Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Vacation

I have got to stop doing these Christmas vacations away from my support groups and mental health strategies!  I love my family of mom, sisters, nephews and nieces, but the pain of the loss of my own boys is almost more than I can bear anymore.  I am not suicidal, but I can truly see why people kill themselves during the holidays.  We just want the pain to END.

It has been three years since I  have seen any of my boys.  I truly don't understand what I did to deserve this treatment.  How can you treat your mom like she doesn't exist?     I refuse to believe I was such a horrible mom or person.  I won't believe it.

Now that I am home I can operate in my adult.

Next year I hope I can be stronger without crying everyday.

In my lowest moments I hate them for what they are doing to me on purpose. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to forgive them?  

So I thought of my poem, "Ascension" tonight because of the fog.  I'm still there....

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


The stillness,

after the wind dies,
after the mountains
have been thrown down,
when fire burns the bushes,
ignites the trees,

the stillness
is in the death of flames.

The low whisper of rocks
falling from the path,
in the gullies, canyons, and valleys.

The stillness of a heart monitor
in a hospital room.
Death comes.

The Word of the Lord
is my stillness.
I am hidden in the clefts.

I wrap the stillness
around my joints
where age saps my strength,
misfires my heart,
dims my perceptual vision,
and muffles my ears in white noise.

When I am alone,
in wind,
cobbled in rock,
your word of 7000
 is my comfort.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Creature from the Black Lagoon

Tears hide at the eye's sharp corners.
Sorrow reveals the creases, buried
in skin, between the ground and mourners.
Gathered like weeds, submerged and ferried.

The current ties the sodden stalks 'tween
ankles, flipping memories: black lagoon
creature with opal eyes and fins of green
mohawk feathers.  Death swims naked in moon
shadows, brushing my thighs with whispery

Leaving reminders, scratches, contam-
inated,with trace 'neath finger nails, matches
the DNA of sin from Adam's slam
against his Eve.  The clumps, soil detaching
marks creation's fall.  Leaving tears in veils,
drowning death daily, with rusty red nails.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

More thoughts on talking to a Paraglider from NY

The dreams were free at night.  I'd launch my 5 year old body(?) off gray shingles that left silvers in my bottom when I'd slide myself down the roof.  Below the peak of the barn roof was a haystack half as tall as the peak.  I'd soar off that roof and try to touch the clouds.  I would do swirls, twirls, somersaults and cartwheel through the air.  It was easy, and it was freeing.  I remember feeling the pure joy of flying, not in the black night of dreams but in the cerulean blue of hot Kansas skies.

The dreams were so real to me I actually thought I did fly at night while I was sleeping.  The dreams occurred with regularity and became something I always looked forward to at night.  I was never scared, and I never fell to the ground.

I don't remember how old I was when the dreams stopped.  Life just kind of got in the way and anchored me to the earth.  Daddy got sick.  We moved off the farm to Lincoln, KS.  Daddy died.  We moved to Salina, KS.  With each year the chains of gravity kept me grounded, and I forgot all about the dreams of flying.

It wasn't until after I was married and started having children that an aunt of Pat's talked to me about her dreams of flying.  Estelle, also had dreams of flying when she was young in Iowa.  We compared stories, and once again I remembered the thrill of soaring through the air and the wonder of the earth below.

I often wonder what those dreams symbolized for me.  Estell really believed she flew.  Did I?  It was so real and so natural in my dreams.  It was a time in my life where sorrow had not touched me.

This year I attended a dinner for the paragliders racing in the Woodrat Paragliding race at Fiasco Winery in Ruch.  Sitting next to me was a man from New York who had flown Paragliders all over the world.  He encouraged me to try a tandem flight.  I mentioned to him my dreams of flight as a child.  He told me that people who have those dreams usually wind up paragliding.


That got me to thinking. I thought of flying.  I thought of the symbolism ripe in the act of flying with a paraglider.  I thought of turkey vultures and how they use the thermals to kettle.  I wondered how paragliders got from Woodrat to Grants Pass and back again.  I was intrigued by the whole idea of comparing and contrasting my childhood flights with the act of paragliding  today.

I tried my hand at a sonnet because I've also been thinking about William Wordsworth.  I combined my thoughts of flying with the craft of writing a sonnet.  Sonnets are HARD work!  It's like Sudoku for my brain!  I'm not too fond of my results, but I like the difficulty and challenge of writing in iambic pentameter and rhyming.

I'm currently working on a free verse with the same theme.  Maybe someday I will take the venture and do a tandem paragliding ride.  I think I should in honor of that happy, free spirit of a child I was back on the barn roof, launching my body skyward!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

On Talking to a Paraglider from New York in form

In nights of dreams, the clouds fly high above
barn steeples, grazing hay, and toeing trees,
as westward blades of windmills list, shove
the wisps amongst the limbs.  The lee
of slope running on shingles gray with age.
The step I take : a foot launch, lifts the wing.
I kettle up the core, Vario gage
beeping .  Dew creates bases. Arms I fling
to catch my cloud quay.  Unstable as Geier
in flight.  I fear not dreams of flying high
to heaven.  Gravity of dust, flyer
in hell of air foil collapsing. I die 
of trees and rooted rock, awake and bound
once more, in beds of iron, and chains of ground.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My Hero, Southern Oregon Subaru

I forgot to mention on the freeway when I was stuck I also got a visit from the State police.  Officer Freeman was quite the hoot and could do Standup comedy if he wanted too!  I was well cared for stuck on that freeway!

