Sunday, April 22, 2012

this is how we "do" math

i get asked a lot whether we use a curriculum for our learning.  the answer is yes...and no.  we do invest some of our charter school funds in prepackaged kits and/or books like teaching textbooks and life of fred, but there is plenty more that we come up with on our own.

i consider steve to be a renaissance man.  he is a "man of information" to put it in jane austen's words.  one of the things he knows particularly well is the teaching of mathematics, so naturally he conducts some of the lessons with diana.  they have worked on algebra, geometry, topology, graphing, functions, probability, groups, sequences, and matrices, among other things.  no, she's not proficient in all of these topics, but she's not expected to be.  steve has this great ability as a teacher to guide a student in building a foundation of knowledge; he recognizes when she needs more of a challenge and he needs to step things up a bit or when she's struggling and needs more time or a change of topic so she can come back later.  he also understands that learning requires touching on topics multiple times and from different angles so that the connections make sense and are integrated into her thinking.  i tend to forget that sometimes.  i'm more of a linear thinker and make the assumption that because something has been taught, is has been learned and will therefore be remembered and applied appropriately and effectively from that point forward.  it sounds so silly when i actually write it down, you know, but i do lose my perspective and find myself wondering, "didn't you learn that already?  why do you need a review?"

i sometimes catastrophize that one or the other of the kids will NEVER learn a particular thing that is causing a struggle at the time.  those are not my best moments.  when i am calm, i can think of so many times when i am surprised with their facility in the use of a concept.

yesterday (or perhaps the day before, as it appears i am blogging past midnight again), diana baked a double batch of bossk brownies for the main street sidewalk sale the next day.  our recipes typically call for fractional amounts of ingredients, so this required her to double said fractions.  and she did it easily.  in her head.  without any help from me.  and converted mixed numbers to improper fractions and back again.  best of all, she felt confident about her ability!

then there was the application of geometry in determining the number of brownies that could be cut based on particular dimensions of the pan and desired brownie size.  the calculation of the number of horizontal and vertical cuts for that final count.

how about using the economic principles of supply and demand to set a price per brownie?  how much would be donated to the historic downtown woodland business association?  how offering a bulk discount would affect sales?  and making change for various change and bills?

it's ALL math.  this is how we do it.

while diana was exercising her vendor skills, ander was with steve, shopping for a great bowling set.  ander had so much fun at a bowling party recently that he's been practicing online and with a set at the toy library.  daddy indulges his boy, which i love, and the afternoon was spent setting up and knocking down the pins.  here's the fun twist - ander likes to announce how many pins he's knocked down and how many more are standing.  his favorite?  saying that there are ZERO pins standing!  i sense a bowling league in his future; that should make his granddad happy.
math, our style.  it rocks!
bossk brownies, from wookie cookies: a star wars cookbook 

  • 2/3 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (we use kosher.  the bigger crystals make for a better taste)
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c. butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. white chocolate chips (we used dark because they taste really awesome that way)
Preheat oven to 350 and butter 8 in. square pan.  Stir flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together.  Mix butter and both sugars until well blended and creamy (about 3 minutes).  Add eggs and vanilla extract.   On low, add flour mixture until just combined.  Stir in chips.  Pour batter into pan and smooth top.  Bake about 25 minutes.

i am happyer at home because i get to bake brownies with my daughter and bowl with my son.  and sing along with the sound of music movie soundtrack while i alternate vocal parts with the kids.


  1. It's all math & it's all good : ) And fun. And delicious. Wait, what were we talking about?

  2. Droool....i mean cool! I love again how it's all connected. What a delicious way to learn.