunk because the book didn’t have a solutions guide.  Also each chapter covered 4-5 concepts at once, which was too much new information all at once! I intended to work with her on every lesson, but I was new to home school and schooling 4 children in 4 different math levels plus keeping the 4-year-old, 2-year-old, and 1-year-old twins happy and out of mischief was a struggle. Most days, Cherry Pie was on her own for math.
I Learn the Secret to Successful Math Learning:
         After about 6 more weeks of still seeing her struggle, I pulled out the Saxon Math book again, Algebra 1 this time.  I went through a lesson with Cherry Pie. I get so excited about math when I’m teaching the lesson! It’s fun! I realized I have to teach her every day, or math is just not going to work for her or me.  I have to teach daily for me because I don’t know what’s going with her if I’m not directly teaching, and I need the review because I haven’t done much Algebra for 20 years.  Cherry Pie needs the direct instruction every day because she got none in 7th or 8th grade in public school.  She was given an assignment on a computer and told to ask her neighbor if she didn’t understand something.  She was left to flounder on her own for far too long.  I didn’t know this until later, but now that I know, I understand why she was so lost, and why math was so painful for her.
           As I was researching home school, I heard from many moms that they use math as the subject their children are expected to work independently on.  Many of the curriculum choices advertise that students can work through their programs independently.  But now that I’ve been home schooling for almost 2 years, I can say that my children struggled progress in math on their own.  When I began, I thought my 12-year-old and 11-year-old were moving through their Saxon math books by themselves okay, but that was because the concepts were almost all review for them. They weren’t learning anything new, and at the end of each month when I would finally remember to check up on their homework, I would discover that they had completed about 4 lessons for the entire month. (They should have been completing 3-4 lessons per week!)
           When I made the decision that I would work with each child each day for math no matter what, something magic happened. No one was bored with math any more, and everyone began to finish their math assignments in a reasonable amount of time.
Here is the big secret to schooling math: More important than which curriculum you choose is YOU, the teacher, working  one-on-one with your students each day.  I would even venture to say, that the curriculum you choose does not matter at all as long as you work with your children each day.  Choose one that is fun and interesting to you, or at least find one that does some of the thinking for you, because you won’t have time to write lesson plans for every day.  But do not think that the shiny curriculum you really want, but can’t afford, is the key and pine for it.  Because it really is not the answer.  You are the answer.  Even if you have your child work through Khan Academy online (which is free except for the cost of good internet speeds), the key to your child moving at a good pace through the math program is you being their with them for 20 minutes of their math time each day.
I discover that Saxon math is pretty cool, after all.     
           I discovered that in the Saxon book, each of the homework problems has a small number beside it that tells which lesson that concept was taught in.  So if neither Cherry Pie nor I can figure it out, I know where to go to review that concept.  Not only that, I can use those numbers to notice patterns in which problems Cherry Pie misses, and we can go back and review skills that she consistently makes mistakes on.
      Best of all, there is a letter from John Saxon to the students in the beginning of the book.  He says algebra isn’t difficult, it’s just different.  We have to learn to think differently in algebra.  He talked about not being discouraged about making mistakes–that everyone makes lots of mistakes. Mistakes don’t mean that we are bad at math and should give up. We practice each day to develop strategies that will help us avoid making mistakes in the future.
           That was a concept I needed, because once I understood that we were developing strategies, my mindset changed.   As we went through the lesson together, I was specifically paying attention to how the book showed to solve the equations–looking for strategies to help Cherry Pie.  I also payed attention to how I solved the equations.  What are my strategies that I developed all those years ago that are now so instinctive I hardly notice what I am doing?  I asked Cherry Pie to pay attention to how we solved the problems so she could find her own strategies.
        I should never have doubted Saxon.  I realized that he totally gets the beauty of algebra.  He just knows that algebra takes lots of practice.
      Maybe that’s a bit of an allegory for life.  We are here on the earth, trying to learn how to think and be like our Heavenly Father.  His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  We make tons of mistakes.  However, we aren’t supposed to be discouraged by our mistakes or quit or just decide that we are no good at life.  With the help of the master teacher, we continue to practice.  We develop strategies to avoid making those mistakes again. It’s going to take a lifetime of practice, and it can indeed be beautiful.
❤️ Glowworm
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Christmas Eve

24 Dec


I like the part of Christmas Eve where “not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse”. 

( not quite there yet this year.) 

