Relating Math to the Real World

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Relating mathematics to the real world and to the lives of students can be difficult for many teachers. With the right strategies and getting to know your students interests and hobbies, these connections can be made.

Needs Assessment

Instructional problem: One of the most difficult courses for students to make a connection to is mathematics. Many students don't see how math relates to the real world and more specifically their world. "A real-world connection means that students see a reason to do this project, other than the fact that you assigned it and they will get a grade on it" (Simkins, Cole, Tavalin, & Means, 2002). Teachers need to provide students with connections from math to their world in order to improve student engagement and interest. If students don't see those connections they tend to distance themselves from mathematics and tell themselves that they just aren't good at it.

Possible Solutions: The goal of this course is to change the mindsets of students who believe that math is a separate concept and has no connection to their daily lives. One way we as teachers can accomplish this goal is to provide students with those connections and show them how math can relate to their own lives individually and as a whole class. If students have a positive attitude towards math they will be more likely to understand the concepts and material covered in their math courses. It is not only important that students learn the material, but also that they use their critical thinking and problem solving skills which they will need when they are an adult and out in the "real world".

Performance Objectives

Course-level objectives

After completion of this course I will be able to:

1. Incorporate real world examples into my math classroom.

2. Describe methods that will increase student engagement.

Course Outline

Unit 1: Common Misconceptions of Mathematics Having no Connection to the Real World

Lesson 1: Common Phrases used by Students/Adults with a Fixed Mindset

Lesson 2: How to Promote a Growth Mindset

Lesson 3: Being Truthful with Your Students

Unit 2: How to Relate Mathematics to the Real World and to Our Students Lives

Lesson 1: Sample Problems

Lesson 2: Creating Your Own Problems

Unit 3: How to Bring Real World Mathematics into the Classroom

Lesson 1: Reviewing Classmate's Problems

Lesson 2: Integrating Real World Math Problems into your Curriculum

Lesson 3: Final Assessment



Blad, E. (2015). Education Week. Teachers Nurture Growth Mindsets in Math. Retrieved from

Simkins, M., Cole. K.,Tavalin, F., Means, B. (2002). ASCD. Increasing Student Learning Through Multimedia Projects. Retrieved from