As most of you know, I live in the middle of bush Alaska. The reality is that most of my students will not go to college and probably never will. A few are willing to head out for training but even those are few and far between.

A parent commented to me that the high school does not offer enough vocational math for the students who are not interested in attending college.

So what do I have to do to help these students so they don't get lost in the shuffle and do not have a chance to get the math they want. I'm looking at integrating applied math into my standard math classes. For instance, I can integrate some carpentry math during Pre-Algebra. There is a part of the class where I have to review fractions.

Fractions are an intricate part of carpentry. In addition, I can include road grade and roof pitch when I'm teaching slope in several of my classes so why not add in a few roofs for students to find the pitch. Then there is area and calculating the amount of paint, flooring, and ceiling tiles.

Of course cooking can also be incorporated while studying fractions because most recipes have fractions in them. Add in the skill of enlarging or reducing and you've added in multiplication or division of fractions.

Throw in pricing for items which allow you to take a discount when you buy more items. You'll find this type of pricing at Fire Mountain Gems and Beads. Let some of your artistic students create a design on grid paper and decide what they need to order to complete the piece of jewelry and the complete price. Once they know the cost of materials, they can make an estimate of time and calculate a finished price for the jewelry.

Another place that uses this type of pricing is the same so have students who are into electronics, figure out what they'd like to order, discover the prices and calculate the cost. In either case, students can calculate the rate of discount for each level to decide if buying the extra is worth the discount.

Back to the original question, is it possible to integrate things like this into the classes we are teaching for the students who are college bound while still meeting the needs of those who are going a different path? Will it help those heading to college because they will see a real application of the math they are studying?

Let me know your thoughts. I would love to hear from people.