Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Number Sense

A couple of weeks ago I was in meeting where the topic of a particular student's number sense came up. He can identify coins, the math teacher said, but he has no idea about value. I am not a math teacher, although I do love math, and I like to show off my own math skills anytime I have the chance. For example after-school homework club:

Me: What's wrong?
Student: I can't figure this out.
Me: Can I help?
Student (with doubt and a dab of disdain): I'm in advanced math...
Me: Yeah, I think I can probably give you a hand.

A few minutes later...

Student: You should be a math teacher!

And so it goes, but, as I also like to tell the students, I have been in sixth grade for an awfully time, and it would be pretty sad if I didn't know the curriculum by now.

So this discussion about the student and money threw me for a loop. Not having children of my own, I never considered how you teach monetary value. I'm guessing an allowance and shopping opportunities, but I was surprised again yesterday when one of my homeroom students came up to my desk.

"Can I go to my locker?" he whispered.

"Why?" I inquired.

"My mom gave me an envelope with 12,000 dollars in it," he told me.

"What!? She did not! Why would she do that?"

"It's for the thing," he said quietly.

"What thing? You do not have 12,000 dollars in your locker..." I started, but then I realized the quickest way to get to the bottom of all this was for him to go get it.

He returned a few minutes later looking sheepish. "It wasn't 12,000 dollars," he said.

I was not surprised.

"It was only eleven thousand two hundred," he continued.

"Let me see that," I said. "This says 112.00 dollars!" I told him.

"Oooooh," he answered apologetically.

"What's it for?"

"Math summer school," he whispered.

"Good," I nodded. "Good."


  1. I wonder if he walks around feeling filthy rich. I can just see it in the cafeteria. "Your mom only gave you $5.00? I'm lucky. My mom gives me $500 every day."

  2. Decimals . . . commas . . . are they important, aren't the numbers the important part? Too funny!

  3. My mom has often remarked that her most money-wise students were the less fortunate ones - who were often given pocket change and asked to run to the local grocery. I wonder it that still holds true.

  4. I think it's true. Most students at our school don't go to the corner store anymore, & don't get allowances. It is sometimes a problem with the money in math. This is so funny, but maybe you helped a little.

  5. Very funny ending. I enjoyed your post. My school has several students that are money challenged.

  6. Chuckle...the things our kids say. Sounds like summer school may be helpful. I'm sure his tutor is wishing it was 12,000 dollars.