Today I got my car back.  They said the hose camps had slipped off and sprayed all my transmission fluid out.  Nothing was damaged.  Thank God.  They fixed it all, no charge and detailed my car.  Wow, Southern Oregon Subaru came through with flying colors!  Shannon, my service person, was awesome! She is my Super hero!

  A happy ending for my car adventure.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Me and My Car

Car Troubles and the single woman part 2:

Last week I was on a mission with my car. I've been dreading it because I feel so inadequate around car maintenance stuff.  In fact, I had kind of a revelation about cars, myself and my ex husband last week.

I digress here. 

 I have always felt insecure being the one to drive people around.  I usually defer to them to drive.  I realized it's because my ex had always complained about my driving. In the early part of the marriage he rarely let me drive and if he did it was white knuckled with gasps.  Later in the marriage he had to let me drive because he was drinking.  After awhile I got kind of a toughen attitude about it.  Did he want  me to drive so he could drink?  Fine, then he could just suffer through it.

Unfortunately, the boys picked up on his phobia and when they got to be teenagers they also mocked my driving.  Yes, I did slide on black ice and wind up in the ditch on Sterling Creek. (Doesn't everyone who lives up there slide on Hayes corner?) It was one time in 30 years.  Yes, I have hit a couple of deer, or they hit me I should say.  (They have a tendency to run into people's cars) But Pat hit deer too.  (Doesn't everyone on Sterling Creek hit a deer sometime?)  I could list all the times and mishaps of everyone in the family.  My mishaps were no greater than theirs. Yet I was left with the insecure feeling about my driving, so hence I let other people drive.

I will admit I did let Pat take care of the car stuff.  He reminded me to get oil changes.  He took care of tires  So when I became single I knew this area would be a challenge for me.  I've been pretty good about the oil changes.  I like the way the Subaru Service Dept treats me.  I have a woman who takes care of me so I don't feel put down by a man for my ignorance.

About a month ago I noticed a gouge in the sidewall of one of my tires. Yes I know, don't berate me, it was my doing for parking or rubbing up against some kind of barrier.  I was dreading this because I knew with a Subaru being an all wheel drive I would probably have to replace ALL 4 TIRES!  It worked out that I only had to replace one, and it was warranted so it was free!

The next item on my list was an oil change, and I thought I was due for my next maintenance.  Fortunately it was not due for another 3000, and all I needed was an oil change.  I did mention that I noticed my air conditioning wasn't blowing cold or my heater hot.

Now I'm not a total air head.  I do check my gages.  I glance out my mirrors periodically while driving. I don't answer my phone when it rings while I am driving, and I don't text while driving.  I had noticed nothing strange except for the heating and cooling system.

My radiator was dry.  I did not notice the car running hot.  So now I've added sniffing to identify radiator fluid and checking for puddles under the car to my routines.  I replaced my radiator a week ago.  You can BET I'm watching that GAGE!

Which comes to my Sunday stuck on the Freeway.

I got gas and was heading to Central Point on the Freeway to go swimming at my friend's house.  Midway between the South and North Medford exits I glanced into my rear view window and saw black smoke. CRAP.  (I know that is not good.)  I checked my gages.  Nothing.  Everything was reading normal.  I looked out again.  Yep.  Black Smoke.  About then I notice I could no longer accelerate.  I coasted for a ways to get to a safe place to pull over.  Then I called my friends the Nelson's to come get Queenie out of the heat.

The next panic was where did I put the towing information?  I knew my insurance paid for towing.  I started digging though the glove box.  I had old bills from the insurance company, but I could not remember the name of the Car Care.  

About this time I hear a knock on my window, and I look up, and there are 4 firefighters and a fire truck behind me!  I guess someone had reported my car on fire.  They were very nice and popped my hood, checked my engine, asked if I had water for the dog and myself, and if I needed any help.  I assured them I was calling the tow company and my friends were on the way.  They told me it looked like I had lost all my transmission fluid.  Great.

I called Subaru to tell them I was having my car towed there, and I asked if I could get a loaner car.  I kind of got hemmed and hawed about that.   My friends showed up and Perry, who is a jack of all trades, looked at my engine and pointed out how my hoses from the radiator to the transmission were all popped off.  (I was wondering if this might have something to do with them replacing my radiator a week ago?)

The tow truck showed up and towed me to Subaru.  I have to say as soon as we explained what happened they got me a loaner car.  Perry took pictures of the hoses, and I am really hoping that Subaru does right by me because I really want to believe they are good guys.  I am waiting for them to call me this morning.  I am hoping no other damage has been done.  I am hoping they admit fault and fix it for free.  I am hoping.

Of course at the back of my mind I am running through the scenes trying to see if I was at fault for any of this happening.  My natural tendency is to take all the blame for whatever happens to me.  I'm so used to being blamed I can not  seem to escape the condemnation.  (May I say I am so glad there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1  I just wish I could apply that in all my life naturally.)  I really don't think there was anything I could have done to prevent this from happening.  Except maybe get an auto mechanic degree? Or check my engine every time before I get in to drive.

Come on Southern Oregon Subaru be my HERO!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bugs in the House Subtraction

Review of Bugs in the House Subtraction lesson from Bridges

Mathematical Trajectory: This is an important lesson in First Grade because it is the introduction to Subtraction. 

Math Goal:  It is possible to solve for the change unknown, start unknown, and end unknown using manipulative,( Use appropriate tools strategically), and you don't always have to subtract, take away, when subtracting.

