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					                 Math Can be Fun!
Switching up Guided and Independent Practice
 with Differentiation, Math Games, and Real
                 World Applications



     6th – 12th Grade Math Strategies (middle school content)
                          Emily Mason
                  emilyruthmason@gmail.com




                                                                1
                                     Table of Contents:
I. Differentiation Strategies…………………………………………………………………………………….3
    a. Choose Your Recipe (3)
    b. Color Coded (4)
    c. Grab Bag (4)
    d. Matching (4)


II. Math Games………………………………………………………………………………………………………..5
    a. Round Robin (5)
    b. Boss-Secretary (6)
    c. Sequence (7)
    d. Maze Game (7-8)
    e. Beat the Buzzer (8)
    f. Find Someone Who (8-9)
    g. Whiteboards (9)
    h. Learning Stations (10-14)
    i. Bingo (14-15)
    j. Jeopardy (15)


III. Real World Applications…………………………………………………………………………………….16
    a. The Choices of Life (16-18)
    b. Daily Suggestions (19-20)




                                                                  2
     Differentiation:          a. Choose Your Recipe
     Purpose: A fun way to switch up guided or independent practice that gives your students choice in the
     problems they complete. Choice not only helps with investing your students in the math lesson
     (especially at the middle school level when students continuously try to express their independence),
     it also allows you to differentiate for your students of varying math ability.

     Explanation: Group problems that are aligned with the objective you are teaching that day into varying
     levels of difficulty. I typically break my problems into three levels of rigor (remedial, medium, and
     advanced—DO NOT LABEL THE PROBLEMS AS SUCH). The remedial problems are worth 1 point,
     medium 2 points, and advanced 3 points. Within each level of rigor, you want to ensure that the same
     part of your objective is being practiced except at varying levels of difficulty. For example, if one type
     of problem you want them to practice is one-step equations, each problem in the varying levels of
     difficulty should assess one-step equations. For example:

     Easy (1 point) : x – 8 = 10
     Medium (2 points): 24 = x + 9
     Advanced (3 points): -36 = -5 + x

     **You can either tell students they need to solve at least 30 points. Or, you could tell certain students
     to just solve one-point problems if you know they are typically a student who struggles. Or, you could
     assign a different amount of points to different students depending on their ability, etc.**

     Example:
     Directions: Choose your recipe! You must solve 20 points by choosing your recipe of 1 point, 2 point,
     or 3 point problems. Remember, you may choose to solve a combination of 1 point, 2 point, and 3
     point problems, or, you could choose all 3 point problems. IT IS YOUR CHOICE, but make sure to show
     all steps!!

            1 Point Problems                    2 Point Problems                    3 Point Problems

     x  9  10                          8  x  2                          32.5  8.9  g

     Janelle has a credit card balance   The Fanning Falcons played in a     Ja’Quan had -$12.15 in his
   of -$30.00. She spends another
                                       big football gain. On the first     account, he deposited a check
     $15.00 and puts it on her credit                               
                                         play they gained 15 yards, then     for $34.52 and then deposited
     card. What is her balance now?      lost 23 yards, and lost an          an additional check for $101.17.
                                         additional 32 yards. What is        How much money does Ja’Quan
                                         there total net gain or loss?       have now?




     -2 + 8 – 9 = x                      -23 – 39 + 19 = y                   -210.6 + 34.5 – 26.53 = t



     You get the hint! Make as big of recipe as you need to in order to meet the needs of your students.

                                                                                                             3
b. Color Coded
Purpose: The purpose of Color Coded is identical to that of Choose Your Recipe. It allows you to
differentiate among your students and gives your students choice in the lesson.

Explanation: This strategy is really similar to Choose Your Recipe. Instead of labeling the problems as
points, yous imply highlight the problems you offer your students in different colors. In this sense, you
should already have a system to match up the color with the level of difficulty of the problem.

c. Grab Bag
Purpose: This strategy allows you to differentiate, and it also allows you to make math practice more
exciting because students don’t know what type of problem they are going to pull out of the bag.
Students get excited trying to move up to higher difficulty problems—they enjoy the challenge.

