Summary: Fridays at the University of Guelph, five minutes before the end of class, I say, "Pens
down, books closed, it's "Friday Special" time!" Then I show on screen an article or
cartoon or letter or...something that has to do with math, the "real world" and has
absolutely nothing to do with class, assignments, or tests. It is math for fun. Often, it is
some flagrant example of how the media abuse math. I hope you use some of these.
Make them "Monday Morning" specials or "We need a break!" specials. If one falls
flat, blame me. If it works, you take the credit.
I recently talked to about 200 enthusiastic grade 7 and 8 students at Dundas District in
Dundas, Ontario (just a little west of McMaster in Hamilton and very close to Parkside
High School where I taught for five happy years.)
It was May 31. Neither teacher organizer Lesley nor I anticipated when we set the date
that the temperature would hover above 30 C. So we were nervous that everyone would
be a little uncomfortable. We were, until we got started. Then ...
... we had fun. If I had to do it over again, I would have taken a break after 30 minutes
for a quick walk around the schoolyard. Maybe pull a Ron Lancaster and point out
some "math in the world all around them."
We did some math, talked about school and life, and what's ahead in high school. We
decided that college, apprenticeships, university were all good options and that career
enjoyment was more important in the long run than money.