Relevant Stands:  1:OA.A.1, 1:OA.B.4, and most importantly: 1:OA.D.8

  • CCSS.Math.Content.1.OA.D.8 Determine the unknown whole number in an addition or subtraction equation relating three whole numbers. For example, determine the unknown number that makes the equation true in each of the equations 8 + ? = 11, 5 = _ – 3, 6 + 6 = _.
Sociomathematical Norms:  The posters for Mathematical Habits of Mind and Interaction will be referenced and pointed out through out the lesson. In order to make sense of the problem students will be asked to use Private Reasoning Time, they will have to Explain how they are Thinking, they will need to Listen to Understand, they will be asked and will be asking Genuine Questions, they will explore Multiple Pathways, they will Compare and contrast Logic and Ideas, they will Critique and Debate each other, ( Construct viable arguments and critique others reasoning), and Math will be the Final Authority. 
I plan to focus on students making connections between other mathematical ideas such as addition.  I will also emphasize metacognition because I anticipate  mistakes and stuck points.  This will also include some disequilibrium.  (Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.)  (Reason abstractly and quantitatively)   

Justification/Generalization:  For answer unknown I can take the minuend and split it into 2 groups to get the difference :   5 - 3 = ___.  (Attend to precision)

I can add the subtrahend to the difference to  get the minuend .  ___ - 3= 2 

Prior Knowledge: In Number Corner we have played around with addition and subtraction in the games we have played.  (We have not taught subtraction explicitly until now.)

Metacognition:  Since I am expecting mistakes and stuck points I plan to select and sequence students to share their work at the document camera.  ( Model with mathematics) I anticipate students having a difficult time getting started so I will first show the work of a student that has started.  I plan to show multiple ways the students are making sense of the problem. (Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.)  Eventually, I plan to construct a public record for each problem solved.

Instructional Focus: 
1c. Metacognition and reflection about their reasoning, conclusions, mistakes, disequilibrium, and developing understandings?

2d.  Working with Public Records of student thinking  to focus attention on mathematical ideas and questions that are important to highlight  as context for sense making and /or to record for reference later.  (Look for and make use of structure) and ( Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning)

Evidence: As I observe the students working and selecting  and sequencing  their work at the document camera I will be able to see who has it and who does not.  I should be able to tell from their drawings if they have the concept of subtracting. I will also look for the students who can do multiple representations using pictures and number sentences.

Exit Task:  As an Exit Task I will have 3 problems. 

 __ - 1 = 4
5 - __ = 2
8 - 4 = __

 want to see how many get the unknown problems and how many get the basic  problem of 8 - 4 = __.  I will be curious to see if any use addition to get the subtraction problem. I want to see if they can use manipulitives to solve the problems.  I want to see if they can make any connections to the problems.  I want to see who struggled and got it and who still needs more play time with the bugs.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Reflections on "Mathematical Tasks as a Framework for Reflection" More homework!

I'm really good at the 4th wall.  Probably because I majored in theatre in college.  People can walk into my room, and I can just keep on teaching like they were never in my room.  This habit/talent has come in very handy for the math studio!  We have all sorts of people pop in our rooms- peers, administrators, instructional coaches, and visitors from other school districts.  It has become part of my practise to be open about the way I teach. I have learned to value the debriefing after some of the observations because I get kind, gentle, insightful feedback on what I do really well and what I need to reflect on in my practises.

Growth can not happen on it's own- it takes personal reflection and caring colleagues to direct the growth.  It has been especially valuable to have our grade level PLC (Planned Learning Communities) be on math this year.  It gave us devoted time to analyze our tasks and planned for success and failure!  I am looking forward to next year when I can sit down with my team and do more of the lesson planning.  I think in another 2 years we will have all of the Bridges lessons with the 1) Math goal 2) aligned to the Common Core Standards,and  3) the cognitive demand either clarified or upped.

It's all about the mathematical task and what it demands of the students and the teachers.  Research shows us the higher the cognitive demand the more learning occurs in the classroom.

" ...mathematical  tasks is built on the idea that the tasks used in the classroom form the basis for student's learning."  (Doyle, 1988)

Lower level demands include memorization and procedures without connections.  The article has a nice visual showing example of each level of demand.  Memorization:

"What are the decimal and percentage equivalencies for the fractions 1/2 and 1/4?"

1/2=0.5= 50%

Procedures without connections  are the students doing the math without understanding why they are doing it.  They plug in a formula, work it, and walk away.  

One of the pivotal changes in my classroom has been moving away from the "worksheet".  Bridges really does not have that many worksheets in the lessons.  It is always making some kind of model, whether it is manipulative based or pictorial based,  A teacher can observe and question the student to check understanding.  It feels strange to give a worksheet to a student now.  The best use of a worksheet may be as an exit test, and even then I want to be walking around the room observing  how they work.

The most difficult part I run into is explaining to parents and after school programs why I don't send home packets of worksheets for homework.  Besides the tediousness of the task, focusing on how many minutes and hours are spent on a worksheet is not "the best bang " for my buck.  Real learning comes from students being able to perform the mathematical task showing how they are connecting to it to make sense of the math.  It is not about me grading a work sheet but about me listening into students talking to make sense of the math and watching them work with uni fix cubes, or playing the math games in math stations.  Guess which one is harder work?

Higher level demand tasks demand the student be able to explain and defend their work or reflect and change their mind about their work.  One example:

"Procedures with Connections"

Using a 10 X10 grid, identify the decimal and percent equivalents of 3/5,

Even better
"Doing the Math"

Shade 6 small squares in a 4 X 10 rectangle. Using the rectangle, explain how to determine each of the following:(a) the percent of the area that is shaded. (b) the decimal part of the area that is shaded, and (c) the fractional part of the area that is shaded.

