Beacon Unit Plan Library

The Math Connection

Sharla Shults
Beacon Learning Center (Bay District Schools)


‘When are we ever going to USE this MATH?’ How many times have you heard this question? Students delight in challenging the teacher for reasons or justifications of the material taught. What better way to answer this question than to allow students to research career fields of their own interest and make the math connection! Relating the curriculum content to their own choices, students broaden their understanding of where people use it in the real world by exploring the application of math concepts in the work place. Students research occupations of interest, draft and revise business letters addressing when, where, and how mathematics is used. Students produce final letters to mail to a contact person employed in their career choice. Students engage in problem-solving activities, solving and creating applications relevant to the world of work incorporating computer skills, Internet research, language arts skills, and mathematical skills. After receiving their reply letters, students produce final reports reflecting what they learned. Students expound on their positive and negative feelings about mathematics and the effect it has on their choices of occupations. Students produce portfolios at the end of the unit in booklet form as an integral part of the summative assessment. Once assessment is completed, students retain the portfolios for future reference. Irrational numbers addressed and complex numbers addressed are not taught or assessed in this unit.


When are we ever going to USE this MATH?


The planned duration of this activity is 12 days.

Associated Files

Unit Plan Overview     File Extension:  pdf

Diagnostic Assessments     File Extension:  pdf

Summative Assessments #1     File Extension:  pdf

Summative Assessments #2     File Extension:  pdf

Summative Assessments #3     File Extension:  pdf

Lesson Plans

When Are We Ever Going to USE This MATH?
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.

What Interests You?
Students investigate math in the real world using Web search methods to locate career fields of interest. After selecting an occupation, students draft brief paragraphs that reflect insight as to why the occupation they have chosen interests them.

Putting It On Paper
What are the essential parts of a business letter? Using Internet search methods students locate and print samples of two different business letter formats. Students write rough drafts of business letters inquiring when, where, and how math is used.

To Whom It May Concern
Students produce and peer edit typed rough drafts of the business letters following the guidelines illustrated in the Eight Essential Parts of a Business Letter and save to disks. Students complete the Where’s the Math? Scavenger Hunt on the Web.

Rising and Falling Fractions
Why are announcements stating that a particular stock is "up 1 and 5/8ths" or "down 2 and 3/16ths" now history? Students explore outcomes from the conversion – fractions to decimals – in stock market quotes and explore fluctuating interest rates using an amortization calculator.

Does the Decimal Point Really Make a Difference?
What’s the problem with cheeseburgers advertised for .99 cents each or colas for .89 cents each? Students study the decimal dilemma and discover major math mistakes in the real world.

What Does Percent Have to Do with It?
Confused about percentages at the mall? Students go shopping for a true real-life experience involving percent. Exposure to percent relative to sales tax and discount prices is experienced in this lesson.

The Large and Small of It
It is hard to envision the distance to the Moon without thinking about a very large number. Yet, a lunar dust particle is so small, several fit on the tip of a pinhead! Students explore the extreme solving problems related to the Apollo space missions.

Where's the Math?
The math connection unfolds! Students develop an original math problem with detailed solution key relative to the chosen career fields. Watch creativity soar!

Web Links

Make a stone tablet out of gray paper and print out the ten rules. Great bulletin board idea!
The Ten Commandments of Math
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