## Mathemagic Monday 2: Tax and Discount

One of the many reasons that I fell in love with teaching middle school math is that the material is super relevant.  Students are learning skills that will stick with them for years to come.  One of my favorite topics to teach is percent of change, specifically tax and discount.

This post is a continuation of the Mathemagic Mondays series (one day late).  A series of posts that shares shortcuts and hints that make math magical!

Here are some things to keep in mind when teaching tax and discount to your students:

1)      I begin with proportions since we review tax and discount right after proportion solving.  This helps students to see a meaningful connection to a recent skill.

2)    Compare and contrast strategies involving proportions and decimals.  Let students use a calculator.  Unless your students really need practice with decimals operations, they will be demonstrating their understanding if they can set up the problem, then use the calculator to help with arithmetic.

3)    Show the shortcuts and help them understand what they mean and why they work.  We spend several minutes practicing examples like:
“If you save 30%, you spend ___%.”
“If you pay 5% tax, you pay the bill plus the tax which will be ____%.”

4)    Continue to practice this skill throughout the year on Problem of the Days, exit tickets, and/or homework.  This is an important one to drill in, and practice makes permanent!

To help students build meaning, I use this discovery worksheet, which you can pick up for free in my store.

Of course, there’s more than just tax and discount when discussing percent of change.  This scavenger hunt is a teacher and student favorite!

Mathemagic Monday is a series of blog posts by Free to Discover that highlights some tips and tricks for making math meaningful and fun for kids, focusing on those shortcuts and connections that give us the “aha” moment.

## Halloween in the Secondary Math Classroom

Halloween in a middle school classroom can be a nightmare.  Students are thinking about costumes, parties, and candy when you need them to be focusing on slope, rational numbers, and equations.

Do you accept the lost day and move on?

Fight it and assign seatwork to bore the excitement right out of them?

I have found a better solution that I love and my students love, too!

I have created a line of holiday-themed partner stations.  Students work with a partner and move around the room as they solve math problems.

HOW IT WORKS:
1)      Set up the 8 stations around the room.  I typically tape them to the walls and give students clipboards to write on.
2)    At each station there are two different problems – each leading to the same solution.  One student completes problem A and one completes problem B.  They are working independently, but can check their answer to make sure it matches their partner’s answer.
3)    Students show all of their work in the provided workspace.  At the bottom of the workspace, there’s a key that lists all correct answers and some answers to common errors (and some random numbers to fill in all spaces).  Each answer is matched up with a letter so that students “collect” a new letter at each station.
4)    Once students have completed all 8 problems, they unscramble the 8 letters to determine the themed code word.

During these activities, my students are super engaged.  They find the activities fun because they are working with a partner and moving around the room.  I am happy because they are practicing math – without complaint – on a holiday – and they ask for more… WHAT!  I love it.

For Halloween, I currently have these topics ready to go in my store:

You can also put in a request for a different topic and/or holiday.  I can work with very short notice.  Fill out a request form to share what you’re looking for.

And if these activities work wonders in your classroom, you can scoop up the entire bundle.