Tag Archives: numeracy

The 23 Enigma

“In Tangier in 1960 the Beat writer William Burroughs met a sea captain called Captain Clark, who boasted to him that he had never had an accident in twenty-three years; later that day Clark’s boat sank, killing him and everyone on board. Burroughs was reflecting on this, that same evening, when he heard a radio report about a plane crash in Florida: the pilot was another Captain Clark and the plane was Flight 23. From then on Burroughs began noting down incidents of the number 23, and wrote a short story, 23 Skidoo.

Burroughs’ friends Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea adopted the ’23 Enigma’ as a guiding principle in their conspiratorial Illuminatis! Trilogy. Twenty-threes come thick and fast: babies get 23 chromosomes from each parent; 23 in the I-Ching means ‘breaking apart’; 23 is the psalm of choice at funerals; and so on. All nice examples of selective perception or, as Wilson put it, ‘When you start looking for something you tend to find it.’ The composer Alban Berg was also obsessed with the number, which appears repeatedly in his opera Lulu and in his violin concertos.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

56 Pillars

“In prehistoric Britain, fifty-six stone pillars stood in the outer circle of Stonehenge. In more recent times, the National War Memorial in Washington, erected after World War II, commemorates the dead with fifty-six pillars (also the number of signatures on the 1776 Declaration of Independence of the thirteen states). And in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the People’s Republic, fifty-six towering red columns were erected to represent the ‘equal, united and harmonious’ ethnic groups of China.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Cultural Literacy: Fractal

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the fractal as a concept of mathematics, which turns out to be something different than I thought it was. I’d confused the basic concept of fractals with a Mandelbrot set, which is a type of fractal–but not the only one, apparently.

In any case, this is a full-page worksheet with a four-sentence reading and five comprehension questions.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Topology

“topology: In mathematics, the study of the property of a geometric object that remains unchanged by deformations such as bending, stretching, or squeezing but not breaking. A sphere is topologically equivalent to a cube because, without breaking them, each can be deformed into the other as if they were made of modeling clay. A sphere is not equivalent to a doughnut, because the former would have to be broken to put a hole in it. Topological concepts and methods underlie much of modern mathematics, and the topological approach has clarified very basic structural concepts in many of its branches. See also algebraic topology.”

Excerpted/Adapted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

The Weekly Text, 8 April 2022: A Lesson Plan on the Denominations of U.S. Paper Currency from The Order of Things

This week’s Text is a lesson plan on the denominations of paper currency in the United States from Barbara Ann Kipfer’s excellent reference book, The Order of Things. For students, here is the combined reading and comprehension worksheet to use for this lesson.

Nota bene please that I conceived of and prepared this material for students who find it a challenge to navigate and manipulate two symbolic systems–that is, numbers and letters–at the same time. This is a comfortable way to ease into more complicated work like word problems in math–or at least I like to think it is.

But what do you think?

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

An Elegantly Simple Cooking Conversion Chart

Elsewhere on this blog I posted a batch of documents on building a lexicon of culinary arts terms. Recently, I purchased a wooden recipe box, and inside was this simple cooking conversion chart. I couldn’t resist scanning it (I did this with my phone, and I think it looks better than the images my flatbed scanner currently produces) and posting it.

Anyway, there it is if you can use it.

The Weekly Text, 14 January 2022: A Lesson Plan on the Compound Preposition

This week’s Text is this lesson plan on using compound prepositions.

I open this lesson with this Everyday Edit worksheet on Eleanor Roosevelt; if this lesson goes into a second day, here is another on time zones. Incidentally, if you and your students find these Everyday Edit worksheet edifying (and therefore rewarding), the good people at Education World generously distribute a yearlong supply of them at no charge.

Here is the scaffolded worksheet that is the principal work of this lesson. And, at last, here is the teacher’s copy of same.

And that is it for another week.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Word Root Exercise: Micro-

Here is a worksheet on the Greek root micro-. This root is so productive in English that I imagine it would be hard to find anyone over the age of five who doesn’t understand that it means “small.” It also means, according to the book from which I drew the text at the base of all the word root exercises found on this blog, “millionth.”

This productive root can be found at the base of such high-frequency words in general discourse as microphone and microwave as well as scientific vocabulary like microbe and microclimate.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Real Numbers

Here is a reading on real numbers along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. I want to state unequivocally that not only am I not a math teacher, I was a terrible math student. I consider my lack of understanding of the fundamentals of mathematics–by which I mean, I suppose, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry–something a personal failing. And while I have always found Fran Leibowitz’s indictment of algebra (“In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra”) humorous, it is pretty thin gruel when I attempt to take some comfort in my own ignorance of the subject.

At a couple of points in my otherwise comfortably math-free teaching career, I have been called upon to teach math (which for me means arithmetic, or even basic numeracy) to small classes of special needs students. Hence the origins of these documents.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

32 Grains of an English Coin

“Thirty-two grains of English wheat, taken from the middle of an ear of corn (so as to confound cheats and counterfeiters) was the official weight of an English silver penny according to the reforms of old King Offa of Mercia (757-796), undertaken in parallel with those of the Emperor Charlemagne in mainland Europe. Twenty of these pennies should weigh in at an ounce (to give the equal of the old Latin solidus coin of the Romans and the English shilling) and twelve such ounces produced the royally approved standard of a Tower Pound, worth 240 silver pennies. All of which said, in 1284 King Edward I switched the currency off the wheat standard back to the barley grain.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.