As you may know, I taught foreign languages on the high school level for a number of years. I loved it because it included so many enjoyable aspects: travel, art history, studying literature and how people think…psychology if you will. I have known since I was twelve I would be a teacher. But what would I teach? I knew studying Spanish would fulfill me in the long run. At times, I wondered what I would have taught if not Spanish? I think Math would have been my close second, then English.
Math was one of those classes in school I fit into my schedule every year. When I got to college and found out, I didn’t have to take math any more, I felt a bit bewildered and disoriented. What would I do without it? NOT. So, I continued to sign up for math classes and missed earning a minor in math by one course. Gradually, I weaned myself away from a discipline that had demanded so much throughout the pre-college years.
You probably know, or perhaps you don’t, that testing drives our curriculum nowadays. Teaching to the test and not necessarily for the joy of learning sadly seems to prevail. There were many meetings where our administrators asked the elective teachers to write a plan of how we would contribute to the CORE tested subjects: English, Math, Science and Social Studies. We were told we had to incorporate at least one other CORE discipline into our elective classes. Yes, there was a lot of grumbling!
So one summer I created word problems and more word problems addressing all the tested objectives in math. The project became Math in Culture. Surprisingly, I found it wasn’t a chore! I wrote a few problems, which led to even more. I couldn’t wait to get to the computer at our curriculum writing round table. One word problem led to another and by the time the project was completed I had over a hundred Spanish, French and German culturally related problems!
At first, my students were confused. “This is Spanish class, not math.” “Just one problem a day,” I told them. Soon they took it in stride and began to understand the connections between math and culture. The realization set in, yes, it is all around us. At the end of that year, math scores in our building did climb. “It was those Math in Culture problems,” one student laughed. Oh, how I love a team effort and “ah-ha” moments.
So I have decided to post a problem a day in the context of culture. I thought I’d post one a day through Sunday. If we can take on the A-Z challenge, we can take on one digit, two digits, three digits…more!
Here’s the first one. Read through it and then post your answer in the poll box. No stress, no calories, no exercise pain. Try it!
The first problem is easy and has to do with division and chocolate, Godiva chocolate. No, this was not one of the problems my students calculated, but it is one I calculate carefully around the holidays.
Godiva chocolate is a popular export item from Belgium. Georgette would like to purchase a box with the best value. The boxed choices include the following: Signature Chocolate Truffle assortment (4 pieces = $10.00); Spring Truffle Gift box (6 pieces = $15.00); Ultimate Desserts Truffles gift box (24 pieces = $50.00); Signature Box Truffle assortment (18 pieces = $40.00). Which box offers the best value per truffle?
I’ll post the answer tomorrow.