Now don’t get me wrong, I love Math. To me, it’s like a puzzle and I like puzzles. However, that is not the case for many. Most of the time, it’s dry, boring, and disconnected from everyday life – at least that’s how the publishers present it. Which is yet another reason I hate publishers – come on, put some effort into your lessons. Less snazzy pictures – which there really aren’t that many – and more snazzy lessons!
This week I introduced long division to my 5th graders – you all groaned on that one didn’t you? Yeah, not the most interesting Math concept. It’s mostly procedural and very dry. And the publishers… a list of division problems to work out. BORING! Then there are the word problems:
A candy factory produces 9,876 pounds of chocolate in 24 hours. How many pounds to they produce in 1 hour?
Even the person who loves Math, like me, is thinking, “Who cares?” I mean really unless I’m the production manager, I couldn’t care less.
Fortunately, I have been inspired by the likes of La Cucina Matematica (John Stevens and Matt Vaudry) and Andrew Stadel (Estimation 180). They make Math relevant and fun. This is what I want for my students. And coming up with examples of how division can be relevant to my students isn’t THAT hard.
So what am I doing tomorrow in Math? Working with a bag of Halloween Candy. Amazingly, I still have some hanging around the house. Now, I can’t actually bring in a whole bag – which would totally be better (maybe I’ll swing by the store and see what’s on sale); they could manipulate the pieces. But… I sort of ate an embarrassing amount of the bag. Banana Laffy Taffy is a weakness of mine. So I did the next best thing, took a picture of the Nutritional Label – which I didn’t really read based on my consumption of said contents.
That means I can eat 4 pieces of my beloved Banana Laffy Taffy, and that is 1 serving (nice to know). So in a bag of 200 pieces how many are Laffy Taffy? Of that, how many servings of Laffy Taffy are there? It is also important to note that there are 2 flavors of Laffy Taffy. So you can further break it down and figure out roughly how many servings of Banana Laffy Taffy I ate. We could go on to find out how many servings of the candy are in the bag, or how many calories are in 1 Laffy Taffy. We could take the total number of pieces and split them up among all of us.
Is this the most innovative lesson ever? Not even close. Is it better than the dreaded publishers’ nonsense? Absolutely. Lessons like this could go on with items such as Hot Cheetos, chips, Taquis, and anything else the kids are into. I also get to sneak in lessons about serving size and portions.