I engaged in a battle with my two kids over dinner.

Me: Eat your porkchop.pork chop

Kid: No.

Me: You need protein. Eat your porkchop.

Kid: No.

Me: Fine…just eat half.

Kid: Okay.

That was the 11-year-old. Eventually she ate her half.

Which got me wondering: What is so magical about kids and the concept of “half”?

halfMaybe it has to do with it being one of the first fraction concepts they learn. Most kids develop some concept of “fair shares” early on, which only gets more structured as they enter school. In Grades 1 and 2, students use fraction language to describe partitions of shapes into equal shares. In Grade 3 they start to develop the idea of a fraction more formally, building on the idea of partitioning a whole into equal parts.

The 9-year-old just finished Grade 3.

Her: I don’t want porkchops, she said, echoing her older sister.

Me, wearily: You need protein. Eat half.

Her,quizzically: Half?

Me: Yes, half!

Her: Half of a half?

What was it with this kid?! It was like we were bartering over a new car. “Half of a half?” And right then, I knew she had me. She set me up and I fell right into her trap: “Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly. My daughter had just purposefully outwitted me with the very fraction I had tried to snare her with.

Me, rubbing my temples: Fine. Tell me what half of a half is and you just eat that.

Her: One-fourth, she answered smugly.

Damn those fractions progressions!

So while the concept of “half” might still work on my oldest, my youngest proved to be a bit of a challenge. There was no magic for her; there was no illusion. There was just fraction trickery and manipulation on her part. Damn you, birth order! Kid number two is a doozy, by half!


#xmath #half #fractions #birthorder

Ask Me About PCMI

It’s now the latter part of July and I’ve recently returned from Utah where I attended the 2016 Park City Math Institute/Teacher Leadership Program. It’s an intense 3-week math program (3.5 weeks if you’re on staff, which I am this year–yeah!)


But what exactly does “intense 3-week math program” mean?

It means a daily schedule composed of three parts:

  1. Morning Math: continued rigorous mathematical learning
  2. Reflecting on Practice: analysis of classroom practice
  3. Working Groups: production and dissemination of materials for other teachers and their students

And that doesn’t even include the extras, like cross-program speakers, building parties, and if you’re lucky, NCTM President Matt Larson.

I know, I know…blah, blah, blah.

How about a video to explain the Essence of the PCMI Teacher Leader Program instead: Go ahead and watch; I’ll still be here.

So now do you get it? Do you have a better idea of what PCMI/TLP is about? I hope so, and I also hope that you consider applying for the upcoming year.

But it’s three whole weeks! I can’t give up three whole summer weeks!

I hear you, and to that I say this: It’s a dynamic community of like-minded people. It’s both personal and professional development. It’s life-changing. In short, PCMI is awesome. The three weeks goes by in a flash, and you will leave inspired and invigorated. Math rocks!

Have I mentioned High West? Yeah, there’s that. Bonus.

Trust me–it’s the best three weeks you will have all summer!


#xmath #PCMIsummer