Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Real Math - Real Learning

When I was in elementary school, I remember having a new math program/textbook introduced called "Real Math" all I remember about it, was that I didn't learn anything in the text and that everyone else in the classroom got really confused. The idea was to use real life to explain math so that it could be more tangible. A good idea but I do think the program missed the mark from my elementary school experience.
Today, my kids experienced math is such a real way they will probably never ask the question, "When am I ever going to use this in the real world?" Well, until they start learning logarithms. (Seriously - I have never needed to pull up that piece of confusing information in my entire adult life.)
We made cookies. But the twist was that we halved the recipe so they had to half fractions. For instance, they had to halve 2 1/2 cups of flour. I asked them to figure out how much it was then we measured. It was so fun. They did awesome. The only time they got a little confused was when I asked them to halve a fourth. But then with a simple circle, I drew them a picture of how we would draw it, then they understood. I have an 8 year old a 7 year old and a 5 year old who all understand something that many kids in jr high still don't fully understand.
That is real math. Not reading about making cookies in a book and having to figure it out. Actually doing the process for real, in real life. And then of course enjoying the spoils.

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