Sunday, May 6, 2012

Stones and Pounds and Minutes and Seconds

            “In England they have a measure of weight called a stone.  One stone is equal to fourteen pounds.”

            I turned around and wrote on the board:

1 stone = 14 pounds

            “Two stone equals 28 pounds, and three stone is 42 pounds.  How many pounds are ten stone?”

            On the board I added:

1 stone = 14 pounds                10 stone = ? pounds

            Two sweet faces looked back at me blankly.

            “Come on guys.  You can do this.  One stone is 14 pounds.  Ten stone is how many pounds?”

            Two blank faces continued to stare back at me.  Then Caitlyn began squinting her eyes and looked up at the ceiling.  She always did that when she wanted me to know that she was thinking really hard.  I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  In How-To-Be-A-Teacher School, they teach you to give students time to think.

            After 45 seconds I went to the board and wrote 14 + 14 + 14 + 14 + 14 + 14 + 14 + 14 + 14 + 14.

            “Now you could add all these up, but is there a faster way to add multiple numbers?”

            Caitlyn’s mouth dropped open and she gasped.  “Oh!  I know.  You multiply it by. . .”  She stopped a moment and began counting the 14’s.  Naomi noticed Caitlyn counting, so she began counting too.

            “There’s ten of them!” Caitlyn said.  “You multiply by ten.”

            “140!” Naomi interrupted.  “The answer’s 140.”

            “Good job guys,” I said walking over to finish the board.

1 stone = 14 pounds                10 stone = 140 pounds

            “Let’s try the next problem.  Alice can run one kilometer in 603 seconds.  About how many minutes is that?”

            Both faces went blank again.

            “When I say about, that’s a hint.  What should you do when you hear about?”

            “You should round the number,” Caitlyn said.

            “600!” Naomi interrupted again.  “You round to 600!”

            “Good job,” I congratulated them.  “Now, how many minutes is 600 seconds?”

            Caitlyn began squinting again.  I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  After about 30 seconds I went over to the board.       

            “How many seconds are in one minute?”

            “60!” Naomi shouted.

            On the board I wrote:

1 stone = 14 pounds                10 stone = 140 pounds

1 minute = 60 seconds            ? minutes = 600 seconds

            I turned and looked expectantly at the girls.  Caitlyn had given up squinting and just looked back sadly.

            “Guys, look at the problem above,” I said, sweeping my hand across the stone/pounds problem.  “This is a big hint about how to solve this new problem.”

            I continued to wait when suddenly Naomi jumped up.

            “Stones!” she shouted.

            Seriously?  “No.  We’re talking about seconds and minutes,” I explained patiently.

            Naomi continued to study the board. 

            “140!”  she shouted, jumping clear out of her seat.

            If you ever go by my room and see me slowly knocking my head on the wall, I want you to know I really, really was trying. 


  1. Let me get this right---if you slowly pound your head on the wall 14 times, it equals being stoned once?

  2. Ha, ha, ha - you made me laugh!