Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ann Taylor - Savings HOW Big?

After finding all the great deals at Ann Taylor, my next hurdle was to convince my husband that all all the items were a HUGE savings! Of course he would believe that the best sale is when you don't even go to the store. But remember, these were 70% off of the lowest price...such great savings!

I take the items up to the register with Dave in tow. He glances at the "stack" of clothes. They start scanning each item and it shows the sale price, discount, and price we are paying as each items is scanned. However, I could tell he wasn't impressed yet. The total came out to about $93. (Whew, kept it under $100 thinking that was great too.)

I was waiting for the sales person to hand me the receipt and to circle the amount saved. You know, like they always do at Kohl's.

The moment to impress the husband with how well I did. To my great disappointment, she didn't say a word. NOW WHAT?!?

Ta-da! Math again. My brain starts in high gear. How can I quickly figure this out before we get to the car? Otherwise it might be a very long drive. I begin quickly thinking.....

I just paid 30% (see Ann Taylor - the Purchase) of the total. I saved 70%. Well if $93 was 30%, I would add $93 + $93 + $31.

In my head I could easily get to $186 ($93 doubled), but how can I quickly add $31 on to that. Remember folks, I'm on my way to the car. No stopping to write out the problem in standard algorithm form. I'm trying to redeem my expenditures and I'm losing the battle with every second. $186, $196, $206, $216, $217!

Here is a picture of what I did in my head.....(they call this addition using an open number line)
I saved $217!!! Wowy Zowy!

To take you back to your math class memories, your teacher might use an example like this to have you set up a proportion in order to solve this problem. Something that might have looked like this:

I know...you say I'd never do it that way. But that is an example a middle school textbook would have for that type of problem. That method does work great, but I believe when there is an easier way, find it. For that problem I would have needed, pencil, paper, and a calculator problem to tackle it that way.

Not needed. FLEXIBILITY and FLUENCY. That's what we need for the I Love Math generation. People can do this stuff in their heads!

It doesn't end there.....

I frowned when I saw my husband wasn't quite impressed with the $217 savings. All the way home I was thinking about it. Then the smirk started coming across my face. DUH.... The $217 was off of the sale price. What kind of savings would be reflected off the original price? I couldn't wait to get home to add up the total prices (which were not on the receipt) and give him the even better news.

For that task, I did revert back to my high school math teacher ways and using a calculator, found my answer. I added up all the original costs, subtracted the amount I spent, and proudly announced I had saved $505 on this purchase. I added....that meant I only paid for less than 20% of the original cost of the clothing. IS THAT CORRECT? Time for you to do some math.....

For those impressive numbers I got the response, "That is great! How come they never have men's clothes on sale like that?" (I consider that a win!) To which I responded, "They do, but you have to go shopping to find great deals like that, silly."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ann Taylor - The Purchase

I always wondered what my first blog entry would be about - if I decided to write a blog. The first blog entry after the introduction that is. Here goes..... my trip to Ann Taylor.

Last week as my husband and I were returning home from meeting with his retirement specialist (yes, he is retiring and I have many years of work left). On our trip home we drove past the outlet mall.  Thinking about being on his retirement income, I wondered if I should even ask him to stop and go shopping. I asked, he accepted.

We went in to my favorite store at that mall, Ann Taylor. Lucky for us (well...me), they had just started the "70% off the lowest price" sale! YIPPEE!

As I started going through the racks and racks of sale items, I noticed the signs. You know the ones. The signs that tell you if the item is this much, the sale price is this much. They always have them at Kohl's too. That got me thinking....Do they think we need the signs? Can we not figure out 70% off an item without help? I suppose that is the case sometimes. In an "I love math generation" all people will be able to figure 70% off mentally. Without the signs.

NOTE:  Perhaps the way we learned to do this in school is part of the reason why we don't do this in our head. See an example here. But hang on to your hats if you decide to watch this video. It will take you back in time to "Algebra" class! 

I picked up a pair of dress pants, checked the tag....$59.99. Wow.....$18. I found the coordinating suit jacket, in my size, checked the tag...$49.99. REALLY?!? A suit jacket for $15? That's an entire dress suit, light wool and lined, for $33. That's a steal.

Then it got me thinking about that math. For the jacket, I estimated quickly by taking 5 x 3 or $15. Well, not exactly 5 x 3, but that was my shortcut for finding 70% off of $49.99.  I rounded the cost to $50. Then I took that $50 times 30% (because if it is 70% off, I am only paying for 30% of the cost of the item). Then because I love math, I know I can translate that into 5 x 3.  (I hope that makes sense...)

But why is it that I know that works mathematically? It is called FLUENCY with numbers. In school we tend to think fluency was knowing your math facts. You know...flash cards...timed tests.  But fluency is more than that. Fluency is about having strategies (mathematically correct strategies) that help you quickly find answers.

When I was telling my son about my adventure, he laughed at me and told me his much quicker way to think about this. (He thought my way was longer and harder than his.) He said, duh mom. If the item is $50, just double it. That is 100. If you are only paying 30%, you would pay $30. But because it was only $50, you divide the $30 by 2. Ending up with $15.

Well, he is correct. But I like my method better because if the original price isn't 50, or something that easy, the problem is a lot harder. So there, Ronny!

Having more than one strategy or learning from others helps build FLEXIBILITY and FLUENCY. It is important that all of us build strategies and recognize when they work and when they don't (because that happens). For instance, what if the sale was for 65% off. I'd likely use a different strategy than the one above to help me figure out my costs. Not impossible.....but I'll leave that for another blog entry.

Enough for now but stay turned for part two...how I impressed my husband with how much I saved!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Why this blog?

I've decided to try blogging. I self admit that I'm not a natural born writer. Actually I'm one of those who love math. Ok....so don't hit close quite yet. Please give me a chance. You see, I believe that it is imperative to get more people to love math for what it is in order to make the changes necessary to take the US from 29th in the world rankings (Education Week) in math back to the top 5 or even #1.

And it isn't just going to happen in schools.

You see, we have created a culture that is it ok to hate math. I can't tell you how many times I talk about what I do and people say "Oh, I hate math" or "I'm not good at math". And that's culturally acceptable. You wouldn't hear anyone say "I hate reading" or "I can't read" without getting some strange looks. But when it comes to math it's ok.

Like when Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, "there's no crying in baseball"....
There's no crying in math.

And if I get asked one more time "When are we ever going to use this?" I think I might cry myself. Because math is everywhere. Look around you, people. Squint if you have to.

In order to change that culture that I've described, we need everyone on board. The changes that are being made in math instruction right now are to help to change that culture. Yes, they come packaged in something called Common Core State Standards. I need you to believe me that it is really about good math instruction.

And let me address the "New Math" term I hear all the time. Folks, this isn't new math. Math hasn't changed. This is getting back to our roots. It's really understanding math instead of just memorizing a few math facts and calling it a day.

We need everyone on board. We need parents, businesses, teachers, and students to embark on this journey. This blog is specific to adults that are struggling with the math that is currently being taught in school. You may not understand the why of the changes and hopefully the blog posts that address some of those questions. In addition, if you have a topic that you'd like to be covered, let me know and I'll do the best I can to address that topic.

Together we can transform....and create a culture that loves math!