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What is contextualized math? Contextualized learning is not something new. Back in 2001, the United States Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult Education (2001) characterized CTL as a "conception of teaching and learning that helps teachers relate subject matter content to real world situations." These instructional strategies are designed to more seamlessly link the learning of foundational skills and academic or occupational content by focusing teaching and learning squarely on concrete applications in a specific context that is of interest to the student. How does it improve students' understanding of math concepts? How many of us sat in high school Algebra wondering, "Why do I need to know this? I'll never use it in real life." In most cases, we're not provided any type of context or real world application. Research supports the fact that student understand math better when it is contextualized. It motivates and increases the students' willingness to engage (Tabach & Friedlander, 2008) and provides concrete meaning to the math (Heid et all, 1995). How do I use the modules? It is important to note that students need to engage in three steps BEFORE providing any type of contextualized math problems: 1. Develop a conceptual understanding 2. Make connections to why they need to know the content 3. Be fluent in the procedures of how to do the math problems If math concepts are taught in context first, students have difficulty using the math outside of the specific contexts presented. So the energy industry contextualized math problems should be used after students have gone through steps one through three for each topic. What math concepts are covered? Basic Operations Forms of Fractions Operations with Fractions Converting Fractions to Percentages Rations and Proportions Conversions (English & Metric) Use of Formulas Why were these math concepts selected--aren't these concepts taught in middle school? The selected topics are those that are covered on pre-employment test in the energy industry. The modules don't provide direction on how to teach the concepts--only word problems that use concepts. All of the questions in the modules are presented in the context of specific occupations so students not only learn better, but they gain awareness of careers in the energy industry.
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