Search This Blog

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Word Problem Committee…

Third grade math text books must be written by “socially correct (SC)” committees without regard for clarity. That’s the only possible explanation I can fathom when you come across examples like problems #2 & #3 below:
(click to enlarge)

 First draft: There are 28 people camping for the night and they share 7 tents. How many people slept in each tent? (Answer: 4)

SC Member #1: Since this is for 3rd graders, shouldn’t we somehow make it relevant and inclusive for them?

SC Member #2: Ok, sure. How ‘bout this:
There are 28 students camping for the night and they share 7 tents. How many students sleep in each tent? (Answer: 4)

SC Safety Officer: Hummm, 28 unsupervised kids in the woods at night? I don’t think that sends the correct message. Remember these are 3rd graders and that might give them the wrong idea about being safe.

SC Member #1: Ok, Ok…Let’s do this:
There are 28 students and their chaperones camping for the night and they share 7 tents. How many people sleep in each tent? (Answer: 4)

SC Member #2: Wait a minute, doesn’t that change the answer? I mean if each tent has 4 kids and one chaperone, that makes 5 people x 7 tents = 35 people not 28! Right?

SC Member #1:Oh! Good catch. Let’s change the answer to ‘5’.

SC Member #2: I’m not sure that’s the best thing. Everyone knows that 3rd graders don’t really “read the words” in word problems. They tend to automatically take the numbers they see in the problem and divide: 28 divided by 7 = 4 as an answer.

SC Member #1: Well technically, it could be read “28….studentsandchaperones” if you read it really, really fast and that means that the “28 people” includes all the students AND chaperones together, right? Maybe we could annotate the Teacher’s Edition (TE)  reference to make the following notation:

Note to teacher: There are 28, not 35, total people out in the woods that night. If you misinterpret the wording at this crucial point in the word problem sequence and get an answer of ‘5’ instead of ‘4’, you’re screwed when you attempt to answer the next question since we haven’t gotten to fractions yet.
      Sincerely, The Socially Correct (if not necessarily grammar literate) Committee

SC Safety Officer: What are the chances that the teacher will be out for the day and the substitute teacher doesn’t have the TE Math book with the “clarification notice”. That could be a problem!

SC Member #2:  Let’s not do the “Note to teacher” notice. It makes us look incompetent not being able to write a simple 3rd grade math problem. Besides, the teachers will figure it out on their own if we give them the correct answers to work backward from.

Dear reader: For the next one, you’re on your own as to how they came up with this one. I couldn't see any reference as to how many total booths there are.

The indicated answer is"10".  That would mean 10_rows x 10_booths x 100 people = 10 THOUSAND people in the balcony??.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


It might not seem like it judging by the drop off in new blog postings lately but I HAVE been busy with subbing assignments. 

My last assignment was a three day assignment with 3rd graders at the newest school in the district. I’ve managed to only get assignments here once or twice until this year when I picked up five assignments and had to turn down three more due to personal conflicts.

To emphasize just how new this school is, look no further than the men’s restroom. No other school in the district has two urinals AND two stalled toilets. All other schools in this district are “single service”, which makes the timing at the end of lunch break an Olympic class race for male employees.

This school, being the newest, has the latest in high tech gear including document cameras, SmartBoards and high end Apple computers in every classroom.

It was the Apple computer that unexpectedly shut down just before class began on the third day of my assignment making the SmartBoard an instant Dumb&DeafBoard. I attempted to restart the computer, but I had problem with this particular version of Crapple Computer.

It had no “ON” button. In fact, I couldn’t even FIND the computer. I started with the big screen monitor and followed all the cables hoping to find anything that looked like a computer without success. Class was starting and I didn’t have any more time to futz around with it.

Fortunately the DocCamera still worked and using the Teachers Editions and practice books, we plowed away with the lessons as best we could without the fancy popup graphics and animation planned lessons.

After class, I resumed my search for the hidden Crapple computer. Again not finding one, I turned my attention to the big screen monitor. Again, finding NO controls on the front, bottom or top or sides, I moved around the table to the back. After moving a pile of books and folders, I saw it. On the lower left side BEHIND the monitor there was a single power button. Evidentially the big screen monitor WAS also the all-in-one computer. Have I already mentioned I’m not fond of Apple computers?  

This experience hasn’t altered my opinion one bit.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Free book drawing - Michael Vey

The publisher sent me three copies for review.

For a chance in this free drawing for your own free hardcover copy of Richard Paul Evans book, "Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25" just use the comment section and include a name and email address (will not be displayed publicly) or email your entry to on or before Monday, November 14, 2011.

The storyline is targeted for young adults, so with that in mind I read the book this last week and found it fast paced, a pretty good story line and an easy read. At 325 pages, it is bit short but as this is the first in the "Michael Vey" adventures, it leaves some unresolved issues "to be continued" in the next book(s) of the series. It reminded me a combination of those short lived TV series "Heroes" and "Kyle XY".

The main "hero", Michael Vey, is your typical 14yr old teenager with the usual teenage problems and some unusual abilities. Michael has a secret ability to control electricity and uses it as a defense mechanism to the chagrin of some teenage bullies. Unfortunately, demonstrating that ability draws the attention of some pretty bad people who know more about Michael and others like him.

Because I'm pretty far removed from the target audience I thought a better review from an actual "young adult" would be more appropriate at this point. I gave one copy of the book to the daughter of some good friends of ours.

Jillian is 14yrs old and in the 9th grade. According to her parents she is an avid book reader.

Michael Vey 
Prisoner of Cell 25   
            Whether you like this book or not depends on how well you notice unique details about it. From looking at the basic plot, you see a typical fiction book these days. The main character is discovered, someone needs to be saved by the main character, and then the happy ending. But when looking at the small details of the plot like the characters, settings, and dangerous and risky situations you notice new exciting detail on every page. The author throws you curveballs every chapter and it's exciting all the way to the last page.    
 --- Jillian

Drawing entries to date: 8 (...odds are good!)
...and the winner is: Dustin in Boaz, Alabama!!  Congratulations!