Bringing Math Into the Real World with Technology

Okay you know the feeling it’s math, and kids come into your classroom with all sorts of prior experiences and beliefs about themselves as a learner.  Tailoring your lesson to meet the needs of every learner in your class is surely an uphill battle and one that you are likely to lose considering their are 30+ students and only 90 minutes in your math block ( 90/30=3minute each).  If you’re like me, reaching and teaching every learner in your class will take more than just three minutes.  

But what if there was a way you could reach and teach every student with just one lesson.

That’s right, one lesson connected to the lives of your students and is open-ended so that it meets the needs of all learners in your class.  Sounds good right and kids love it too, because when you create lessons that are rooted in the lives of the students you teach it shows you care.  When lessons are open-ended, students have multiple entry points to solve the problem at differing levels, because there is not just one solution but multiple.  


Speaking of sweet, let’s consider an open-ended math task, Julie has 36 cupcakes that she made for the school bake sale.  What are the possible ways she can arrange the cupcakes?   To be considered an open-ended tasks, your task must include the following: 

            1. Open-ended with multiple solutions
            2. Multiple entry points at differing levels
            3. Various student learning levels possible. 
            4. Engage and interest students,
            5. Conceptually based
            6. Increased level of cognitive demand

Using Google Slides as a tool, I created a background image to best represent my problem of a bake-sale.  Then I found images of cupcakes that I copied and shrunk for students to move and manipulate into an array.  

As you can see from the solutions there are varying ways a student can solve this problem which could include using addition, multiplication and division.  

This simple open-ended tasks incorporates several of the Standards for Mathematical Practice such as #4 Model with Mathematics and #5 Attend to Precision.  If you want to stretch this task even further consider having your students create a screencast as I did below and they can also hit SMP #2 Construct Viable Arguments and Critique the Reasoning of Others.  

Students can give feedback to their peers videos by posting feedback in the comments or send to the parents via email to show them what their kids know.  Instead of explaining the value of Common Core math to parents, kids can do this with their example.  

In this video I use the Multiplication City Google Slides I created to have a highly contextualized approach to explaining arrays to students who need practice with concrete examples.  Remember we always want to go from the concrete, to the representational to the symbolic when teaching math concepts.   

Want to learn more about teaching math with real-world lessons such as Project-based learning and problem based learning and get free sample lessons to use in your class? Consider taking a class with me through the Heritage Institute and earn continuing education credits.  Click here for more information.