Explanation: Have three different paper bags/containers and put the problems of varying difficulty
levels into the different containers. Label the different containers as “basic,” “getting tougher,” “black
diamond problems” (or something along those lines to show students the varying level of difficulty).
Students can be seated in groups, partners, or as individuals. One member then comes up to the main
table, pulls a problem and brings it back to their seat. You can even have them pick three different
problems at once to minimize movement in your class. Typically I say that students have to solve at
least 3 “basic” problems correctly before they can move up to the “getting tougher” and “black
diamond problems.” This way, it is a challenge and students can move up in difficulty as they prove
mastery of the lower-level rigor problems.

d. Matching
Purpose: This strategy should be used for differentiation as well as switching up practice from the
traditional paper-pencil methods.

Explanation:Make a document with two columns. The first column should have the problem and the
second column should have the answer. Once you have made all problems and answers, cut up the
problems and answers into their individual strips and place them in individual envelopes. You can
give students with lower math ability lower level problems to match, and vice versa.

Example:
Identify the slope and y-intercept of the following   Slope: -4
equation:
y = -4x - 8                                           Y-Intercept: -8
                                                           2    4
                                                      y=  x
Put the equation in slope-intercept form:                  3    3
2x + 3y = 4
Identify the slope and y-intercept of the following   Slope: -8
equation: y = -8x – 4                                 y-intercept: -4
                                                
Obviously, you would make more problems, cut up the strips, and then place into an envelope.
Students then match the problem with the answer. This is a great way to check for understanding as
well.
                                                                                                             4
II. Math Games: a. Round Robin
Purpose: This is a cooperative learning strategy that allows for group work in which each student has
a specific purpose within the activity (ensuring that there are no social loafers). This actually can be a
differentiation strategy as well if you ensure that within one group there is one high student, one low
student, and to average performing students. This way, the lower student receives the support that
he/she needs, and the high student benefits in acting as “tutor.”

Explanation: The directions are given in the example template below. Put groups of four together
(ensure that the groups are pre-planned to avoid classroom management issues and to ensure that
you have one low student, two average students, and one high student in a group). Assign each
student a color pencil and have them record their name in that color (this way you, as the teacher,
know which student was responsible for specific steps in the activity—this helps you see which
student struggled with the activity, and also holds students accountable for EACH pulling their rope in
the activity.

Example:
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

                              Round Robin: Order of Operations
Directions: Write your name in YOUR colored pencil on the line above. Each teammate will complete
one operation (following PEMDAS), and then pass on the worksheet to the next teammate. If you feel
as though someone on your team made a mistake, you may POLITELY ask them to re-think the choice
they made.

                   ***MAKE SURE YOU WATCH YOUR POSITIVE AND NEGATIVES***

Simplify the following expressions:

1)           
     8   6 7
       2                                                    5) 7 – 12 + 19 =

      53  5
2)    25  15                                               6) 12 • -10 + 32 =
                                                                 0




3) 11  4 15
      0                                                    7) 3 [ 19 (4  7)]



                                                                 62  [4  (35  15)]
4)   15 – 7 + 42  6 • 3 =                                  8)       22  3  21




                                                                                                                    5
b. Boss-Secretary
Purpose: This is another cooperative learning strategy that groups students in pairs and ensures that
students are both able to solve a problem on paper independently, and can also walk through verbally
how to solve a problem. It is imperative that we teach our students how to explain their thought
process in solving a problem—the “why” component—and this strategy allows you to do that with
peer support.

Explanation: Directions are provided in the template before. Assign pairs ahead of time to avoid
classroom management issues. Tell the student sitting closes to you to be the boss 1 and the other
student to be the secretary 1 (students will have turns doing both). Ask students to come up with
what a “boss” does (e.g., tells people what to do, is in charge). Ask students to come up with what a
“secretary” does (e.g., takes orders from the boss, does the work for the boss). The boss tells the
secretary how to solve the problem and the secretary writes down the boss’ steps. I highly suggest
walking through the process of boss-secretary using “how do you make a peanut butter sandwhich” as
an example to show students how the strategy works. Kids love this!

Example:
                          Scientific and Standard Notation Boss-Secretary
Directions: Below are problems that require you to convert between standard notation and scientific notation.
The “boss” is to tell the “secretary” exactly how to solve the problem while the “secretary” records the boss’
response. You and your partner will switch roles between boss and secretary. Boss 1 is the person in your pair
sitting closest to Ms. Mason (this person is also Secretary 2) and Secretary 1 is the person sitting farthest from
Ms. Mason (this person is also Boss 2). Boss 1 will answer questions 1-5 while Secretary 1 records the
responses. Boss 2 will answer questions 6-10 while Secretary 2 records the responses.

