Math in Current Events?June 1, 2013 at 10:11 am | Posted in Content Area Literacy | 1 Comment
Math is everywhere and we need to show our students this. At first glance, an article may not seem to be related to math, but if kids truly are becoming mathematicians, they should be able to find a place where math is used, even if it’s just numbers or statistics. This is also because the way we teach math does not give students the opportunity to see what math really is. To me math is finding patterns, posing questions, finding evidence to support hypotheses. With that being said, I came up with an idea for a possible weekly assignment for math students:
Ask the kids to check their local or national newspapers, magazines, or news’ stations websites for current news on something going on in either their community or the country. Sports articles are always great. Read the article and find at least one way to connect something in that article to math. Of course this isn’t going to always relate to the current curriculum or standards you are teaching, but it will help bring math to the students…maybe. These activities will help the students dissect the information in an article and therefore help them become better readers and readers with a purpose.
As an example I picked this article from the YNN website. Here is one place I found math used in the article:
“While it’s estimated that more than 80 percent of Americans buckle up when they get in the car, many are still riding around without one.”
“In less than an hour at the checkpoint, one man was arrested for criminal possession of a controlled substance. Another man was issued an appearance ticket for unlawful possession of marijuana. Another man was ticketed for driving without a license.”
This is something students may care about. Especially high school students because most of them are learning to drive or already driving. The students can start asking questions about this article. Do they agree that 80% of Americans buckle up? Do a survey of the class. See if this hypothesis fits for that sample. You don’t have to actually make them do the survey, but they can at least pose the questions.
This may not be the most beneficial way to teach math, but it can be used as a supplement to the textbook what they are currently learning in class. It will help them keep up on current events in their community, maybe inspire them in some way to see what other people are doing and what is happening, “force” them to find their own real world connections to math, and help them develop their literacy skills.
This type of assignment may also be one that students will actually complete. It may be a way to actually get our students to read. On page 56 of our book, the authors claim that some of the readings students do in school should actually be selected by the students. They will probably have the background knowledge they need to understand the article if it’s one they picked. The book also says that kids have to read things they can read and that is non-negotiable. We also learned this in class that about 85% of the reading students do should be at their reading level. Since news articles are made for the general public to understand, they will probably be written at a reading level students can understand.
Yummy Math’s heading says “We provide teachers and students with mathematics relevant to our world today…” On their website they give teachers ideas of how to have mathematical discussions about things going on in the “real-world”. On here you could find ideas to give students to search for articles on.
The article Mathematics as Current Events found in a 1993 volume of The Mathematics Teacher discusses how specifically chosen current events can help answer the question “Does anyone actually use this math?” What do you think of these ideas? Do you think this is something you would use in your classroom? Do you think this would be a waste of your students’ time?