Archive for March, 2011

Weather, WTF?

Last weekend was beautiful. This weekend it is once again cold. It even snowed this week. There’s something very pretty about seeing spring flowers with a *dusting* of snow around them, but this was way too much.

You know God could at least tell us when it will be nice again so I could start a count down instead of being mad at our atmosphere…

I want to go hang out at the Botanical Gardens again, and take my dogs to the park every day… and not be inside 😦

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Special Ed. Math

Yesterday I got a chance to observe a special education math class. It was a small class with only 12 students and it wasn’t what I expected. None of the kids had anything like downs syndrome or severe autism, I think they all just had various learning disabilities. I got the chance to go over two problems with the class and I really enjoyed it. The first problem was a unit conversion and the second one was a word problem about an inequality.

I saw that the way he taught the class was very similar to how I’ve helped my sister with math. After I would do one step of the problem, the teacher asked every student individually if they understood what just happened and if they had any questions. When I asked the class if they had ideas for what the next step in the problem would be, the teacher would relate it to other things they knew or concepts that were easier for them to understand. That’s exactly how I’d help my sister. I’d go over the problem with her, ask her if she understood every step (because they don’t always realize they don’t get it, or they don’t speak up about not understanding, you *must* ask them), and many times, break down a more complex problem into an easier one.

I could see a bunch of the kids getting frustrated when they didn’t know what was going on, but they also light up more than mainstream kids when they finally understand something. I also found out that there’s a unique certification for special education math. I think that might be my calling in life. Teaching math is the most fun when the kid is either very smart, or struggling. When the kid is smart you can challenge what they know with more advanced concepts and when the kid is struggling you have to figure out multiple ways of explaining one concept. But teachers for honors classes aren’t in demand. Special ed. teacher’s are. Now all I need to do is find out what the certification requirements are 😀

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Spring!

7:21 pm has past and it’s officially spring! Luckily this year the equinox occurred at a time I’m normally awake at, so I stood up some eggs!

My mom always told us you could do this during the spring equinox because something happens with gravity. For some reason this was the year I finally decided to research the topic. Every website I cam across said that this phenomenon is a myth and that if you are patient enough you can stand up eggs any day of the year. It didn’t take much effort to stand up these eggs. And I remember one year when the equinox was early in the morning I stood some up with my sister outside. It was very easy for a few minutes to stand most of the eggs up, but within a few minutes we couldn’t stand up the eggs anymore and a few fell over. So I guess this will forever remain a mystery, but at least it’s a fun mystery 😀

In other news, here’s an awesome interactive diagram I made to demonstrate Bhaskara’s First Proof of the Pythagorean Theorem.

note the squares of the sides

lift the flaps to see that the square of the hypotenuse can be rearranged into the sum of the squares of the legs!

It’s for the education class I’m taking that’s focused on incorporating ESL teaching methods into mainstream subject classes. Every so often I’ll learn something interesting, but for the most part it’s really boring.

Happy Spring!!!!!!!!

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ESL Math

So this past Friday I had to observe more classes so I’ll have 25 hours by the end of the semester. I finally got to observe an ESL class, and it was not what I expected at all.

First I saw a class that was supposed to be mixed ESL and IEP kids (kids with learning disabilities), but it was just the IEP kids because the ESL kids were at some activity thing. The IEP kids were way more motivated to learn about stuff than the mainstream kids I had observed in weeks prior. When they found out I was a college student they were asking me what college was like, if I dormed and how long they would need to go to college to do various types of professions. They had TONS of questions about everything. They also wanted to know if a tsunami could happen here and they were hanging on my every word when I was explaining how tsunamis happen and why tsunamis and earthquakes can happen together. Then I started talking to them about Pangaea and how India is a sub continent and they thought it was cool. They said I should teach social studies.. then I told them this was Earth Science, not social studies and that I learned almost none of what I told them in school. I learned most of it from watching Discovery Channel, Science Channel and Thirteen.

Now I’m left wondering why the IEP kids are more motivated to learn than the mainstream kids… I honestly have no idea.

The next class I got to see was an ESL math class. Most of the kids were from South American and Arab/Middle Eastern countries.  These kids were also very motivated to learn. 95% of the class would raise their hands when the teacher asked a question. And many of them were very polite and respectful to me. When the teacher gave them work to do, they all did it and worked together. Many of them worked with other kids that spoke their language, but there were children that spoke different languages working together in English.

When I went around helping the kids I could easily see which ones were new and which ones had been here for a while. All of the lessons are in English, but the teacher makes sure to always give them vocabulary, visual examples and structured ways of doing things so it’s easier for them. In fact a lot of what she did would make learning for *everyone* easier in a mainstream classroom. I have no idea how anyone could teach math without first giving the class vocabulary. I think if more students knew the definition of “variable” and if that definition was stressed more often, they’d more easily understand basic algebraic concepts.

Also, since it was a seventh grade class many of them still looked very young. And their accents were adorable!

Next week I’m observing a math class that’s a mix of IEP and mainstream kids.