This is a great way to set up a task but also part of our teacher tool box is also thinking about student management problems, how much time is given for the task, and holding students responsible for their learning.  A good teacher has management set up and implemented, taking into account the behaviors in the classroom every year.  Time is always a problem in our schools anymore.  The constant interruptions of the office buzzing in, birthday card invitations being handed out in the hallway, or cupcakes brought in for birthdays,  pullouts for non academic reasons can strangle a lesson for certain students and frustrate a teacher when they lose 3/4 of the class's  attention with each interruption.  (In first grade that means at least 10 minutes to get them back to thinking and being on task.)

I have found it valuable in our PLC' s to line the lessons up to our first grade CCSS to determine how much time to spend on a lesson.  It is the only way to determine what gets the most class time.  I do not advocate throwing out a lesson because it is not in my first grade CCSS.  It is always important to look at the trajectory for upper grades.  For example:  Money is not included in the CCSS for First grade.  It is a standard in Second Grade. (2MD.C.8)  Therefore I do spend some time teaching money.

Using the Task analysis alone or with teams focuses the task on  the  learning for the student.  We cannot operate behind closed doors anymore.  It is risky and scary to be observed by our peers and other people.  It is a risk well worth taking because it is about the student and me becoming the best I can be in my vocation as a teacher!  Bring on the 4th wall!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Math Action plan for 2013-14

Action Plan June 2013
Hello 3rd year of first grade!  I am actually looking forward to being a bit more comfortable with the curriculum!  I am also looking forward to working with my awesome team and getting better at what I am doing!! I'm going to be attending to precision!

Action Plan Sub-Goal 1:

I will intentionally foster a mathematical culture of effort and growth.

1.  I am going to explicitly and systematically teach the Math Habits of Mind, and the Habits of Interaction.  I believe the outcome will lead to not only better student discourse but also more justification and generalizations in my class!  I will set the date of Nov. 1 to have all of them taught.  I know they will be taught when students without prompting will use them in the classroom.

2. I will purposefully examine and discuss with my colleagues what CCSS I will emphasize in my teaching.  I am hoping that our PLC will be math, and we can meet once a week on Wednesdays to tear into lessons.
a.  We need more time and lessons on subtraction!!!
b.  I will teach the greater than and less than signs using daily snack 4 times a week!

3. The best discourse happened during number corner last year.  I plan to develop more focused discourse using the CCSS as my guide.

I will have 2 sets of partnering in my math time.  There will be sunrise/sunset partners on the floor and chocolate/strawberry partners at tables.  I would like to experiment with a quad grouping also!

I plan to make public records with all my calendar pieces and post them so students can reference them in discourse.  I will start with September.


sub goal #2  Mathematically Productive Teaching
1.  In our PLC time I will discuss with colleagues the math goal, the CCSS, and if any changes need to be made to the lesson to clarify or up the cognitive demand.  This is also a good time to vent and discuss previous lessons.
a .I will post a T chart of Justification and generalizations as they come up in the classroom.
b.  I will purposefully find and write a math goal for at least 1 lesson a week.  I will ask myself, " What do I want the students walking away from class knowing?"
c.  In our PLC we will purposefully do a task analysis of  the  lesson.  I think it would be helpful for me to compare 1 a week and run it by Jessica or Teena.

2.  I would like Jessica to observe me teaching at least once a month for feedback.  This would also include some side by side coaching.

3.  I would like side by side coaching from Teena about every 2 months so I can continue to grow in my practise.

3.  I will attend to precision by doing the math and looking up all the math terms so I am clear on definitions.  The students will recognize this as " Math: the Final Authority"!

4  I will get in the habit of filming myself with my IPhone.  Maybe have a student be the camera person!  This will give me time to reflect on my practises and plan for select and sequencing students.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Changes in Habits of Mind

If you REALLY want to see how much your teaching practise has changed, take this class again in 3 years!  Wow,  is all I can say. It went from being about me as the teacher to being about students and how they learn.  I was kind of bent that way anyway that students do more for themselves in the classroom than me doing all the work for them.  I am all about them stepping up to take care of themselves and learning how to problem solve.

I know, and believe people who can think and problem solve are more successful in life.  These poverty students need these skills to escape generational poverty and break the cycle!   This has become more for me than just a better way to teach math, meeting the Common Core Standards, or passing OAKES testing.  It is enriching the lives of students , who live in some pretty grim circumstances, and enabling them to become successful members of our society.   

I kept reminding myself how shell shocked I was the first year of Math Studio.  I kept pinching myself because I wasn't feeling the pain and panic like I did the first year.  It was a lot of nodding my head and agreeing because now I have seen the evidence of how it works in the classroom.

I was really aware how Cheryl did not "formally" introduce the math posters but constantly referred to them.  They have become my buddies in the classroom.  I want them to become stronger buddies this year!  It wasn't until I saw how Jessica was teaching them that I jumped on the math wagon and started pointing to them, referring to them, and quoting them.  This next year I am starting DAY ! using them!

The research was a good reminder for me also from this class.  The Powerful Mathematical Practices were a good affirmation for me that I am doing these things.  Probably not as proficiently as I want, but they are things I can get stronger in my practise.  My latest reminder from an observation was the bullet,

"Attend to Precision".

I find that my math skills are from a distant past and weak so I make mistakes with the students in my definitions of math.  I need to do more of "Doing the Math" and checking on every definition!  I wrote a note to myself,

"You have to have all the pieces to solve the puzzle."

I need to use ALL the Habits of Mind and Interaction for my students to be successful.

We spent a lot of time on productive struggle, perseverance , and stuck points.  This was one of the hardest habits to change.  As a teacher we have been so indoctrinated in a positive feedback that we don't like to have our students struggle, or feel badly about anything.  In order to learn and retain that knowledge,  our students do need to struggle, build up stamina, and persevere.    I am still working on when I keep pressing and when do I just move on?

