Making Math Real

For children it’s all about the buy-in. Why am I learning this? When am I going to use this skill? Elementary math is the foundation of a child’s math journey thru life. That sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Basic concepts that are taught in elementary school are the same concepts adults use today. Encourage students to make those connections as you are teaching them new standards. Here are 3 ways I help my students see math as a part of their everyday lives.

1.) Bring in artifacts that are related to your math lessons – When I teach decimals I bring in receipts for my students to use for questions. I’ll black-out the totals and have them calculate sums or differences. I once had a student ask me why they needed to know word form of numbers. “No one writes in word form. Everyone uses standard form.” The next day I brought in my checkbook….a perfect example of adults using word form.

2.) Make questions or word problems related to your students – This is such a simple yet highly effective technique to make math real for students. I use my students’ names and what I know they are interested in. I recently wrote a word problem for adding fractions and it was about slime. Kids are insane for slime recipes right now. You can’t get any more real life than that.

3.) Use pictures – your students are growing up surrounded by technology and visual simulation. Adding pictures to your word problems will help your students visualize what is happening in the story. Again, a very simple add-on with great impact. My product line Snapshots of Math has a photo for every word problem and covers all the standards from grades 1st – 6th.

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