Friday, August 27, 2010

The Lesson of the Repeating Decimal, The Cycle

Boy did I learn something today.
This year, I'm working sort of one on one with English Language Learners.
These ELL kids don't go to regular class, for I guess their command of English isn't deemed good enough for them to succeed.
Most of the time is spent working on English skills, but for one class, math, we take on real life applications.
This week, we've been working on wages, figuring out hourly, weekly, monthly wages etc.
I'm blessed this year to work with a student that is hard working and diligent. Does what is asked without questions and seems eager to get better.
So anyways, today we tackled salaried wages and different pay schedules.
Bi-monthly, weekly, semi monthly, that sort of thing.
I ran into a slight problem for my student was having trouble doing long division.
The other day, I assigned some division work sheets which were completed with no apparent problems.
Today, we were trying to break down yearly salaries into pay periods and I hit another glitch.
Two digit divisors.
All the problems on the worksheets I had assigned were made up of single digit divisors.
I'm not a math person but I get by. The thing is, I lack any strategies for teaching math.
It's just not my gig.
Well anyways, I explain how to divide with two digit divisors best I can and leave the student to work on some problems involving dividing pay periods into yearly salaries.
I explain to the teacher that I'm off to the library to make copies of division problems for the student to take home.
I'm gone maybe ten minutes.
Upon returning, I find the teacher hovered over the student explaining things.
Did the student forget already?
Just the opposite.
Remember the part about the student being diligent and all that?
Seems the problem involved a repeating decimal and the without someone to explain what it was, the student simply kept dividing the number to like eight places.
The division problem ran so long it was about to run off the paper.
Boy, I felt pretty stupid.
Thing is, since the problems we were working all involved money, they answers were coming out without remainders.
Until this one.
Poor kid!
I can only imagine what would have happened if no one had interceded.
This could have gone on literally forever!
Okay, to be honest it gives me a chuckle when I think about it now.
Trust me though, when it happened, I did feel really bad.
I'm just lucky we weren't graphing trinomials or trying to figure out pi.
Hopefully, this won't happen again.
I also work with a ninth grade English class.
Not really my gig either, but I write enough to be dangerous to myself and others so it's sort of interesting.
This is my second tour of working with ninth graders and it's different from the first.
It seems to me that every year, ninths graders are different.
I mean some years they come in and they seem all ready for high school, even to the point of looking like high school kids.
This year, they seem immature and physically, well, immature.
I'm talking short.
As in height.
Seriously, if I saw some of them like at the mall or something, I'd guess them to be still in primary school!
Compared to ninth grade students from two years ago, some who could pass as seniors, this class seems and acts younger.
Does that make sense?
I think it's like a cycle, some sort of fast food induced growth thing.
Like the year Whoppers go on sale for 99 cents, there's this growth spurt, then you got the Taco Bell generation that seems stunted growth wise.
Maybe it has something to do with McRib sandwiches and Red Lobster Shrimp specials.
Or something.
It's all very strange.
Like that stupid repeating decimal.


indigo_ink said...

Enjoyed your repeating-decimal fiasco.
Yeah, I think fast food is to blame for those odd fluctations in maturity that you've noticed. At my school we consistently have more boys than girls, but I can't even guess what would create that disparity.

limom said...

Hello and thanks for stopping by!
Yeah, that decimal fiasco is still sort of haunting me, one of those things where I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
About that maturity thing, it's very strange for I remember it happening even when I was in school!
More boys than girls?
How odd.