The second block of Teal’s sixth grade year was business math. I used the “Business Math Main Lesson” in Jamie York’s Making Math Meaningful middle-school curriculum as a guide. It is very thorough in listing the math skills to focus on, but you must come up with the way to teach them. I chose to begin with some basic economic concepts and terms and then have Teal create a business that we could use as a model to learn and practice the skills in Jamie York’s book.
We started the block by discussing production, distribution/trade, and consumption, then we spent a few days talking about three simple economic systems; self-sufficient, bartering, and money. Next we moved on to supply and demand. We did some graphing of demand, supply and equilibrium. I used information found online to define the terms and give me ideas for graphs. We did a lot of talking about everything so I could make sure Teal really understood what was being representing in the supply and demand graphs. (You may notice I didn’t do a supply curve; I tried to keep things very simple for this introduction.) I introduced percent and we spent time working with them as they relate to fractions and decimals.
I asked Teal to create a business in which she really had to sell something. She chose to make and sell cookies. Since she didn’t have any capital to begin the business, I was the bank. We figured out how much it would cost to buy supplies, how much money I would loan her, and how much she would have to pay back in interest. She set the price of the cookies and did the math to figure out how much money she would make selling the cookies for $0.25 each and how much she would make if she sold them at a discount of five cookies for $1.00. She figured out that she would have to sell a minimum of 26 cookies to pay off the bank loan and interest.
After all was figured out, she became very embarrassed to set up her cookie table on the corner near the school bus stop (in order to have lots of kids go by.) I helped her push through the embarrassment and she was able to sell all of the cookies she made with a profit of $2.20, which made her quite happy. I had her write an evaluation afterward in which she wrote, “I felt like if I made more cookies I could have sold them all.” It turned out to be a very positive project.
We did have to make up other scenarios to work in some of the skills outlined in York’s book. Teal has been using the Making Math Meaningful 6th Grade Student’s Workbook for math this year, too, and I really like that there are usually one or two business math problems per sheet. My recommendation is to make sure you position this block for a time in the year when you have had a chance to review decimals and anything else you might need. We did math review as an extra lesson during our mineralogy block and I was very glad that that got us squared away to begin this block.
Thanks for reading!