Posts Tagged With: real life learning

Baking for Nepal: Real-Life Learning

epaselect epa04729942 A picture made available 02 May shows a woman carrying her baby through what is left of Barpak village, epicenter of the devastating earthquake that hit the country on 25 April 2015, Nepal, 01 May 2015. The confirmed official death toll increased to 6,621, with more than 14,000 injured, an Interior Ministry spokesman said. The 7.8-magnitude earthquake was the deadliest in the country for more than 80 years, destroying an estimated 300,000 houses across northern Nepal.  EPA/DIEGO AZUBEL

A picture made available 02 May shows a woman carrying her baby through what is left of Barpak village, epicenter of the devastating earthquake that hit the country on 25 April 2015, Nepal, 01 May 2015. The confirmed official death toll increased to 6,621, with more than 14,000 injured, an Interior Ministry spokesman said. The 7.8-magnitude earthquake was the deadliest in the country for more than 80 years, destroying an estimated 300,000 houses across northern Nepal. EPA/DIEGO AZUBEL

As we chatted at the dinner table the other night about the devastating earthquake in Nepal, I challenged our girls to do something to help. We talked about the possibilities, and suggested they try to organize something with classmates. The youngest one asked how you spell Nepal, and wrote it in her agenda.

The next day, she came home jubilant – her teacher had seen the little note in her agenda, asked her what it was for, and she had pitched the idea of their class doing a bake sale to raise money for those affected by the earthquake. Not only did her class think it was a great idea, but they ALL said they would bring something in to sell, and they ALL wanted to make posters to advertise their sale. She was thrilled that there was so much interest – “I didn’t think people would want to do it,” she said, “but even the boys wanted to!”

The teacher sent home an email to parents that night, planning the sale for the following week, and asking for donations of baked goods. Yesterday was the big day. Every child in the class brought baked goods to sell, they set themselves up with their wares and in one lunch-time, made $633! Amazing.

There has been a lot of talk lately about lost instructional days due to weather, and not allowing other activities to interfere with our instructional time, but that doesn’t mean we have to stick with textbooks, and not be creative in the ways we teach and learn.

I’m so pleased that my daughter’s teacher supported that activity, and not just because of the confidence boost it gave her, but because of the important learning opportunities it provided for her, and the rest of her class. The teacher emailed the parents after the sale and let them know how much money was raised, and the learning that had happened through this event. Each student spent their lunch break selling their own baked goods individually from their desk, so they were making change and being responsible for the money they collected. After they had finished, they collectively counted and rolled the money and delivered it to the office where it will be sent to the Red Cross. During the week prior to the sale, they made posters advertising their sale and their cause (which were obviously very effective!), and they spent time in class discussing Nepal, where it was, what had happened there. Their teacher said they had talked about how lucky they were to live where we live.

So, what has my daughter learned in school this week? Math, geography, language arts, and citizenship. But also, a little more appreciation for what we have and how lucky we are, and the knowledge that one person, or one small group of people can, and should, make a difference to those who are not. Time well spent, if you ask me.

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Dam Building and Sweet Eating: the New Math?

Real life math. I still feel like we are not that great at taking the opportunities to incorporate math into our daily lives. It’s just so much easier to weave in the other disciplines. Or at least it is for my numerically challenged brain.
For example, yesterday Dev took the girls over to a rocky area on the beach where he used to play as a child and explained to them how he and his brother used to dam the area to collect water from the spring coming down the cliff. Naturally, our oldest daughter took up the challenge, and started to create a small dam. She worked for a long time, and eventually had a nice ankle-depth pool. As it filled more, it threatened to break, so she decided to build some walls further out and prepare to release the water from the smaller dam. That was when the interest of the other two was peaked and they joined in. Well, we all did really. There were several harrowing moments and full-on emergencies where there was actual breakage, and it took a group effort to shore it up. At one point, our middle daughter pointed out that we needed to fix one of the walls on a wide part of the pool instead of trying to stop the water in a narrow channel.
Now, clearly this is hugely educational. She realized (pretty much at the same time I did, to be honest) that the water in the narrow channel exerted more pressure than that in the wider pool, so it made more sense to work on that one. So through combinations of sand, stones, and pebbles, the dam was repaired.
Here’s my problem. Is that enough? Do we need to revisit this and explain the physics behind it? If it even is physics. Or is the actual experience all that is required?
I’m not sure about this. Kind of a similar experience with a pick ‘n mix at a sweet shop today. They were allowed to buy 100 grams of sweets each. They were able to weigh as they went along as many times as they wanted. So, one ended up with 130g, one with 110g, and the last one, who weighed several times, and ended up going back for more even at 95g, ended up with 105g. Later on, they were trying to figure out what fraction of their sweets they had eaten, so we got out the scales and weighed them etc. etc. But still, shouldn’t that have gone further? It’s ok for the youngest to just find the difference, but what about the opportunities for fractions and decimals for the older two? It just doesn’t feel like enough somehow.
Good thing I’m not the math teacher for this Road School…

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