Tag Archives: School

Summer? Over?

Yeah, so school is back in session today and the kids were somewhat less than delighted. Isaac, in particular, was a mix of excited to begin middle school and not excited because it is not cool to be excited. Both youngsters have gotten used to staying up late and sleeping in. They both are used to goofing off all day and eating ice cream and funyuns for breakfast, lunch, and supper.  Life has been pretty easy this summer as they didn’t even go to summer care.  Ah, but life turned on them this morning.  Reality struck them hard.


Emily and I take special joy in waking the kids on the first day of school.  We flip on the light and holler, “Good morning childrens…it’s time to get up childrens” in our best non-native-English-speaking voice.  They try to pull their blankets over their heads at which time we throw a cat on their blanketed heap.  Oh yes, the first day of school is excellent fun for Emily and me.

I like to make a movie of their first day back too:

Isaac – First Day of middle school      Abigail – First day of 3rd grade


The thing I do not like much, though, is that summer is over.  It will still be hot as blazes and we’ll still have a ridiculous electric bill as the AC runs, but summer is over.  School’s in y’all!  Let’s go childrens!  It’s time for school!


Summer is officially over…well, unofficially I guess, but you get what I mean.  School starts today and I am not at all ready.  And just who on Earth starts school on a Friday?  Our county, that’s who.  It’s not that I need the kids to enjoy the freedom of summer…they live under a dictatorship anyhow.  No, it’s that the fight to get homework done starts tonight.

But wait, this isn’t about me is it?  OF COURSE IT IS!  This is my blog after all!  Well, ok, I am sad a little too because it means my kids are a bit older which means I am a bit older.  It means life is changing which is cool mostly, but also a little scary <sniff, sniff/>.

(click above to play…if that doesn’t work on your machine, try this link)

(click above to play…if that doesn’t work on your machine, try this link)

Ok, man up.  I asked the kids some questions about starting school, just like last year.  I love this part!

Everyday Math

The kids bring home papers from school and, like most parents, we look over them to make sure they are doing well. Most of the stuff is pretty typical fare, but I can’t get over the math papers that Isaac brings home. You see, he is being taught Everyday Math…it’s a curriculum that is mandated by the state (or maybe county? I think state) and it is crazy. The whole idea is to do math problems that one might encounter in their day to day life.

I am not exactly sure how I feel about it. I know the teachers are mandated to teach math using the curriculum so I do not blame his teachers one bit. I honestly doubt they like teaching it either. Anyhow, let me give you an example:

Directions: Estimate the answer. Write a number model to show how you estimated.

Problem A: A prairie vole (a mouselike rodent) has an average of 9 babies per litter. If it has 17 liters in a season, how many babies are produced.

Isaac’s number model: 10X17 = 170
This answer was marked wrong
The “correct” answer: 10X20 = 200
The real answer: = 9X17 = 153 (Isaac’s answer was closer)

I understand that the idea is to round numbers so you can get an easier problem that is doable in one’s head…but let’s give a little credit here…most 4th graders can handle 10X17!

Problem B:  In the next hour, French people will save 12,000 trees by recycling paper.  About how many trees will they save in two days?

Isaac’s number model: 50X12,000 = 600,000
This answer was marked wrong
The “correct” answer:  50X10,000 = 500,000
The real answer: = 48X12,000 = 576,000 (Isaac’s answer was closer)

There were 5 problems and Isaac “missed” 3 of them.  Now, I love learning to estimate.  It’s super helpful when I am at the grocery store, but this stuff is absolutely ridiculous!

I learned to estimate very well after I learned how to actually get the right answer!  Isaac and most of the other kids do know how to get the right answer, but they are definitely not as fluent with it as they should be.  So, as long as the kids need to estimate their grocery bill, they will be well equipped (although Isaac may be too accurate).  However, if we need to build a bridge or send a woman to Mars, she is out of luck…though I figure we can get her close…

I don’t often rant on here but why on Earth are the powers-that-be messing with math programs that taught engineers and scientists to build great dams, and discover new medicines and send men to the Moon?  Surely the times have changed since then, but those “old” techniques worked.  Update the problems…kids don’t need to know how to calculate how many bales of hay can fit on a hay cart, but they do need to know how to calculate!  I truly don’t blame teachers.  Most of them are disgusted by it as well.

Okay, I am going to stop at that…there are other similar examples of how the new curriculum is making math less useful and more difficult, but I’ll save that for another day…