...my child sold your honor student the answers to the test...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Learning to Love Math

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Middle school is a whole new experience when it comes to homework. It takes a lot of organization and concentration to get through the piles of work after school. And homework counts for a lot of the total grade. Now add on top of that an ADHD kid with an ADHD mom, and it’s crazy town from 2:30 on, Monday through Friday.


In order to make sure that the lesson of organization is pounded into Xavier’s skull on a daily basis, each day when he gets home, we go through his binder, folders, and backpack, cleaning, sorting, and prepping. I also use the nifty school website each afternoon to list out the homework he has, in case he forgot to write it down. It’s only happened once or twice, but it’s a great way to double check. It also helps me because I can’t read Xavier’s scribbles even if my life depended on it.


Every weekday, Xavier will decide which lessons to tackle first, and we discuss them as he works on them. I’m finding myself fascinated with the lesson plans he comes home with, and while I don’t help him by giving him answers, I do enjoy learning as he looks stuff up. For example, the other day his social studies homework was to write his name in ancient Sumerian. While he did his own name, I sat down and wrote out the names of the rest of our family.  In Language Arts he had to write a sci-fi Cinderella story. I loved showing him how to make a note timeline for his book, and the next thing I know he has four pages fully written, and so proud of himself.


There is one lesson though, that I sit down and do with him every day, and this is math. Now let me clarify: I don’t “do” the math for him. But we’ve established a routine where we each grab a notebook, do the same problem separately, and then check against each other (and the calculator) to see who got it right. And you know what? It’s fun!!!!


This is coming from someone who loathes math with the utmost passion! I hated math, still do, and yet… I am actually enjoying (re)learning the mathematical concepts of pre-algebra. A big part of it is because I love watching Xavier grasp the concept we are working on at the time, or figuring it out myself and having the ability to teach it in a way that he understands. That “AHA!” moment he gets is priceless.


But I am also enjoying it for myself. I am finding that all of a sudden, the concepts are so much clearer to grasp than they were when I was in middle school myself. Maybe it’s because it is taught differently than when I learned. Whereas when I was in school the formulas were taught by rote, now they are taught with theory. Instead of “this is how you do problem x” it’s “Here is how to figure out problem x and why!”

Xavier can briefly describe the theory to me and it makes complete sense! And when the numbers all add up correctly, I feel so excited. Math has eluded me my entire life, and there has always been that teeny tiny voice in the back of my head that whispers “you’re not intelligent enough to grasp math. It’s too far above you.” But it’s not, so nyah!


So this becomes a win/win situation. Xavier explains the theory even if it hasn’t clicked. I’ll try a problem and it clicks. Then I can go to him and explain it in different ways, or show him tricks until it clicks for him. And then we sit together with our notebooks, and try to see who can get the correct answer first. We compare our answers, double check with the calculator, and if one of us is wrong, we try to see where we went wrong. It’s become a fascinating way to instill the current concept we're working on and double checking to Xavier, while also making it more enjoyable for him. At the same time, I am also learning, and appreciating the lesson.


While I don’t, for any reason, wish to be back in middle school, I am having more fun than I could have thought in helping Xavier stay focused and soak up as much information as he can. It makes me really appreciate how teaching has evolved over the years, and I am very pleased with the school he goes to.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bonding Over SoundBytes

The other day I was searching the web for information on an upcoming game that I am beyond stoked for, when I came across a gem of a sound wave from the first MMOPG I ever played, Ever Quest. If you have played this game before in your life, you recognize how this particular game was the platform upon which all other MMORPGs created themselves around. And if you have played this game before, you can also conjure up in your mind how much this game affected you in a thousand different ways.


If you don’t play games or have no clue what I am talking about, this may sound strange, and that we gamers overhype how much this particular game has changed our lives. And that’s ok. Only those who have played Ever Quest can really understand the importance of its existence.


Ok so back to the sound byte. I was perusing a forum about this new game, when I stumbled upon a post where the writer said this sound *HAS* to be in the new game. Curious, I opened the link provided, and nearly jumped out of my seat in surprise, a visceral reaction long ingrained into my brain from years spent playing Ever Quest and Ever quest 2 (you have to copy/paste the link, it won't open up automatically):


If you played EQ or EQ2 and don’t know what that sound is from you can now hand in your gamer card. You don’t deserve it. Hand it over. If you want to earn it back, go play on the FTP progression server for a few days and then come talk to me.


For the rest of you non gamers out there in bloggy land, let me take a moment to explain. My friend S, who hates when I geek up and talk games, you can go ahead now, throw your head back and start snoring.


That sound is from a skeleton, which would rise up out of the ground at any time and try to kill you to become its corpse bride. It would laugh the entire time it tried to decapitate you, which gave the fight a very sick feel, each and every time.


So of course I had to find a way to use it in my daily life! After fiddling around, I was able to make it into my text alert. Now, whenever my friends or family text me, I instinctively jump and glance behind me. No really, I do.

Xavier came home to find me fiddling with the sound, and he asked what the heck was it? So I sat down and gave him a history lesson in games. Being a gamer himself he was fascinated. And despite the fact that he never played EQ (unless you count him hanging out in our arms as a newborn babe while J and I played) he thought that the sound and the idea behind it was awesome. So he wanted it too.


After dinner, the two of us sat down and worked on our phones to have the skeleton laugh as our text alerts. Of course, we had to test it out. A lot. Just to make sure it was working. On both phones. Late at night. For at least an hour.

Thank goodness we have unlimited texting!

Point of this story is, our gamer family bonds over the weirdest shit. I can’t wait until Xavier gets out of school and starts texting me that he’s on his way home =)