defeat from the jaws of victory

Posted on March 22, 2017


Fifth page of the awesome “how long would it take you to lose 41 pounds?”  project that’s all about calories and exercise with lots of practice.

First four pages are perfect and all work shown.   Help wanted page five.

Page 2 described 4 scenarios of cutting back on daily calories, asking how many weeks it would take to burn off the 142K calories (or whatever it was :)) … Students needed to multiply the calories per day by 7 to figure out calories per week, then divide that big amount of calories by that number.

Page 3 described 4 scenarios of running N miles per week, burning 100 calories per mile.  So, multiply by 100 and then divide the big guy by that.

All perfect.

Page 5 had person doing both.

I started explaining the connection, but then thought to say, “this is right… why did you do this?”

… well… because that’s what another student did.


“Okay, here’s your job:   read this part and see if you can figure out why this is the right thing to do.   I’ll be back in a bit.”

I’m thinking good things will happen, eh?

“Is it right now?  I should have multiplied by 40?”

Two times I tried to convey that the answers were correct and I wanted to know why, leaving because lurking is an anxiety trigger.   Two times … guessed at a different procedure.

So…many, many minutes of answering my questions by reciting the nearest number, and not being able to say why (usual cause of course abject anxiety).
I managed to take the “I’M BEING PATIENT WITH YOU!!!”  edge off my voice… (honestly, only because I sensed “anybody else hearing this will think she’s losing her patience” — vanity has its purpose I suppose!)… and then the right combination ensued.  I would love to get where students didn’t go to that anxiety orbital (think electron orbitals) where the very notion of comprehending is out of the question…    We’re all learning…   (and in the meantime, other student could not hear that sometimes you add and sometimes you subtract when applying Pythagorean Formula.   Wrote, correctly, 9 squared plus 8 squared is c squared, and then subtracted because “that’s what I did here.”   We’d carefully talked through one “find the leg” and one “find the hypotenuse,” but “do what you did before” has more years of practice, and practice makes permanent…  I’m thinking that ‘routines of reasoning’ would go a LONG way here.

… and… the rest of the worksheet went fine.   So we ended with success… I wish I could say that the association of math with stress and anxiety were diminished…

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