 Then I lie still and remember the magic I felt when I was young and anticipate the kids’ excitement in the morning. Sometimes I sneak to a window and open it a crack and smell the frosty cold air and check the starry sky (just in case Santa is flying over.) 

Then I close the window and look at the stars a little longer and think about the new star that shone down on a little stable in Bethlehem. For me, Christmas is about feeling awe and wonder at the Love of God, that He sent His Son to us, for us. I wish for you my friends to feel that wonder in your hearts tonight with me. 

🎄🎄🎄Joyous Christmas and Much Love to you all.

❤️

Glow Worm

Why do people listen to him?

27 Apr

As well he might say, “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” 
http://mediamatters.org/video/2011/12/12/limbaugh-calls-poor-children-receiving-free-sch/185173
LIMBAUGH: The state of Missouri is receiving a two million dollar Federal grant to feed needy children near Kansas City and St. Louis during the summer. Two million dollars that we don’t have to feed needy children near Kansas City .
“how can we expect them to feed themselves in the summer when they haven’t had to for nine months.”
Um…they are children.  Last time I checked, we all thought feeding children was a thing that decent human beings did.

But Rush is right.  Those wanton waifs need to figure out how to feed themselves.  It’s their own fault they are poor anyway, you know.  If they weren’t so lazy, they’d feed themselves.

If I weren’t such a Coward…

29 Jun

<insert rainbow picture here>

If I weren’t  such a coward, I would post these thoughts on my Facebook status instead of here on my blog.  But Facebook has burned me before, and I’m gun shy.  (although if I weren’t such a weenie about unfriending people, it might be safer…)

The last couple of days I’ve had the most icky unbearable feeling.  Not because of the Supreme Court’s ruling to allow Gay Marriage nationwide, but because of the reaction of many of my friends on Facebook.  I’ve seriously considered unfriending some, but as I mentioned before, me = weenie.

My feed looks like this:  All my gay friends and people who love them are rejoicing with sincere happiness. There is no “haha we won” there is no “you losers suck”. Just sincere happiness for a day and a ruling they have longed for. 

 Meanwhile my “Christian” friends are mostly posting damnation, doom, and gloom. It feels like sour grapes and ignorance and major jerky temper tantrums.  

My personal reaction to the ruling:
1.  Dude, this ruling has been inevitable for over a year, why is everyone so upset?  

2.  Predicting that the U.S. is suddenly heading for immediate destruction and damnation because of this ruling is ridiculous.  There are tons of laws in this country already that make stuff legal that I  or others believe is a sin.  This one doesn’t suddenly shift the balance.  

3. Since when did posting bible verses denouncing other people’s sins and inevitable damnation ever help anyone be better? 

4.  What is up with that acronym “SCOTUS”?  Every time I read it, I think “scrotum”. Can’t they come up with a different one?  

5.  This ruling by the Supreme Court really just seems like fairness to me.  I like fair.  

6.  I truly believe that we need to fight to protect families.  But I believe the fight needs to begin with eradication of child abuse, pornography, drugs, and poverty.  When we have gotten rid of those, then we can worry about whether those 2 gay women/men over there are somehow undermining families because they want to be married.  (Even then I think it will sound ridiculous to me). 

I will continue to teach my children in my home that sex outside of marriage is a sin, and that God’s plan is for a man and a woman to be married to bring forth children on this Earth.  However, I will never think it is my place to go up to someone on the street, much less Facebook and tell them they are evil bad & nasty.  My kids will know that it is never okay to be unkind or rude to someone because they are doing something we believe is wrong or because they believe differently than I. 

Anecdote:  I knew a young girl who became pregnant and was not married.  At first, I felt a little unsure how to act.  But I quickly decided a few things:

1. She knew what her mistake had been better than I, and my being unkind to her wouldn’t change either the mistake, the results, or her feelings about it.  

2.  Jesus would have been kind.

3.  My snubbing her or lecturing her would not make her “see the light” or make her feel welcome at church, which is where she needed to be.  

I feel the same thing applies to gay people.  My only part is to be a friend.  Not to judge, not to preach, certainly not to declare their sins to their face.

My part is to work on repenting of my own sins.   Worrying about other people’s sins will not get me where I need to be.  

#lovewins

#gaymarriagemightbewrongbuthateiswronger

#NOH8

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience and allow all men the same privilege.  Let them worship how, where, or what they may.