 

In other news I filled out my student teaching forms. I am so excited for next year!!!!!

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Awesome Music, Awesome T-shirts and Highly Amusing Drunk People

Last night Scott, my little sister, her friend and I went to see the Dropkick Murphys play at the Roseland Ballroom.

We saw this while waiting…

The doors were set to open at 6:30, we got there a little early and waited on line. Everyone on the line cheered when a Bud Light truck drove down the street. Other than that waiting on line sucked. I honestly don’t know why we got there early, but anyway…

When we got in we bought t-shirts! I scored an epic green shirt for $10 because it said 2010 on it. It was from their St. Patrick’s day concert last year in Boston and has a skeleton playing an accordion on it ^^ But these aren’t the awesome t-shirts I’m talking about. The awesome shirts I’m talking about were ones I saw other people wearing. There was a fat dude that had a shirt that said “everyone loves a fat guy” and there was another guy with a shirt that read “you can’t fix stupid” on the front and “stupid is forever!” on the back.

After that we found places we could sit fairly close to the stage. I wanted to be closer to the stage and go stand, but I am/was still in the recovery process from my last Crohn’s flare up and couldn’t stand too long without feeling like I needed to run to the bathroom. If I can sit and relax when my colons acting up I can make it calm down.. and I wasn’t about to be soaked, soiled and brown in the trousers so I kept my decent seat for most of the night.

The Parkington Sisters was the first opening band. They played folk music reminiscent of the Irish sort.. but that isn’t the best description. I liked their music, all of their songs sounded different and they had nice melodies and vocals. They didn’t play for that long, I think they only played 3 or 4 songs.

Next up was the band Off With Their Heads. They’re a punk band and I didn’t really like them. They were way too loud.. the amps were doing that horrible screechy thing they do when they’re too loud. They caused my sister and her friend (who were out on the floor) to go temporarily deaf for the rest of the night, but luckily I was by Scott who had ear plugs. We offered the girls earplugs when they came back to where the seats were (a mosh pit turned into a fight and they decided to get out of there) but it was too late. Also, all of their songs sounded the same. And they played for too damn long. But in all fairness I listened to some of their recordings on youtube, they sounds much better that way because there’s no screechy amps.

Now I was only expecting two opening bands.. so when a third went up I was kind of irked. The next band that was up was Against Me! They were a good band and their amps weren’t screechy. They also had some really nice harmonies in their songs. However, I didn’t really enjoy the performance because of the following reasons: (1) I was pissed there were 3 opening bands instead of the 2 I thought there would be, (2) I was annoyed from listening to Off With Their Heads for so damn long. Anyway, I would have enjoyed them much more if it weren’t for those reasons…  also the band member in the left of the photo had a really epic beard. It doesn’t show up in the picture well but his epic beard deserves props.

FINALLY

Finally, after them we got to see the Dropkick Murphys. It was about 9:30 at that point. But from this point onward, things got so freaking awesome because the Dropkick Murphys are so damn awesome.

This was the point where I was pissed I wasn’t feeling well. I swear, next time I see them I’m holding a place at the front so I can get on stage for “Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced.” In some ways I prefer the recordings to the live shows, only because the amps were drowning out the vocals when they have such kick ass voices. But you can’t experience the real life awesomeness listening to the CD. I love these guys, their music always leaves you with a strong desire to get the man and with strong feeling that if you stick with your friends you can 😀 Not to mention the bag pipes, banjo, accordion and violin add some really nice uniqueness to their sound. Irish punk is the only way I can think to describe it! Towards the end of the show we stood at the back of the floor for a song or two. It was awesome.

I definitely plan on seeing them again. Hopefully I’ll be able to see them on St. Patrick’s day in Boston at some point in my life.

That would have been a nice ending to the post but I have drunk people stories to tell!!

We were actually sitting right next to the river of people walking to and from the bar. As the night went on the amounts of people became more plentiful and the people became drunker. We had beer spilled on our shoes, once as a guy was carrying it, twice because some drunkards left their half full cups next to the platform our feet were on XD

In addition to that, a drunk crowd surfer girl fell in between my sister and her friend and talked to my sister’s friend for a bit. Then some random dude told my sister’s friend either “you have the best seats in the house,” or “have a beer on the house.” When the Dropkick Murphys were playing some drunk girl, carrying three cups of beer and looking frustrated says to my sister’s friend “please take one!” in a childlike tone. My sister’s friend being a good under age child said no. That poor drunk girl seemed so disappointed she didn’t take one.

Those bartenders probably made so much money last night…

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The Worst Crohn’s Flare Up OF MY LIFE

I needed to wait until I had recovered a fair bit before writing this. If medical things bother you I suggest that you don’t read this post or look at any of the pictures.

For those of you that don’t know, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in July of 2009. Though I think it may have first started when I was in middle school, bad symptoms didn’t start until my junior year of high school.First I though I had IBS, I had eliminated the following foods from my diet: carrageenan (which brought on the worst symptoms), insoluble fiber, greasy fried things, and things with too much sugar, but I was still having stomach pains.