Boss 1: ________________ Secretary 1: __________           Boss 2:____________Secretary 2: _______________

1)   In 1995, Cambodia had a population of about          5) In 1995, Brazil had a population of about
10,720,000 people. Write this population in scientific    165,900,000 people. Write this population in scientific
notation.                                                 notation.


2) Compare the following numbers:                         6) Compare the following numbers:

                             SHOW WORK!                                                      SHOW WORK!
a.     =      b.            c.                            a.   =      b.              c.
3) A planet has an approximate diameter of                7) An observatory has been tracking a comet for a

            kilometers. Which of the following is equal   distance of              kilometers. Which of the
to that distance? SHOW WORK.                              following is equal to that distance? SHOW WORK.

a.  14,900 km           c. 149,000 km                     a.      30,310,000 km    c. 303,100,000 km
b.  1,490 km           d. 1,490,000 km                    b.      30,310,000,000 km d. 3,031,000,000 km
4) Order these numbers from least to greatest:            8) Order these numbers from greatest to least:
          ;          ; 33,800,000;
                                                                    ;            ; 43,800,000,000;


                                                                                                                 6
     c. Sequence
     Purpose: Allows students to practice an objective (especially beneficial with a math objective that
     requires rote steps to come to an answer) without having to use the typical pencil-paper structure.
     This activity is also one that can be transformed into a cooperative learning strategy

     Explanation: Have index cards pre-made that show individual steps of solving a problem. Make as
     many cards as necessary to solve the problem and paper clip them. This is one problem. Make as
     many sets of problems as you need to suffice for the amount of students in your class. I suggest
     putting students into cooperative learning groups and assigning them numbers. Student 1 identifies
     the first step in solving the problem and places it on the desk. Student 2 identifies the second step and
     places it beneath the first step, and the process continues until the card with the solution on it is
     placed.

     Example: (each box represents an index card and the steps go in order; however, when given to your
     students they should obviously be out of order)
     Lengths of a right triangle:                       144 + b2 = 1156
     Hypotenuse: 34 in.                                 -144       -144
     Let: 12 in.
                                                            b2 = 1012
     a b c
       2   2     2



     122 + b2 = 342                                         b2  1012

     144 + b2 = 1156                                      b = 31.81 in.
                                                 

     e. Maze Game
     Purpose: FUN way to practice math problems!

     Explanation: Get about 20 (or however many problems you want them to practice) pieces of computer
     sized paper. Write out the 20 problems in big print ALL in the same color so that students will be able
     to see the problems (posted on the wall/whiteboard/etc.) from their seats. Write “start here” on the
     first problem. Students will solve the problem on their own paper. The answer they find will tell them
     what problem to solve next. They look for the answer in a different color marker on the top left hand
     corner of the next problem they should solve. Then, they solve that problem, identify the answer and
     find the next problem to solve. The maze ends when they solve the final problem in which the answer
     is written on the “start here” problem. This strategy is also great in making sure that students are not
     practicing problems incorrectly because they cannot move on in the maze until the find the correct
     answer.



     MAKE SURE YOU DO A GOOD JOB OF MODELING HOW MAZE GAME WORKS!


                                                                                                             7
     Example:

           This page represents the wall/whiteboard in which you are posting the maze problems on.


          x=3                                                          x = -2

          - 2x     3 7                                               2x  11  12

                                   x = 1/2   START HERE!

                                 5x 10 
                                            25

     f. Beat the Buzzer
     Purpose: This strategy helps instill a sense of urgency in your students. It is a great way to review for
                 
     tests/quizzes, or even as an assessment, and it helps make grading quite easy. Used only for individual
     work.

     Explanation: Each student needs to have a pre-made answer sheet in which they record their work for
     each problem. Each problem needs to be pre-written on an index card. Establish an order in which
     cards are going to be passed around in your room. Each student should start with a particular problem
     number and should record the work to that answer on the specified area on their answer sheet. Start
     the timer for however much time you want to give your students to complete each problem. When the
     timer buzzes, students need to pass their card to the next student in the established card movement in
     your room. Typically, my expectation is that this activity is done silently to help give me a good
     measure as to where students are in terms of mastery (i.e., use for independent practice). Upon the
     conclusion of this activity, I then switch students papers and we grade each others (this does not
     necessarily need to be graded for accuracy…depends on how you want to utilize this strategy).


     g. Find Someone Who
     Purpose: Find Someone Who allows students to move around the room, get their brains going, and
     practice problems at the same time.

