Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fractions and Strawberry Cake

Today’s correspondence comes after an enormously satisfying dinner cooked by Jocelyn and Eliah; two types of enchiladas, tomato-rich guacamole, and strawberry cake. Yes please.

I started to write before dinner, but was in a somewhat foul mood and everything I tried to say came out sounding a tiny bit cranky. And by a tiny bit cranky, I mean very cranky. I blame the fact that Serena and I had just done a Billy Something-or-other Boot Camp workout; in preparation for our women’s exercise classes we’re trying to create different workouts, translate the directions into Spanish, and get into shape ourselves, which is proving more difficult than perhaps it should. An hour of squats, pushups and punch-kick-lunges was enough to make me want to jump out my open window. But now I’m well fed and the burning in my thighs has somewhat dissipated, thus I am in a better position to begin the daily blog.

As I write this, Seth and Dunc are singing (seriously jamming) to Ray LaMontagne in the kitchen while doing the dishes, Jocelyn is playing with our little baby birds, Serena is attempting to learn how to dictate workout moves in Spanish, Eliah is at a Cabina talking to his parents, Luke and Mark are in Quito sending off Carla (our fantastic Ecuadorian friend who just got a job in Denver, my home town!), and I am soaking it all in. Speaking of baby birds, we all talked this morning about the feasibility of keeping them, and Serena and I were defeated in an “anonymous ballot vote” 6 to 2 in favor of returning them. It is probably for the best, considering everyone has taken to calling the duckling "Bird Flu", but it will be hard to say goodbye to the little guys come Sunday. Even if they do crap more often than they chirp (which is quite often).

Anyway, today at Apoyo Escolar, I was working with Jonathan, one of our students, on fractions. Oh fractions. Not only have I had to essentially relearn how to do fractions (least common denominator, flipping the fraction with division, simplification... welcome back to Campus Middle School, Holly), Ecuadorian math in general is NOT the same as math in the States. The process is just different, and when you have someone who likes to guess what the lowest common multiple could be instead of actually working through the problem (ahem, Jonathan), this process becomes all the more important. Don't misunderstand me, Jonathan is a really smart kid. He knows how to do fractions. Not only can he do them, he can do them well. Even gets the right answers. (Like I said, smart). But he gets so frustrated that half the time he erases his work before he’s finished the problem even if he’s on the completely right track. If it doesn’t feel right to him, he whips out the eraser.

The first problem he attempted (complex factional addition) he did exactly right, ending up with the right answer. And then he erased it. All of it. To try again, in the same way. With the same result. And erased it again. I guess 14/15 just didn’t look right to him. 4 erasures later, I found myself sitting on my own hands so as to not steal his eraser and swallow it. But patience and reassurance won out in the end, and we eventually reached the conclusion that 14/15 was, in fact, correct.

Here’s hoping tomorrow we do long division.


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