ELL/ESL Students Connect Math to Real Life Experiences
standard: Recognize and apply mathematics in contexts
outside of mathematics.
Model: Reflective Thinking
lesson students will identify ways in which their away from
school experiences connect to mathematics.
knowledge: Students should already be familiar with
the structure of word problems. They should also know strategies
for solving word problems and know how to create word problems
of their own. One website that I use with my students is:
are highly successful when they can link visual representations
to a concept. The Read It! Draw It! Solve It! Problem
Solving for the Primary Grades series by Elizabeth
D. Miller (Pearson Learning Group) is an excellent source for
this kind of practice.
Preparation: On a white sheet of 11” x 18” paper create an illustration
of something that you do when you are away from school. Tape
the top part of a 5.5” x 9” sheet of lined paper
to the bottom part of your drawing. Create a math word problem
inspired by your experience and illustration. I typically select
a concept that we were working on prior to break. This serves
a dual purpose: it refreshes the students memory and it makes
them practice something that they already know. Solve the word
problem underneath the lined paper, so that when the students
lift the lined paper they can see how it was solved. Also have
enough supplies (cut paper, tape, markers, pencils, etc) on
hand for the creation of the story problems.
Format: Meet with students in small groups
Plan: Have students share some of their experiences after a break
(weekend, evening, winter, spring, summer, etc). Then introduce
students to the standard of connecting math to their real life
experiences. Next, have students reflect on how one of their
experiences could be connected to the math concept you were
studying before break began.
graders were introduced to the concept of multiplication before
winter break. When Rosa returned from break, she designed this
my sister, and I wanted to bake 7 cakes for my relatives who
were visiting from Mexico. Each cake needed 2 cups of sugar.
How many cups of sugar did we need to bake 7 cakes?
students complete their illustrations I grade them, laminate
them, and save them to create an interactive bulletin board
called "Math Question of the Week." Students read
problems and enter their answers into a drawing each week. The
students who author the problem can also enter. Students feel
special when they see their problems featured, and classmates
love reading the work of other students. The lesson also gives
ESL students a chance to practice reading, writing, and math
lesson a try and let me
know how it goes.