Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Out Sick

Oh my...first I had a sinus infection and now I have the flu. Sabbatical is at a standstill. This too shall pass, I keep thinking :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tall Tutors

Day 18: At 2:50 today a group of very tall young bright, high school students arrived at the elementary school I am based out of. I had to laugh at their height - they looked like giants in our little elementary school. They came as one group, quietly floating down the hall. I spend about 40 minutes orienting them to tutoring and they said barely 10 words each tho they were staring at me so intently it made me blink a lot (haha). "What's going on in their heads", I thought, as I jabbered away? One young tutor told me she had spoken to all of them ahead of time and they were all very excited. Could have fooled me but I'm going with that :) Right after February vacation we will start tutoring. I have no idea how it will go but will just imagine it goes well - good place to start :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What you Look for You may Find

Day 17: I am really thrilled that things are falling into place so nicely with my sabbatical projects. I will be training tutors Monday afternoon and the manual is done for that. I have poured over NECAP data (our state testing data) looking for appropriate students to include; I think I have a nice group. Scheduling this will be a challenge, I'm sure. I will tackle that next week. Since I am so grateful for tutors I have allowed them to tell me when they are available and I'll try to fit tutees in the time slots they gave me (mostly after school). It will be a challenge but nothing I am not used to - scheduling is truly nightmarish in the schools these days. It's really wonderful to have so many services for kids (OTs, PTs, speech therapists, counselors, adapted PE teachers, ESL teachers, reading specialists, special educators, etc.) but a long and frustrating process to schedule it all in. I'm hoping that because most of the tutoring is after school, the schedule will be a challenge but not too difficult to put together.

We are going to start using the M3 materials next week and I previewed the lessons Friday. They look really excellent. My colleague worries that we will wander away from all the fun we have had making up the after school program. I think that's a good worry and I will keep that in mind as we delve into the M3 curriculum. One of the drawbacks of any curriculum is that the teacher may no longer feel that he or she is being creative and having fun teaching. So, the M3 materials will be guide not a bible.

I also finally remembered my camera during the after school program last week so we have excellent pictures to go on our website. Here is a picture of math and art. Students learned how to make a shape that reflects on itself. Then they tesselated it (made it into a repeating pattern). Looks like a budding Escher, don't you think?

I am still looking for a test that would help us identify the grades 1-2 students. But, that will come, I'm sure.

The process and experiences of this sabbatical, thus far, have reminded of how much life has to offer if you just start looking for it :) Imagine it and it will come :) Seems to be some truth in that!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day 15: M Cubed Descends

I am so excited! Yesterday my M3 materials arrived at school and at home! They look fantastic. I was sitting in the conference room of my home school in the early afternoon, stealing a little table to work at, when I overheard the math consultant tell the grade 1 teachers that she knew of an excellent program for working with kids who are advanced in math....Project M3! Woohoo. We had a nice discussion about how great the materials are. I am very excited to be using a research-based program, specifically designed for the students I am developing programing for.

I also had an excellent meeting with a principal in another school who wants an after school program, a couple of one-on-one high school tutors, and wants me to come over and try out the M3 program with a group of 2nd and 5th graders once a week. We discussed over and over how one of the goals of my sabbatical is to make the program sustainable...that is, to exist beyond my constant nurturing. Her idea was to get a group of parent volunteers to work with accelerated kids during the school day. Excellent idea. I'll see how it shapes up at that school and then may try it at the school I spend most of my time at. I think you could have a parent in charge of the in-school tutoring, a teacher in charge of the after school program and tutoring. I mentioned to that principal that my PTO funds me at my school.

The website, which I am also very excited about, is looking fantastic with the photos I took of yesterday's bubble gum study. We were measuring the size of bubbles. We have photos of students and teachers blowing bubbles, measuring bubbles, taking data, and charting their findings. Can't wait to get kids involved in this and to put it all up on the web.

All in all......every thing is rockin!

Monday, February 9, 2009


Day 13: Isn't that a funny word, "tutee"? What else would you call the student a tutor tutors? I just finished writing up my AMP Tutoring Training Manual! I am psyched. Things are moving along very nicely. I have 6 tutors for sure and one more, maybe. It was wonderful today to put a face to the "maybes" and make plans for our first training session. It's turning into one big after school program and, well,that's just the way it is. I have committed to being open to how this will all play out so there you go...one big AMPed after school program. Fine by me. My next step is to get the tutor notebooks ready, do some tutoring myself so I get the feel of it, test kids, review the M3 materials, get parent permissions and do all the administrative paperwork stuff (yuck) so we run smoothly. All the while I want to restructure the after school group sessions so they are more in line with specifically what the students need to learn.

