Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Square + Triangle = ?

This is my husband's statement to my daughter as I walk in the door.  What?  Surely, my college-educated husband could help my kid with her homework. What was he up to?

My daughter hands me her homework.  "How do you do this problem?"
 If 3 squares = 2 triangles.... yes, this is 2nd grade homework.
Simple: If 3X = 2Y, X + Y = 10, and Z - Y = 6, solve for X, Y, and Z.  But oh, yeah, this was my 2nd grader and she hasn't learned algebra with multiple equations yet.

Aside from calling her teacher or classmates' parents and asking "what the?" I was a bit stumped. My husband had decided to defer to all my teaching and PTA experience to explain to my 8-year old how to solve for square, triangle, and circle without using algebraic equations. My middle-schoolers looked over my shoulder and the 4th grader asked "how's a square and a triangle supposed to equal 10?"

So this is "common core"? Wow. I'm all for curriculum that pushes kids to think and moves them a little bit past their comfort zone. Really, I am.  And something like this example is good for developing their problem solving skills. And as it turned out, makes for an intellectual family activity, as well.  My only complaint, if you will, is I need a workbook or textbook or hand-out of some sort that says "this is what we taught your kid today on how to do this thing" so that we can be consistent at home because I truly was about to teach her about solving for a variable, for which I'm sure I'd get a frowny face from the math teacher.

Our solution: we made a list of square + square + square and triangle + triangle, assuming square and triangle were less than 10 (this is 2nd grade, afterall).  With the equations that "matched", we added square + triangle to figure out which equaled 10 (the second equation) and then - here was the next hard part - had to figure out what minus triangle left you with 6, without, again, resorting to algebraic equations.

Yeah. So this is why moms drink after their kids go to bed.