Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Math in Action

K20 Center, Aimee Myers, Lindsay Williams | Published: December 15th, 2023 by K20 Center


Participants will use provided data to construct a viable argument using mathematical reasoning. Participants will also explore ways to incorporate math strategies in other content areas to support math achievement.

Essential Question

How can math concepts be supported in all content areas?

Learning Goals

  • Identify parallels between problem solving and logical reasoning in math and in other content areas.

  • Examine math strategies that can reinforce math objectives in other subject areas.

Materials List

  • Blank paper

  • Pens or pencils

  • Presentation Slides (attachment)

  • Authentic Learning and Teaching (attached; 1 per participant)

  • Football Statistics (attached; optional; 1 per participant)

  • Everyday Math (attached; 1 per participant)

  • Instructional Strategy Note Sheet (attached; 1 per participant)


Use the attached Presentation Slides to facilitate the presentation.

Share the Agreement Circles instructional strategy with participants. Let them know you will be using this strategy to help assess their prior knowledge and how they feel about the topic to be addressed—something they can take back to their own classrooms if they so choose.

  1. Begin by having participants form a circle.

  2. Display slide 4 then give participants 5-10 seconds of think time.

  3. Ask participants to move to the center of the circle if they agree with the statement and stay on the outside if they disagree.

  4. Match participants up 1:2, 1:3, 1:4, 1:5, or whatever the proportion of agree/disagree indicates; or allow the group in the middle and the group on the outside to take turns convincing each other. Give them a few minutes to defend their ideas in small groups.

  5. Use the discussion to transition to the Learning Objectives on slide 5.

Inform participants that the session will offer even more strategies to help them reinforce math content in other subject areas. Pass out copies of the Authentic Learning and Teaching rubric. Move to slide 6 and introduce the two components of authenticity that this session will highlight. All components are featured to varying degrees, however, the two you will focus and reflect on are "value beyond school" and "student-centered learning."


Display slide 7 and ask participants to use the prepared Football Statistics handout for this next activity.

Have participants partner up to answer the question “Who is the better team?” based on the data they have been given, their own prior knowledge, or the way in which they can manipulate said data. This activity reinforces logical thinking and construction of a reasoned argument, which are skills that can be easily transferred to other content areas.

  • Have participants find Elbow Partners.

  • Invite participants to construct viable arguments to address the essential questions.

  • Ask participants to utilize the football statistics provided to support their arguments.

Move to slide 8. Have participants use the football statistics information for the two teams featured. For the OU vs. OSU football statistics provided (slide 9), you may find it helpful to include who each team played on the weeks that are listed (slide 10).

Once groups have had ample time to pick a team with supporting evidence, change to slide 11. Have each group share out their conclusion and the reasoning to support their decision.


Change to slide 12. Review the content standards for math, science, social studies, and ELA. Then move forward to slide 13 to ask the questions on the Reflection slide. Facilitate a discussion to point out that the activity just completed was based on logical thinking, reasoning, and supporting a claim, and that when educators are doing these types of skill building in their content areas, they are supporting the formation of that skill in math as well.

Change to slide 14 and ask participants to use the Authentic Learning and Teaching rubric to decide which components of authenticity they saw demonstrated in the mini lesson.


Share slide 15 and discuss with participants the things they might already do in their classes (either featured on the slide or additional activities) that support math in other content areas. Pass out the Everyday Math card and encourage them to write down any additional ideas that were discussed in the session. For instance, regarding the last idea listed on the slide (students do a basic mathematical calculation to find out what page number to turn to in their textbooks): Highlight the power of building number sense if everyone was using this technique in every class, every day.

Now that you have discussed general, everyday ideas to support math in other content areas, move the discussion to slide 16. Give specific content examples of how other content areas can incorporate math concepts in their own material. Ask for other examples that participants have done, seen, or heard.


To close the session, invite participants to reflect on what they learned using I Used to Think…But Now I Know. This strategy allows participants to apply the strategies discussed during the session to their own content areas and allows the session facilitators to check for understanding. It is used after instruction and asks participants to compare their ideas or thoughts from the beginning of a lesson to the ideas they have after completing the lesson.

Display slide 17. Ask participants to use blank pieces of paper or the backs of their Everyday Math cards to draw two columns. Have participants use this table to complete the I Used to Think . . . But Now I Know closing activity to answer the question: “How have your ideas about supporting math in all content areas changed (or become more detailed)?” Have them label the left column “I Used to Think” and the right column “Now I Know." Give participants 1-2 minutes to complete the charts, then ask for share outs.

Next, show them slide 18 with the URLs for the K20 LEARN website homepage and instructional strategies search page. Make sure they are aware that there are many lessons on this site that support authentic instruction and that utilize some of the instructional strategies used in the session today, and also that they can access any of the K20 instructional strategies they experienced today, and many more, at the URL found on the slide.

Hand out the Instructional Strategy Note Sheet to aid participants in organizing their thoughts. Display slide 19 and ask participants to reflect on the two instructional strategies covered in the session.

Research Rationale

Not all teachers teach math, but all teachers can incorporate mathematical concepts (such as number sense) into their content areas. Doing so can greatly affect student understanding and skill (Höfer & Beckmann, 2009). Another important opportunity that can have a profound effect on student learning is the use of authentic instruction. Algebraic reasoning encourages students to reflect on their thinking and to share their experiences, and assists them in developing different ways of thinking about problems (Windsor, 2010). By allowing students to wrestle with complex problems while encouraging group participation and relating content to the real world, teachers can improve not only the mathematical achievement of their students but also their overall ability to think critically in other areas (Bell 2010).