Justification and generalizations was a very alien concept for me 3 years ago.  I still struggle with both of them.  I still need lots of practise pressing for these actions from my students.  I still get a rush and thrill when the students actually and deliberately produce a justification and a generalization  In fact I adore the way they can now think and reason.  It makes this culture in my room where all the students want part of the action and will keep coming up to me to tell me the things they are making sense of in math.

Finally, I get the "Action Plan"!  I have concrete things I want to work on in class!  I did last year, but they were not always the things I wrote in my action plan!  My biggest goal for Bridges was to do get Number Corner more consistently in class.  In our PLCs (Planned Learning Communities)  we used the lesson planning tool to write math goals, do the math, and plan for what our students would say or do.  I really worked on listening more to my student's discourses and on selecting and sequencing the students I called upon.  It was about not giving away the answers but having students bring students to the answers.

The math in the class was still not easy for me, but I was amazed at how powerful creating the story problems were for me.  I want to explicitly teach more of linking the math to real life stories.

I also became aware of how I think about collaborative groups now.  Peers talking to peers is sets up for learning math and retaining it.  This is another area I think teachers need to embrace and " shut up".  Let the students do it while we facilitate.

I have the geometry  class coming up in August.  I am nervous about the math. I know there will be other veterans of Math Studio there so it won't be so much of the stress.  I won't be alone.

Change is good, and this has Change is good and I have some hindsight.  Math Studio works, and it is what BEST for students and teachers!!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Chad nails it again!

There are many children, young and old, who can’t stomach Father’s Day. They are the offspring of deadbeat dads, abusive fathers, men who have failed them in ways that possibly scarred them for life. To them the whole purpose of this day is senseless, if not revolting. There will be no phone calls home, no backyard BBQs, not sappy Hallmark card. “Lord, just let this day be over,” they pray, “and let me get on with my life without being reminded of that man.”
I lack the wisdom, and the experience, to counsel those who have been hurt so deeply. There is no pain like the pain of being mistreated by those who, above all others, you expect to love you unconditionally.
This, however, I do know. When men do not live up to their callings, when they live only for themselves, there nevertheless remains a man who will never do that to you. When men abuse the innocent, and do the unspeakable, there is still a man who never once will treat you that way. If even father and mother forsake you, brother and sister turn their backs on you, the whole world hate and curse and damn you to hell, there is a man who will stand shoulder to shoulder with you through it all, never leaving your side.
This man is not your father, but he is your brother, come down from heaven to suffer abuse for you, to know what it’s like to be hated and mistreated and abandoned by those nearest and dearest to him. And he has a father who wants to adopt you, to make you part of his family, that he might care for you as no earthly father ever could. This man, this Jesus of Nazareth, will get you through Father’s Day, and will bring you into the arms of a Father who is truly worthy of the name.

There is nothing wrong with me!

I know there is nothing wrong with me when I can have such great friends that are in their 20's!  It is not me but my children that have the problem.  When young men and women can hug me and tell me how great I am and my own children can't even talk to me, I  know it is not my problem.  God help them to  get over whatever grudge they are holding against me for being their mother.  I know I was not and am not a bad mom.

I hope someday they can get over whatever perceived evil I have done to them and accept me as their mom who did her best.

Meanwhile I will bask in the young men who hug me and defend me, and the young women who want to hang out with me and who accept me for who I am.  If I can't have my children who I love with all my life in my life I will have the family of friends who do love me.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dang. Dang. Dang! Math tears again!

I really thought I was over it.  I bounced into class on Tuesday feeling self-confident and ready to be successful at math.  After all, I have taken this class before.  I should be able to do the math and do the teacher thing.  I've been in the math studio for 3 years.  I was not going to arrogant about it.  I was not going to spill to the first timers I had already started this journey and was totally sold on the program.  I've seen the results.  (For those of you who don't know my background read this blog entry:

It was "the math" that undid me.

The day started with the discussion of the article  "Redefining Sucess in Mathematics Teaching and Learning" by Margaret Smith.  It was our homework.  In our smaller plenary (it amuses me to no end that I had heard this word before, and it was at the Higher Things Lutheran You Conference.  Lutherans are all about academics!) We were spit into groups of three to find the three  most important parts to us and then discuss them in a go around.  When we joined back into the plenary we would have to connect our number one with the previous groups number one.

The article is about one teachers releasing her control of the classroom(teaching and telling) to let the students  engage themselves in the learning.  The teacher's responsibility is to create worthwhile tasks that challenge the students, creates some frustration(disequilibrium), and helps to develop their stamina to persevere.  These changes do not happen over night.  

the students were used to the teacher feeding them the answers when they didn't get it.  The teacher found she had to rewrite some of the lessons and break them down into smaller steps.  She felt that once the students started have more success she could up the cognitive demand.  She also learned though there needs to be a gradual release of that support and the students build up their stamina in problem solving.

One of my number one "A Ha!" moments  was holding the students accountable for their own learning.  "The class was responsible for understanding the solutions," and if they didn't it was their responsibility to ask questions till  they did understand.  (This part is important for what happens to me later on.)  

I loved the table that was included in the article, "Key Elements in Henderson's Efforts to Redefine Sucess for Herself and Students."  My quote that I starred,

"Students have a responsibility and an obligation to make sense of mathematics by asking questions when they do not understand and by being able to explain and justify their solutions and solution paths when they do understand."

