Monday, March 5, 2012


Monday morning.  I am making the rounds, catching up on my students' weekends. My fourth graders are completing a problem solving activity. It's fairly simple-- kids have to pick snack prices off of a list, total them and then subtract the total from $10 to determine how much change should be given.

I stop by Keana's desk for a minute. At first glance, Keana appears to be on the right track. She has found the correct prices, and is in the process of adding them up- a hot dog- $1.99, gatorade- $1.69, a banana- $.99.   I watch her list the fourth price- $1.29-  the cost of a Three Musketeers candy bar.  Keana writes $1.29 below the .99 banana. She is careful to align the decimal points. I am ready to move on to check in with someone else, but then Keana writes another $1.29. And then another. Now she has six prices listed for four items. I wonder what she is doing.

"Keana," I say. "Tell me what you are doing? Why did you write three $1.29's?"

Keana looks a little perplexed. "It says three right here. She bought three candy bars. So I need to write down three $1.29's."

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. We are one day from the state test. My students don't know the name of a relatively common candy bar, let alone the more obscure content they will probably see on the test. "Keana," I say, "Three Musketeers is the name of a candy bar. It's one of my favorite candy bars. It's chocolate on the outside, and then kind of soft and fluffy and a lighter brown on the inside. They are sooo yummy. Have you ever had one a Three Musketeers?"

Keana is adamant. "I never heard of that. I don't think it's true."

"It is sweetie," I say, feeling like there is nothing I can do to convince her. Keana's table mate has been listening to the conversations. "It is, Keana, I like those a lot. They're one of my favorites."

"Well, I have never heard of it," she replies, dubiously scrubbing out two of the $1.29's.

"I'll bring a bag some time. We can all try them," I declare, making a mental note to pick up a bag of Three Musketeers on the way to work tomorrow.

Later this morning, I tried to explain the trains at DIA. The airport is about five miles away from my school, but only one of my 23 students has ever been on the trains that carry passengers between the terminals. And then I explained the difference between driving a nail and driving a car.

Life in an urban school…

1 comment:

Michelle said...

It's a story you want to shake your head and laugh at, but it is our reality! This story could easily be told in my school. And as frustrating as it seems, it's our reminder that we can't take anything for granted! We must be aware at all times throughout the day and provide that much needed immediate feedback. Thank you for sharing this story - a powerful reminder for me!