Modified resource teachers Erica Davis and Sharvetta Bess have incorporated coupon and sale shopping skills into daily math lessons with their students in an effort to help the families of the children they serve.
“Sharvetta does a lesson with the coupons and then ... the coupons go home so (the students’) parents know what store to shop at and where the coupon goes the furthest,” Davis said.
Information on what stores are having sales that week is researched by Bess and passed on to the parents.
Each week parents are asked to submit a list of the items they want to purchase. Students and teachers then look for coupons targeting those items.
Each coupon lesson uses the basic math skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
“We talk about how much the coupons are and we work the problems out,” Sharvetta said. “Then at the end I say, ‘I’m just curious. How much would each item really cost me?’ So we take the number of items and divide it into what our total would be in the grocery store.”
The teachers encourage parents to have their students be involved in the grocery shopping by letting them hand the coupons to the cashier.
“This is just life skills for our kids,” Davis said.
Many of the students in the classes come from low-income households.
Davis said knowing how to use coupons will be an asset to her students.
Parent response has been good, according to Davis.
The teachers individualize each coupon-based lesson to items the family will actually buy.
Bess said students are excited to find coupons for foods they like. She said she thinks the parents have been excited, too.
Common Core standards and requirements for the upcoming Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers Assessment, which will replace the Tennessee Comprehensive Program as the state required test, are also being reinforced in the lessons.
The students are given word problems involving the same type of food as the coupons they are using. For example, if the couponing math lesson focused on fruit, the word problem would be about fruit.
“One of the strategies ... they are trying to get kids to use when taking the CRA (constructive response) assesment is called the RICE strategy,” Davis said. “So what we’re trying to do is teach our kids the RICE strategy ... but we do it a different way.”
A constructive response requires students to write out and explain how they solved a math problem.
The RICE strategy requires students to “Restate the problem, Illustrate the answer, Calculate the answer and Explain the answer.”
Davis calls the alternative strategy used in the couponing lesson the 4 Ps: Picture, Problem, Prove it! and Product.
A technology grant from the Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation has helped the teachers implement the coupon lessons.
Davis said she received a grant for iPads to use coupon applications and websites.
“We’re using the iPads to look for different coupons,” Davis said.
Another donation to the class from the Cleveland Daily Banner has provided free copies of the Wednesday and Sunday newspapers in which many coupons appear.
The idea for the innovative lessons came from a teacher conference Davis attended.
“Sharvetta has been a couponer forever,” Davis said, “and I had gone to a Title 1 conference, and they had mentioned teaching applied math through coupons.”
She said she used to be embarrassed when her grandmother used coupons, but now understands the potential savings. Now using coupons is popular, she said.
The “Time to $ave” website provides Sharvetta with a springboard for lesson ideas and access to coupons.