     Explanation: Students walk around the room and complete a problem on their classmates’ sheet that
     they can answer. The student that answers the problem then initials the box to indiciate that they
     solved it. Students may only have a classmate sign their Find Someone Who sheet once (this activity
     also really helps continue to build classroom culture because students are reliant on each other to
     complete this activity).




                                                                                                            8
Example:

                                         Find Someone Who

Directions: Find someone in the class to solve each problem below. Once your classmate solves the
problem (they must show all work in the box), they must sign on the line in the box. You must have
ALL unique signatures—nobody can solve a problem on your sheet more than once.

1) Find the slope from the         2) Write the equation in slope-     3) Identify the slope and the y-
following two points:              intercept form:                     intercept from the following
                                                                       equation: -3.5x – 2y = 7.5
(2, 4) (-18, -9)                   y – 2x = 6

  ______________________           ____________________                ________________

**Make as many problems as you see fit. I typically make a full page of Find Someone Who**

h. Whiteboards
Purpose: This is my all time favorite math practice strategy. It is a strategy that contains multiple
purposes—1) Invests students (they LOVE working on whiteboards), 2) Allows for constant checks for
understanding so that you always know where mastery is breaking down and for which students, 3)
Can be used in groups or individuals, and 4) You can make them yourself (you don’t need to buy
them!)

Explanation: Make sure you already have your answers written out for the problems you are
presenting so that you can easily check which students have the write answer or not. Make sure that
the problems you give them are scaffolded and purposeful. Below are the expectation I use:

1) Solve the problem on your board
2) When you finish, “chin it” (have students pick up their boards with the top to their chin so you know
which students are finishing first & other students can’t see their answers)
3) Wait until Ms. Mason says “flip it” flip your board and show Ms. Mason the work you have done up
until that point.

**Make sure you establish dry-erase marker expectations as well**

Variation: “Whiteboard Trivia”…have students in groups of 4 (again, make sure you pre-plan these
groups) to form teams. Have students write numbers on their board—one student write the number
1, one student write the number 2, etc. Put problems on overhead/whiteboard/lcd projector and ALL
students must solve the problem because they do not know which number you are going to choose to
show the team’s answer. This strategy is great for encouraging peer tutoring/support, and ensuring
that all students are practicing because they never know which number you are going to call to give
the answer.

Example: I’ll show you how make them! Use a piece of paper, slide it into a plastic cover sheet, and use
used socks as recyclable erasers!


                                                                                                          9
i. Learning Stations
Purpose: This strategy allows students to be practicing multiple skills in a class period, and allows for
a change in the regular structure of a math classroom by allowing students to complete stations in an
allotted amount of time. It is especially useful for quiz/test review.

Explanation: These are pretty self-explanatory and very flexible. I typically use this strategy as a
review method and each station represents an objective that will be on the unit test or quiz. Students
begin at one station, start your timer, and when the buzzer goes off, students get up and move to the
next station in the room. I typically have the work required of them at the stations pre-made in the
form of a packet so that it is easier for students to keep track of, and easier for me to assess.

Example: (This only represent portions of one of my learning stations)
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
                                             Learning Station #1
                                        Positive and Negative WAR!!!

Directions: You are playing the card game WAR!! Set your desks up so that you are facing your
partner. Shuffle the deck of cards. Pass out the cards so that you each have the same amount of cards.
Count together: “1…2…3…” and then each person must lay a card down on their desk. BLACK cards
are POSITIVE. RED cards are NEGATIVE. The first person to multiply the two numbers on the card
together with the CORRECT sign (positive or negative) wins the cards (say answer out loud). If you
are unsure whether an answer is positive or negative, check it on the calculator. RECORD each play on
the chart below. There is an example listed in box 1. **Aces = 1, Jacks = 11, Queens = 12, Kings =
13, Jokers = 0**
                             Rules of Multiplying Positive and Negatives:
+ • + = +                                            + • - = -
-•-=+                                                -•+=-
Your Name: ____________________________            Partner’s Name: ________________________

