Real World Math

I love to teach math.  I love working with numbers, and always have.  Sometimes, my students do not share my enthusiasm for numbers, and over the years some have even said "I will never use this in real life".  When I first heard those words, I realized that I needed to begin connecting my everyday uses of math to students' real lives.  Each time I connect math to real life, I find not only our students more engaged, it reassures them (and their parents) that they are in fact learning all of this math for a reason.  Here are five quick tips for incorporating real world math into your daily math lessons.

  • Addition, Subtraction and Money - I'm beginning with this basic math skill because it's one we begin working with in preschool.  Smart number sense begins at a young age, and it's important that children understand that we will always have to add and subtract.  These two math skills are the most important when it comes to managing our daily finances as adults.  We hear about rich celebrities going bankrupt all the time.  Sometimes it's for complicated reasons.  A lot of times, however, it comes down to basic addition and subtraction.  How much money is coming in, and how much money is going out.  My favorite line in math class, is this - If you don't count your money, someone else will count it for you and take it.  This always gets my students' attention.  The truth is, we have to be able to count our own money.  We have to be able to know that we are being billed correctly, and if we're paying in cash - make sure that the computer is showing the correct amount of money that we are owed.  Wells Fargo recently charged customers for fees incurred from debit and credit cards the customers never opened.  Alert customers who knew the amount of money that should have been in their accounts, were able to bring this to the attention of millions of people who were affected.  This is a great example of how basic addition and subtraction are necessary in everyday life.      

  • Restaurants and Tips -  Students can amaze their family and friends by correctly calculating tips in their head. Calculating percentages of numbers used to be one of those skills my students would complain they would never use in real life. Then I began bringing up restaurant tips.  This got their attention, because everyone eats out. The reality is calculating 10% of any number is not that complicated.  If you can calculate 10%, you can divide that in half and add the quotient to the initial 10% for a 15% tip.  For awesome service, just multiply the 10% tip by 2 and you have your 20% tip ready to go. When I taught junior high school, I told my students I expected them to calculate their tip for their families every time they ate out.  They LOVED this.  They would come back and tell me how impressed their parents were, because their parents hated calculating tips.

  • Credit Cards and Negative Numbers - I truly believe in my heart that if more teachers taught negative numbers and related it to credit card debt, we would not have the problem with debt that we have today in our country.  I love teaching students to add and subtract with negative numbers, because we truly use negative numbers each time we pay for anything.  Relating negative numbers to using debit or credit cards, or paying a credit card bill is a must for me.  Connecting any math skill to money is sure to get students' attention, because most students love learning about money. The reason subtracting a negative number makes the number go higher is because you're paying off debt - plain and simple.  That always hit home for my students, and helped them understand adding and subtracting with negative and positive numbers.

  • The Stock Market - Students like learning about the stock market.  They hear about it on the news, and they equate it with wealth.  Students and their families are more engaged when it comes to studying something they feel can bring wealth into their lives.  When I taught junior high school, my students would choose a stock to follow for a month and create a report on it.  If you're interested, you can access my full Understanding the Stock Market lesson here.

  • Cost Benefit Analysis - As adults we compare things in our minds, or on paper all the time.  Is this the right time to move?  Should I pay to repair my car, or buy a new one?  Is this new job actually paying me more money, or am I simply working longer hours?  These are math decisions.  Once a week, I would write up a real world math scenario and simply discuss it as a class.  I always told them there was no right or wrong answer.  In fact, we would even discuss the cost of things like time or worry into our discussions.

I hope you find these tips useful.  Do you have any real world math discussions or activities you use with your class?  Please share them with me in the comments below.

Are You Ready For Your Best School Year Ever?

I remember reading Scholastic's ABC's For a Low Stress School Year year's ago.  The tips are just for teachers, and they are truly fabulous!  A, stands for attitude - "If you think you'll have a great year, you will".  I know it sounds a little bit trite, but years that I remember this bit of advice always go better than years that I don't.  Another favorite letter for me is N - Neutralize "If you can't change the situation, change how you view or respond to it".  Check out the full alphabet of ideas, they're sure to make you smile.

I am heading back to school too, and rereading those ABC's!  In addition to sharing them with all of you, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy New School Year!!

In that light, I have THREE things guaranteed to make you smile.  First, a FREEBIE!!!  These are free calendar headers which you can pop pictures of your students and class directly into.  Print them, laminate them, and you're ready to go.  Personally I like to use pictures of groups of kids, so that between August and June every student is in at least two calendar headings.  I do use a checklist when I select the pictures I'll use to make sure all students are included.

Second, TPT is having a one day only sale - August 21st!  Save up to 28% off on amazing resources for your classroom.  Use the code: OneDay to save an additional 8%.  Seriously, don't check out without typing in that promo code.  I've forgotten to do that in the past, and kicked myself.

The third thing that will make you smile is a gift just for you.  Not for your students.  I know that this time of year is very expensive for teachers.  We are preparing our classrooms and new students for the year ahead, and feel the need to buy so many classroom supplies.  In honor of that, I am participating in a giveaway for a $40 Tieks Gift Card that you can use for a new pair of Tieks shoes!!  Just for you.   Go ahead and enter.


