Monthly Archives: May 2017



#sol17- May 30, 2017

We are lucky this year that we have finished our math units before the end of the year. What to do with the “extra time”? We decided to regroup the third graders into 6 groups, based on their most pressing needs. I have the subtraction group. There are always kids who just are not ready for subtraction when it is taught at the start of the year, so I was looking forward to a chance to reteach. We started last week and each day I am focusing on one strategy, with the goal being that they find at least two they really understand. It has been so fun to see the light bulbs go off- so far favorites seem to be the compensation method and decompose and subtract. I bought Heinemann’s Math in Practice mid-year and read the subtraction section to prepare myself. I had never taught the decompose and subtract method by only decomposing the subtrahend- using this method has really helped many students. Today a group of students who were previously a bit insecure with subtraction rocked it! We are keeping the learning going in these last days of school (7 1/2 days left) and it is “making a difference”! Today I am grateful for another chance to teach (and learn)!



***Amazing third graders who keep slicing: Sejin, Juliet, and Zhi Hong!

Time to Breathe


#sol17- May 23, 2017

Today feels like my deadline day, although it is not really. Let me explain…

Grade 3’s report comments are due to our assistant principal on Thursday. On Wednesday during school we have our collaborative team meeting that takes up our whole planning block, so no time there. After school, the math team has our last meeting of the year at a restaurant nearer to home than school, so I will not go back to school to work after. On Thursday during our planning, we have a short meeting before a mandatory assembly for a retiring administrator. After school, we have a farewell party for her, which feels required.

All that means that today feels like the deadline for reports, even though I know I will have snippets of time, maybe, in the following two days. And here’s the other thing- our last day of school is June 9th.

Yesterday I made plans with a colleague to stay late today and slog through. We decided to work, work, work, and then take a quick dinner break as a treat before working some more. Later last night we got an email that our school server would be down for an hour or so from 5:45- ugh, change of plan.

This afternoon we convened for plan b. We decided right after school we would walk to a nearby coffee shop to get some caffeine and a treat to fuel our work, as we needed a walk first. The coffee shop is right near the school but sadly it was closed- maybe forever- it is hard to know, as there was no sign. Unfortunately the only option left was a convenience shop, where we grabbed a cold soda and chips- not really the treat we envisioned, but at least we had something to keep us going.

Today I am grateful to Jamie, for reminding me to breathe! 5:45 was our time to leave and we promised each other we would be productive tonight. So, as I impatiently wait for a taxi in the storm, I tap a few lines on my phone. I have my comments written and proofread, now I just have to cut and paste them into the separate sections of the reports and fill out what feels like 101 indicators for each student. Breathe- it WILL all get done, I remind myself. With any luck by the time I get home the system will be back up and I can make a bit more progress.




*** More from third grade slicers who keep going: Zhi Hong, Sejin

Comfort Foods


#sol17- May 16, 2017

Today I am not feeling well- I have a bad cold that is likely also a sinus infection. I knew I was tired walking in. Combine that with a long music rehearsal (for 6/19 of my class) that was smack in the middle of my writing tie when my students are supposed to be planning for their end of year on-demand writing assessment. Suffice it to say the day was not easy. Although I wanted to curl up into a ball and go to sleep at 3:00 I forced myself to mark a math fact assessment,  clean up a bit, and head to Pilates. We got to class early (a shock if you have read some of my recent posts), I survived all the contortions and calls of “tummy, tummy, tummy,”, so it was time for a treat.

I had to stop at the store for bananas and milk, so I headed to my favorite pizza shop. They were still out of anchovies (it has been weeks since they’ve had them), so I settled on another combination (pepperoni supreme- beef pepperoni, mushrooms, bell peppers, and tomatoes). Heading home with the pizza in hand I knew I was set. My day might have been hard, but my night would be okay with a happy tummy. Pizza is one of those foods that can almost always make me feel better! This started me thinking about comfort foods and wondering what foods bring friends comfort. I know that my next step in my evening is a soothing cup of hot tea- good for my throat and head. Topping it all off with an early night sounds like a recipe for the path to wellness.

*** Third graders who keep slicing: Juliet, Zhi Hong

Getting Stressy


#sol17- May 9, 2017

We have hit that crazy, busy it is not quite the end of semester, but we have to get common assessments, report writing done time of year! It is a domino effect of sprinting to the end of the year and it is never a straight path.

A few weeks ago my son (the one on South Korea) informed me that he would stop here for the weekend on his way to Thailand. He knew it was report writing time, but hoped that I could arrange my work so that I could spend time with him. What mother could resist that?! I started my report writing early and thanks to a few well placed local holidays I was feeling okay with my progress when he arrived Friday evening. My plan was to sneak in work when I could (he has always been a late sleeper, but he told me this is not the case when he travels).

