Global Math

I love to travel.

I love teaching math.

I love when I can turn travel into a math lesson.

On December 26, I had an urge…an urge to travel, so I jumped onto Kayak to see where in the world I could go that would be a decent price. Ecuador? Nope…too much. Japan? Whoa…this might be it.  Leave tomorrow? Sure, why not? So I went for it. I booked my flight and was ready to go.

But, that is not all. I was celebrating my most random last minute trip with a friend and her husband said, “Babe, why don’t you go too?”

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” was all I could say. Short story…we booked her a flight too!


On December 27, we were off on our adventure to Japan. For the global wanderer in me, I have 3 words…I love Japan!  I never knew I would, but I am definitely going to go back there and spend some time observing schools and learning about their educational system, especially math instruction. I have always been fascinated, but now I HAVE to do that!

Well, our trip was amazing, but when I can combine the mathematics that my students are learning with a trip, it makes it even better. First idea…travel distance to Japan using rates. We had just started working on ratios before I left on the trip, what a perfect introduction to unit rates using miles per hour.

My plan…make it a game. Where in the world did Ms. K and Ms. S go? Giving students the average speed, the time to travel, they can determine the mileage.  We will do a little noticing and wondering. Have them determine what information they might need. Then I will give them the data and off they will explore. After they figure out the mileage, I will give them maps and they can try to guess where we went using their knowledge of ratios. My goal will be for them to understand what a rate is and how unit rates can be useful. I definitely made it complicated, but complexity is what makes it fun and my students would not expect anything less. See the video below.

A Japanese Holiday Room 15  on Vimeo. Password: japanmath


The second idea came when we were eating lunch and looking at all the Japanese coins. We came across1971japan5yenobv400

We had no idea how much it was. All the rest of the coins had the value shown, this one did not.


We finally finished and paid. Ahhhh,  what did we get as a change? Yes, the unmarked coin. We paid with 2,000 yens. The bill was 1,682 yens. Our change….



Ahhhh, a little algebra… 3 (100) + 1 (10) + 3 (1) + x = 318 yen

The unmarked coin is worth….

This will be a perfect warm up to keep working on writing equations with variables. Yay!

Lesson learned…staying home is relaxing, but traveling is fun and inspirational! Where will I go next?




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