It is really enjoyable to have an idea, get support and then watch as it takes shape. Traditional sabbaticals are periods of time when people are physically away. I think, can't believe I'm writing this, I think I like this better, at least for me, because I'm creating something and that IS who I am if I'm anything. And that this will be a good thing for kids is all the better.

Today when I met with a group of high school prospective tutors, I asked them why they wanted to tutor. One said, honestly, "It will look great in my portfolio for college." He speaks 4 languages and is headed to a military school and wants to stand out. Another said that she loved kids and math. Another student, looked right in my eye and said, "Because I was one of those kids." That's what it's all about!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

AMPed Up!

So,the excitement continues with all my plans. Today I received a couple of e-mails and it now looks like I will have at least 6 high school tutors in my AMP program, possibly more! I am very grateful to the teachers who have taken the time out their very, very busy days to help set all of this up. It renews my faith in teachers :) But, not everybody has been so supportive. About a week ago I mentioned the AMP project to a high school staff member who basically made me feel defensive and on the spot. She questioned the worthiness of my plans and wondered why anybody would want to be involved. She told me she was sure high school students would have neither the time nor the interest in tutoring elementary students. Had I stopped there I would have been done for, through, depressed, hand me the razor blades! Interesting, at the end of our conversation (during which I remained focused and calm...well, at least I looked calm and focused), anyway it turns out this woman gave me the name of a high school teacher who has become very excited about the opportunities for both elementary and high school students via this tutoring program and has sent me 4 students. It's all good, right?

So now the task is to contact parents to get their permission and then to further test my top students so I can create an AMP plan that the high school tutors will follow. I am also going to create a training manual for the tutors and we'll have a training session in the next week or so. And I eagerly await some Project M3 materials I have bought. On a 60 day review I am also receiving additional Project M3 materials. It's all coming together and I am thrilled.

Final note...I just spoke with my step son and we are planning on developing an open-source website to share the information about programming for gifted math students, particularly in states, districts, towns, where there is no money! Yep, I am AMPed up!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tutors and Programs!

I am extremely excited that the tutoring component of my sabbatical seems to be taking shape! I have contacted 105 people at the high school by e-mail. No, not really but I have sent a lot of e-mails to any contact anybody gave me. And, I have been waiting impatiently for their responses. I forget, they have busy, busy, full time jobs and I am on...sabbatical :) But, finally and happily, over the past couple of days, some names of high school students who may want to tutor are trickling in and I am AMPed! I have a lot of work to do to get ready for the descent of the tutors, but I am really, really excited.

I also just purchased some of the Project M3 (Mentoring Mathematical Minds) materials that fit with the needs of the most capable of the most capable (not supposed to say GIFTED) math kids. I am thrilled that Project M3 is a research-based program from the University of Connecticut, new, and developed expressely for working with talented math students in grades 3-5. And, most recently, it has been used for after school enrichment! What could be more perfect? I can't wait for my March visit to see how they pull it all together.

The AMP website is also shaping up nicely, thank you very much. Soon students will start writing about our math club activities, posting articles the new website. And, today I am bringing my camera to class so we can start to chronicling our sessions with photographs. Day 9 is shaping up!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Day 8

So, this is the beginning of the 8th day of my sabbatical. One thing I enjoy about blogging about my sabbatical is that is helps me reflect on each and every day. My friend who is on a long-term sabbatical to write a book tells me that the time, and it's been a year and a half for her, has flown by. I think I need to remember the goals: create a better after school program, start up the tutoring program, assist teachers if they are wanting cosultation, develop a website. I have made headway on every one of those goals.

I had another school indicate some interest in having me work with their gifted math students. Before I get the tutors in place, I will do that to get to know the students and to develop their AMP plan. I need to look at their current testing, maybe test them with something like KEY math and then develop a plan. I'll call her today and make an appointment.

Day 8 off and running :)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Passing of the 7th Day

So, things are coming along. I have a visit planned to the M3 project in March. I wish it was sooner, but March is better than not at all. I have a contact at the high school who wrote that he was excited about the project and about the tutoring aspect, in particular. He said he would get me the tutors I need. That was on Thursday and I haven't heard from him since. I also heard back from a principal and she wants me to come over to look at a couple of their highly capable math students. I think the first thing to do is to test them to see where they are at and then to develop a plan based on the Everyday Math program and state standards. And then, either I or a tutor will work with them. I have also made headway on the website so am psyched about that. The afterschool program has not met as frequently as it should because of the nasty New England winter. We did have one online project, a bit chaotic having all 16 kids on the computer at once, even had one in tears! Hard to address all the needs and work with a computer set up that kept turning all the words I was projecting onto the screen into computer symbols! But, 7 days passing and all is moving along very well, thank you very much.