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.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Reliving a Life-Changing Moment: Listen to Your Mother 2014 YouTube Clips are Live

It is pretty rare that I am given the opportunity to relive one of the most pivotal moments of my life. 

I mean, I have a video of my wedding.  And although that is an important milestone in my life, it doesn’t capture the moment when I saw him after I returned from vacation and knew he was going to be the one I married.

I have photos of the day I became a mother, but I do not have a documentation of my best moments of motherhood. Moments when Thomas says, “No, I love you,” in response to my “Good night.  I love you.” or when Marie cuddles up to me at night time, something she would n.e.v.e.r. do during daylight hours.

I do, however, have documentation of the moment I started to change the way I view myself both professionally and personally.

That moment can be found in this Listen to Your Mother YouTube clip where I share my journey into motherhood if you can't see the embedded video below.

I have written how this experience has boosted my confidence with this new direction my life is taking: it has helped me to change how I look at myself as a writer.  It has also made me feel like a part of a team which has never happened before in my life.  (And let me tell you, if you have failed at finding a sense of belonging like I have, it is one of the most glorious feelings evah)!

A part from feeling more professionally accomplished, the guilt that I felt during my first year of motherhood has been lifted.  I released it, and I feel free. This part of my story is only a part of me; it no longer dominates how I see myself.

I want to thank Angela, Jessica, and Angela again for choosing me to be a part of this incredible experience.  I am also thankful for the talented cast mates that I met.  Please be sure to check out their stories here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Live in the D: Summer Travel with Kids Tips

 As you may have seen Instagram and/or read on my blog, I recently returned from a beach family vacation, which included my parents.  Because I love to travel therefore creating a need to make sure my kids love to travel, we will be embarking on a road trip to New Jersey to visit family.

I have used or will be using these travel tips in my near future and feel excited to share them with you and talk about them on Live in the D.

Here's the clip from the show.

Ziploc bags for everything

Because we flew to Myrtle Beach, our toiletries obviously needed to be in a quart-sized bag.  However I think the gallon-sized bags are the unsung hero of travel organization.  They prevent random action figures from going MIA in a time of need and help to keep snacks from exploding in the backpack.

Letter Activities on the Plane/Car Ride

I love a break from the school grind that summer offers; however, I do become really nervous that the kids (more specifically, Thomas) will forget how to hold a pencil.

I created a letter book in a spiral notebook that was small enough to fit in my purse.  On one page, I wrote the uppercase and lowercase of each letter and left the other side blank.

When we had time, I would ask him to think of a word that starts with the letter on the page.  I would write it lightly in pencil, and he would trace it in crayon.  I can’t say that he loved it since writing is not his favorite, but I can say it was a short activity that could be done on the fly without a lot of prep.

For Marie, I had her do a letter poem.  She wrote out our location M Y R T L E B E A C H.  She then added a word for each letter.  Writing is Marie’s thing so she enjoyed this activity.

Baby Powder on Beach

Did you know baby powder could remove sand?  Not like sort of remove sand, like when you use the foot shower thing at the beach.  I mean totally takes the sand off of your skin and leaves it silky smooth.  I do not know why this is not printed on the container. I had a friend share this trick with me when Marie was a baby, and it has been a lifesaver ever since.

If you do not like baby powder, I am sure cornstarch would work well, too.

Manners Boot camp

While on vacation, it became obvious that I tolerate really bad table manners at home (some days out of laziness, other days because I am saving my energy for the bed time saga).  This does not translate very well out in the world of restaurant dining or sharing a table with other people, like my parents. 

Because we will be houseguests on our next adventure, I made a laminated chart to keep at the table.  Depending on their choices, they can either get a smiley face sticker in the Excellent, Doing OK, or Needs Work columns.

If they have more smiley faces in the Excellent or Doing OK columns, they can have a little reward (choose what we eat for dinner, a special dessert, etc.)

If this is too complicated, cut out stars (or even scraps of paper will do) and put them in a jar each time they make good choices.  When you feel that they have earned enough, give them a reward.

Road Trip Bingo

I do not know what it is about road trip bingo, but I’m intrigued.  Maybe it’s because it would force the kids to look out the window and away from any and all screens.  I found this on the Reading with Kids website.

We are going to use bingo daubers, and the winner chooses what playlist or CD they want to listen to.

Laminating an Atlas

This idea was inspired by a blog post by It’s Always Autumn.  She suggested laminating a map, but instead, I bought an atlas and had the pages carefully removed. I put them in a small presentation binder with laminated page protectors and BOOM we have our own personal atlas with a highlighted route to our end destination.

This may also serve as my hardcopy of directions the in the event that Map Quest stops working.

Vacation Photo Art

How many times do you take photos and they just sit there in your phone or camera?

I took photos (and started to let the kids take some before an unfortunate sand incident).

I then edited my photos on my phone (Snapseed is my favorite)!  I ordered my prints from Prinstagram (a Social Print Studio app -  I cannot express how much I love this company)!  I used the 4x4 squares for the project, but love the Mini Squares, too.

I went to Michael’s Craft Store and bought a 2 pack of 9x12 canvas and some Modge Podge.  (I have been looking for a project to use this ever since Angela from Jumping with My Fingers Crossed handed these magnets at one of her gatherings).

Marie chose the photos she wanted to use, glued the photos on to the canvas with Modge Podge and then brushed it over the photos to seal them to the canvas.

Voila! Perfect real life art pretty much created by online apps.

Have you hit the road yet this summer?  What are your favorite travel tips with kids?