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Math Curse at Dostyk American International School

Brent Foster, Middle School Science Teacher, Dostyk American International School, Kazakhstan


On October 31, 2016, DAIS was put under a Math Curse. Everyday throughout the week, students and teachers were challenged to view their day as if a math curse had been cast upon them. The event was patterned after Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s book, Math Curse, in which the main character blames his teacher, Mrs. Fibonacci, for casting a math curse upon him. The book then follows the character throughout his classes, lunch time, and even at home as he encounters math in every part of his day.


Students posted their problems on bulletin boards to share with the community.

For Math Curse Week at DAIS, each day began with a short reading from Math Curse at morning assembly. Students then worked with their class buddies to find math problems in the environment around them at DAIS. Throughout the week, students and teachers recorded math problems on recycled paper and displayed them on bulletin boards around the assembly area. Each morning students volunteered to share their math problems with the school community.

On Tuesday, for example, the Math Curse described the main character’s experiences with having a math curse during his morning routine. Likewise, DAIS students found math problems around them that morning. One student wrote, “I was walking to school at 8:45 because I was sick, and I arrived eighteen minutes later. What time did I arrive at school?”


Students write their math problems to
display on the “Math Curse” bulletin board.

On Wednesday the reading from Math Curse followed the main character through PE, English, and art class. At the morning assembly DAIS students were challenged to find math problems in the books they were reading, or had read, in Language Arts. That challenge was modeled with a quick excerpt from Shel Silverstein’s classic The Giving Tree in which the tree gives her friend, ‘the boy,’ her apples to sell. Students created and shared questions such as, “If there are thirty-six fantasy books in Mrs. Marriott’s class, and I want to read one-fourth of them by the end of the year, how many should I have read halfway through the year?” and “If Anne Sullivan came to teach Helen Keller in 1886, and Anne died in 1936, how long were Anne and Helen together?” On Thursday, the reading described the character’s experiences of the math curse at lunch, Math, and dinner. So DAIS, too, found math problems in their daily routines at dinner and at home.

On Friday it was time to break the curse. In the Math Curse the main character solves the math curse in his dream. When he wakes up the next morning, the character suddenly solves the math problems he saw. To break the curse at DAIS, students chose a problem that had been created during the week. This was modeled with problems that related to the Chicago Cubs’ famous World Series win on November 2. And the math curse was lifted. For an organic, inspiring week, consider trying a Math Curse Week at your school.

Published in ISS NewsLinks: Volume XXXII Number 2

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