I typically hear less complaints (and a have higher homework completion rate) about an objective if one of two things happens:
1) The objective is easily understood by students
2) The students see the real-life application of the objective
One way I show students the real-life application of an objective is through articles. I try to keep these articles to a front and back side of a paper and somewhat relevant and current. I also try to collect articles that I naturally read but I do resort to Google as well. As a math teacher, I do not feel 100% comfortable leading a whole class discussion comparable to what my students are exposed to in Literature but I can ask them what they think about the article and for the themes in the article.
Some of my favorites from this year:
1) Parabolas in Basketball (I found this DURING March Madness and my parabola unit--it was fate!)
2) Zero being Even and Superstorm Sandy (A colleague sent this out)
3) Ben Franklin and Compound Interest (My students STILL talk about this--4 months later)
It is amazing what you can find and tie into objectives. This is just the tip of the iceberg and I will continue to add articles that I use in my class.
What do you use in your classroom?
Educator who loves math and working with students.