Midway sixth graders at River Valley Intermediate School and Woodgate Intermediate School were visited by award-winning science and mathematics children’s author David M. Schwartz. This visit was made possible by a grant from the Midway ISD Education Foundation.

Schwartz is the author of If You Hopped Like a Frog and How Much is a Million? Both of these books are to help students understand proportionality, a math topic that sixth graders need to understand. This grant provides both the books and a presentation from Schwartz.

“Reading a book in secondary mathematics classrooms is certainly not the norm!” Pam Kent, Math Instructional Specialist at Woodgate said, ”Combining literature and mathematics in sixth grade is daring and powerful.”

In Schwartz’s presentation and books, he uses absurdity and humor to present how proportions work in real life. He compares how far a human could jump if they jumped proportionally to how far a frog can jump. This comparison helps students better comprehend this abstract concept.

For example Schwartz explains proportionality through these illustrations:

  • If you wanted to count from one to one million it would take you about 23 days of non-stop counting.
  • If you jumped like a flea you would be able to jump 70 times your height. So if you are at least 4 feet tall you’d be able to jump onto the top of the Alico building.
  • If you were as strong as an ant you could lift 50 times your weight, so you could lift 50 of your friends or even a car.

“Proportional reasoning permeates more than half of the sixth grade mathematics standards.” Kent said, “Connecting proportional thinking to real-life experiences helps our students develop a conceptual understanding of proportional changes.”

Teachers and instructional specialists at these schools are committed to finding new ways to teach math so that it is more meaningful and students understand the concepts better. One of these ways to accomplish this goal is to have a team of bilingual sixth grade students create and present a video of Schartz’s Cuánto Es Un Millón (How Much is a Million? Spanish edition) to fourth grade bilingual students at Hewitt Elementary School.

“In fourth grade, students are learning about huge numbers so we were looking for anything that we can use to make these numbers like one million real to kids.” Midway ISD’s Coordinator of Elementary Math Debbie Perry said. “In addition to learning about these numbers, students exit the bilingual program in fourth grade so this serves as such a nice bridge for kids who have graduated from the program to give back to it.”

The mission of the Midway ISD Education Foundation is to provide classrooms with materials and resources beyond the regular classroom budget to provide creative and innovative curriculum to enhance learning at Midway ISD. If you would like to learn more about or contribute to the Education Foundation visit