I’m all about language. I believe in embedding language lessons in everything, including math class. I like to stick idioms into my instruction every so often in order to expose my students to the wide world of words.
For example, on Friday I was teaching fractions, decimals and percentages. I teach all three in one unit, because they are related. “We’re going to kill three birds with one stone,” I explain, proud of my ability to toss this idiom into a fractions lesson. I am brilliant.
But my rapt audience is not impressed. “You’re mean!” they exclaim.
“You want to kill birds?!”
“They didn’t do anything to you!”
I was dumbstruck. I wasn’t sure if my students, most of whom have learning disabilities, were teasing me. But before I had a chance to explain myself, one of my students with mental retardation piped up, " What if we just put them in a box and stick the box in a dark place? Then you won’t have to kill them.”
Everyone thought it was a very wise idea. My assistant and I just looked at each other, ready to crack up (and I was ready to cry. We have so much to learn...). I tried explaining what the idiom meant, but my audience of 13- and 14-year-olds was apparenty too hurt to budge on the issue. So I agreed it would be nicer to put the birds in a dark place rather than stoning them to death. Then we decided to change the idiom to “baking three pies in one oven.” PETA would be proud.
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