Roundin’ up (and down) the week to rope some Spring Break!

IMG_0944Young cowboys and cowgirls rounded up some meaningful activities today during their annual Kinder Rodeo.  They rotated classrooms where activity stations in core subject areas provided engaging and interesting tasks to complete in cooperative groups.  They sang songs around the chuckwagon, shared some grub, and told tall Texas tales.  As one little friend noted, “We did everything but rope cattle, Mrs. Van!”  Maybe next year…    🙂

The remainder of the building buzzed in math excitement during our 3M math2Event throughout the day.  Miller Math Mania was on fire as learners in each grade level rotated math stations and activities in teams to complete math-related tasks, share outcomes, and problem solve together.  Everything from a 50s Diner to a Pet Shop provided math opportunities for learners in the real-world of problem solving.  Technology to old-fashioned ciphering stimulated conversation, solutions, and meaningful math fun for all!  Special thanks to our Miller Math Committee, the real math brain-powers behind this innovative day!  Thanks to our classroom leaders who went above and beyond to provide engaging math learning experiences for all!  As another young math scholar commented, “We rounded up and down and now it’s time to rope in some Spring Break!”   🙂

Here’s hoping you have a restful, rejuvenating, relaxing break.  We’ll see you again on Monday, March 18th!

Solving Problems…

A student emailed me over the weekend to just “check-in” and see how I was doing up at school “all alone” (not knowing we have summer school, trainings, work, and other activities to keep me busy). 🙂  He reminded me to keep posting on the blog because “it can’t take a vacation just because we do.”  🙂  So, here goes (and I’ll do better about keeping up with it too)…

Last week, in spite of the extreme Texas storms keeping us grounded, a long-time friend/colleague and I made our way to the annual International Future Problem Solving Program Competition at Indiana University in Bloomington.  Being associated with this extraordinary program as a teacher, academic coach, mom, and now evaluator for the past 17 years, this annual opportunity holds special meaning professionally and personally.  Besides the excitement of traveling to various university venues, we are honored and humbled to work with problem solving students around the world in the Community Problem Solving division of the program.  Teams of students from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Korea, Portugal, and other countries participate in the four-day competition.  In the Community division, students work to solve a local community problem with unique solutions—thinking globally and acting locally to literally making a world of difference in their communities.  The Future Problem Solving Program, started by Dr. Paul Torrence at the University of Georgia in the 20th century, has provided hundreds of thousands of students across the globe the opportunity to actively think, solve, and implement action plans and solutions on a global issues throughout the years.  Topics and solutions vary according to the specific needs of the community or future problem (and I could spend hours blogging about examples).  Just as Einstein himself noted:  “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”   The bottom line…we can all be part of the problem or part of the solution!

Math Pentathlon…give me 5!

We have winners everyday here at LaRue Miller Elementary; this past weekend was no exception either.  Over 49 LME learners participated in the annual Math Pentathlon tournament held in Mansfield ISD for Division I (KG/1st) and Division II (2nd/3rd).  This is similar to the “Super Bowl of Math” for those who want the sport analogy.  We announced all our participants names and designations just this morning during announcements…I ran out of breath!  Congrats to all!  I am told by their sponsors and several parents they represented LME and Midlothian ISD so well!  In this picture, you can see Avalon, Presley, and Bryce from 2nd grade getting ready to participate in the next round.

Mathematics Pentathlon is a program of interactive problem-solving games for students in grades K – 7.  This motivational math program supports curriculum and instructional activities while addressing assessment expectations, strengthening basic math concepts and skills, and stimulating creative thinking with problem-solving skills.  There is a strong focus on the conceptual understanding of math.  By using specially-designed games and  activities that carefully differentiate instruction, all students of varying abilities and learning styles can be easily motivated to enJOY math and spend time learning it more effectively.

Our Math Pentathletes sign a “contract of participation” to commit their time and study to math in regular weekly practices with their coach/sponsor as well as special math game nights with other student in our district.  Parents must also participate by learning the required five games and rules at each level so they can assist during practices and tournament day games.  Again, congratulations are in order for these math learners, their classroom leaders, and the parents who ensure these Pentathletes are so successful!  Here’s a big math high-5 for all!  🙂