I was sitting on my sofa last night when I realized I wasn't sure where we used transformations in real life. I picked up the latest issue of the middle school NCTM magazine and it struck me where these occur. You find transformations in carpet, tile, fences, cement pathways, robotics in that you have to give the robot the information to move him, turn around, etc. You can see it in art, in twister, in so many other places. In addition, transformations can occur in landscaping such as the Taj Mahal or Lincoln Memorial Reflecting pools, Longwood gardens, geology, a merry go round, the planets as they spin on their axis, etc.
I see having the students research the topic to find examples of real world transformations and then creating a presentation such as Prezi, Haiku Deck, Keynote or maybe a movie or podcast with the information on these examples. They could have a picture in which they identify the type of translation, where it moved from to where it ended up, or if it rotated. They could identify using diagrams the exact movement so they would have to discuss it and finally they could explain how their thinking process in regard to identifying the transformation.
This sort of activity would have them using technology, mathematics, higher level thinking skills, and they would be showing their mathematical literacy.