# Is this important?

When students ask, “Why do we have to learn this?” they are truly asking, “Is this important?”  According to Marzano, teachers and the curriculum should connect to students’ lives, connect to students’ life ambitions, and encourage application of knowledge. Chapter 4 of Marzano’s book, The Highly Engaged Classroom, provides a variety of activities to help students connect the content with their life.

1.  Use a variety of comparison tasks to connect the curriculum to personal interest. Compare characteristics, processes, sequence of events, cause and effect relationships, fame or notoriety, analogical reasoning tasks.
2. Connect to students’ life ambitions through personal projects. Students identify their long term goals. In certain phases the students identify the need for certain knowledge, skills, critical thinking, etc. and learn the roles of heroes and role models.
3. Encourage the application of knowledge with challenging tasks using decision making, problem solving, experimental inquiry and investigation.

Here I thought making up a humanitarian word problem was all that’s needed:

A volunteer organization delivered 32 tons of wheat to a drought stricken African nation. This is enough food to feed about 2,080 people for a month.  One ton feeds how many people in a month? If one ton equals 2000 pounds, how many pounds of food does one person eat in a month? Round your answer to the nearest whole number.

The problem is real world, but it’s not enough.

The standard is 6NS2, dividing multi-digit numbers. I originally created this problem as an example of a level 4 problem. In its current form it certainly does not use decision making, problem solving, experimental inquiry, or investigation.  But with some tweaking it can be a rich task.

I have a couple of ideas to create a decision making task that entails comparing two ways to schedule the delivery of food. But I right now they are in my head and not on paper.

How would you alter the problem?