Author Archives: Blaine

Library Volume 2 – Available Now!

Real-World Math - Introducing Library Volume 2


We’re excited to announce that we’ve released MIRL Activity Library, Volume 2! This volume contains 110 math activities in 11 workbooks, helping you to answer your student’s question, “When am I ever going to use this?”

Blog readers – email us directly at “contact at makeitreallearning dot com” with a subject line of “Library Volume 2 – $10 discount” for a $10-off coupon for the new library. Offer ends April 30, 2012. Spread the word.

Standards Map

Library Volume 2.

Activity Library Volume 2 is nearly here! All of the new activities are mapped to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. As of March 2012, these learning standards had been adopted by 45 of the 50 states in the United States. We’ve uploaded a reference document which maps each of the new activities to the core standard by grade level. The new library will be available on our site soon. Very soon.

Library Volume 2 – Activity Map to Common Core Standards

Sneak Peek

Geometry 1

Coming soon!

We’re hard at work on our next product, Activity Library Vol. 2, and plan to deliver it this quarter. Stay tuned! For now, here’s a sneak peek of one of the workbook covers.

2012 TeamUp Presentation

free activity

Free downloadable iPod activity

Make It Real Learning activity developer and award-winning author, Frank Wilson, will be part of an all-star lineup of authors and educators at the Cengage Learning TeamUP Faculty Programs Mathematics Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona on Feb 10, 2012. Wilson’s workshop, entitledCaptivating Contexts for College Algebra, will feature intriguing real-world contexts that interest and engage students in learning. By creating mathematical models for real-world situations, students learn more than math: they learn about the world in which they live. Participants will receive an activities packet featuring fascinating contexts ranging from the Nintendo Wii to the Apple iPod. A copy of the presentation and packet may be freely downloaded.

Sweet Fractions – Free Activity

Back to School

Recently, I was asked to  substitute for an arithmetic class at a community college. As you might expect, many of the students had little experience being successful at mathematics. My goal for the day was to help the students understand basic fraction concepts. I decided to use an activity I had created for a teacher traning workshop I had conducted at Arizona State University. The activity was a hit and the students loved it!

Since it’s back to school for many of us. We thought we’d celebrate by providing the activity as a  free download. Enjoy!

Free PowerPoint show: Sweet Fractions Math Activity

The Make It Real Learning Approach

One important component of the Make It Real Learning approach is making sense of mathematics and mathematical models of real-world contexts. For example, consider the following sample exam question for an algebra class and its corresponding solution.

Based on data from 1985 - 2004, the difference between US oil field production and net oil imports may be modeled by equation million barrels where t is the number of years since 1985 (Source: Modeled from Statistical Abstract of the United States 2007, Table 881). When the value of the function is negative, the US is importing more oil than it is producing. What is the practical meaning of the 2251 and the -278.3 in the equation?

This question doesn’t require any computations but it does require an understanding of quadratic function models.

The 2251 is the initial value of the function. Since 1985 is the initial year (t = 0) for the model, US oil field production exceeded net oil imports by 2251 million barrels in 1985.

The -278.3 is the initial rate of change of the function. In 1985, the difference between US oil field production and net oil imports was decreasing at a rate of 278.3 million barrels per year. According to the model, the difference in 1986 was predicted to be about 278 million barrels less than the difference in 1985.

Real-World Math

Students always ask, “When am I ever going to use this?” The following is a list of a few common math function types and associated real-world math contexts.

Linear functions

Anything that has a constant rate of change is a linear function.

The total cost of bowling n games at a price of $5.00 per game when the shoe rental is $4.00:
linear function example

A cell phone plan costs $59.99 for 1000 minutes. Additional minutes are $0.45 each. The monthly cost of the plan when you go over by x minutes:
linear function example
Gasoline currently costs $3.799 per gallon. The cost of buying g gallons:
linear function example
Degrees Fahrenheit and degrees Celsius are both used to measure temperature. Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius. The temperature in degrees Fahrenheit when the temperature is c degrees Celsius:
linear function example


Exponential functions

Anything with a constant percentage change is an exponential function.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency, Argentina had a population of 41.8 million people in 2011 and was growing at a rate of 1.017% per year. The population of Argentina (in millions) t years since 2011:
exponential function example
According to the Central Intelligence Agency, Japan had a population of 126.4 million people in 2011 and was declining at a rate of 0.278% per year. The population of Japan (in millions) t years since 2011:
exponential function example
The future value of a $1000 investment earning 3.21% interest compounded monthly after t years:
exponential function example


Piecewise functions

Anything where different rules apply in different situations.

The monthly cost of a cell phone plan with 1000 included minutes for $59.99 and extra minutes costing $0.45 when m total minutes are used:
exponential function example
The cost of n greeting cards when cards cost $1.29 each when 10 or less cards are ordered and cost $0.99 each when more than 10 cards are ordered:
exponential function example

Review on

Arithmetic activity cover photo.

Richele McFarlin at has posted a review of our Library.

Make It Real Learning is the most exciting thing to happen to math since the abacus. Make It Real Learning connects the textbook world of math to the physical world. The connection is priceless as you will not longer have to sit glazed eyed and listen to your child chant “This makes no sense. When will I ever use this? This makes no sense. When will I ever use this?” (read more…)

If you’re a blogger and are interested in reviewing our products, let us know. (blaine at makeitreallearning dot com)