But when will I ever use this? is a common refrain in middle and high school classrooms, giving even the best teachers pause to consider if we’re making the connection between in-class learning and the real world. If we begin to make practical connections with mathematics as early as preschool, however, it’s doubtful that that question would continue to plague our classrooms.
In fact, it’s more probable that students would be more apt at making connections to the real world on their own.
Whether students realize it or not, math is an integral part of our lives, used daily, often subconsciously by our brains. For students of any age, making this direct link to utility outside of the classroom will serve as motivation for learning within.
Baking & Cooking
Everyone loves to eat, right? Fractions become easier to understand for younger students when they can visually see the divisions and how they add up into one whole. Beyond the basic pie chart and pizza divisions, measuring cups and spoons is a great way to begin learning fractions before they are labeled as such. It can easily be transferred into other areas as well, such as in color theory, where students mix varying parts of colors to create new shades and hues!
Map skills are a lost art in the modern world, but still an essential part of spatial awareness and higher-order thinking. Taking in the world from a bird’s eye view enables students to see things in a different plane. With the advent of drones and Google maps, students can appreciate the modern utility of this skill more than ever. Collect maps as you travel and make them a part of your classroom. Encourage students to draft new lands a la Tolkien, or even begin measuring and redesigning their room layout. With minimalism taking hold, ask students to create a tiny house design from your classroom. There are myriad ways to work in some mapping skills.
Who doesn’t love to spend? But we’ve all seen the modern disaster when the cash register breaks amidst a long line, and the teen cashier can’t figure out what to charge or how to count back change. Practice this in the classroom, as well as digital banking, checkbook management, and financial literacy. It’s easy to incorporate this into more than just math class, especially in foreign language classes where you can work with vocabulary and real-world interactions in a store scenario. Teaching purchasing etiquette seems to be another lost skill, so working with young students to make their purchases will serve the future well.
When you consider the modern world and its interactions, there are many ways to work real-world financial literacy into your classrooms.