Getting Around

Friday, September 20, 2013

An Open Letter to the Trapezoid Kid

Dear 7th Grader With a Love of the Trapezoid Formula,

I love your work. Your mathematical mischief brings me joy each time you use the "wrong" shape formula to get the correct answer.

Oh, did you think I wouldn't get the joke?  Even if I didn't, the smiley faces and exclamation marks would have tipped me off. I keep looking at your papers to take the edge of grading all the other ones.

Yes, I am aware that the trapezoid formula can be used in a variety of situations to find shape area if you know what you're doing. That's why I love your work so much. It shows me that you have a deeper understanding of what you're doing than the average plug-and-chugger. Even if it didn't, the elaborate shape schematics would have told me so.

So now: How would you like to be challenged? Is it time to show you how to PROVE that what you're doing is mathematically legal? Do you just want to do some more complicated arithmetic tricks? Or are you interested in learning something completely different? You aren't quite ready to be moved into a more advanced math class, but I don't want you bored.

And how do I let you do that without making the rest of the class feel like a bunch of losers?

And one more thing, though I hate to even bring it up. Please save your playful spirit for class. Don't share it on the standardized test later in the year. I'm not sure a tired, underpaid, overworked test grader will view your cleverness in the same light I do. I can't believe I'm even worrying about this, but I don't want anyone, anywhere, to crush your spirit.

Off to make some composite shapes with hidden trapezoids, just for you...