It was stressed that students need to be able to persevere and seek more when they are stuck. Real growth comes from stuck points and mistakes.When students don't give up and keep working it is like it cements the math to the brain.  The teacher facilitates the learning.  By asking questions and by having other students involved in the discourse the teacher can let the student come to the discovery. (NO FUNNELING ALLOWED!)   It is  a peer learning experience.

What strikes me the most about this article are the changes the teacher makes in the classroom. It is a release of control and a gift to the students.  The student's become their own best teachers.  It's what makes learning stick!  It is all based on brain research!

The last point I really liked was on reflecting on the teacher's practises in the classroom. A  teacher should not be alone in this endeavor or reflection.  It is critical to have the support of colleagues to bounce these experiences off of and even lesson plan together.  An Instructional math coach  is also a great resource to have in the school.

What does this have to do with math tears? Well, I spent time reading, underlining and discussing this article.  It was kind of stuck like cement in my brain.  I could not ignore what I read.

Right before lunch our instructor set us up for the math.  Yesterday we covered the properties of division.  We spent a good 45 minutes discussing the attributes of a right triangle, nonright triangle, parallelogram, and a trapezoid.  We made a public record.  The actual problem was going to be creating a formula for finding the area of any parallelogram, right triangle, nonright triangle, and or trapezoid.  All of these would have to be justifiable

We could only use the formula for area of a square, our public record, and paper triangles we could fold and cut.  Everyone in the group must be able to justify the formula.  Everyone needed to work together.  We counted off , and I was a four along with 3 other men.  One was Woody so I knew I could count on him to explain to me.  I was in a panic already about doing the math.  I announced right on that I would need help.

We got back from lunch and 2 of them were already cutting out the triangles.  The younger man was already saying we should start by making a parallelogram out of the 2 non right triangles.  It was this discourse between the two of them.  I tried to help out by taping and tracing the pieces but the man did not like it and ripped it off.  I asked them 3 different times to slow down and explain to me what they were doing.  I was ignored until the 3rd gentlemen asked me if I understood what they were doing?  I said no. You are going to fast for me.

My first gut reaction was to just sit there and give up.  They were not including me, and they were not answering my questions very well.  I did not do this because of "I am responsible for my own learning" and that means asking questions.  I tried.  I really did try to be responsible for my learning.

All I could think of was how sorry I felt for his students if this was an example of his teaching.

Woody finally did try to explain it to me, but it was too late.  Dang it,  once the tears start I don't seem to have any control over them.  I went to sob gently in the handicap stall in the women's bathroom.  Later Jessica talked me off "my ledge" and I was able to go back into the classroom and sit at the table.

I am dismayed that once again I could not control my math phobia.  I feel confident in my teaching but I am still not a "mathematician"!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Math moments!

What a difference 3 years make in my math mind! 

"Hey look, mom, no tears!"

I have been enjoying this class because I have a schema now!  Background!  Experience!  Success!  What a difference it makes!

Now I think of things in terms of what I am actively doing in my classroom and how successful it feels.  This year has really jelled something for me!  I feel much stronger in my teaching practice while still admitting to gaps in my math knowledge.

Today I noticed with the math problem, 12 divided by ¼, I immediately wanted to do the algorithm, but knew I needed to draw a picture first.  I have no background in drawing models really till I entered Math Studio.  I don’t get them, and I’m not sure how to draw them.  Yet they are essential to conceptual learning.  It is too valuable of a piece to deny children.

So I drew out my 12 boxes and divided them vertically to show the ¼.  Then I did not know what to do.

I moved on to the algorithm where I know you multiply the reciprocal with the denominator?  (Don’t ask me why, I just memorized the procedure.)  I did that and came up with 48, which just seemed WRONG to me!

Next I started sneaking peaks at Woody’s paper.  (WOW 6th grade math teacher!!!!)  He divided his into squares, which really made more sense to me then what I had drawn.  I still didn’t know what to do with the ¼’s though.  Then Woody said something that changed my math life. 

“ Students don’t understand that sometimes when you divide you get a bigger number, like with fractions.”

Stop the press!  Hold your horses!  What??!!!  It clicked.  It’s going to be a bigger number like 48 because of the many pieces.  I still didn’t get though why we were dealing with all 4 pieces and not the ¼ piece.

Woody spoke again:

“I find that if I put the problem into an everyday situation my students get some understanding.”

He told me this story:

“I have 12 yards of ribbon.  ¼ of a yard makes a bow.  How many bows can I make?  48!”

That made sense to me!!!!!!

I was looking at the whole being one of the 12 instead of the whole being 12.

What really was my major “A Ha” moment was the story using money.  I understand fractions in money!!  (Why I have never connected and transferred that money knowledge to fractions I don’t know!)

“I have $12.00.  How many quarters would that be?”


Real life stories are important in math!  In fact, the graphic organizer we used, (Can you call them graphic organizers in math?) had 4 different ways to represent 12 divided by ¼.

I need to make sure I make those connections for my students.  (I wonder if that is why Bridges spends a lot of time with students producing stories to match equations? Betcha it is!)

Quote I wrote down:
“  Productive struggle comes from solving problems within reach.”

With using 4 different ways to solve the problem it gives students multiple entryways to the problem.  If I can just figure out one of the ways I should be able to figure out the rest.

I wonder if I could come up with one for 1st grade?


Saturday, June 8, 2013


I could feel like Job today if I let myself.  Man, I am using all my mental health strategies as hard as I can today because I cannot let myself go to that deep dark place anymore. I am crying, but I am also talking to God, family, friends, and myself.

First of all, I found out on June 4 from a big envelope in the mail, that I was actually divorced on May 7, 2013.  My lawyer never bothered to inform me that I was divorced until he sent me the stipulated signed judgement paper.  Furthermore, I found out from Pat that he got the money from the house sale that my lawyer put in trust , a week ago.  I have not received my share.  The stipulated judgment papers contained errors and he did not change the things he told me he would change.

