There is no question that deeper learning is the way to go, but reality sometimes warrants a need to pay attention to the details in problems. The reality of exams is that students are asked to evaluate and calculate. As math concepts become more complicated, the opportunity for "little mistakes" increases.

A favorite activity which both addresses a specific math concepts and requires students to examine the details is what I call "*Be the Teacher*" (a free copy is available at the end of this post). I use this activity for concept practice or for assessment.

How many times have you heard this from your students? For me, my students often ask why they have to learn "this." I try whenever possible to be able to answer that question. This was easier when I was in Algebra and Geometry, but now that I teach primarily Algebra 2 and above, I find that question increasingly difficult. Sometimes I have no answer, and I am always honest with my students. I tell them that most of them won't use it, particularly if they don't end up in a math or science field. Still, the logical thinking and problem solving skills are important in all professions.

BUT when I can answer with a real-world application, I do. Here are some of my favorite applications for upper level math concepts: