Making Maths Authentic


Budget (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

This year, my grade colleagues and I have been trying to find ways to make learning more authentic for our Year 2 students.

To help us do this, we purchased the imaths program which takes an investigative approach to teaching mathematics. The years program is broken into a series of investigations which require mathematical skills in order to succeed.

The first investigation we tried was ‘ShowTime’. Luckily there is a sample copy of it on their website for you to look at.. For this investigation the students had to plan a trip to a show or fair, like the Sydney Royal Easter Show. They were given a budget of $60 to share with a friend and had to examine the show guide to plan what they would buy, do and see.

My students found the experience of working within a budget challenging. When they realised that they would not be able to afford everything they wanted to do, some felt quite upset at the thought of having to cut some of the items on their wish list. However, by the end of the unit, they had all managed to come up with a workable budget.

They found the task of having to come up with an itinerary even more challenging. First they had to read analogue and digital time on the hour, half-hour and quarter-to/past. Then they had to decide when to visit each event, buy showbags or food and go on rides. While some of my students were able to plan quite logically, allowing time to visit different events, stop for lunch and snacks, and buy the showbags they wanted to purchase, others simply listed events and didn’t build in time for the shopping, rides and their all important lunch break.

Even though my students enjoyed the investigation, and could see how the maths we were learning in class related to the real world, it still didn’t seem authentic enough, so we asked the Year 3 teachers to help us. They agreed (thankfully because it was a BIG ask) to have their students put together a fun-fair for us.

They studied the types of events that occur at the Sydney Royal Easter Show and, working in teams, the students developed their own events for us to visit. These included ‘rides’ on the school yard climbing equipment, show bags, lucky dips, games and performances. They presented us with a program itemising each event, activity or product, along with a price for each. The Year 2 students were each given a budget of $20 and set about planning what they would do, see and buy. To challenge them further, they had to ensure they had enough money left to  buy a ticket for a musical performance at the end of the show.

While our Year Two students practised adding money and seeing how much they could buy with $20, our Year Three students practiced simple monetary transactions and calculating change.

It was an excellent, authentic learning experience for both grades that wouldn’t have been possible without a culture of teamwork and collaboration. I feel very grateful to work with a group of colleagues who are so willing to work together and try new things.