God does provide us with friends that help.  My old neighbor from Sterling Creek just happens to be a divorce layer and offered to help me go through the papers and tell me what to do.  She so lovingly and graciously walked me through the whole thing, explaining it to me.  She also helped me prepare a list of things I need to do.  I have a plan now.  I am executing that plan now.  Unfortunately, my lawyer has not even bothered to return my phone calls.

I plan to show up Monday, and the check had better be ready.

So after thinking through things, talking with God, friends, and family and working out (all mental health strategies) I arrived at a sort of peace and self confidence in myself.  These are good feelings.

I walked my dog this morning, checking my emails, and I have an email from my brother in law asking me if my youngest son Chuck got married yesterday.  He saw it on Facebook.  Even though I have suspected all along that Chuck would try to hurt me this way, it was a blow.  So I sent out text messages to see what the other boys knew and what Pat knew.  Pat texted me back and confirmed that Chuck got married yesterday.

So I have been crying off and on all morning.  It hurts so much that he did not tell me or invite me, his own mother, to his wedding. (OK having a Job moment right now)  Most importantly though, I went into my adult and my positive self talk.

I am so glad he married Val.  I like Val.  He has lived with her for 2 years, and I just could not understand why he didn't marry her if he loved her.  I texted him Congratulations and God's blessings on his marriage.  I also called him and left a message about how happy I am for both of them!  And I mean it.

Then I called my mommy and cried.

I sent text messages to my sisters informing them of the marriage.  I announced on Facebook he got married.  I stole his picture off facebook to post.  I was positive and happy about it, all the while sobbing inside.

Today I will go and work out.  I will call my counselor for an appointment.  Tomorrow I will go to Divine Service and get absolution from my sins and the Sacrament of Communion. I will remember my Baptism and how Christ suffered for me and knows my pain. I will listen to God's Word for me, and I know I will get peace from HIM! I will get hugs and love from all my friends.  I will chant my verse over and over in my head:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding."  Proverbs 3:5

Because I don't understand it.  I know I was and am a good mom.  I can't even begin to see how this will work its way out.  I know I cannot lean on my own understanding because I don't understand it.  God does, and He has a plan for me and my life. All I can do is trust.

I know the pain will fade eventually.  I need to not feel sorry for myself.  I need to not be bitter and angry.  I need to stay in my adult.  I need to be proactive in my mental health strategies.  I need to pray and TRUST in God for my life.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Well, that's that.

I found out through the mail yesterday that I was officially divorced on May 7, 2013.  Congrats to me!

On the way to work....

One of the worst times for thinking for me is the drive to work.  It's only about a 10 minute drive, but I wind up in tears a lot.  There is something about the early morning reflection of my life that just seems so tear inducing, whether it is the divorce or the alienation from my children. I think I need to PRAY more and SING louder!

Unfortunately, I got a big envelope from the lawyer that I need to read, and I am torn between ANGER, sadness, bitterness, and relief.  I'd like to feel more of the RELIEF!  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sterling Creek

I went back to Sterling Creek after being gone for over a year.  It was the neighbor's annual party, and I was invited.  It has been over 2 years since I've been back to Sterling Creek.

At this party I would see neighbors from Sterling Creek and the Applegate.  People who have children the same age as mine and who went to Ruch School and South Medford High School.  A year ago I just could not face it and the memories associated with the party.  The pain of children who don't talk to me and a failed marriage.  There are too many memories in the evergreen and deciduous trees that stud the mountains surrounding 5151 Sterling Creek Road.

Of dogs and cats long dead that hiked with me and toddlers up through the sage bushes and fir and pine trees.  Of the pussy willow in February, the morels amidst the oak and manzanita savannah, the elderberries in July, with the red-headed woodpecker heckling the tree, and dry pine needles and scarlet poison oak in August.  Boys laughing at grasshoppers pinging in a coffee can.  Alligator  and blue belly lizards in grubby little hands showing them off too me.  Of Johan proudly sharing a garter snake with me in the house.  ( I screamed and said don't you ever do that to me again!) Wet shoes and shorts from catching tadpoles in the neighbor's pond and being amazed at the voracious appetite of the dragon fly nymphs that ate the tadpoles. Then there were ant lions, preying mantis, the squirrels that big kitty caught and ate, gophers the dogs could never catch, bobcats in the chicken coop, and mean roosters attacking little boys.  Baby bunnies, and little pigs fed by little boy's hands.

This year I decided to see what feelings would happen with the visit to the party.  Would it be like the tongue anxiously feeling the hole where a tooth used to be ? Or would it just be a passing thought and an

"Oh well...  this is really over."

Maybe a sniff and a regret?  A bit of bitterness?

I was welcomed with open arms by neighbors and friends.  People talked to me.  Some lessor known neighbors never even knew I had moved or split up from Pat.  No one had met the person who bought the place.  They all told me the house was for sale again.  That got me more than anything.

All in all, I felt like I was still a part of the neighborhood and still friends.  It was good to reconnect with the people that had been so much a part of my life.  The worst was always having to answer the questions about how the boys were doing.  I would have to admit that only Johan was talking to me.  I can't even begin to explain to them I don't understand why they won't talk to me.  Then to listen to their astonishment that the divorce is still not final and their anger that I have to pay spousal support.  I am surprised at how much they care and why should I feel like people don't  care for me?  Is that a legacy from my failed marriage?

One wise person told me tonight it was not anything I did to one of the boys.  Why was it my fault?  It is their problem and not something I caused.  It still doesn't stop the hurt.

