Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Algebra Before Coffee

Eighth grade textbooks are a lot scarier than I remember them. I certainly don't remember having SAT practice tests to stress out about at the tender age of 13.

Did you notice the phrase on that page "it should take you about 6 minutes to complete?"

Drama Girl is studying Algebra and has asked for us to help her check her homework each night to help her prepare for her tests. Sure! No problem! I took Algebra. How hard can it be?

She hands me her homework and I dutifully reduce polynomials, find where x=0, and double check her graphs. It all comes back to me. I feel smart. I'm sailing along.

Until today. I forgot to check her homework last night so I got up early to review it today. I filled a small sheet of paper with my own calculations to check her work. Then I got to Lynne and Jeff.

Lynne can paint a wall in 40 minutes. Jeff can paint the same wall in 60 minutes. How long will it take Lynne and Jeff to paint the wall if they work together? Show your work.

Well that seems easy! And it's a real-world type problem, very relevant. How nice that our children are learning things like this. So glad my daughter is learning these skills.

Got the answer? No? Hmmm. I started writing equations. Crossed them out. Wrote a little differently. Hmmm.

I asked my cereal-chomping husband.


"I need a piece of paper" says he.

We had both filled sheets of paper by the time Drama Girl appeared at the breakfast table, groomed and primped and costumed for another day in her role as cool 8th grader.

"I notice you couldn't answer that word problem Drama Girl. Your dad and I are working on it."

"Mom, it's just a simple problem about work ratios."

Smile. Try not to have a blank, uncomprehending face.

"Erm, yes. Right. Looks like you need some help solving it."

"I've got it," says my husband, "50 minutes."

"Figures." I said. "Let a man help paint and it just takes longer. That can't be right. She might as well just send him out for Chinese food and finish the wall herself."

"Mom, just find the example equation in the book. Here, I'll show you." She began flipping through the previous pages. "Here! Like this! See!"

1/40h + 1/60h = 1
multiply both sides by common denominator 120. Reduce
3h + 2h =120
5h = 120
h = 24 minutes

She felt smug as she waltzed out the door with her completed and comprehended homework.

My husband and I just winked at each other.

5 people stopped folding laundry to write:

Alisa said...

Okay, now I am officially sending The Boy back to public school for Jr. High.
I'm hiding in the corner sucking my thumb, rocking back and forth, and calling for my Mama right now.

The Mother said...

The absolutely best way to help a kid with his homework is to be "helpful." You have that down. Nicely done.


I got the same answer as your husband. That's 2 against 1. Isn't there some equation for that? My head hurts now. Thank you.

Dena said...

I'm with Alisa!!

I took Algebra in High School.

My Junior year teacher finally passed me with a C- out of pity so that I wouldn't have to take it again my senior year. He got it that I didn't get it! :D

Elizabeth said...

I find myself despising 4th grade homework. It was a team effort between me, my husband and the 4th grader to complete the college level requirements for the science fair this year. Please don't tell me we're doing SAT's in 8th grade! But I love that your daughter totally got her homework. I would have gone with the answer your husband gave.

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