Monday, November 12, 2012

Question from Math Conference

Last week I went to a conference on teaching science to ELL students. It was okay - I think the consensus from people around me was that doing the things we know are good for all students will help ELL students. Things like having new words illustrated up on the wall, taking time to study vocabulary, slowing down and practicing reading/writing skills, etc... It was good to be reminded how frustrating it can be to learn a difficult subject like science in a new language.

Many of the ELL teachers there were also quick to remind us that, even for native English speakers, science itself is a foreign language!

I wish I had more great ideas to share from my conference, but I really don't. If you have ELL students in your classroom you are probably doing everything we covered. As far as this conference was considered - there is no magic combination that will help ELL students in science.

While I was in the science conference, a couple of the other teachers from my school were next door in the math conference. The highlight of this conference was a problem the teachers were given to work. It was based on 6th grade ratios and even most of the high school math teachers couldn't solve it.

I need to brag a little and say here that I did solve it when the teachers shared it on the drive home :).

So, here is the question.

A large container ship is carrying shoes. It hits a storm and crashes. The shoes are tossed overboard and the next morning a nearby beach is covered with shoes. 2/3 of the right shoes on the beach match and 3/5 of the left shoes match. What fraction of the shoes on the beach match?

Leave a comment with your answer and how you solved it :)


  1. So the right shoes match a left shoe? How can 2/3 right shoes match if only 3/5 of the left shoes match? What is that extra 1/15 matching? (I think I just confused myself, but I can't resist a good math puzzle!)


    Using My Teacher Voice

  2. Yep, this is a confusing puzzle. Of the right shoes on the beach, 2/3 of them match a left shoe on the beach. Of the left shoes on the beach, 3/5 of them match. So there are some shoes that match on the beach and some shoes that don't match.