No Wonder Fries Are So Addictive…

, , , , , , , | Learning | January 1, 2018

(My grandfather was a math teacher, and this is a story I heard about him many times. Given the end result, I believe the particular topic at hand was statistics.)

Grandfather: “Now, nobody needs to answer, and if you do, I’m not going to tell anyone. How many people here have smoked marijuana?”

(Several hands go up.)

Grandfather: “Okay. Now, keep your hand up if the first time you ever had mashed potatoes came before the first time you ever had marijuana.”

(Everyone’s hand stayed up. And that’s how my grandfather “proved” that mashed potatoes are a gateway drug.)

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It’s A Calculated Risk

, , , , , , | Learning | September 20, 2017

I moved to Texas and they made me take Algebra 1 again because I hadn’t taken the high school version, even though I was also in Algebra 2. I had the same teacher for both.

Both classes used those fancy, $80+ calculators, which they expected us to buy. I tried to do things longhand, but my teacher got angry at me for it. I got Ds that first semester because I didn’t have a calculator and the use of those calculators was so confusing. I felt like I was taking an advanced programming class, not a math class!

Anyway, I did learn eventually, and I tried to learn as much longhand as I could; I didn’t want to become dependent on the calculator. She still refused to teach it, even after I begged for after school sessions or a tutor or anything.

By the end of the year, I was just as calculator-dependent as the rest of them. Now, I should mention that this teacher was best friends with the Pre-Calculus teacher. I signed up for her class for my junior year. Do you want to know what she said on the first day?

“If you’re calculator-dependent, you’re going to fail.”

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Cent-lessly Lost

, , , , | Learning | August 31, 2017

(Due to the new education curriculum, there has been a lot of discussion regarding new ways to assess learning, the goal being to move away from standardized tests. We’ve made great progress so far, but decide to use a math assessment package at the end of the year, in order to have some data in regards to the students’ math skills. The goal is to enable us to see where we need more math support. Furthermore, since my class of grade sevens are going to go to the high school next year, we want some data to give the teachers that will have them to further help them out. Prior to testing, we comb through the package and edit it so it focuses on mental math and problem solving. I feel confident that the content is good for my students, since we have a lot of review and money knowledge problems. The test starts and one of my students calls me over to help them with a question.)

Question: “Sarah has $5 to spend on golf balls. Used golf balls are 50 cents and new golf balls are 75 cents. Show all the possible ways Sarah could spend her $5.”

Student: “I don’t understand what the question is asking.”

Me: “Okay, so Sarah has $5, and she has to use all that money towards golf balls. So, you’re trying to see how many she can buy with the prices listed.”

Student: “But those are in cents, not dollars.”

Me: “Exactly, so how many cents in a dollar?”


Me: *growing more and more concerned* “…H-How many cents in a dollar?”

Student: *look of confusion on their face*

Me: “Okay, how many quarters do you need to have one dollar?”

Student: *thinks, then gets excited when they know the answer* “Four!”

Me: “Yes! Now how many cents are in a quarter?”

Student: “25.”

Me: “Exactly, so four quarters equals…”

Student: “75 cents!”

Me: “…No.”

(Normally, I don’t like to give my kids the answers and prefer them to figure it out themselves. For this case, I made an exception. She was then able to figure out the problem on her own, and I really hope that moment of cluelessness was just due to nerves. Even more astounding, we had a transfer student from Asia do that assessment and I only had to explain our currency once before he got it, opposed to the student who was born and raised in Canada!)

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How To Rattle A Snake

| Learning | June 21, 2013

(A kid in my class likes to mess with me. Most of the time, I ignore him. One day, enough is enough. He likes to call me “snake,” but it’s not my real name. It’s just what he likes to tease me with.)

Boy: “Hey. Pssst. Snake!”

(I ignore him, as I am currently working on a difficult assignment.)

Boy: “Snaaaaaaaaaaaaaake.”

(He shakes the back of my chair and I continue to ignore him.)

Boy: “Snakesnakesnakesnakesnake” *shakes chair more*

Me: “What do you want?”

Boy: “Snakesnakesnakesnakesnake—”

(I wordlessly reach back with my notebook, slap him in the face and carry on with my work as if nothing happened. The boy opens mouth in shock, stops hassling me. There was no more chair shaking after that!)

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Going Cold Turkey On Math Can Solve Many Problems

, , | Learning | April 20, 2013

(It is the last meeting of the discussion section of our math class before Thanksgiving Break. Class has just ended and people are packing up.)

Me: “This time next week, we’re going to be having fun!”

Teacher’s Assistant: “Yeah, we’re going to be doing fun math problems!”

Me: “You can come if you want to, but we aren’t going to.”

Teacher’s Assistant: “Excuse me? Are you planning to skip?”

Other Student Walking Out: “Happy Thanksgiving, [Teacher’s Assistant]!”

Teacher’s Assistant: “Oh, I forgot. It’s Thanksgiving Break next week. Sorry!”

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