As a math teacher often I get math related questions from colleagues. But this past week has been ridiculous! It’s gotten so bad that I’ve decided to let my 7th graders field some of these problems for me.
I assigned them all a partner to work with, and a “client” who has a math-related question that needs answering. Yesterday we took a few minutes out of class so that they could email their client to set up a meeting time. I had them cc me on their emails, so I could make sure they were behaving professionally. Let me tell you, some of their messages were hysterical. No, don’t let me tell you…here’s some quotes, straight from the source:
Brunhilde* and I have been notified that you require our assistance as math consulters.
Your colleague Bree Murray has notified us that you have a math problem and need assistance. We are a small, budding company that deals with problems such as yours. We would be happy to help you with your dilemma.
Bree Murray has informed us that you have a problem of the mathematical variety. We would like to assist you with this problem and help you overcome your difficulties.
We, here at Marcus and Aurelius Incorporated understand you have been having issues lately. Math issues. We are a professional equation solving corporation. We would like to assist you in solving an abnormally difficult math equation.
We would like to set up an appointment to discuss the math emergency which you are suffering from.
We are looking forward to aiding you in your mathematics crisis. Please consider the following interview dates and times and get back to us on which works best for you.
Thank you for consulting us for aid with your mathematical dilemma.
This problem will stay confidential, in case it is a personal math matter.
*All student names have been changed…in case you couldn’t tell.
Some of my students met with their clients today to interview them in order to learn what their problem entails. One group, who interviewed the head of our school, made name badges for themselves, complete with their company’s name. It was adorable. I love how middle-schoolers are so willing to take on a new role and do so wholeheartedly.
Seeing as how I don’t have ANY idea what these problems are about (wink-wink), I hope that my students will be able to serve as math consultants and get these questions answered. (I’d hate to have to solve them all myself!) The plan is that they will conduct their interviews sometime before next Tuesday and then I will give them a couple of class periods to find the answer and draft a formal business letter to “mail” to the faculty or staff member whose problem they have solved.
If you haven’t caught on already, I am in lurrve with this project. This may be my favorite POW that the 7th graders have done all year. The beautiful part about it is that students literally have to go and consult with a staff member in order to learn what their problem is. They have to set up an appointment, honor that time commitment (which may be during lunch or before or after school), and take detailed notes in order to figure out what the problem is. If they don’t do these things, they will have to go back to their client and ask for clarification. I will not tell them what the problem is–heck, I won’t even admit that I know what their client’s problem is about.
After all, it might be a “personal math matter.” And I would hate to break their client’s confidentiality.