Where Do We Begin?

I have thought all day about how to write this post and still don’t know what to say.    5 Officers killed.   CountlessDallas police others injured.   Fathers….newlyweds….rookies….experienced……no one was safe.    Normally we hear stories like this and they seem far removed, things that don’t happen to us, but they’re much closer and they DO happen to us and to others like us.  Violence knows no boundaries.  And that’s where our present dilemma lies. How do we teach our kids that violence doesn’t solve problems; it only creates new ones.  How do we make them understand that there are other ways to handle the things in our lives that eat at us?  Is it even our job to teach those lessons and if so, how do we do it?

Sadness in little girlThe answer is a resounding YES!  We have to teach those lessons because we are in the perfect position to do so!  We have students for 6-7 hours a day and we see them in all settings — at work and at play.  We see them when they’re happy and we see them when they’re sad and stressed and frustrated and lonely and angry…sometimes, so so angry, and  we could (if we so choose)  use those situations to teach about coping, adapting, compromising, problem solving, and anger management.

But unfortunately, we don’t always use those “teaching moments” to our best advantage.  We tell kids to ignore the bullies or to walk away.  We tell the lonely ones to just ‘go find a new friend’ as if all they have to do is step up to a counter and order one.  We react to the angry ones sometimes by getting angry ourselves, because it just becomes so tiresome to keep dealing over and over with such troubled kids.    But in missing those moments, we are really missing the mark, aren’t we?

The sniper in Dallas yesterday, the shooter in Orlando in June, and countless others who have chosen violence as a means to an end were all students in someone’s class one day.  They all no doubt had opportunities to make good choices as well as bad choices.  They all no doubt had teachers who somehow might have been able to effect change in the way they handled the difficulties that proved one day to be too insurmountable for them.   So, the question I have been asking myself all day is, how can we make a change, and where do we start?

Thought provoking question for which I have no easy answer, but you can be darn sure I will continue searching for one!   We simply can’t afford to ignore this one….What befalls the earth quote

 

Addition Made Simple……and Real

Do you ever get caught up in having to have the best supplies, the coolest games, the newest resources?  If you’re like me, you spend hours researching the latest methods for teaching old skills, and I spend hours making things as well. But I recently learned that sometimes the easiest, spur-of-the-moment ideas can net just as good a result as the newest technology and resource!

This summer I have been tutoring kindergarten students in math, and I have been having a great time, but I am working with students who have been identified as needing some extra help.  These are kids who have already been taught with the conventional resources, so I have been trying to think of new ways to present material they have already heard (but not mastered).   They seem to love drawing but frankly we don’t have much time for extras like that until I had a bright idea!   I got out the scrap paper and crayons and asked each of them to draw a house.  I told them the house had to have a living room, a kitchen and a bedroom.  Then I got out the manipulatives (little people and they each had their own handful to work with) and that’s when the fun began!

I told them to put two people in their living room and one person in the kitchen.  Then I asked, “How many people in all are in your house?” They added and then they cleared their houses for the next problem.  I called out another problem.  They put more people in the rooms named and then they added, “How many altogether?” As I continued to call out problems, they became more and more animated about being able to figure out the total number of people in their houses.  They became engaged, because I gave them ownership in their task. Their houses were nothing fancy, but they were theirs, and that created a window for learning.  We played, and they learned.  It was win-win!

My learning for that day:   It doesn’t take fancy materials for our kids to learn.  It takes ownership!

Addition Made Simple
Two people in one room and one in the other makes three in all!
Creating Ownership
Here is one of the houses.