Workplace Math: From Mastering the Basics to Practical Work Skills
For some students, making a link to a real life topic such as workplace math can put what they are learning in the classroom into context. If they are able to see a tangible link to a practical situation, sometimes the skills and concepts will become easier to learn and retain. Making this link with a workplace situation also helps keep students motivated. It is also great for those students who learn best with a hands-on approach, but don't confuse this with skipping the basics just to get to the fun 'application' stage of learning.
Choose workplace topics that have instant appeal to the students you know are at risk of failure or dropping out of math. So if you know you have some students struggling with math who are highly motivated by cars, make a link with the automotive industry, and apply their math skills to automotive math.
For example, learn about the formula for speed, calculate the number of trips needed to reach a certain mileage reading, estimate and then measure how far various cars will travel on a full tank, research the alternative fuel options available to motorists, or read and discuss car advertisements in the paper or online.
For students who are interested in horticulture, spend time learning about watering choices, measuring flow from a rain water tank, estimating and measuring the area of turf needed for a golf course, or designing a new sustainable garden.
For students who are motivated by the great outdoors, try tasks such as collecting and collating information in preparation for a camping trip, graphing the change in heart rate of an athlete during a work out, or making a table of exercises suggested by a personal trainer in a gymnasium. This same group may also love the challenge of learning about animal care and the construction of a chicken coop for some new feathered school-yard friends!
Where possible, access photocopiable resource materials in books on teaching students who struggle with math that are age appropriate, so that students are working on content that is relevant, useful and suited to their age and interests. It also frees up your time to focus on individual teaching and support rather than time-consuming resource preparation.