Buying a Car – A Math Lesson

I’ve been back at it in grade 8 for two days and I’m thinking I can get used to this part-time teaching gig!  My schedule is such that I work Monday-Tuesday in grade 8 and Friday in grade 7; this works for me and my family and I certainly do love having two days off with my girl in between work days.  So far, sooo good!

My Monday and Tuesday this week were fantastic.  I was a bit hesitant to walk back into the classroom after 17 months off, but it truly felt right in every way.  My usual plan of attack for getting to know my students is to abandon all academics and just BE with one another for a while. This group is high needs and diverse in every way, but isn’t that the case with all classrooms, really?  My job share partner, Leah, and a handful of other teachers and adults in our building, have done a phenomenal job creating an environment in which our students can be successful in their own ways.  For this reason I decided to bravely try a little math lesson I whipped up the night before.

CarACarBI realize it’s not a perfect math question.  There are pieces of information missing and not a lot of direction.  I panicked a little as my students moved into pairs and started to read the question.  Hands immediately went up and I thought, “Oh no…I wasn’t clear enough! What was I thinking!?”  And then something really cool happened…differentiation.

My students, every single one of them, took this question and ran with it in a way that they were capable of.  One of my students really needs to be challenged in math, so he took ownership of this question and he calculated the costs for both vehicles over the duration of five years (he was really keen on getting me the best deal over a long period of time).  Another student saw the word “electric” and decided that was the best choice for the earth no matter what the cost was.  Two girls, who love my daughter and all other babies, were primarily concerned with how the financials would work out for my family and would it be the right vehicle for my daughter’s needs.  Another pair was totally caught up on resale value and the brands of the vehicles in question (details I didn’t actually provide on paper, but did in person to this group in order to help them make their choice).  And yet another student just couldn’t make up his mind because to him absolutely any car would be awesome.

I watched this “real life” math question unfold over the span of about twenty minutes before most students started to lose interest, so I refocused them with this question, “So, what car should I get?”  They replied, “Well, you won’t listen to our decisions anyhow so what does it matter?”  I then continued to explain that this question is actually a real life situation my husband and I are facing right now – Car A or Car B?  The lesson continued.

“Well, do you currently own one of the cars?” (Yes, I own car B).

“Well, could you sell car B to make up some of the cost and then buy car A?” (Yes, that’s kind of the plan…)

“Well, what if you just don’t get any of the cars and take the bus?” (Been there, done that.  That chapter of my life is over, children!)

It was awesome.  My class was totally hooked for twenty-five minutes.  In the end we did a vote and it was a tie, thanks to the one student who couldn’t decide which car was best for me.  Later that evening I told my husband, Joel, how the lesson went.  He agreed and disagreed with the points my students made and he was impressed by their depth and insight surrounding this topic.  On Monday I need to revisit this lesson with my class and tell them this: You know what, guys?  I totally value your opinion and I am grateful for your insight into which car you think would be best for my family, both financially and economically.  You all raised some points Joel and I did not actually consider.  You think I don’t care about your opinions, but I do…so stay tuned to find out which car we end up buying!

Man, it is so good to be back at it.


Travel Tale: Hello from Fiji

Solo travel is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I am naturally quite shy around new people and I really like to keep pushing myself to open up in new situations; this is a big reason for my desire to do the solo trip. I decided on Fiji as it easily linked with my trip to New Zealand and I have heard a lot of amazing things about the people of Fiji. I went through waves of anxiety, excitement, doubt and hopefulness about this leg of my trip. The constant advertisement of Fiji being the perfect honeymoon destination wasn’t helping to alleviate my fears of leaving my fiancé at home to be totally alone and lonely in paradise…
My 11 days in Fiji started out with a 7 day island hopping trip in the Yasawa Islands. These islands are beautiful! And it turned out to be a really great place to meet other backpackers too! I made friends on every island hopping portion and it was amazing to hear other people’s travel stories… My list has got a lot longer! The best advice I picked up was from a woman who told me that the best way to answer the “Have you been to <insert country>?” question is always with a “Not yet!”


The last part of my Fiji trip was a 4 day homestay with a family on the main island Viti Levu in the town of Nadi. When I was in the back of the car heading to the homestay I started to get really nervous – what if it wasn’t a family that wanted to interact? What if I ended up in the middle of nowhere with no transportation? I spent the better portion of the ride attempting to calm my anxious brain. But guess what? Within seconds of arriving I felt welcomed by this amazing family and I got invited to go to a family event in the capital city with them for the weekend. I really got the local Fiji experience and it was more than I ever could have hoped for!
The best parts of traveling solo? Meeting new people for sure! When you are on your own you just have to put yourself into new situations with new people and even simple conversations at the boat dock were very interesting and exciting for me. I also love just being able to do what I want without having to compromise. Spend an hour reading? No one is waiting!
The hardest part? When things go wrong and you have no one to lean on for support. The great bug bite incident (I won’t get into details but I have some residual fears about bug bites from a really awful bed bug incident a few years back) was one where I had to really talk myself down from the panic I was feeling at 3 am when I was so hot and itchy and all alone. I would have given anything to have someone there to just distract me from the moment. Another hard part – well more just boring I suppose, is the actual travel. There are only so many laps you can walk of an airport before you feel like you’ve seen it all…
All in all I’m feeling pretty proud of myself for facing some fears and having an amazing time doing it! Now it’s off to pick up our camper van for a New Zealand road trip… I know, it’s a tough life I’m living!