How will you use $5,000,000?

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Working on their place value project.

Our focus this year is on real-world applications of the mathematical foundations we build in our classroom. We have been working on understanding place value concepts to 1,000,000 and three strategies (front end, comparable and compensation) for estimation during Math. We’ve also been thinking of how and where we would need to understand and use these concepts in our lives.

The students were then presented with the following problem:

“You have inherited $5,000,000 from a long lost relative in your ancestor’s country. The problem is that you must use this money on purchasing 3 homes in Alberta. You can use http://www.realtor.ca. One house must be over $1,000,000 and the other two can be of your choosing, however you must share your reasoning as to why you have chosen these homes. Any money left over will be yours to keep, so choose and estimate your budget wisely. How will you use your money?”

They were also presented with website called Padlet, which is a virtual collaborative board, open to representing learning and projects in a variety of ways.

Students had to organize their three homes and their features. They were to also calculate the estimated value and cost of each home as well as the property taxes. Then calculate their estimated leftover amounts after purchases were processed. Once their calculations and reasonings were completed, they will draft a cheque for their homes using written and standard form for the amount they would pay home owner. Their learning and understandings, whether visual, oral or written along with their calculations would all be posted to their padlet wall for sharing.

Students were ecstatic to start exploring and were even more invested when they saw the connections between the google map they were using in Social Studies and the one on realtor.ca. They started out small and searched for homes within their city and soon afterwards started to branch out.

Exploring realtor.ca and padlet.com.

Exploring realtor.ca and padlet.com.

This is where things started to get exciting because they began to see just how much money a home can cost and some began to have questions.

“Do I only have to choose 3 homes?”

“What if I want two or more homes over $1,000,000?”

I thought about those questions and immediately questioned my reasonings behind creating the problem. I looked at them and said, “No, you have free choice. It is your $5,000,000 and so use it at your discretion so long as you can demonstrate your understandings.”

As soon as they realized they had ownership of the project and their money, their interest began to shine through which showed me that they were truly invested in this project and in applying the classroom concepts to the real world. Questions then became these (and to which I said yes):

“Can I purchase multiple rental homes and rent them out for more money?”

“I love art. Do I have to buy a house? Can I l buy art gallery spaces?”

They were making this project their own! Soon all you could hear in our classroom were:

  • Students sharing the costs of their homes which meant reading the larger numbers and vocalizing them to one another
  • Students using descriptive language to justify which properties they have chosen
  • Students learning about different parts of our province and questioning housing costs relative to locations

We even held discussions about why some properties were listed at $1 and what bidding wars were.

This project has helped to begin the conversations about how math is a part of our everyday lives. That math is not just something you need to “do” in class but that there is a real need for the skills you are learning, and where, why and how to apply them.

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