1) Ms. Mason: _8 of diamonds                                    11) Your card: ______________________
  Ms. Elmore:_9 of spades___                                    Partner’s card:_____________________

Expression: -8•9 = -72                                          Expression: ____ • ____ = _____
Who won? Ms. Elmore                                             Who won? __________________

2) Your card: ______________________                            12) Your card: ______________________
Partner’s card:_____________________                            Partner’s card:_____________________

Expression: ____ • ____ = _____                                 Expression: ____ • ____ = _____

Who won? __________________                                     Who won? __________________
**Do as many trials as you see fit**

What was the point of doing this activity? What was the Algebra objective you were practicing playing War?
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.
Did you enjoy playing War today? Why or why not?______________________________________________________________.

                                                                                                                            10
     Learning Station #2
                                                   Color by Numbers

     SAME SIGN SUM.

     Directions: Solve the addition and subtraction expressions. The answers for all of the problems are listed at
     the top of the page. Each answer is matched with a color. Find your answer at the top of the page, and then
     color the specific area on your picture with that color.
     For example, you solve the following expression: -4 - 9 = -13. Look to the top of the page to find out what to
     color -13. If -13 is matched with the color green, you need to color that specific space green.
     Make sure that your colors make sense!!! If the answer you find for a problem tells you to color the sun green,
     you probably solved the expression INCORRECTLY!
                                                   -12 - 14


                                                                                -18 - 32

                                                     -15 + 27




                                                                                    1 - 19




                                                                                      18 - 24




                                                                                      -39 + 13


-60 + 10


                                                                                    -9 – 9

      0 - 50
           -12 - 6
                                                              -14 + 2

     -50 = Black      -26 = Green       12 = Orange        -6 = Purple       -18 = Red
                                                                                                                   11
Learning Station #3
                              Mini-Whiteboards: Partner Check

DIFFERENT SIGN DIFFERENCE.

Directions: Set your desks up so that you are facing your partner’s desk. There should
be ONE whiteboard per pair of students. The student sitting closest to Ms. Mason’s desk
should have the whiteboard, and is the “STUDENT.” The other student is the
“CHECKER.” Ms. Elmore or Ms. Mason will say the problem. The STUDENT follows the
steps, solves the problem, and shows the CHECKER their whiteboard. The CHECKER
then explains to the STUDENT if he/she is correct. If the STUDENT is incorrect, the
CHECKER needs to help the STUDENT figure out where the mistake was made. If the
STUDENT is correct, the CHECKER gives the STUDENT a high-five!

Be polite and respectful to each other!

Your Name:____________________            Partner’s Name: ___________________

Learning Station #4
                                 Roll Those Positive and Negatives!

DIFFERENT SIGN DIFFERENCE.

Directions: Move your desks so that your desk is facing your partner’s desk. Each person needs to
take two wooden cubes, one that has numbers 1-8 on it and one that has numbers 9-17 on it. The
student sitting closest to Ms. Mason’s desk is ROLLER 1. The other student is ROLLER 2. Roller 1 will
choose which dice to throw (either the low number dice or the high number dice). Record the number
in the first blank. Roller 2 will choose which dice to throw. Record the number in the second blank.
Circle your integers with the sign in front and SOLVE THE EXPRESSION! Both players get a point if
they answer the expression correctly! Record your points in the following boxes. There is an example
in the box 1.
Your name: ____________________________       Partner’s name: _________________________
Example:                                                Example:

1)   - 8   + 10     = 2                            11)      9     + ( - 12   ) = -3

                                                   If you’re correct, give yourself a point:_1__

If you’re correct, give yourself a point:_1__

                                                   12)          + (-   )=
2)   -     +    =
                                                   If you’re correct, give yourself a point:____
If you’re correct, give yourself a point:____



                                                                                                   12
Learning Station #5
                                         Word Problem Attack!

Directions: Below are four word problems that we are going to ATTACK! Your job is to read through
the problems carefully, underline important information, visualize the problem, check to see if your
answer makes sense, and write your answer in a complete sentence.


1) Listed below is Tashay’s checkbook. Help her balance her checkbook by adding or
subtracting the following transactions:

 Description                       Amount Expression                                 Balance: $42.00
 Bought Big Mac at                 $4.00
 McDonalds

 Bought mp3 player                 $75.00

 Earned money babysitting          $20.00

 Owed money to Correy              $22.00

 Earned allowance                  $14.00

 TOTAL:                            ----------   ------------------------------

Is Tashay’s balance above zero, or is she in debt? ______________________________________________ .


