Sunday, August 28, 2011


Math. It wasn't until middle school that this became a four letter word in my mind. I'd always done well in this subject. Ironically, that's what landed me in Algebra class and under the tutelage of the extremely stout and balding Mr. Liddy. 

Unfortunately for me, he'd had the opportunity to teach my brother David two years prior. To put it mildly, David left an impression. Understandably, the combination of him showing up to his class not entirely sober and egging his house on the weekend didn't go over so well.

Enter, the awkward eighth-grade me (imagine braces, blue eye makeup and far too much hairspray). I inhaled deeply as I entered Mr. Liddy's classroom in my preppy outfit and training bra fastened to my not yet fully developed self. As he hollered his way through roll call, his voice literally sunk when landing on my name. Cari Stone. The ensuing pause was painful - face burning up, heart beating out of your chest painful. 

The wheels were turning in Mr. Liddy's mind and within moments he went on to ask about any possible relationship between myself and his pupil of years past. I sheepishly admitted that David and I were in fact siblings - an act with social implications all their own in the junior high economy. He dropped his roll card, slid his glasses down his nose and declared, 

"Well, Miss Stone, I have the perfect seat for you. Why don't you come right up here in the front where I can keep a close eye on you."   

To say I was mortified doesn't quite cover it. To blame Mr. Liddy for my demise in the math kingdom would be equally unfair. This was and will forever be an inciting incident in my story about numbers. Self confidence in this subject waned that year - it still does, really.

Yet as I've been preparing to teach Hannah second grade math, I'm discovering an incredible truth within teaching. We have the opportunity to reeducate ourselves along the way. While it is slightly embarrassing to admit that I have felt overwhelmed by the thought of leading her through math studies this year, it's true! Early on I found myself looking at programs that could teach for me. I rationalized that a computer based program was the route to go. It was only a matter of time before I'd be completely out of my league. 

Please hear me. I'm all for outsourcing subjects at times (stay tuned for my post on art education). Still, what I came to realize was that in this particular situation changing her curriculum to ease my anxiety would not have been in Hannah's best interest. Her math program suits her. She's challenged daily in the right sort of ways (as am I). This method sets a strong foundation for the world of Algebra and beyond. 

That said, I've collected tools and am giving myself frequent pep talks - believing that in combination the two will carry us through. Who knows, at the end of this whole experiment I may even drop the math phobic label. We'll see.

Second Grade Math

Our plan is to work through these two texts and workbooks on Tues/Wed/Thur

Hannah will work with these twice a week. What I love about this tool is that she can put down her pencil, flop on the couch, work (and correct) at her own pace and ultimately master her math facts.

Fridays will work a bit differently in our house. I envision a big glass jar. Inside there will be 38 pieces of paper folded in half (each with an activity from below written on the paper). This will take us in varying directions and hopefully add an element of fun. 

Math Board Games 

*For those moments when I'm truly stumped or just need another opinion...
The Khan Academy
This free online resource has over 2400 videos explaining every imaginable facet of math - it is pretty amazing. They happen to really like Singapore Math and are building a library of online explanations to go along with this curriculum.



  1. I can't wait to hear how it goes! The jar idea sounds fun! ....I also had Mr.Liddy. He didn't make a good impression on me either. He was a mean, scary man! But I still like math.

  2. I love Math! AND I love Hannah! So let me know if you ever need a tutor! ;-)