another case for self-directed learning-by-doing

I had a student hanging out in my room during his study hall, my free period. He’s one of those kids… you know… the one who can’t stay focused, believes he’s “not good at school” but is genuinely really cool, smart and will work for you if you connect with him.

We have great conversations about all sorts of things, and he makes keen observations about the world around him. He’s generally inquisitive and gets easily excited, and these things make him a lot of fun to be around.

Today, he came in eating a bag of pita chips. The bag had a large “33% More!!” on the top of it (to indicate the space in which the additional 33% resides, I guess).
He asks, first, how many chips do I think are in the bag. I point him toward the nutritional information which tells us that there are 4 servings of 6-7 chips. 24-28 chips, he tells me.
Nutritional wisdom now imparted, I attempt to go back to grading when he asks… so how many more is 33% more?

We now need algebra! And I tell him, hey – you know how you all always ask “when am I going to use this?” This is why you need algebra!!

So, I’m not proud to say that it took us a good 10mins to figure out the correct equation to figure it out. But we did: current size/1.33 makes 21ish was the original size of the bag.
We had conversation about how not to divide by .33. and how to check to see if the answer is correct and makes sense. 21 x .33 = 7. 21+7 = 28.

That kid may not be “good at school” but I bet when that question shows up on the SAT, he’ll get it right. And, more importantly, he now has a better idea of why percentages are interesting and important.

Since he had eaten most of the bag when we started this adventure, he also vowed to bring in another so we could count the chips. I plan on also trying to figure out price per chip.

Don’t you love “free” periods?

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