The Easiest and Best Homemade Chicken and Noodle Recipe
(and exactly what NOT to do for Math Instruction)
written by Bill Reed
I have the easiest and most excellent Homemade Chicken and Noodle Recipe. It is a 20 minute onepot recipe. A family favorite! So easy, so simple, and oh so very good. I have made it for my colleagues and friends and they all rave about it. Here is the simple recipe using basic ingredients you may already have in your pantry:
Ingredients
 1 box or carton (32 oz.) Chicken Stock (preferred) or Chicken Broth
 2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
 1 teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
 ½ teaspoon Salt
 ½ teaspoon Pepper
 1 bag (12–16 oz.) of Your Favorite Egg Noodles or German Spaetzle Noodles
 1–2 12.5 oz. can(s) Chunk Chicken Breast Meat ( you can substitute 2 Breasts from a Rotisserie Chicken cut up into ¼ – ½ inch cubes)
 1 10.5 oz. can Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (for thicker Chicken and Noodles use 2 cans)
Step by Step Directions
 In a Large Pot combine Chicken Stock or Broth, 2 Cups of Water, 2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes, 1 tsp. Poultry Seasoning, ½ tsp. Salt, and ½ tsp. Pepper
 Bring mixture to a boil.
 When the mixture is boiling add your favorite type of Egg Noodles or German Spaetzle Noodles. Cook for time listed on the noodle package (usually 8 – 10 minutes) or until the noodles are cooked to your desired tenderness
 When noodles are cooked and tender add 12 12.5 oz. can(s) Chunk Chicken Breast Meat or 2 Breasts from a Rotisserie Chicken cut up into ¼ – ½ inch cubes and the 10.5 oz. can Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (for thicker Chicken and Noodles use 2 cans)
 Stir the Chicken and Noodles thoroughly and Simmer until the desired thickness is achieved
 This recipe makes a nice generous serving for a family of 4 – 6 people. It will more than likely leave you with some yummy leftovers
 The leftovers can be keep in the refrigerator for a week or easily frozen to have at a future date
You may be asking yourself; “What does this have to do with math instruction?” First, it truly is an excellent recipe and you will not be sorry if you try it. You can thank me later for some of the best comfort food you have ever had! The reason I started my blog with this recipe is because this is what I am seeing as I go around and visit teacher’s classrooms and watch their math instruction.
Math is Not a Recipe
No, not cooking chicken and noodles! They are boiling the mathematics they are teaching down to what they think is a step by step “simple” recipe! STOP IT! STOP IT NOW! Math should not be made out to only be a recipe where, if you follow a set of step by step instructions, you will reach the desired result. This may be one way to get students to solve many of the practice problems math teachers are giving students to reinforce the concepts they are teaching. I know, I did this way too often when I was in the classroom. This is NOT how mathematics should be taught! Nor is it the way mathematics is used outside of the math classroom.
How, When and Why
OK, let me come down off my soapbox now. Students need more than just steps and procedures for the mathematics they are learning. Yes, there are specific methods and multiple ways that students will solve practice problems, but if that is all they do we are failing our students. They need to know HOW the mathematics will be applied to problems outside of math class. They need to know WHEN to use the different methods and different ways to solve a problem. They need to understand WHY the methods and ways to solve the problems work. If we are not showing them the how, when, and why the mathematics works we are setting up the students for difficulties learning, understanding, and most of all retaining the skills we are asking the students to learn.
Random people on the streets of New York City were asked the question; “What is mathematics?” The most common response was a series of steps you use to solve a problem. Then when the followup question was asked; “How is mathematics used?” Computation, simple adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing was the most common answer. It is so sad that this is the way so many people view mathematics. They never see the beauty, intricacies, and usefulness of mathematics. They are only exposed to the methods they were taught in school and never experienced mathematics outside a series of steps and procedures.
I have had so many friends and colleagues say to me; “I have never used Algebra ever in my life!!!” (yes the three exclamation points are appropriate here with how they are so adamant with their comment). It is so very sad when I hear comments like this. People do not realize they are actually using the thought processes and ideas they were taught in their math classes, they are just not doing it formally like they were taught.