Since being diagnosed I was put on medication and am feeling much better. I even gained some weight back. (Originally I was 117 lbs and had some muscle, at my worst I was 102, I had gotten up to 108). But I still have flares occasionally, normally around finals and midterms due to stress. For me a normal flare up would consist of having diarrhea for a few days and possibly a fever. My doctor has put me on antibiotics twice for them because sometimes bacteria is involved.

Last week was pretty stressful. Friday I had diarrhea in the morning, I took imodium and went on with my life. The next day I had diarrhea again, again I took imodium.. but this time I had really horrible stomach pains *all day,* and I’m talking about gas pain… which is really bad. This was not normal Crohn’s pain. I also had a fever. I couldn’t do homework because I got chills sitting at the table. I found myself asking God why he gave me this disease, or better yet asking my soul why it chose to live my life with this disease. I know everything happens for a reason, but I couldn’t figure out what more my soul could learn from the experience.

Sunday was the same thing only worse. Monday was the same thing. I cut class. Tuesday I was slightly better and cut class again. I got into see my GI finally. He said that I probably caught a virus of sorts or have some kind of infection which is being made worse because I have Crohn’s.

He put me on the same medication my dog gets when she has diarrhea. (Zelda most likely has ulcerative colitis, she is my IBD buddy). I also found out if I take the med with alcohol my face will flush red and I will vomit profusely. Good thing I don’t drink 😀

I just started taking it today, but I was already feeling a bit better on Wednesday. Hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon.Then I can return (although set back a bit) to my mission of getting back up to 117lbs. I’m 104 lbs now because of this stupid ordeal.

Now for the pictures I promised. I feel like posting pictures of my colon because my past few blogs had no pictures. And those of you studying bio-related things should find these pictures interesting and informative.

This one looks like an angry face XD

That’s all for now! I’ll be back in the future with some math related goodness and a concert review 😀

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The Concept of Integer Addition

7th graders don’t get it. It’s pretty sad. Now I did not say addition and subtraction because they are the same thing. Subtraction is just the addition of a negative.

Anyway, onto a recap of the classes I observed this Friday. The teacher who’s classes I’m observing had to go to a workshop, so I got to see how the substitute (a retired math teacher) handled things. The normal teacher left his classes a few review sheets that involved addition and subtraction of positive and negative numbers… also known as integers. The sub went over how to do addition and subtraction and went over the problems in sets of 5-10. The first sheet was on addition, the second on subtraction. This is what they were told to do for addition:

If the signs of the numbers are the same, add the numbers and keep the signs

If the signs of the numbers are different, subtract and keep the sign of the larger number

This is what you’re supposed to do, none of the 8th graders had problems but some of the 7th graders were confused. I tried to relate negative numbers to the concept of owing someone money when helping out a few students, but they totally didn’t get the concept of owing money. It wasn’t until later that I realized they were too young to really get that when people lend you money you need to pay them back, and that I should have explained this concept to them with the use of a number line.

Instead of explaining -5 +3 by saying, if you owe someone five dollars, and then you get three dollars and give that back to them, how much do you still owe them, I should have drawn a number line. I would have said that first we move 5 away from 0 in the negative direction, then we move 3 forward. Or I could have said we dig a 5ft deep hole, then we fill it in 3ft, how deep is it now? The concept of owing money isn’t easy to visualize, but the concept of digging a hole is. Why couldn’t I have thought of that sooner.

I ended up caving in and just teaching them how to use the rules properly. Then when it came to the subtraction sheet they were told something we’ve all heard:

Keep, change, change

Meaning if we have, -5 – -2 it can be rewritten as -5 + 2, or if we have 4 – 6 it can be rewritten as 4 + – 6. Basically they’re changing it into addition, but none of the kids can see that it’s the same thing. I also would have been able to similarly explained how this worked using a number line or the idea of digging a hole, but I came up with the idea too late. I will remember to use that idea when I student teach/teach though. Once again I just caved in to teaching them how to use the rules.

It’s pretty sad that they couldn’t see that -5 + 10 and 10 – 5 were the same thing. I was happy that I got one girl to see it. It pratically blew her mind.

I think the solution to this problem would be elementary school teachers teaching addition with a number line and 3d cubes, instead of just 3d cubes. You can’t have negative 3d objects…. they should also be teaching negative numbers in elementary school if they aren’t. If you just give kids rules you’re only giving them shit to memorize, not teaching them how to understand anything. If you give a kid an understanding of a concept, they’ll always know how to do the problem.

In other news I saw two boys get into a fight! The sub told me in this school the kids are pretty good in that the class will break up the fight rather than join in on the fight like they do in crap schools. She also told me if you can break up two boys they’ll chill out, but you can never turn your back on two girls fighting or you’ll end up with a chair in your back. That was some pretty useful advice that makes a lot of sense.

My apologies for those of you who didn’t understand this post… though if you don’t it’s pretty sad. Assuming you’ve graduated high school. I’d be more than happy to explain these concepts to you in a variety of ways if you’re confused!!!

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