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Incorporating Real-World Lessons into the Classroom

Incorporating real world lessons into the classroom helps students connect what they’re learning to “real life” and introduces them to skills they’ll need as adults. This practice can take two approaches:

  • With each lesson plan you can explain how the principle is used in everyday life
  • You can create lesson plans specifically around real life skills related to the subject

Connecting the classroom to the real world helps students engage and understand that what they’re learning is actually useful. It’s a concept that pertains to every subject, but works particularly well for math with its complex equations and rules that students often have difficulty relating to actions. Math also offers educators a variety of everyday math-related tasks that students will need as adults but that don’t go along with a textbook. Working these lessons into the school year will benefit your students in more ways than one. Here are a few real-world lessons currently being taught in math classrooms.

The Stock Market

Stock Market

While this topic crosses into economics, understanding how the money market works incorporates a fair bit of math. Teachers can discuss how traders decide when to buy and sell stocks, what the financial implications of those actions (particularly if you’re looking at the percentage breakdown of a mock individual’s stock portfolio), daily money flow and dividends.

Splitting students into teams to manage fake portfolios adds the additional incentive of making the lesson a game.

Banking Services

Discussing banking opens up a world of equation lessons while giving students valuable knowledge about managing their future wealth. This lesson can cover checking and savings accounts, balancing a check book, investment discussions and also incorporates interest rate formulas.

Money-based lessons are ideal for just able any age group. Learning to balance a checkbook or pay bills out of a monthly paycheck can help younger students with their basic arithmetic skills. Lessons for older students can expand to credit cards, home financing and car loans to focus on percentages and interest rates.


With the endless commercials and pop-up shops it’s hard to escape tax season, even if students aren’t the ones filing tax returns. This makes early April the perfect time to incorporate a lesson that shows students a clear connect to the real world. It will also give them a valuable leg up in understanding the process when it’s time for them to file taxes. Withholdings, interest and refunds (or money owed) offer a wide selection of topics and lessons for creative and engaging teachers or parents.

Square Footage and Ratio

Make learning about area and ratio more compelling by letting students create mock classrooms. Have students measure the classroom to find the square footage. Then have them measure the major furniture pieces. Use this information to make a scaled down model of the room and furniture then allow students to create suggested layouts.

It won’t be long before high school students feel the frustration of trying to fit a couch up a narrow flight of stairs and into a tiny apartment. Even younger students can delight in rearranging their rooms using their new found and properly applied skills.

Bonus Lesson Idea – English


English teachers also have a big opportunity to reinforce writing fundamentals while helping their students understand why—in the world of text messages and emojis—proper spelling, English and grammar are important.

Hand out job descriptions and have students create a cover letter and resume. In today’s competitive job market, small mistakes can get a resume tossed even if the candidate is otherwise qualified. This is also an exercise parents can do at home, particularly if they are a hiring manager themselves.

The Importance of Engaging

Any parent or teacher is likely intimately acquainted with the questions, “Why do I even need this?” and “When will I ever actually use this?” Sitting in a classroom learning rules, equations and history can leave students feeling disconnected from real life. Without clear lines drawn, they don’t always see the connections between the lessons they’re learning and real world applications. Framing lessons with life skills will help students engage and retain information.

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