Light Bulbs.

Light bulbs are going off, friends.

A week ago, my most defiant student came into class and said to me, “Miss Stewart, I want to have a better day today.” My response?

I WOULD LOVE FOR YOU TO HAVE AN AWESOME DAY. LET’S DO IT.

Guess what? She did it.

She paid attention, she participated, she did her work. I don’t know what clicked with her, but not only was that day great, but so were the following three days. Isn’t that incredible? I don’t believe that I really had much to do with that, because it was all her choice this whole time. She just made the excellent life choice to do her best in school — behaviorally and academically. I’m actually kind of sad that she hasn’t been at school yet this week since she ended last week on such a high note. Honestly, it’s the most motivating thing seeing one of your kids really do his/her best on his/her own volition.

Also, I had a lot of light bulbs go off today during math. I started math centers last week, and I wasn’t sure how it would go since I have never in my life done math centers before. Fortunately, it wasn’t a total disaster, so I figured we’d do it this week, too. All the kids I met with today (which equated to about half of my class) were doing multiplication, and before they got to my table they couldn’t do multiplication.

I TAUGHT THEM SOMETHING.

We were doing this great Marilyn Burns activity about how things come in groups (i.e. shoes come in twos, fingers come in fives, eggs come in twelves, etc.) and discussing how if we have something like one hand and five fingers, how many fingers would we have if there are two hands? Three hands? Etc. We filled out this little t-chart and then wrote the multiplication sentence and THEN took a hundreds chart and colored in the products to find patterns.

Best. Activity. Ever.

You should have seen their faces when I told them that they were doing multiplication. They simply beamed. A lot of the kids have been waiting to do multiplication since day one, so this week has been really enjoyable for them. It’s really neat seeing that you’re teaching them something completely new. Some of the kids have previous experience with multiplication, but most of those kids have only been exposed to simply facts and rote memorization — they don’t understand how or why it works. I set up a game for them to do with one of the interventionists called Circles and Stars (also Marilyn Burns — amazing) and they absolutely loved it! One of them told the interventionist that she was going to play the game with her mom.

She wants to play a math game at home with her mom so she can practice multiplication.

Isn’t that what it’s all about? Getting kids excited about math and science and literacy and social studies? Getting kids excited about learning? As a teacher, that is my ultimate goal — to excite them about learning. I hope every day that my excitement for what I’m teaching reflects in my lessons, because if I’m not pumped about outer space and subtraction across zeros and finding the main idea, who will be? If your teacher isn’t motivating and inspired, how thrilled would you be to go do something that you really don’t want to do (because I can assure you, there are kids who don’t want to work for various reasons)?

I’m out here in Durham trying to create some lifelong learners — who’s with me?

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