Friday, September 3, 2010

The Wonders of Algebra

While I was working diligently in my classroom after school today...(well ok, it wasn't altogether diligently. I was finishing a biography of Clara Schumann that I was afraid would spoil if I left it in the room over a three day weekend but was too close to finished to tote it all the way home and back) I heard excited little feet and voices in the hall. My grandchildren had come to pay me a visit. With them were their two little cousins, whose mother was coaching volleyball in the gymnasium. After my usual bribe of candy, they all embarked on an exploratory whirlwind tour of the room, not missing anything.
Zaya wanted me to explain, in great detail, the synthetic copy of the Rosetta stone hanging on the wall to which it was delegated a few years ago to make room in the library for the much more educational "Drink Milk" posters.

Where was I? Oh yes. I explained about Greek and Demotic and Egyptian hieroglyphics and how important the stone was to interpreting the latter. When I paused and said that I couldn't remember why it was called the Rosetta stone, Zaya put in, quite confidently,
"It's because they found it near the Rosetta bank of the Nile River. I read a book about that."
And all along I thought I was enlightening him.

Well. Meanwhile, the three little girls had discovered the chess table and were playing busily. I slipped over just in time to hear Mim say as she picked up a piece.
"Hi. I'm a queen and this is my little pawn son. Can we come over for a visit?"
"Sure," replied Jaida
So the black queen and her little bald son took the knight/horse and they all made a procession across the squares over to the white manor. Chess re-invented.

Zaya borrowed my camera and took pictures of items around the room for a while. Then, while Carina and I were visiting, all four children decided to play at the blackboard.

First, they dipped their fingers in the chalk dust and made comet trails as high as they could reach . Then Jaida and Mim began to write words like hat and all the rhymes to it while Zaya did math problems for fun. After he did an addition problem and a simple division, he wrote Y x 4=6 and asked us to solve it. We did, which led to another serious explanation of what a variable was and how you didn't need to put an x to multiply it; you could just put 4Y=6. We showed him a simple equation that he could do: 3X=9.
"Now wasn't that fun?" I asked
He smiled a huge smile and said happily, "The wonders of algebra!"

(If you think that's amusing, you should play a game of pictionary with them.)


Carina said...

Let's just hope they still think algebra and spelling are "wonder"ful in about 5 years.

Lilibeth said...

Well as long as they are still being made to do worksheets full of 1+0 and 2+1 all day long they won't. Or, as he says: "not multiplication, not division, not subtraction or even was COUNTING! AGAIN! The mistake most teachers make at this level is to promise advanced students "extra, super-interesting work" when they finish the hum-drum boring one. Why not substitute? Why should they even have to do the boring one then ask for more work. They either stop learning until others catch up or they become a discipline problem...or both. Aaarrgh! My advice is to home school them.

aftergrace said...

Very sweet! Rosetta stone...who knew!