2) Listed below is the amount of money five individuals have after selling pizza for the 8th
grade graduation fundraiser:

Danielle Michelle      Walter     LaRon   Zaid
 $29      -$13         -$17       $0    $16

a) Graph the integers on the number line:


b) Did LaRon or Walter make the least amount of money? _________. How do you know? __________
_____________________________________________________________________________________.

c) What is the difference between the amount of money Zaid made and the amount of money Michelle
made?


d) If all five students combine their money, will they have made a profit for the fundraiser? SHOW
WORK.




                                                                                                       13
     3) The St. Louis Rams had a big football game last night. Over five plays, they gained eight yards, lost
     fifteen yards, gained thirty-five yards, gained another fifty yards, and then lost six yards. How many
     yards did they gain?


     4) The temperature outside is 14°F. Arthur checks the temperature an hour later, and it has dropped
     eleven degrees. Later that evening, the temperature has dropped another six degrees. The next
     morning when Arthur wakes up, the temperature has risen fourteen degrees. What is the temperature
     that morning?




     j. Bingo
     Purpose: Great review game for quizzes / tests.

     Explanation: Come up with the problems you are reviewing ahead of time and find the answers for
     each problem. Record the answers on the bottom of the BINGO template. Students need to fill in
     whichever answers they feel like into any box on the bingo card they want to. I had access to an
     overhead, so what I did was write the problems on transparency sheets and then I cut them up into
     little pieces. I then would pull a problem transparency piece, put it on the overhead, students would
     solve on their individual answer sheets, cross off their BINGO square if they recorded the answer, and
     then we would work out the problem together if I felt we needed to go over it. Students should be
     required to show all work on the answer sheet that follows and DO NOT get a BINGO unless they show
     all work!
     Example:
                                                B I N G O




                                                  FREE SPACE!




     Fill in each bingo space with ONE of the following answers (write down each answer only once):
     53
     32+43
     2 53 7

     RECORD ALL POSSIBLE ANSWERS IN THE SECTION ABOVE and have students record those answers
     into the individual boxes on the BINGO card..

                                                                                                            14
Name: ________________________                                                 Period: ________________

BINGO ANSWER CARD:
1) (have students record the problem here, then      2) (have students record the problem here, then
show their work solving it, and box their answer)    show their work solving it, and box their answer)


3) (have students record the problem here, then      4) (have students record the problem here, then
show their work solving it, and box their answer)    show their work solving it, and box their answer)




k. Jeopardy
Purpose: GREAT review game a quiz/test!

Explanation: This is literally the same format of regular jeopardy, except for that you put it in your
own problems and answers. Students LOVE this game—and I use the same rules as Jeopardy. The
only thing you need to be careful about is making sure that there are no social loafers—so I typically
do Jeopardy as a “Whiteboard Trivia” style (explained in the section, Whiteboards, page 9).

Example: I am not putting an example in this packet because what you need is the actual jeopardy
power point slide show. This slide show is already set up to jump from the category, to the question,
to the answer, and back to the main page with all categories listed. I have the Jeopardy template
(already filled out with different math review problems—one 6th grade level and one 8th grade level)
on my flash drive and this will be passed around for you to put onto your computer if you like. If you
do not have your computer, please e-mail me (at the address on the cover page) and I will send it to
you!




                                                                                                          15
III. Applications to the Real World.                a. The Choices of Life

Teacher Anwer Key / Background Information to “The Choices of Life”

Brief Lesson Plan: Have one index card per student in your classroom. There should be an equal
number of the following phrases written on the different cards: High School Drop-Out / High School
Graduate / College Graduate. Each student needs to blindly pick out a card which will tell them what
level of education they received (hypothetically) and should write down their level of education on the
following worksheet. Then as a class finish out the table on their worksheets. Second, complete the
table of monthly and yearly costs together (make sure you decide as a class whether you want to buy a
car-new or used-or use public transportation to keep the activity consistent across the students).
Third, have a handful of students stand up, and say “My name is ________________, I am a (high school
dropout / high school graduate / college graduate) and after all my living expenses are taken out, I
have ________ dollars left over.” Record these amounts on the whiteboard and then allow students to
complete the following reflection questions. The emphasis of this activity is not only relating math to
the real world, but also really focusing on how CHOICES THAT WE MAKE NOW AFFECT OUR FUTURE
AND THAT EDUCATION IS THE NUMBER ONE PREDICTOR OF FINANCIAL STABILITY. This activity
kills two birds with one stone—relating math with the real world and focusing on the “I want” of our
students as well.

