April is Mathematics Awareness Month! This year's theme is "Math Drives Careers."
Math can be an engaging and intuitive subject for some students, but often it is a dry subject for others. These students ask, "When will I use this in real life?" One way to answer that question and engage learners is to demonstrate that math is all around us.
Put students in charge of contextualizing their experience with math to help them realize that the mathematic concepts they learn in the classroom are actively present in their daily lives. Modeling a social media platform like Pinterest makes the assignment engaging, and, dare we say it, FUN!
Not familiar with Pinterest? It is a popular tool for finding, organizing and managing online content. The education community has widely accepted the website as a place to share and find classroom lessons, organization ideas, and more. Use a simple graphic organizer (we used template LAY032 and the Poster Maker) to illustrate this concept.
Divide students into small groups or pairs, depending on class size and the number of concepts you'd like to go over. Assign each group a concept randomly, and explain that their task is to find examples of this concept in a "real-life" setting. Think about the concepts below to get started, or visit this interactive Common Core math standards tool for ideas according to your grade level.
Groups can start with a teacher led walk to the playground or other parts of the school. Groups get 20-30 minutes to list or take pictures of as many concepts as possible that relate to their topic. You may want to designate a target number of examples for each group to gather.
If going outside or to other parts of the building is not possible, allow students to browse content on appropriate sites or in the classroom library for inspiration. Come back to the classroom and have groups post the photos on the boards along with the following information:
- What? What is the subject of the photo?
- Where? Where was the photo taken?
- Why? How does this demonstrate your assigned math concept?
Present the boards the following day! Each group will give a detailed explanation of their assigned topic and share any challenges and/or insights they gained during the search.
If you want to extend the project, assign each group multiple concepts and encourage at-home research. This can become a valuable group work lesson emphasizing coperative learning. When each group presents their board(s), they take ownership of the math concept and will better retain the information after making real-life connections.
How do you engage students when teaching math in your classroom? Leave a comment with instructional strategies you've found to work well!