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Promoting Critical Thinking on Global Issues: Sustainability and Positive Solutions

Facing the Future, a non-profit organization in Seattle (WA), recently released the new materials Real World Math: Engaging Students through Global Issues. This mathematics resource is like Certs in that it takes on two tasks at one time: helping students learn foundational skills and concepts in algebra and geometry while also having these same students explore real-world data on global issues such as climate change, population growth, and financial literacy.

Aimed at the middle school level, the Real World Math materials include a helpful teacher’s guide and corresponding student workbook. The claim is that all of the fifteen lessons were "inspired, researched, designed, reviewed, and pilot tested by educators in the field." Each lesson includes:

  • Interesting real-world data
  • Contextual mathematics problems
  • Guided instructions
  • Alignment with National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards
  • Activity-based "hooks" to grab students’ interest
  • Critical thinking
  • Student collaboration
  • Extension problems
  • Ideas for "action" project
  • Additional educational resources
The Real World Math materials come in two physical parts. First, the Student Workbook includes lesson handouts, supplemental worksheets, and topical background readings that directly connect with the lessons in the teacher’s guide. Second, the Teacher’s Guide includes complete lesson plans plus masters for both the student lesson handouts and the practice worksheets. Since the materials were developed by educators, it would have been more helpful if the resources also included assessment ideas and rubrics.

Interested mathematics teachers should explore the additional information about the Student Workbook or the Teacher's Guide. You can even download three of the lessons and try them out. The materials themselves are inexpensive.

As a nonprofit organization, Facing the Future has taken on the even bigger task of "educating and motivating today’s students to be responsible stewards of tomorrow’s world." In line with this goal, Facing the Future provides educators (all disciplines) with standards-based hands-on lessons, resource curricula, service-learning, and professional development opportunities that. Their interdiciplinary course materials are being used by K-12 teachers both nationwide and internationally (over 85 countries).