Estimated Totals:

                                     Average Gross Salary               Average Net Salary (15%)
 High School Drop-Out                          $18,900                            $16, 065
 High School Graduate                          $25,900                            $22, 015
 College Graduate                              $45, 400                           $38, 590
 Masters Degree                                $62, 300                           $46, 725
 Professional Degree                           $99, 300                           $74, 475

Living Costs                               Monthly Cost               Yearly Cost
Rent                                       $350                       $4200
Utilities                                  $150                       $1800
Car Payment (New-$23,000)                  $350                       $4200
Car Payment (Used-$10,000)                 $200                       $2400
Car Insurance                              $100                       $1200
Gas                                        $100                       $1200
Public Transportation (monthly pass)       $60                        $720
Groceries                                  $200                       $2400
Other (clothes, shoes minimum)             $50                        $600




                                                                                                    16
Name: _______________________                                                   Class Period: ______
                                         The Choices of Life
Average salaries for different levels of education:

        Level of Education                Average Gross Salary                  Average Net Salary
                                                                         (Gross Salary – 0.15 x Gross Salary)
High School Drop-Out
High School Graduate
College Graduate
Masters Degree                                    $62, 300                            $46, 725
Professional Degree                               $99, 300                            $74, 475

The choices we make in life determine how much money we make a year. The amount of money we
make a year determines how much money we have to spend on housing, transportation, food, and the
additional things we like to buy (for example: clothes, shoes, etc.). This activity will help you realize
the different amounts of money you will make whether you drop out of high school, graduate from
high school, or go on to graduate from college.

Your given level of education: _____________________________ .
Your average yearly salary: _______________________________ .

Living Costs                           Monthly         Yearly Cost           Salary Remaining
                                       Cost            (monthly cost •       (average yearly salary – yearly
                                                       12)                   cost)
1. St. Louis Rent                      $350

2. Utilities                           $150

3a. *Car Payment (New-                 $350
$23,000)
3b. *Car Payment (Used-                $200
$10,000)
3c. *Car Insurance                     $100

3d. *Gas                               $100

4. *Public Transportation              $60
(monthly pass)
5. Groceries                           $200

6. Other (clothes, shoes               $50
minimum)
7.

8.

Salary Remaining After Living
Costs
                                                                                                           17
1) How much additional money does a person with a high school degree make than a person who
dropped out of high school? ___________________________________

2) How much additional money does a person with a college degree make than a person who
graduated from high school? ___________________________________

3) What are some things you could do with the additional income you would have with a college
degree?
_______________________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________________

4) Do you plan on graduating from high school? ______ . Why? _________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________ .

5) Do you plan on graduating from college? ______ . Why? ______________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________ .

6) What did you learn from this activity? How do our choices regarding education affect our future?
_______________________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________ .

7) What are some choices you can make this school year that will help you reach the level of education
you want to reach?
_______________________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________ .




                                                                                                      18
b. Daily Suggestions
It is really important that you relate, as best as you can, the objective you are teaching with a real
world application. The best lessons I have had (and the most successful in terms of student mastery)
have been the lessons that I can relate to my students. It is such a good investment strategy in the
math classroom because so often math is a foreign language to students and it is REALLY important
that you can answer the question: “Why do I need to know this?”

I highly suggest hooking every lesson with a real world application—you can do this by starting every
lesson with a real world problem…one that your students will be able to solve by the end of
class/week. Or, you could do this by always asking students to formulate ideas in the do now about
how an objective can be tied to the real world.

Below is a great assignment on percentages that so simply relates the objective to the real world. It is
a very basic introduction to percents with low-level practice—but I had my students so engaged at the
beginning of it because we came up with ways that they see percents in the real world. Then, we
modeled what it’s like by actually acting out a scene from a store—“what is that extra money they add
on when you buy a shirt at Aeropostle?”


The example of guided practice is on the following page. This was found from the RESOURCE
EXCHANGE ON TFANET. The math resources are excellent on the resource exchange so get on
there and check them out!




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