I have written recently about a new program we’ve been informed that we have to incorporate into our first grade math curriculum called Mountain Math. Some have asked about what it is and truthfully, I’ve been hard pressed to explain. Initially what I understood about Mountain Math is that someone tossed me a large packet of card stock, rather resembling 9×12 construction paper, and told me, “We’re doing this now.  Laminate and cut it out.”  And said packet was grotesquely sparse in terms of directions.  I’m a reasonably intelligent instructional warrior.  I’m hell at reading and following instructions.  Alas, there were few.

My knowledge grew to understand that it’s a system of twenty-four math concepts.  One way to utilize the material is to set up a twenty-four section bulletin board to display the concepts all at once, the idea being that after you use the specific problems, you replace them with new ones.

Well that ain’t happening, I said to myself.  A twenty-four section bulletin board?  With my literacy word wall, math word wall, science word wall, social studies word wall, anchor charts, procedural charts, oh, and alphabet and number line, my walls are pretty much used up.

Some other grade levels were militant about getting this crap up asap, before they even knew how to use it, which I thought was pretty dumb.  Just because someone says you have to do something, it doesn’t mean that you do.  So, investigating the wee instructions, I discovered that there were options to creating a huge bulletin board that looks like Walt Disney threw up.  You can also display a few of the twenty-four concepts at a time on a pocket chart, which I thought was much more feasible.  I have space for one more pocket chart.  Also, a sweet colleague from fifth grade shared a YouTube video from Teacher Tipster which was a HUGE help.  God bless Teacher Tipster!

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not that I hate the program.  It’s probably going to be useful, once I understand the most efficient way to utilize it.  It’s that I hate being told by people who have no idea what I already do that I have to do something different.  Can I get an amen?

# Zero the Hero, 3; Mountain Math, Zip

Tomorrow is Day 30 of school.  Zero the Hero is bringing everyone thirty pieces of chenille stems.  We used to call them pipe cleaners.  To-may-to, to-mah-to.

At any rate, we will count them by ones, twos, fives, and tens before we write about them in our Zero the Hero Journals.  Zero will also direct us, via his e-mail message, to use them to create “something cool.”  It should be interesting.

And, I have yet to actually break out Mountain Math.  Ah, well.

# Zero at 20

Yesterday was Day 20.  Zero the Hero made another visit, bringing us each twenty pretzels.  He sent us an ‘e-mail’ exhorting us to count them by ones, twos, fives, and tens.  As we wrote about our twenty pretzels in our Zero the Hero Journals we took the time to enjoy our pretzels.  Zero the Hero should make his next appearance on Day 30.

Delivered to my room today was a huge packet of materials called Mountain Math.  Apparently, someone has decided that instead of/in addition to the usual calendar math we do every morning and the pattern work we do as we celebrate Zero the Hero, we need to do this other system.  It’s going to take me hours to laminate all the pieces and cut them out.  No word on where I’ll keep the eleventy-billion kibbles and bits.

Oh, and I need to designate a bulletin board for this whole thing.  Would that be the actual bulletin board where our calendar math is now?  Or the faux one I made by putting fabric on the opposite side of the dry erase board to make the thing symmetrical?

Sorry, Zero the Hero.  It looks as though your skill set may longer be needed as we enter a new streamlining phase vis a vis talking about number patterns.  Good luck in your new venture.

# Respect the Zero

Tomorrow is Day 10 of school, time for this year’s first visit from Zero the Hero.

Zero the Hero visits every tenth day of school and he always leaves things for the kids to count.    He ‘e-mails’ us to tell us what he’s left for us and instructs us to count them by ones, twos, fives, and tens.  We then write about it in our Zero the Hero Journals.

The numeral zero is actually a complex concept.  It represents nothing but it also holds the space so that we don’t get place value mixed up all willy-nilly.  I suppose there are other ways to teach the idea of zero.  But celebrating Zero the Hero is pretty fun.

We’re kind of tight, Zero and I.  Tomorrow he’s bringing everyone ten goldfish crackers.  I’m fairly certain Zero will tell us we can enjoy our goldfish after we count them.  He’s good like that.