Using Algebra in Daily Activities
I explain that they really do use Algebra and the other math they learned, like Algebra, in school other than just for calculations. They just do not use the formal methods, steps and procedures they were taught. For example; I ask them if they have ever gone into a fast food restaurant, looked into their wallet and found they only had about $8.00? They then looked at the menu and figured out what they could buy for their meal. I promise you they did not whip out a piece of paper and write down something like this:
Let S = Cost of a Sandwich
F = Cost of Fries
D = Cost of a Drink
S + F + D + (.07)(S + F + D) < $8.00
What they do is add the price of the sandwich they want, the size of fires and drink they can get and stay within their budget and then calculate the sales tax (usually approximating sales tax at the easy rate of 10%) to make sure that amount is less than the $8.00. They do not want to look silly and not have the money to buy their meal. And yes, that really is Algebra! Just not the formal Algebra they were taught in their math class.
Making Connections
When we are teaching the mathematics we want the students to learn we must make connections between what we are teaching and how it will actually be used outside of math class. We MUST make the connections to HOW the mathematics we are teaching will be used outside of math class. When you are teaching algebraic inequalities you should make the connection with the fast food restaurant example I showed above.
Ask the students questions like; Could inequality be a < instead of a <? Ask them; Could they solve the problem even simpler than what was shown above? (It could have been done using 1.07(S + F + D) < $8.00.) Ask them about using 10% instead of the Indiana Tax Rate of 7% and how that would affect the problem. If we are teaching how the math will be used, outside of math class, the students have an anchor to tie the math they are learning to and will retain that information much longer.
Knowing When to Use Mathematics
Students should be asked questions like “How are all the problems in the assignment/homework alike?” and “Can you write a problem that could have been on the assignment/homework but was not included?” We must make sure the students know WHEN to use the methods and different ways to solve the problems they are being asked to solve. Many times students see all the problems we ask them to solve as different and unique problems since they all have different numbers for each problem. They need to see the structure so they recognize the problem and know when to use the methods they have been taught to attack and solve a problem.
A good example of this would be using the Distributive Property. I watch teachers give problems like 7(3x5). They show the students to multiply the 7 and 3x and then subtract what they get when they multiple the 7 and 5. Hopefully students get the answer 21x – 35. They do not understand that they could have also multiplied the 7 and 3x and then added what they get when they multiplied the 7 and (– 5). Even more importantly they do not see any connection to how they might actually use these facts in their lives.
Do students see the connection between this problem and making multiplying 7(27) an easy simple problem to work in their heads? For instance 7(20 + 7). Multiplying 7 x 20 is easy to get 140. Multiplying 7 x 7 is easy to get 49. Then adding 140 + 49 to get 189 is also a relatively easy problem to do in your head. Do students also realize that they could have worked 7(30 – 3) to get the same answer. Multiplying 7 x 30 is easy to get 210. Multiplying 7 x (–3) is easy to get – 21. Then by subtracting 210 – 21 to get 189. If a student sees these connections and can explain their thinking for both these problems they are not going to have any problems with the Distributive Property.
Knowing Why to Use Mathematics
Finally, do the students know WHY the mathematics you are teaching them works? I have asked adults and students the very simple question, “Why do you put a zero or x on the second line when multiplying a two digit number by another two digit number?” I regularly get the responses: “That is just how you do multiplication.” or “That is how my teacher taught me to do it back in elementary school.” Even more of a stretch, ask Algebra 1 or even Algebra 2 students to explain 37 x 54 as an Algebra problem. Both of these examples are simple basic examples of the DIstributive Property. By breaking apart the two digit by two digit multiplication problem students will hopefully understand that the second line is really multiplying by a multiple of 10 and that is why the zero is added in the multiplication problem when you manually multiply the numbers.
If a student understands that 37 x 54 is actually (30 + 7)(50 + 4) is what we are really multiplying when you manually multiply the problem then they will understand so many math concepts. Check out how traditional multiplication leads to the expanded Distributive Property which is the F.O.I.L. Method that is used for multiplying binomials in Algebra 1.
Traditional Multiplication
Expanded Distributive Property
Algebra 1 F.O.I.L. Method
It is fairly safe to say that most students who understand traditional multiplication could explain how that was the basis for the method they are shown for multiplying binomials in Algebra 1. If teachers are doing more than just teaching a recipe for following steps to work math problems, students start to understand how all these concepts start to fit together. By showing the students the How, When and Why students can make connections to the mathematics they are learning.
Conclusion
I am guessing that most people have a favorite recipe. They have made the connection to the ingredients, step by step instructions with something that they like and enjoy eating. Wouldn’t it be nice if our students could make connections to the How, When, and Why for the mathematics they are learning and it becomes something that they enjoy! We can only dream and do our best to make sure that teaching mathematics is far more than just giving students a recipe, they do not understand, make no connections with anything they could ever use, and are quickly forgotten by the student.
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