A trip to a grocery store for most adults is a routine experience. For a 9- or 10-year-old, the same trip can be frightening, even overwhelming.
There are a myriad of decisions to make involving math, reading and comprehension. In short, a grocery store is a perfect place to teach a lesson that incorporates the new Common Core State Standards.
Enter Dianne Magliocca, a fourth-grade teacher at the Broadalbin-Perth Intermediate School.
Magliocca, a third-year teacher in the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District, has turned a part of her classroom into a grocery store. Since the start of the school year, she has had her students visit the store several times and purchase items using pretend money.
Students have to follow a list (some more complicated than others, depending on the students’ level of ability) purchase items. They have to read labels and cross-reference items to a master price list. Finally, student cashiers total each group’s purchases, accept payment and make change.
Through this hands-on experience, Magliocca provides her students with “a more meaningful lesson” in the math under the Common Core State Standards.
“We have taught the skills. Now we have to dig deeper and apply as much application as possible,” she said. “The students have never gone through this process. They have to read for information and integrate it.”
New York is one of 48 states to adopt the Common Core State Standards, a federal initiative. The standards are meant to better prepare students for life after high school and for college, and they focus on certain core standards, such as math, English language arts, social studies, science and technical subjects. Performance will be measured in standardized tests. Teachers and school administrators will be held accountable for students test results.
“This will level the playing field and give us an understanding of what to expect of our high school graduates,” said Dan Casey, principal of the Broadalbin-Perth Intermediate School. “It is an attempt to get some uniformity in American education.”
While the standards apply to students in kindergarten through grade 12, Broadalbin-Perth is phasing them in gradually, starting this school year. For example, only its students in grades three through eight will be tested on the math and the social studies standards later this year.
Magliocca got the grocery store idea when she saw that many district students struggled on last year’s state exam when they had to solve word problems involving purchases and calculating change. “Too many of our students struggled with those problems, so we knew we had to do better this year. It’s one thing to give a student worksheet after worksheet of practice problems, but it’s quite another to simulate a real-world situation that forces the students to use their math and reading skills, and to think carefully about every step of the activity,” she said.
In Magliocca’s class, her 22 students are finding that math can be fun. Marlee Ottati, 9, of Amsterdam, said the grocery store experience is “exciting. We get to shop and it is like a real store.” She has gone with her parents to stores, but she has never shopped on her own.
Kelsey Hinderliter, 9, of Broadalbin, said the lesson is fun and “you get to learn real-life skills.” She said at first the shopping lesson was complicated, “but then it got easier.”
Tori Corcuera, 9, said the lesson makes her feel “grown up. It makes you feel responsible.”