The Sub Sandwich Problem

Melissa, my math coteacher and sometimes partner in executing the Learning Plan, came in and told us about a field day she had helped organize at her school last year. There were a lot of kids, and groups of them all wanted to have their lunches in different parts of the park. Without time to really think very hard, she had to divide up the sandwiches among the groups. She did the best she could, but some of the kids came and complained afterward that the allocations hadn’t been fair. We asked our kids, “Were they right? Did Melissa mess up?”

The kids who sat in the shade had 3 subs for 5 kids
The kids who sat at the baseball field had 3 subs for 4 kids
The kids who sat in the sun had 4 subs for 5 kids
The kids who sat at the soccer field had 7 subs for 8 kids
1) Was the distribution of subs unfair?
2) How much did each child get?
Right away we could tell something was up because two groups had 5 kids, but did not have the same amount of subs to share.
Partnerships talked and drafted their thinking on large pieces of paper, so they could have a nice big work space.
Melissa and I assigned partnerships, some of which would not have ordinarily chosen each other. We were pleasantly surprised at how well some of these parings worked and how well kids cooperated and collaborated. A couple of partnerships needed some couple’s counseling, but are making each other stronger by working through conflict and working to embrace different ways of looking at things. Right?
Look at all the different approaches!
We took a stroll around the room, working with partners to read and respond to each other’s posters. Our conversations about feedback are really helping kids respond in strong, clear and helpful ways. As Melissa and I went through the posters leaving our own responses, we kept finding that a student had already written what we wanted to write.
Next, partners are going to work to revise their work based on the feedback they received, and then make their final posters. I can’t wait to see how the final posters differ from the drafts!
I’m trying to find a bigger photo to insert, but this is the book that inspired the investigation. Part of the Contexts for Learning series from FirstHand, a division of Heinemann.