Friday, February 5, 2010

Improper Fractions

In fourth grade our math teacher had a very specific way of teaching. She used a goofy, self deprecating humor that was probably over our heads, but thinking back to it 18 years after the fact, I found myself chuckling.

Mrs. Rollo wrote two fractions on the blackboard. This was back when teachers still used chalk and there were no dry erase markers unless it was to be used with an overhead projector.

On the right, she pointed out, that there were two kinds of fractions. She went on to explain the difference between the two. On the left, there was what she called a Dolly Parton fraction, because the top is bigger than the bottom, just like Dolly Parton. On the right, there was a Mrs. Rollo fraction, because no matter what, there was always going to be a bigger bottom half.

It is a pretty amusing analogy. I can’t remember if Mrs. Rollo had a large bottom half and it’s probably also unlikely that many of the kids in the class knew who Dolly Parton was. In the end she told us the correct terminology, but I wonder how many of us went home and explained to our parents that we learned about Dolly Parton’s big upper half.

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