I was just reading an Early Years resource called *Thinking Mathematically, *published by ETFO as part of the *Thinking it Through *professional learning* *package. I came across this quote and wondered why it is only suggested for young children. Shouldn’t all mathematics experiences follow this integrated idea? Here is the quote:

“Mathematics for young children should be an integrated whole. Connections between topics, between mathematics and other subjects, and between mathematics and everyday life should permeate children’s mathematical experiences.” p.7

The authors continue to discuss the importance of mathematics activities occurring in the context of an experience; a real purpose or connection to doing the math. I believe students at all ages would benefit from this type of math teaching and learning experience. The authors also talk about establishing a ‘climate of delight’ in the classroom and I can see how this works with older students as well.

I have had the chance to work in several Intermediate math classes recently who were studying proportional reasoning (not the easiest of concepts for students!). What was interesting to me was the level of engagement in the classes when they were engaged in some problem solving activities where the teachers incorporated student interest, choice, real-world connections and 21st Century skills. Some students created their own math problems using any real scenario possible in an area of interest to them, some used Tim Horton’s cups to try and find out what the best deals are for different sized drinks, and some chose objects of interest in their own lives to determine if a proportional relationship exists (e.g. are the screen size and case size of a smartphone and tablet proportional). In all of these lessons, students used iPad apps of their choice to create online tutorials. In these classes, students had learned four specific strategies for solving proportional reasoning problems: Unit Rate, Factor of Change, Fractions, Cross-Product Algorithm. The tutorials were designed to teach someone else how to apply the proportional reasoning problem solving strategies.

As we wind up this school year, I hope we can take a page from the Early Years classes and find some exciting ways for students to apply the math they learned this year in a fun and engaging problem of meaning to them. If you have had any experiences like this, or ideas for things to try, I would love to hear about them!