I Speak Greek When I Teach Math

Or maybe it’s Spanish or Chinese or Pig-Latin, but today I felt like I was definitely not speaking English to my kiddos during math.  Meaning no one understood what I was trying to explain, and many kids ended up more confused than when we first started.  WHAT?  It’s not like I’m new at this, nor to the topic.  We were even working on a problem that I made up!  Needless to say, we all wanted to throw in the towel, or rip up our papers and start over.  Or something else that you shouldn’t do when you’re frustrated.  And no, in case you’re wondering–we didn’t.  But we did put the problem away until tomorrow when we’re fresh and can tackle it again.  And I am already armed with a different plan for how to address it, but am hoping you can help me, too!  (And by the way, after how fabulous the first round of problems-with-posters went the other day, this was all the more mind boggling!)

Ok, so I’m hoping that you can help me figure out what might be making my friends so confused.  Here is the problem that we were working on yesterday and today:

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 8.55.41 PM

This problem is 1) based on a real-life problem, 2) uses math skills we already have (or at least that are not new!), and 3) really just focuses on making sure they use clear and concise notation to record their solution and thoughts.

Part 2

Part 2

PLEASE give me feedback on parts you see that may  have tripped them up.  After working on it for two days, I see a couple of things, but I really expected this to be a rather simple fraction problem; the difficulties they were having were not ones I had anticipated.  My hope was they could focus on the poster part, as a prep for how they’d answer questions as we start testing next week.  Instead, now they’re all convinced that math is hard and confusing.  Pretty much a teacher fail, huh? 😦

Thoughts?  Oh, and I guess it’s a given that I want you to be nice.  Truthful, but nice, please. 🙂  And maybe you could even tell me what you think the answer is.  That might help me see if the problem reads the way I intended it to.  THANK YOU, FRIENDS!

5 thoughts on “I Speak Greek When I Teach Math

  1. Oh my, you are beating yourself up! Perk up and go make some ranch dip! 🙂

    Ok, I have to say I think Part 1 is pretty straight forward and you’re right, a very familiar concept to your kids. (Fraction Feast anyone?) Could the language of “double batch” have tripped them up? Also, the fractions are a bit odd….1 3/8 tsp? 3/6 tsp? BUT, I also know how much work your kids did with fractions in December and that they do indeed have strategies to make those weird fractions….more user friendly.

    Now, when you get to Part 2, I did have to reread to see if I understood the task. The language of “how much this recipe makes altogether,” feels straight forward, but when I go back and look at the amounts I see that the amount of sour cream for mixing is almost an after thought in the recipe. In a nutshell, the recipe is set up differently than a recipe they have seen with you in the past; perhaps that threw them? Now, I am not excusing them. They are smart cookies and this is an excellent example of the GRIT it would take to problem solve after realizing it is not as straightforward as initially perceived.

    Not sure any of the above is helpful…I’m going to go see if I have the ingredients in my cupboard to make for a snack! Thanks for your honest reflection and shout out for collaboration!

    • Thanks for your thoughts! Yes, I did tweak those amounts a bit because the original recipe was just whole and half teaspoons. Believe it or not, the doubling of the recipe was something they did know how to do–thankfully! It was when they had to figure out how much dip all of those spices would make (mixed with the 1/2 cup of sour cream per T of spices) that they got all crazy. We talked it through before they got started, and several groups even asked questions and talked it out with me, but many were still so lost. And yes, I guess it wasn’t everyone, so maybe I’m beating myself up a little too much, but it just killed me that it was so frustrating for them. Oh, and we’re eating ranch dip tomorrow, so come on up and get some! 🙂

  2. I was kind of trying to figure everything out and all, but it was kind of confusing. To me it was the group members and the way we were talking the problem was an issue.

  3. Pingback: I Speak Greek When I Teach Math–PART 2 | 20somethingkidsand1kookyteacher

  4. Pingback: I Speak Greek When I Teach Math–PART 3 | 20somethingkidsand1kookyteacher

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