Imagine you are sitting at your desk, writing your check to the power company, amongst other bills, and you inadvertently leave it there when you put all of the other bills in the mail. Now, you wrote the check with the intention of paying the bill on time. However, because it was not received by the power company they fine you, or if it is a repeated offense, they will simply turn off your lights. Though many of us pay our bills online now, this image and story helps our fourth and fifth graders understand this small part of homework. This links our adult responsibilities to theirs, showing that returning finished homework is a good practice for our responsibilities later in life.
In 4th and 5th grade math, we have been working on a yearlong experiential project called "The Game of Life." This practice helps to reinforce that what we are learning in math class and connects to real life scenarios that students can invest in and be motivated by. So far, students have gone to college and received their first job, some are doctors while others are teachers or mechanics. Much to their surprise their first paycheck seemed quite small. Their calculations estimated that they should have received 20% more each month. This was a great way to talk about taxes and what they are used for. Not only that, fifth grade designed office spaces using area with fractional side lengths and even created tiny houses. Fourth grade has begun to make a blueprint of their dream home.
Mathematics is all around us. We use problem solving, we calculate, and we often deal with money on a daily basis. Showing students how often we use mathematics in our adult lives helps them to understand how important knowing the foundations of these concepts is.
- Autumn Elkins, Lower School Teacher 4/5