Monday, May 24, 2010

Puppies Shouldn't Be Kept Inside On Nice Afternoons

Ellie, my little tutoring student who drinks only bottled water for fear of red earth, had a rough time of it yesterday.  There was a crisp autumn afternoon waiting for her just outside the window and she was trapped inside with me, doing fractions. Facing heroically away from the window, she watched the clock instead as, mired in slow time, it oozed its way toward the hour.  Sighing, she squirmed and wriggled in her seat like an penned-up puppy.  Buckling down to fractions was simply beyond her.

            "Genevive gets an allowance of twelve dollars - "
            "Oooh!" She sat up.  "That's an interesting coincidence - the dog in the movie Madeline is called Genevive and-"
            "We're doing Word Problems right now, Senorita Procrastination! Genevive gets an allowance of 12 dollars-"
            "That's Spanish, isn't it?  I don't speak Spanish.  But I am learning Japanese.  I even know swear words!  Our teacher isn't allowed to tell us any but there is this one girl who -"
            Genevive gets an allowance of twelve dollars every week -"
            "Really?" Ellie stared dreamily off into the middle distance. "You know, that's pretty unfair.  I'm pretty sure I don't get any allowance.  But I do get Christmas money.   And birthday money.   And Easter money, and Mum let me buy the shirt I'm wearing last week in Jay Jays -"
            "-She Spends Two Thirds Of It On Sweets and has two dollars left at the end of the week.  How much did she spend on sweets?"
            Ellie groaned heart-rendingly.  "You're trying to kill me with these, aren’t you?  And then you're going to make me take them home and do them all for homework. Aren't you?"  She put on a martyred face and looked at me from under her eyelashes.  "You know, I think it's time for your homework now."
Watching me out of the corner of her eye, she put her pencil to the paper and spent some time working out a sum.
            "3999/4999 + 56/67 - 797/1249."  She said, handing me the paper with a flourish.  "You'll need to find the lowest common denominator.  And no calculators, thank you!"

I'm very proud -she's certainly getting the hang of prime numbers.  I think, however, that next week we are going to start learning all about decimals.  And focus more on word problems.  Real life application of fractions can clearly not come soon enough.

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