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Math Lesson Idea: How Much Should I Get Paid?

Thanks to its partnership with publisher Eye on Education, EducationWorld is pleased to present this lesson idea from Family Math Night: Middle School Math Standards in Action, by Jennifer Taylor-Cox and Christine Oberdorf. The activity aligns with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, which call upon students to "make sense of problems and persevere in solving them," "reason abstractly and quantitatively" and "look for and make use of structure." This activity requires students to complete multiple operations in order to determine the best salary option.


Salary option cards

Helpful Hints:

The salary option cards include a workspace that students can use to complete calculations. Recording all calculations on these cards allows participants to readily compare each of the pay options. Have many copies of the salary option cards available for students.

Math Question: Which salary option is the best?

You are a newly hired video store manager, and you must choose from the offered salary options. Work as a family to determine the best choice based on a five-day workweek.



Cut out the four salary option cards. Shuffle and distribute cards to family members.

Predict and record in your math journal which option would be most lucrative for you during a six-hour day. Verify your prediction by displaying your calculations in a table. You may write on the cards.

Determine if the same pay is still the best if you work an eight-hour day.

Questions Parents/Teachers Can Ask:

  1. Was your prediction the best salary option?
  2. How does the length of the workday affect the best salary choice?
  3. What is the difference in the daily salary between the highest-paying option and the lowest-paying option?


Calculate the monthly salary (based on four weeks per month) and the annual salary (based on 52 weeks per year) for each pay option for an eight-hour workday.


Option D offers the best pay for a six-hour day. Option A is the best choice for an eight-hour day. The chart below provides the totals for each pay option.

Pay Periods

Pay Option A

Pay Option B

Pay Option C

Pay Option D

Six-Hour Day




$90 per day

Eight-Hour Day





Challenge Answers:

Weekly Pay





Monthly Pay  (Weekly Pay x 4)





Yearly Pay  (Weekly Pay x 52)






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