Beacon Lesson Plan Library

When Are We Ever Going to Use This Math?

Sharla Shults
Bay District Schools


Students engage in discussion of various occupations. Where does math fit into the scheme of things? Students are diagnostically assessed to determine proficiency in computer, writing, and problem-solving mathematical skills set in real-world context.


The student refines vocabulary for interpersonal, academic, and workplace situations, including figurative, idiomatic, and technical meanings.

The student locates, gathers, analyzes, and evaluates written information for a variety of purposes, including research projects, real-world tasks, and self-improvement.

Understands the relative size of integers, rational numbers, irrational numbers, real numbers and complex numbers.

Understands concrete and symbolic representations of real and complex numbers in real-world situations.


-Parent permission forms for student Internet access
-Folders – one per student
-Transparency for Class Discussion (See Associated File)
-Copies of Student Daily Log Day 1 – one per student (See Associated File) or journals
-Copies of Diagnostic Assessments and Scoring Tools (See Teacher Preparation for list)
-Basic calculators (not scientific) – one per student (Use teacher discretion)
-Chart paper or other writing surface


1. Secure enough folders for one per student.

2. Download and duplicate the Student Daily Log Day 1 (See Associated File), unless students are writing in journals.

3. Prepare board or download and duplicate overhead Transparency for Class Discussion (See Associated File).

4. Download and duplicate copies of the following documents (See Extensions):
a) Diagnostic Assessment, Parts 1, 2, and 3– one per student
b) Scoring tools, which include Student Computer Skills Self-Check Rubric, Teacher Checklist for Part 1 - Computer Skills, Evaluation Rubric for Part 2 -Writing Skills, Evaluation Rubric for Mathematical Skills – Part 3 – one per student
c) Answer Key for Part 3 Mathematical Skills in the Real World – one for teacher use


NOTE: Irrational numbers and complex numbers will not be taught or assessed at this time.

Lesson Introduction Prior to Activity (10 – 15 minutes)

1. On the day before you begin this unit, engage students in discussion about present jobs and/or goals after high school. Initiate discussion with questions, such as: Do you ever wonder where math is actually used on the job? If so, where and how is it used?, What occupations require math courses as background information? What occupations do not require math? etc. Then be more specific in job specification and ask such questions as: Where do veterinarians use math? How is math incorporated in the life of a firefighter or police officer? As a cashier, where is math encountered? What about the health field, i.e., doctors, nurses, aids, clerks, etc.? Inform students that math and the world of work are the topic for the next two weeks in an extensively Internet-based project that demands attention, skill, and perseverance.

2. Distribute parent permission forms for students to complete to use the Internet. Tell students to return the forms ASAP for they cannot use the Internet without parent approval.

3. Ask students to brainstorm different types of jobs. Chart responses on chart paper or another writing surface. Then, distribute Student Daily Log Day 1-one per student. (See Associated File.) Substitute a journal for daily entries if preferred.

4. Assign students the task of identifying at least three jobs that interest them. Instruct students to record this information on the Student Daily Log Day 1, or in their journals, and write a sentence, by each one, that reflects why this particular job is of interest. Instruct students to include how much math they think is really needed and which math courses they would consider most helpful in preparation for these jobs. This establishes validity of the unit and initiates the math connection.

5. Inform students of timelines: Day 2 or 3 of Unit – Choose occupation; Day 4 of Unit – Name of contact person due; Day 5 of Unit – 45 minutes for Summative Assessment 1, final letter ready for mailing. NO ERRORS; NO EXCEPTIONS!

6. Select one or two students to serve as recorders for the beginning of the unit on the following day.

Lesson Introduction Day 1 of the unit The Math Connection (30 minutes)

(NOTE: Allow at least 50 minutes for the diagnostic assessment (instructions follow), so use teacher discretion as to the level of elaboration for introduction.)

1. Collect parent permission forms allowing students to use the Internet. Keep a daily checklist until all are received.

2. Engage students in discussion about different types of work and why some are short-lived, experience gained ventures, while others set the stage for advancement. Explain to students that they will be involved in an extensive technology-rich career project that entails using a myriad of skills related to real-world problem solving.

3. Ask students to refer to the Student Daily Log Day 1, or journals, and initiate a class discussion. The following sample questions are provided to serve as a guide:
a) What types of jobs have we identified within the class?
b) What level of education (on-the-job training, vocational school, 2-years college, 4-years college, etc.) do you think is required for each job?
c) Does the job require math? If so, where do you think this would occur?
d) What type (level) of math do you think is relevant to this type of job?

4. Instruct the one or two students chosen the day before to come to the board or overhead and chart results of the discussion using the Transparency for Class Discussion. (See Teacher Preparation #3.)

5. Instruct students to take notes on the Student Daily Log Day 1, or record in their journals, throughout the discussion. Inform students to consider the information gathered as prior knowledge only without the advantage of current research.

6. During the discussion process, formatively assess students’ writings on the log sheets, or in the journals, through observation. Check for information staying focused on the writing situation and lend assistance as needed. Encourage students to write in complete sentences as often as possible and continuously review sentences for editing errors.

7. Distribute folders to students to keep their daily work for the project and instruct them to print their names on the tabs. This is necessary for organization of documents on the last day of the unit into the portfolio for final summative assessment.

8. When discussion is complete, instruct students to place all informational documents in the folder. The documents include the completed Student Daily Log Day 1 (unless students are recording in journals), the notes and charts from the class discussion.

Diagnostic Assessment (50 – 60 minutes)

1. See Unit Plan Overview for “Teacher Directions” and “Student Directions” for administering the diagnostic assessment and “Following the diagnostic assessment.” (See Extensions)

2. Each student’s folder at the end of the day includes the following documents: Student Daily Log Day 1 (unless students are recording in journals), the notes and chart from the class discussion, and a copy of The Ten Commandments of Math 1(student or classroom version.)

3. Collect all folders to be distributed to students at the beginning of class the next day.

Allow the diagnostic assessments to drive the instruction. (See Extensions for Unit Plan Assessment File for Student Computer Skills Self-Check Rubric, Teacher Checklist for Part 1 - Computer Skills, Evaluation Rubric for Part 2 -Writing Skills, Evaluation Rubric for Mathematical Skills – Part 3.) Because of the length of the assessments, it may take a couple of days to thoroughly check the responses. Complete the computer skills check first and place students in mentoring positions at the computers the next day. Identify specific student needs and guide instruction accordingly. Throughout the week provide practice worksheets on identified student needs in basic mathematical skills as needed. Incorporate these into each day’s lesson plan providing the necessary feedback to students who demonstrate inadequate proficiency. Tutorial Weblinks are listed throughout the daily lesson plans as a resource for extra practice.


The ‘When Will I Ever USE This Math?’ Diagnostic Assessment is administered to determine the level of proficiency in computer skills, writing skills for the purpose of identifying prior knowledge only, and problem solving mathematical skills.

Vocabulary is embedded throughout the unit plan allowing students to refine vocabulary for interpersonal, academic and workplace situations.

The standards and Goal 3 Standards addressed will be modeled and formatively assessed throughout the unit and will be summatively assessed at the completion of the unit.


This is Lesson 1 of 10 in the unit The Math Connection addressing [When Are We Ever Going to USE This MATH?]

The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, “Associated Files.” This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

Web Links

Math Student’s Ten Commandments
The 10 Commandments of Math – Classroom Version

Math Teacher's Ten Commandments by Donald Edge & Ellen Freedman
Ten Commandments for Math Teachers

When Are We Ever Going to USE This Math?
The Math Connection

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