Are you looking for ways to relate real world concepts to your curriculum? Often students will work harder on a topic when they find that it is relevant.
I created this very basic table for students to fill in using the percent change equation. Using the inflation calculator from the Bureau of Labor and statistics (http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl) I listed the comparative costs of goods in different decades. Students will compare each decade on the chart and determine if there was a percent increase or decrease. They are usually fascinated with the concept of things costing different amounts at different times in history. When they are done with the chart they will see that the only years where the inflation rate went down were during the great depression.
This paper is simple and will take less than a full period to complete but it allows students to make a meaningful connection between math and the economy. You could use this as a jumping off point to relate it to the current economic issues.
If you find this helpful I would appreciate any feedback you would be willing to leave. Also, be sure to check out my other math activities. Thanks for looking and happy teaching!
Understanding Inflation with Percent Change
by Dana Burrows
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License