Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Circuit Math in Metro Detroit

As a teacher, I am passionate about learning.  So I was really excited to get an opportunity to check out Circuit Math with Marie.  The program is focused on the foundations of math and is individualized for each student with the goal to help kids in grades 3rd – 9th to make progress in math in fun, relevant ways.

mommy on the spot at circuit math metro detroit

The session starts with Marie finding her name tag. Maggie, Co-Founder of Circuit Math, took some time to get to know Marie by asking her about her interests.  I have to admit, when Marie learned she was going to have to do math at this outing, she was not happy.  But when Maggie showed her in a very casual way how math is used in swim, I saw Marie’s eyes light up. This was a first, since she usually has a negative attitude about anything concerning math. 

After Maggie and Marie chatted, Marie then signed in and went to the first station.  Here she sat at a laptop and completed the initial evaluation called a COW (Competency of the Week). I love that they do not use the word a test or a quiz since that can make students nervous.  The COW evaluated her skills in very specific areas, such as multiplying by 0.  She needed a little work in this area, so she did an interactive virtual workshop with polls to keep her engaged.

mommy on the spot at circuit math metro detroit

All of this color-coded information (green for pass, yellow or red indicating they need to work on this area) was available to her via her dashboard.  She then had access to the playlist of activities (not called tasks or assignments which is awesome) and practiced her skills.

After twenty minutes at station one, she moved to the circuit part of the session where she could apply what she learned in real-life situations.  She chose the restaurant station.  Ms. Katie played the waitress (although another student will play this part).  Marie got to order whatever she wanted and practiced her multiplication and adding.

mommy on the spot at circuit math metro detroit

She then moved on to the sports circuit where she played darts and beanbag toss and practiced adding numbers up in different ways.  There is also a basketball circuit and a golf circuit to practice measurement and average.  I love this concept, especially for people who learn best when they are in motion.

mommy on the spot at circuit math metro detroit

mommy on the spot at circuit math metro detroit

At the end, since Marie mastered her skills, she received a COW.  Students can choose to use their COWS to get a small prize, like a pencil or stickers.  Students can also choose to save their cows for a bigger prize, like a ball or fun duct tape.

mommy on the spot at circuit math metro detroit

None of the prizes are candy because they value active lifestyle and do not want students on a sugar high.  I love this concept!

mommy on the spot at circuit math metro detroit

mommy on the spot at circuit math metro detroit

Although I didn’t spend a lot of time in the middle school room, I loved that the students designed it themselves.  They even participated in a project that helped them to figure how much paint they needed to paint the floor and work within a budget.  Having taught junior high, I know how easy it is to let homework become a wedge in the parent/child relationship. At Math Circuit, the teachers can help students with math and alleviate the frustrations that come with helping with homework.

mommy on the spot at circuit math metro detroit

So what do parents do while they are waiting for their kids?  They wait here and enjoy complimentary coffee and water.  And since it is an open floor plan, they can watch their kids, too.

mommy on the spot at circuit math metro detroit

Places like Math Circuit need to exist especially in regards to Common Core Standards (which the certified teachers are aware of and make sure the foundational skills and real-life applications compliment these standards).  Also, Math Circuit teachers have the time and resources to individualize the education experience whether a student needs extra help, more challenges, or additional practice.

If you are interested in learning more about Circuit Math, be sure to check out their website.  They have morning sessions available during the summer and will have afternoon sessions once school starts.

How do you get your kids excited about math?

*I was compensated to write this promoted post, but all of the opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fixing Parenting Mistakes

I feel that honoring each child as an individual is one of my parenting strengths. 

For their bedtime snacks, I lovingly prepare strawberries with blueberries for Thomas and strawberries and peaches for Marie.

Thomas wants ev.ry.body. at his t-ball game.  Marie prefers no one at her events.

Marie craves alone time. Thomas wants to do something with someone every moment of the day.

I felt very proud of my parenting approach, especially since this is not always easy to do.  But while on vacation in Myrtle Beach, I have witnessed the downside of catering to the individual.  It seems that I was so concerned with the personalized experience that I forgot the importance of coexisting in a group.

My theory has been that if Marie and Thomas felt that their unique needs were being met, they would have an easier time respecting the needs of others.  Since their buckets were full, they would have enough to go with the flow.

This has not been the case.

Instead of graciously putting their particular requirements aside, they were angry that they couldn’t have their way.  I was flitting around trying to make each one of them happy.  Marie wanted to go to the beach.  Thomas wanted to go to the pool (or worse yet, stay on the iPad).  Marie wanted to go out to eat.  Thomas wanted to stay home.

They were forced to eat pretzel bites while waiting to eat hamburgers at Margaritaville . . .
after they had fun at the aquarium.  Life is so unfair.

The bad attitudes and sheer defiance was beyond frustrating.  This glaring loophole in my parenting philosophy helped me to realize that I need to enforce more of a group mentality and help my kids embrace flexibility.

Why eat outside as a family and enjoy the ocean view . . . .

when you can eat inside by yourself. 

This week, we are embarking on another adventure: we are going on a road trip and will be houseguests.  And quite frankly, I will feel a deep sense of failure mixed with embarrassment if my kids pull the same shenanigans that they did in Myrtle Beach.

On this road trip, I will be starting my new parenting campaign: Be Flexible.

I wanted to be all badass and force encourage this change straight from vacation by having them try Indian food, but that did not happen.

So in the past month, I’ve been enforcing more time outs, following through with my expectations of manners, and not catering to dietary preferences during dinnertime.

This was not easy.

Which is probably why I have not been doing it consistently.

But honestly, I do not want to raise inflexible kids that have no awareness of anyone’s needs other than their owns.  So from here on out, I will be towing that delicate line of honoring the individual and honoring the group’s needs as well.

How do you that - raise kids who understand the importance of listening to their inner compass while realizing they have to go with the flow? Seriously, I am asking because I do not feel like I am doing it right.