How to Teach Public Transportation
Updated: Apr 4
Our next topic in the Consumer Math Blog Series is about how to teach Public Transportation. Read more about why and how you can teach Public Transportation using my Public Transportation Lesson Unit (click here to get your copy).
Purpose of Teaching Public Transportation
If your students’ abilities will make it challenging for them to obtain a driver’s license, then learning about public transportation is a way to show them that they can still get out and about without relying on a family member or friend.
Each area (state/county/town) has different public transportation options, levels of accessibility, and names, so focusing on what is available in your area can really make this topic relevant to your students.
Fare. Yes, public transportation costs money and each type will cost a different amount. Showing students how they will pay for a ride is so important to making it appear more appealing and approachable.
Schedule. Every public transportation option has a schedule, whether that is a set daily schedule, availability every 10 minutes, or a schedule that the rider sets- they run on a schedule and won’t care to wait for anyone. This is especially important for students who may be consistently tardy for class :)
Identify three different types of local public transportation and two pros and cons of public transportation.
Lesson Unit Break Down
Day 1- Jump into this topic with the brain teaser and the flow chart, then pivot to the reading passage (see Reading Passage Option below). Get a gauge of where your students are at with the T/F questions (pictured right) and writing prompts.
Day 2- Create a picture of what public transportation includes with Notes (the big ideas) and the Parts (vocabulary and examples). Dive into the public transportation options in your area on this day and show as many true artifacts as you can (bus passes, airline tickets, train stubs or schedules)!
Day 3- Students will use the Public Transportation web visual to cover the most common public transportation options, then they will start calculating the cost of taking public transportation options with a worksheet. If there is time, use the Exit Slip as another check for understanding!
Day 4- The Exploring Public Transportation worksheet is intended for students to work in partners. They will research everything from public transportation costs, stops closest to their school, reading schedules, and more! End with a Would You Rather game to see how students would react and respond to different public transportation scenarios (there are SO many embedded lessons in this game that it is a MUST play)!
Day 5- Slide into the end of the lesson with a task card review (see Task Card Idea below) and assessment. The word search and functional math review are great ways to calmly end the lesson unit.
Reading Passage Option
If you have other public transportation in your area then write those other options on the sides or back side. For example, does your area offer bikes or scooters for rent? Are RideShare companies in your neighborhood?
Listen and Learn
A Listen & Learn is a short, 5 sentence PowerPoint/Google presentation that introduces the topic using visuals and audio. Ideal for non-readers! Read about what they are and how they might be right for your classroom here.
Task Card Idea
Students can review and stay seated with Raise your Hands task card method. While projecting one card one at a time, give 30 seconds to read and decide the right answer. Then say ‘Raise your hands!’ and students should point to the side of the classroom wall with the right answer (i.e.- if the answer on the left is correct then students should point to the left wall and vice versa).
Further Practice Idea
If you are able to get some funds and a bus, I would take your students on the most accessible or common public transportation in your area. If the most common form of transportation in your area is a bus, then take the bus to a restaurant or grocery store, if it is a train then consider getting as close to a park as you can and enjoy a game outside. While time may only allow you to take the trip one way, getting to read the schedule, find the pick-up/drop-off locations, figure out ways to pay the fare, and then actually ride may be so eye opening for your students that it will be worth all the effort!
Ultimate Goal of the Lesson Unit
There are options! I think most student’s knee jerk reaction is to say that their family will get them everywhere they want to go. It’s nice to open student’s eyes to see that they have options and don’t have to rely on family/friends to get them to places only they want to go to.
This may also be a great opportunity to share that family/friends may not always be available to transport them to the places they need and want to go.
May I Also Suggest Teaching
Since public transportation has sprinkles of schedules I would suggest the Time Management Lesson unit and sprinkles of local transportation options I would suggest the Planning a Trip Lesson Unit. Both will give you a well rounded 3 week lesson on time, transportation, and getting things done!
You may learn a new idea to two from these Consumer Math Blog Posts:
How I Teach Buying a Car (coming soon)