Prize: $40 Tieks Gift Card

Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)

Co-hosts: An Apple for the Teacher, Katie Roltgen, Teaching Ideas For Those Who Love Teaching, Teach with Hope, The Literacy Garden, Sliding into 1st, Mrs Humphries Class, Peas In A Pod, and Mrs Irvins Toolbox.

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 8/29/16 and is open worldwide.

Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media? Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

August $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card Giveaway

It's time for our August Giveaway. Nothing beats a giveaway, especially as we all head back to school. Enjoy!

Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: An Apple for the Teacher

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. Giveaway ends 8/13/16 and is open worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tips For Teaching The Presidential Election

Teaching during a Presidential election can be a ton of fun.  It is, however, not without pitfalls.  Here are a few tips to make your election lessons informative for your students, and politics free for you.

  • Never share your personal politics:  This seems pretty obvious, but there are little ways that it can creep into your teaching.  Make sure that your students, and their families, cannot tell which politician you are in favor of.  

  • No class is homogeneous:  You may believe that everyone in your class will have families that support one candidate.  This will NOT be the case.  Make sure that you cover both candidates equally.  Remember that students who do not share the opinions of the majority of the students may not speak up in class.  They will, however, go home and share what was discussed in class.  Make sure that you are not allowing students to trash one particular candidate during political discussions.  It can be wonderful when you have a student who feels strongly about one candidate, and shares appropriate points about that candidate in class.  Simply make sure all discussions in class remain courteous - even if our actual candidates cannot do this.

  • Study the basics:  Students can research details about the politician of their choice at home. Presidential elections bring out a range of emotions in people.  You do not want to upset a family by covering something in class they feel was slanted against their candidate.  I created  the 2016 Presidential Election Bundle to cover the basic history of each candidate.  Whatever material you cover in the classroom, make sure that it is balanced.  

  • Have secure mock elections:  Model any mock elections off of real elections.  Students should have a secure voting area where no one can see their vote.  In my room, we actually appoint "election judges" to handle handing out ballots.  I even have students fold their own ballots and turn them into the election box themselves.  You can even have an election judge hand students "I voted" slips after they have turned in their ballots.  Finally, have students tally the election results.  This makes students understand the entire election process.
  • Remind students not to share their vote:  This one is difficult in a classroom.  Children love to discuss everything with one another.  Voting choices is not something that students should share.  Remind students that the only way anyone will know who they voted for, is if they tell someone.

For More fun tips this month, check out the blogs below:

June $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card Giveaway

I love a great giveaway, and this summer I'll be participating in one a month!  For June we are giving away a $75 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card.


Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: An Apple for the Teacher

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 6/13/16 and is open worldwide.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Summer Tech Talk

It's been a while since I've posted about technology in the classroom. I recently had the opportunity to try out a new program with my students. It's called Mathletics. It's a math program that is tailored for individual students in the room. It was pretty easy to set up each students' account, and then I let my class try it out.

I was not sure how my students would react to it, as we use other math programs in the classroom. I was a bit surprised when my first student said that he loved it. I then asked other students, and overall they really liked it. They said they loved the graphics, and the ability to try out different math skills. The next day, my students asked if they could log back into Mathletics.

I  started with their free two week trial. There were a few features that really stood out for me. I liked being able to assign certain skills for students to work on.

The nicest feature, was assigning math groups based on the Mathletics skill. My students often want to work together while their doing their techonolgy work, but because the other technology programs I use are so differentiated they're rarely working on the same skill at the same time. Mathletics has a feature that allows teachers to assign students their skill, so that you can build a guided math lesson for a small group around it.

Another  feature that I know my students liked was the competition. Students can actually compete for points with other students using Mathletics around the world. Healthy competition is always a good thing.

You can get your own free 2 week trial by clicking here.  They have a summer promotion going now that allows you to subscribe and have free access until August 31st, 2016.

If you like it, and want to get your school to purchase it, I highly recommend working with Regional Manager Debbie Jones.  She is so sweet!  She will come to your school and demonstrate everything for your principal.  To schedule an administrative demonstration email her at debbie.jones@3plearning.


Another Year Winds Down

It's May and we are officially coming to the end of another school year.  If your students are anything like mine, they are looking forward to the summer break.  If you're school year has been anything like mine, you are looking forward to summer break too!  It's not that I don't love my students - I do.  Let's face it though, we work hard and summer is our chance to rejuvenate.

We have celebrated birthdays, holidays, and countless other events.  This week, however, is for us!  It's Teacher Appreciation Week!!!  I intend to enjoy it.  My store (like many TPT stores) will be 20% off all day on Tuesday, May 3rd and Wednesday May 4th.  If you use the word CELEBRATE when you check out, you will save an additional 8%, for a total 28% savings.  It's a great time to get some fun products to end the school year with.  Need some inspiration?  Try my fun Dinosaurs Unit complete with pop up book.

I have joined a group of teachers for a fun Rafflecopter giveaway as well.  We are raffling off three $100 TPT gift certificates - who couldn't use that!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...