About Me

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I am a wife and mother of two, living in the mid-west.  I love animals and being outdoors and I am currently a graduate student studying Elementary Education.  Teaching is extremely rewarding and fun for me.  I especially enjoy teaching my own kiddos.  Everything I learn in school I try very hard to bring home and apply towards helping my family.  Join on in and I hope you enjoy my blog!

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Math makes me nervous…

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Or perhaps I should now say “math used to make me nervous.”  Throughout my summer and my dabbling in the realm of mathematics, I have come to (somewhat) conquer my fear of math.  I have learned that “Math Anxiety” is a very really issue for many people.  I have done a little bit of research in the last few weeks regarding this concept.  First I would like to begin by explaining exactly what math anxiety is for all of you math-lovers out there: 

Math Anxiety: a phenomenon that is often considered when examining students’ problems in mathematics. Mark H. Ashcraft defines math anxiety as “a feeling of tension, apprehension, or fear that interferes with math performance” (2002, p. 1). 

This “phenomenon” is something that all math teachers will eventually have to deal with.  Yep, I said it.  We will ALL have to deal with it at some time or another.  Many students are fearful of math.  It can be quite intimidating. I found an online test and took it to see if I had math anxiety at the beginning of the summer.  Sure enough, I did. Granted, not all of the questions applied to me, but even envisioning myself going to the board in math class made me feel slightly faint.  I hate being put on the spot, and I was always afraid when I was younger that I would get the question wrong and people would think I was stupid.  In fact, I have said many times that I’m “math stupid.” 

I’m putting this all out there because I think this is something that children should never be made to feel.  As educators it is our job to not only teach the material, but to do so in a way that empowers our students, not degrades them.  Because of this, I have put together a small list of things that I think all math teachers should do to help students overcome any fear of math they might have (regardless of the degree of anxiety):

1. Have a positive attitude! This seems pretty self-explanatory to me–be upbeat about what you are teaching!

2. Make it a game.  Use games to teach concepts.  This helps to take the pressure off of students.  It makes it fun!

3. Try not to put anyone on the spot. I know as teachers it is sometimes tempting to call on someone who never raises a hand to volunteer an answer.  I’ve been there.  I’ve (unfortunately) done that.  What I’ve found though, is that those students are usually the ones who suffer from math anxiety the most.  They need to be helped, not embarrassed. 

4. Offer extra help. This might sound obvious, but sometimes all it takes is a little bit of extra help with certain concepts to help students understand.  

5. Work through problems as an entire class. Am I saying that every problem should be worked out together as a large group? Nope.  Absolutely not.  I am, however, saying that at least one or two problems should be worked out before turning students loose.  It is also helpful to do one or two as a class, then allow students to do one or two in small groups (pairs perhaps), and then finally ask them to work individually so you can see who is struggling with the concept and help them out!

This list of helpful hints (at least I hope you find them helpful) is something that I try to keep in mind anytime I enter a math class.  I KNOW what it is like to be that student who dreads math class, hates math entirely, and uses my calculator for everything.  I try to make it my goal to never make any of my students feel the way that I felt growing up.  

Let me know if you have any tips or tricks that you use in your own classrooms for helping students through math anxiety! I’d love to add to my little list! 

Awesome Educational Blogs

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I wanted to take a minute today to give you all a list of Educational blogs that I, personally, enjoy and find useful:

1. Learning Is Messy: This blog is all about how learning and teaching do not always follow a nice predictable pattern.  It’s a great reminder that sometimes things just don’t always go as planned, but what is important is that the children get it figured out in the end!

2. The Organized Classroom: This is a great resource for ideas on running an efficient and organized classroom.

3. The Polka-dotted Teacher: This teacher is super creative and gives lots of ideas about adding fun, color, and creativity to your own teaching.

4. Teach 123: This is a been-there-done-that teacher’s blog.  Michelle (the author) shares experiences and tips with other educators!

5. Kleinspiration: This teacher highlights uses in technology (she has a business background) and traditional teaching.  She is quite insightful.

I hope you enjoy these and please post your own favorites in the comments!

Common Core Standards in Wisconsin

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As parents and educators, we are all (hopefully) aware of the fact that the State of Wisconsin implemented the Common Core Standards (CC) this past school year. This was a big change for the school system, and one that has sparked a lot of controversy. While it is not my goal to upset any of my readers, I feel the need to share some of my thoughts and opinions regarding CC. All over the internet, it is possible to find lists of the wonderful things the CC will do for our children…it is ALSO possible to find lists of reason why people hate CC. I will start by saying that I can actually distance myself from this to some extent because my husband and I send our daughter to a Christian based private school and our son will eventually go there as well. Because the private schools do not have to follow these standards (even if the state adopted them), I feel like we have been let off the hook–thank goodness.

From my last statement, I’m sure you can all see that I am against the common core standards. This is not something that I say lightly, because there are definitely some positive things (ie: they are intended to make us more comparable to other countries; help teachers develop professionally; assessments are meant to help track an individual child’s progress versus comparing the child to his / her peers; students have to come up with their own ideas and defend them in these assessments rather than the standard multiple choice questions); however, the negative outweigh the positive in my opinion.

While I can see why some distort things to see a positive side, the negatives are deal-breakers for me. I’m completely against starting as early as pre-k with academic rigor. Children today do not have the same luxuries we had growing up and I vehemently oppose pushing them so hard at a young age. These standards also lead to more high-stakes testing when I think our kids are tested to death already. Students with special needs are not properly accommodated and there really is such a thing as too much technology. These standards would require schools to upgrade to all kinds of new technology and would make a lot of the current materials (books, etc.) outdated. I also don’t like that states that originally had higher standards than normal were forced to lower their standards so that they are all the same. There is just something wrong with that.

The CC is simply another governmental implementation that will eventually pass and another reform will begin. Just as the No Child Left Behind act was an epic fail, my predictions are that the CC standards will be left by the wayside as soon as new government enters the equation. Unfortunately, in the meantime, our children and educators will be the ones left to suffer the consequences of these standards.

Check out what these websites have to say about CC:

Pros and Cons of CC

For love of CC (This article is very pro CC, and I do not agree with it, but I figured I should share it with you all anyway!)

Backlash from CC