As I left the party I had invitations to other social events and lots of hugs.  I drove by the old place to see if there really was a "For Sale" sign.  I slowed way down, and almost caught myself stopping to get the mail!  I did not see the sign, but I saw the house I called home for so long.  It tugged I have to admit.

I took the bumpy road home.  The road we took the boys home on so many times after trips to town. I stuck my tongue down that hole in my mouth to feel all the missing parts of the tooth.  I felt all of the above.  Yes, I have moved on in my life.  Yes I do miss being a part of the Sterling Creek community.  Yes, I do like living in a town now.  I miss being a mom and a wife, but I also love being my own person, independent, self reliant, attractive, and a person with very many good friends.

So time does heal.  Am I healed yet?  No.  I am in progress though...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I have to admit I am kind of obsessed by tornadoes.  I fear and hate them but live vicariously to see each photo the storm chasers put up on Facebook.  I am amazed at how much more we know about these storms today then we did in the 70's.

I can't remember the first time I had "the dream"  but I do know it occurred regularly every spring for as long as I lived in Kansas.  It was one of my first reoccurring dreams.  It was my rerun that terrified me and woke me from sleep with my heart screaming in my chest and my breath caught in the depth of my nightmare that was so real to me that I thought I had died.

It was always the same.  I was outside, and in the distance I could see that snake of a funnel reaching for the earth.  I would turn to run and find myself in slow motion, glancing back to see the tornado take on it's evil persona.  It would have eyes, and it's mouth would be yelling in glee at the sight of me, stuck to the earth.

I would desperately try to outrun the beast, but it turned with me and followed me across the pasture, laughing the whole time.  It would grow bigger till it filled the horizon.  It was evil and it wanted me.
It wanted me dead.  There is nothing like the feeling of being chased and not being able to move or move fast enough to escape. I would always wake before it got me, but the terror lingered all my days in Kansas.

I don't even remember the first time I heard about tornadoes.  As far as I know in my childhood we never even went through one.  I do remember Daddy standing on the front porch watching the sky at sunset.  As a farmer they paid attention to every detail of the weather.  It meant prosperity or ruin.  I never remember having to go down in the basement . (Creepy place on the Bentrup farm.)

Even after we moved to town, Lincoln, Kansas, I don't remember any kind of a tornado warning or going through a tornado.  The fear remained though.  It wasn't until I was in Salina, KS that I ever went through an actual tornado.  

The sirens went off, and I was lickety split in the basement under the stair, holding Nikki, our dog. It drove me crazy with fear that mom was still upstairs watching the beast bear down on us.  I screamed at her to get down in the basement, and she kept telling me she needed to watch it.  We had basement windows she could watch it.  I was sneaking peeks at it in between prayers.  It was a monster!  

Then it was gone!

It jumped to a nearby hill and wiped out a trailer court.  (Really, why would you even have trailer parks in the midwest with tornadoes?)  Mom told us we could come upstairs so I went.  We watched out our patio door as all these baby funnels were dancing a jig around the hill with the trailer court.  The trailer court was wiped out, but no lives were lost.  Now I had an actual picture of that monster in my head to view those nights in springtime in Kansas.

After college I moved to Oregon and the nightmares stopped.  Oregon rarely sees  a rope, funnel or wedge.  I call the thunderstorm wussy compared to Kansas.  Houses shook in thunder and night was day with the lightening strikes.  The only damage we get from thunderstorms in Oregon is forest fires, and they don't seem to have the same fear factor for me.  I have been through one of those too!

With the internet now I can follow the storm chasers and watch their videos and view their amazing photographs.  I am in awe of what they know now about these storms.  I think the storm chasers are crazy to do their job.  They must be adrenaline junkies.  If I  caught sight of a tornado I would be transported right back to my nightmare.  I'll take the basement, thank you very much!  Oh and living in Oregon!

Sunday, May 26, 2013


The door
stands locked,
keeping fear,
in the room
with me.
Fear (It),
me from God.

I am locked
with worry,
I am Thomas,
with my unbelief.
I need realia.

I want the nails
to hold me
to the wood.
The spear
me to you.

The lock,
my own doing,
the metal rusty red,
tumblers locked in scarlet,
in my decay
and inaction.

You come
to me
through locked
and fears,

with Word.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Commutative Property

To know nine,
is to know you: 
your gait, your inflection,
the incense of your skin.

I can count the addends:
the laugh, the tease of words, 
the flannel against your chest,
the curl you hated, laying
on your forehead, the spooning
slumber, and the burble of breath.

No matter how I move
them, the commutative property
holds true. ( 3+6= 6+3)
Math IS the final authority.

You can take the nine,
subtract one and get eight.
And in that subtraction
(9-1=8) the child begins
to recognize patterns
from the public records.
The identity property 
always comes next. 
Eventually decomposes
leaves zero.

the same as
putrefy and rot,
the identity of one.  
The identity of zero.
The identity of alone.
(0+1=1, 1X1= 1)

I am the inverse
No addends to clutter,
no numbers to compose,
or decompose, except zero.
For me to be fluent,
(life that goes on),
I need to know the you 
and me that were the same 
as one,
the you and me
of two alone.

There can be no more grouping.
No associative property,
no factoring out,
no parentheses to keep us together.
(3+1) +1= 3 + (1+1)

The numbers render us
cold, factual,
minus emotions.
(We'd like to think)
love, pain, anger,
(sorrow, bitterness)

Squeaky chalk on a board
and chemical death
in the odor of a white board marker.
The numbers and operations are the way
of looking at the death
of a marriage,
thirty two years past.