Saturday morning I woke at 5:30 (darn that internal alarm- on school days I get up at 5:15, but really would love to sleep later on weekends) and jumped out of bed to do lesson planning. I worked more efficiently than usual, as I was unsure how much time I would have. To my surprise, I did the bulk of my planning before my son (who I maintain is part vampire due to his sleeping habits) finally got moving. We eventually went out and did some touristy things and had a great day.

Sunday morning, same scenario-5:30 wide awake and I jumped out of bed. This time I decided to work on reports (which I really did not think I would get to during his visit). I managed to write the language arts section for all but one of my students before he was ready to head out the door (truth- we did not get out the door until after 2:00 both days, hence my productivity).

This weekend reminded me of a few things:

  1. Jason’s idea of not sleeping late and mine are different (he will say he was awake, but definitely not ready to go anywhere).
  2. It is better to go into time with him without an agenda- when I have tried to plan ahead in the past I always get frustrated by his lack of timeliness- this time I took it as a gift of time.
  3. If I am up against a deadline I work better- I was more efficient writing and planning this weekend than usual.
  4. I enjoy my sons!
  5. With a weekend visitor and the upcoming weekend being a weekend workshop/pd I have really put myself under pressure to get things done.
  6. I will get it done!

Tomorrow is Wesak (a Buddhist holiday) and my son left yesterday so I will use lots of the day to get math comments written (of course all of these comments will have to be tweaked as common assessments get done in the next week or so). One foot in front of the other after an early night tonight!



*** Some third graders keep slicing! Zhi Hong

Service with a Smile (on a Holiday)!


#sol17- May 2, 2017

Yesterday I was so grateful for a holiday (May Day=Labor Day here) It is report writing season and next weekend my son will be in town and the following weekend I will be out of town for a workshop, so I really needed this extra day to “get ahead”.

I woke up in ready to get an early start. I turned on the computer-no wifi. I did not panic- this often happens, especially lately, so I went over to restart the modem. When that did not work I was still calm and pressed the reset button. Still no wifi. By now I was feeling a little discouraged, but I knew I could work around the issue. My plan was to open Pages on my computer but use the 4G on my phone to check the data I needed for math and ELA to make some notes in preparation to write comments. As I opened Pages I noted that I must have had a similar issue last year at this time because there were math comments from last year in the Pages folder. Oh, dear!

I decided to report the issue to my internet company, but since it was 8:30 on a holiday morning I was not at all sure there would be anyone on duty. After listening to my options in English, Bahasa, and Mandarin (this is Malaysia after all) I ended up with more buttons to press to get to a “reporting an issue” waiting queue. Imagine my surprise when less than a minute later I was speaking to a real live person (bonus that she spoke English well and was patient and kind). She suggested a few fixes for me, but sadly I had tried them already. Then she tried to reset things from her end, no luck. She asked me to type in a set of numbers on my computer (even though I explained I had no ethernet option with my Mac Air) no luck there either. She then said she would fill out a report and that a technician would work on the issue the next day. If the “fault” was external it could be fixed without entering the apartment, but if it turned out to be internal an appointment would have to be fixed. If it turned out that a new modem/router was required I could pay on my next bill (about $50) or sign a new service contract and get the replacement for free. Ah well, I had not really expected anything could be done on a holiday anyway. Taking a chance, I asked whether it was possible for a technician to come that day but was told that due to the holiday it was unlikely. After thanking the kind woman I went on with my plan b of working with Pages rather than Google docs.

After writing for a bit I was surprised when the phone rang. The man on the other end identified himself as a technician and asked if I was at home. As I was, he said he would be there in about 15 minutes. Now time is a nebulous thing here- in part because of the horrible traffic, but it also seems to be a culture of “no rush”, so I started working again. Less than 10 minutes later my doorbell rang.

Once inside this young man busted all my previous preconceptions of how this service call would go. First, he took off his shoes before entering the apartment (yahoo!). Next, he was friendly, spoke English well, and was kind to my cat (who seemed to fall in love with him- surprising because she is usually very wary of strangers). After working on the router for a few minutes (trying to restart and reset) he deemed the router kaput, whipped out a replacement, and installed it. Within two minutes he had entered my username and password and I was good to go.

After thanking him profusely I was back to work- cutting and pasting from Pages into Google docs and appreciating my new wifi connection (which actually, come to think of it seems faster than before). My day to get work done was back on track.

Later I received a survey about the service call. I rated both the woman on the phone and the technician a “10”. I had imagined a push and pull of setting up appointments and rearranging my schedule to be home for service calls that may or may not have actually happened. This was such a win! I LOVE when a problem is easily solved!

*** Slices from 3rd graders who just keep writing! Sejin, Juliet, Zhi Hong