Over the past 20 years, advancements in science, technology, and communication have transformed our world. If you trace any one of these advancements back to their roots, you are likely to uncover the story of a person or team who dared to break from traditional thinking and approach a common problem in a new way.
Whether it’s a billionaire visionary like Bill Gates who transformed the way the world uses computers, a team of innovative mathematicians like the women featured in the hit film Hidden Figures who revolutionized space travel, or a student inventor like Alexis Lewis who transformed how first-responders save lives, this is what innovation is all about.
In today’s world, the demand for innovation continues to grow. As a result, the focus of traditional learning paradigms needs to shift.
In the 21st century, simply finding creative ways to expose students to curricular content isn’t enough. Educators, whether teachers or tutors, have a responsibility to include opportunities for students to apply knowledge in innovative ways. One great way to bring this type of opportunity to your students is through participation in innovation competitions…
Number-sense and the ability to estimate are skills that students will need in their every-day life. Unfortunately, these skills can be some of the most challenging to teach without practical experiences. One of the best places to cultivate the ability to do quick, mental-math estimation is on a trip to the grocery store. Here is a simple Grocery Store Game you can have your child or student play on their next trip.
The shopper uses estimation skills to select a combination of products that come as close as possible to a target total.
- A shopping list
- A separate shopping basket from the main cart/basket
- calculator (optional)
How to Play…
Learning is most effective when it is both practical and relevant. Teachers and tutors can maximize their students’ real-world math abilities by creating experiences that mimic how math is used in real life. One of my favorite examples of a hands-on, concrete math practice activity is the Tollbooth Game. I still remember playing this Tollbooth Game decades ago when I was in middle school and can recall how effectively it made the concept of carrying out accurate mental math seem meaningful (shout out to Mr. Brennan!).
The tollbooth operator completes a set of transactions with customers focusing on accurate computations, speedy calculations, and maintaining composure.
Technology has made a lot of the tried-and-true educational mainstays irrelevant to today’s student: the calculator defeated the abacus and the internet put most encyclopedia salesmen out of business. These two fantastic flashcard apps may be sending the 3”x 5” index card into retirement: