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Teaching triumphs

October 25, 2008

I think education is my field.  I get such a high when I see my students succeed.  I’ve gotten highs off of winning grants and getting published, but there’s nothing like watching students who have the whole world stacked against them investing so much energy and effort into their education. 

On Wednesday of this week I worked with a young woman about my age who is excellent at her other subjects but who struggles with math – particularly long division.  She is not a student of mine, but the Learning Center coordinator came to me for advice after working with her one day.  We ended up deciding to give her a learning styles (a.k.a. multiple intelligences) quiz to find out what type of learner she is.  The result?  Kinesthetic, the kind of person who works and learns best through movement. 

After brainstorming for a few moments, I came up with the idea of using index cards to solve long division problems.  I cut them into quarters and put numbers on them, then traced boxes onto a piece of paper for all of the spaces where numbers go in a long division problem.  I offered to work with her the next day using the index cards, and after working through a few problems together, she was placing the numbered cards in the correct boxes as fast as she could pick them up and put them down.  She answered all of the problems on her sheet this way and commented that if she’d been shown this method before, she’d be whizzing through math by now.  I was so thrilled to see her get it that I wanted to laugh and jump for joy!

Then this afternoon, I FINALLY came across a method for making math fun for Lia, the fifth-grader I help to home school.  She hates math, and whenever I try to dress it up as something fun, she sees right through it to the math, which automatically gives it a bad taste.  But a few weekends ago, when I spent that snowy Saturday afternoon with the Spangs, I noticed how much she liked the group card game we played.  My wheels started spinning.  Cards have numbers.  Numbers are math.  Aha!  I made up a game akin to 24 in which we split the deck between us and each put two cards face-up in the middle of the table.  With those four cards, we had to get to the number 20 by adding, subtracting, and/or multiplying the numbers on them.  The person closest to 20 kept the cards.  We ended up playing through the entire deck, and at the end she said, “That was kinda fun.”  She couldn’t see the teacher inside of me jumping up and down for joy – she used the word fun!!  Woohoo!

I have never been as excited to get up and go to work every day as I am at CDKC.  I can’t wait to get to school and encourage my students to do their best in class and to devise ways to support them between classes.  On Friday mornings, I lament that it’s the last day of the workweek.  I could keep going all the way through to Monday.


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  1. Woohoo! Love Mom 🙂

  2. So glad you are having such a positive teaching experience this time around Cori. You are certainly discovering why people love to teach–and also the lure of learning support.

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