Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Reflections

Greetings! Thank you for visiting my blog page. My engaging math series will resume next week. In the meantime, I am starting a new Friday series called Friday Reflections. The first part of this series will be titled "Failing at Math." This series was inspired by a presentation in my doctoral class about the importance of math in elementary and middle school. 

The Failing at Math series will include a variety of interesting media describing situations where adults struggled with basic math concepts-- many of the concepts which originate in elementary school. As you view them, please consider how we as educators can support our students so that they do not continue to have these same misunderstandings. 

It is not my intention to poke fun at anyone but just to pause and take a moment to remember the importance of math in the early grades and the effects of missed opportunities to help all of our students become successful mathematicians. Feel free to post a comment and share your thoughts on The Routty Math Teacher Facebook Page. Enjoy!

The following excerpt is from a "New York Times" magazine article that appeared on July 23, 2014. I choose this excerpt because it illustrates the difficulties that so many students face with fractions. Read the excerpt and respond to the reflection question below on my Facebook page. 

You can view the full article at: Why Do Americans Stink at Math?

"One of the most vivid arithmetic failings displayed by Americans occurred in the early 1980s, when the A&W restaurant chain released a new hamburger to rival the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. With a third-pound of beef, the A&W burger had more meat than the Quarter Pounder; in taste tests, customers preferred A&W’s burger. And it was less expensive. A lavish A&W television and radio marketing campaign cited these benefits. Yet instead of leaping at the great value, customers snubbed it.
Only when the company held customer focus groups did it become clear why.The Third Pounder presented the American public with a test in fractions. And we failed. Misunderstanding the value of one-third, customers believed they were being overcharged. Why, they asked the researchers, should they pay the same amount for a third of a pound of meat as they did for a quarter-pound of meat at McDonald’s. The “4” in “¼,” larger than the “3” in “⅓,” led them astray."
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Question for Reflection: How can K-5 math teachers support students with understanding the difference between whole number comparisons and fraction comparisons? 

Post your response at The Routty Math Teacher Facebook Page.