Math in the Real World 5-B-3

I’ve recently discovered that podcasts are much more than the old time radio shows that I like to listen to or rebroadcasts of current shows that I have missed. Instead podcasts offer anyone the ability to record audio and video about any subject matter that they choose while allowing end users to find a podcast about a subject that appeals to them. As I’ve explored podcasts over the last several days, I have found that podcasts can be created by professionals and laymen alike. I have seen slick video podcasts from the American Chemical Society, and simple teacher created podcasts for a specific classroom like PapaPodcasts.

As I have explored I have begun to realize that podcasts could be a simple but beneficial addition to any classroom.  While podcasts can be any length, there are many podcasts that are short in length, visually or auditorily appealing; presenting information in an engaging manner that students enjoy.  These qualities make it easy to incorporate podcasts into the classroom, by either introducing a lesson or extending a concept.

In my searching I found a podcast series about math that I think I will begin incorporating in my classroom called The Math Dude Quick and Dirty Tricks to Make Math Easier.  In his own words, “The Math Dude makes understanding math easier and more fun than you ever thought possible. Host Dr. Jason Marshall provides clear explanations of math terms and principles, and his simple tricks for solving basic algebra problems will have even the most mathphobic looking forward to working out whatever math problem comes their way.”  Just what I need for my special education students.

One comment I hear constantly from students who struggle with math is,”When will I ever use this?”  While I have answers at the ready, which of course is all of the time every day, I think I will now begin the school year playing The Math Dude podcast titled How to Use Math to Land Your Dream Job.  This podcast discusses how many employers ask math questions in interviews to not necessarily test your mathematical ability but to assess your logic and reasoning skills.  That, after all, is a main component of math especially in the Algebra class I teach.  Two real life questions that were asked to Apple, Microsoft, or other tech job applicants:  Given a 3 and 5 gallon bucket with an endless supply of water, measure out exactly 4 gallons; and how many times does the hour and minute hand line up exactly over the course of the day.  (To hear the answers you will have to tune in to the podcast.)

By playing this podcast to my class, I think I could begin a dialogue with my students about what math is and what they will need it for in their futures.  Many of my students don’t realize that the skills and jobs that they will have include a lot of math, especially in the construction or mechanical fields.  I want my carpenter to know the 2-3-5 rule to make sure what he is building is square, which is just Pythagoras’s Theorem, or my HVAC person being able to calculate how much cold air intake my heating system needs.  After listening to the broadcast I plan to have my students create a list of math skills that will be important for their dream job.  While it may have minimal impact for some at that time, I think it is a lesson they will remember far into the future.


1 Comment

  1. Great podcast about math! I enjoyed the mental stimulation. I agree that students protest learning math if they cannot find authentic connections. Another great thing about some educational podcasts is that someone else gets to say what you’ve been saying again and again. For some reason I cannot fathom, that voice is more believable!

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