Instructional Shift 9: Embed the mathematics in realistic problems and real-world contexts.

Chapter 10: Putting It All in Context




What should we see in an effective mathematics classroom?

-Frequent embedding of the mathematical skills and concepts in real-world situations and contexts

  • Facilitate a departmental, grade level or content team discussion focused around responses to the following question:
    • In what ways are we taking into account our students lives and interests when developing activities for the classroom?
  • As a content team, set a goal to select a unit to develop a thematic, real-world center unit of instruction. Create a real-world problem or scenario that students will need to use the skills/unit objectives to be able to solve. Introduce the problem at the beginning of the unit and have students develop understandings each day in order to solve the problem.
  • Provide opportunities for student choice--allow students to select from an option of projects or real-world investigations. Students could also have the choice as to how the project is completed and submitted.


-Frequent use of “So, what questions arise from these data or this situation?”

  • Have your team develop purposeful objectives that not only list the content objective, but also include an intentional focus on analysis of the data/situation.
  • Ask students to discuss reasonableness of their solution or future prediction.

-Problems that emerge from teachers asking, “When and where do normal human beings encounter the mathematics I need to teach?”

  • Facilitate a team discussion on when and where the skills taught are used in the real-world. Generate a list of applications and have teachers begin the lesson with an applicable scenario.
  • Allow students to research which careers use the skills taught in class. Have students present their findings in a presentation, report, web poster, etc.