My Kids Are Not Just Numbers

13 May

Because I’m obviously pregnant now, I get lots of strangers asking me how many children I have.  I tell them I have seven, and they are shocked.  I then have to decide whether I’m willing to tell them that I’m expecting twins which will bring the total up to nine, and shock them further.  Their responses generally fall along the lines of “I don’t know how you do it, I was overwhelmed with just 1 (2-4).”

I say something about how helpful my big kids are, or how much fun we have as a family, or that I think being a mom takes all your creative energy whether you have 1 kid or 10.  All of these things are true.  It is also true that the numbers seven and nine are just as overwhelming to me as they are to these strangers.

But the thing is, I don’t usually think of my kids in terms of numbers.  The only times I think in terms of numbers is while I’m setting the table for dinner, while I’m buying 1/2 price shakes at Sonic, or when someone asks me how many kids I have.

Most of the time,my kids are not numbers, my kids are my kids.   I think of my children as Blueberry Pie, Cherry Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Tamale Pie, Key Lime Pie, Banana Cream Pie and Baby Bean.  That’s not overwhelming,  that’s my kids.  (That’s also a list of delicious food.)  I love them each.

It struck me this week that maybe God feels the same way.  We think of  7 billion people in the world and are overwhelmed and wonder how our Father in Heaven can watch over us and answer our prayers.  But to Him, we aren’t 7 billion.  We are Sally and Suzy and David and Daniel and Josh and (you get the idea.)  We are not numbers.  We are His children, and He loves us.

Moses 1: 37

And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.

Psalms 147: 4 He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.

5 Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.

Writing Slump

13 Aug

I know I’m not the only one to have lost my blogging mojo for awhile this year, but it feels like it.

I have plenty of stuffs to write about, but just not the energy to fight off 6 kids from the computer so I can have a turn.

Now school has begun and I might have time to write, if I ever get caught up with cleaning and food. Seems like there’s been nothing to eat for weeks around here.

Lots of days I feel like complaining, but generally my day isn’t half as bad as 2 or 3 other peoples I know, and that sort of makes me feel like an ungrateful wretch for whining.

And lots of stuff in my life is awesome, but when I sit down to write about it, the writing comes out sarcastic and gloomy. bleh

maybe I’ll try later

Maybe a lot later

I don’t know why I’m posting this.

Yes, I’m going to Rant a bit

3 Oct

beetlebattle

Okay so our government has been shut down for 3 days now while both sides sit on their self-righteous high horses and  refuse to negotiate or compromise.  They throw blame and mud at each other and do essentially nothing.

The radio news media are taking predictable sides as well, with NPR talking about how Republicans are refusing to budge and Conservative talk radio guys talking about Obama and the Democrats refusing to budge.

Left in the lurch is us, the American people, particularly the 800,000 federal employees who have not had a job for the last 3 days.  And then there are the businesses who depend on visitors to places like National Parks for their customers.  And the effect trickles onward.

Some of the pundits have been saying things like

“Big deal, the government shut down.  Nothing happened.  There are no riots.  A few people have been inconvenienced is all.”

That number (800,000 federal employees)  I got from NPR.  I doubt that it includes the few thousand Missouri Guard soldiers who’s Guard Drill was canceled this weekend because of the government shut down.  You would think that our state guard would be paid by the state, but it isn’t, it is paid by the Federal Government.  That is, no doubt, a troubling situation in and of itself that ought to be considered.

The real effect of this on my family is a 15% reduction in our income for the month.  Basically the whole amount we have budgeted for food and household necessities like diapers and toilet paper.

Now, I’d like to know if Mike Levine or Rush Limbaugh would call a 15% reduction in their monthly income an “inconvenience.”  More likely they would be screaming from the rooftops about suffering and injustice.

I’d like to know if the congressmen are still getting paid during the shutdown, while they serve themselves and their own party, instead of the people who elected them.  Are the coffee gophers on furlough as well as the National Guard?

 

Call me crazy, but I thought the whole idea behind a representative government is that the representatives get together, talk about the needs of the people, and then make compromises on how to best serve the people.  

I’m not saying my family is going to crash and burn this month.  We will muddle through and be ok.  I’m pretty sure there are other families that this will hit much harder than us.  The longer the shut down lasts, the harder it will be.  I’m the first one to admit that the government needs to cut some fat, and I realize that means some people will lose their jobs.  If my husband is one of them, we will deal with that.  What just really chaps me is this indecision-do nothing but blame the other party crap that is going on.

Man up and do your jobs, Congress.

That is all.