World wide mathematics

OK, one of my professional goals this year has been to add authentic (and objective appropriate) international math connections to my lessons. So here are some of my attempts:

Buying fractional parts of villas and jets.
World oil reserves – places and oil types.
Polygons in geography. We are specifically focusing on other continents.
Comparison of square mileage of USA states to European countries.
Water conservation efforts world wide and why they are important.
Comparison of gas prices gallons here to liter in Canada.
Conversion of real-time temperatures in Australia (I know a guy there) to F.
Conversion of mountain heights from Km to Mi.

This is just a few of the things I’ve broached with the kids. It’s late and I just can’t come up with an exhaustive list right now. It’s been thought provoking experience for them and has stretched me.

So why do we need to have these conversations?
When asked how a villa or jet could have fractional pieces. Every class decided it was based on space. No one came up with time allotment until prompted.
I didn’t know there were different types of oil. Extra heavy, heavy, etc. That was bad enough, but the kids didn’t know that there were oils other than olive and sunflower.
No real reason why a 5th grader should know how much gas costs except that it impacts their families. Everyone was surprised at the outcome when they did the conversions. Gas looks cheap when you are only getting a liter.
Europe looks really big until a map is placed over a USA map. we actually drug Europe around trying to find countries the size of Texas and NC.

These have been successful parts of the lessons and I will look for ways to continue them. I was prompted by all the verbiage out there on 21st century learners, but after a few weeks, I can certainly see the benefit.

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