Showing posts with label measurement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label measurement. Show all posts
Last year, I was a part of a leadership math team that received professional development from a measurement guru, Rich Lehrer.  This linear measurement unit is from his research and writing team.

One of the many things I love about Rich's measurement units is the intentional planning for mistakes.  In many ways, his units set kids up to make mistakes...which is sometimes opposite of what we think we should do as teachers.  But, I've learned that kids have to make mistakes in measurement to learn why their mistake is a problem.  And those mistakes make for some very lively and deep math conversations about what is actually important when we measure!

No mistakes means kids are just copying our "how to measure steps" and that makes it hard to transfer that measuring skill to a new object or with a different unit.

Pumpkin Attributes

Our math practice goal for this unit was "#6: I can attend to precision."  We referred back to this word and why it's important that we are precise when measuring throughout the whole unit.

We looked at one of our pumpkins and answered the question: "How can I describe this pumpkin?"  As we got responses, we charted them.  If my first grader said, "It's bumpy," then I answered with, "Yes, bumpy describes its feel.  One attribute of objects I can describe is feel."  I wanted to chart the attributes, not the adjectives.

After we charted, we discussed which attributes are measurable.  For example, I cannot accurately measure color, but I can measure weight.  I then told students we would be measuring height and circumference of our pumpkins.  I added the pumpkin stickers to those words to help us remember since we would be working on this project for a few days.

Measuring Pumpkin Circumference

I had 4 pumpkins as the unit recommended, and put kids in groups of 6.  Each person in the group had a job: pumpkin holder, streamer holder (2), cutter, labeler, taper.  {Side note: 4 pumpkins was not enough in my opinion....the groups were too big and caused some management issues....I would recommend 6 pumpkins so the groups are only 3-4 kids.}

Some groups measured the circumference just fine...

Other groups measured the circumference around the bottom.
{And other groups, not pictured, measured a vertical circumference instead of a horizontal circumference.}  All of these mistakes were fine by me because it gave us some things to discuss during our share time.

Planning for Mistake #1: Measuring the circumference of a pumpkin is difficult because the roundness of the pumpkin varies from top to bottom.  Using a sphere shape for this activity was important because it meant kids would make this mistake...and then we would be able to talk about where circumference is measured (at the point where the object is the biggest around)....that wouldn't have meant anything to kids if we didn't have this problem to start with!

Once the streamer was cut to measure the circumference, the labeler wrote the pumpkin number on the streamer.

The groups had about 2 minutes at each pumpkin station.  Then, the groups were to use the streamers from each pumpkin station and large construction paper to order the circumference lengths in a display.  The taper taped the streamers on with tape so they would be easier to come on and off during share time.

During share time, we looked at all of the circumference streamer from pumpkin number 1 and discussed these questions:

Did each group measure the same circumference?  Are they all the same length?

Why aren't they the same length?  What mistakes did we make that may have caused our measurements to not be precise?

What is important when we measure so that we don't make these mistakes?

Measuring Pumpkin Height

The next day, we repeated the same steps as Day 2, but with height instead of circumference...

Planning for Mistake #2: Measuring the height of a round object is difficult to you follow the curve of the pumpkin or measure a straight line up for the height?  I had groups that did each of these...which made for a very important conversation about why length and height must be measured in a straight line.

Measurement Anchor Chart

During share time, we discussed the same questions and continued to chart them...

We referred to this chart all year long during our measurement math talks.  Not everything on this chart was added the first day, or even by the end of this unit.  In fact, last year's group didn't add "no gaps" to this list until our second measurement unit...because using streamers solves the problem of gaps.  It wasn't until we started measuring with paperclips that we had issues with gaps! {Planning for mistake #3}  And even though they had added "no overlaps" they continued to make mistakes and overlap when measuring with new this was an ongoing discussion.  And we reread through our "measurement rules" before each measurement activity during the year.

While I would change a few things like I mentioned earlier, this unit is a fantastic way to get kids excited about measurement and it's perfect for making kids make mistakes when they measure so that we have something to discuss and learn from!
My life has been filled with all kinds of crazies: from wedding showers, to graduation parties, to end of the year evaluations at school, to finalizing grades, to getting our house sold.  Phew! Blogging has taken the back seat the last two weeks...

So here's a little bit of what we've been up to in Room 210 between grades and such!

There are those lessons that you plan out in your head and they turn out better than you could've ever imagined...

For me this week, those were the Father's Day lessons!

Last week was the week before Mother's Day and we worked on making all kinds of special goodies for mom. {You can read all about it here.}

So, this past week we worked on goodies for Dad!  Since we don't have school on Father's Day {thank. goodness.}, we made gifts for dad before the end of the year.  I think it's easiest to just do it the week after Mother's Day and connect the two.  We wrote about dad, just like we did mom, and of course they turned out precious!

Then, we made a "wise guy" card for dad.  The kids REALLY loved making their owl their own.  They got to choose the wings and belly pattern and really got into adding details and settings around their owls.  I've done this project with my Sunday School preschoolers a few times, but it was fun doing it with my firsties because they were able to add more details than 3 and 4 year olds and the owls just took on personalities of their own!

This daddy must be a "night owl." Ha!

And this little boy told me his dad loves listening to music!  Can you tell??

You can find all of these cute ideas, masters for the owl craft, plus more crafts for Dad in my I *heart* Dad Pack!  On Father's Day, I'll be doing some more crafts with my Sunday School babies, so I'll post about more Father's Day fun then.  Follow me on blog lovin' or Facebook so you won't miss it!

You can also click HERE to purchase the Mom and Dad Packets together at a discounted price.

Then, THEN, there are those lessons that you plan out in your head just perfectly and they turn out, well...let's just say the wheels start to completely come off the train and you are just left wondering, "What just happened?"

For me this week, that was my measurement lesson!

I don't know about you, but this time of year, I'm working harder than usual to find laying-on-the-floor-projects.  Seriously.  We do a lot of hands on in our room, a lot of group work, etc, but it May it seems like I always try to kick it up a notch because it takes SOOOOO much more to keep them engaged!!  Even simple buddy reading is much better laying on the floor!

So, during math this week, we worked on some "Royal Measurements."  This was the perfect math tie in to our Cinderella Unit we're chest deep into right now!  The objective for this activity was for students to see that there is a purpose for standard measurement.  They were supposed to be able to see this because the glass slippers and the crowns they measured with were different sizes.  So, when they measured their pencils, they would get 2 completely different measurements for slippers and crowns.

Well, that was the idea anyway...

What I found out quickly, was that we really needed to back up AGAIN and talk about how exactly to measure.  When the kids measured the little things they did great!

But when it came to measuring the desks and their friends, it completely bombed!

I purposefully did not give them enough slippers or crowns to measure their friends so that they would have to problem solve.  I was hoping they would discover the need for iteration or reusing the same units over and over to measure, but it failed in a BIG way.  I had kids measuring with slippers and crowns together.  I had kids using their fingers to "jump" the rest of the length to measure.  I had kids that spread out the 8 glass slippers evenly from foot to head and called the length 8 {even though there were huge gaping holes in between each slipper!}

So half way into this project we stopped and worked on measuring a longer length together on the carpet.  We sat in a circle and worked through each person's incorrect strategies until finally--FINALLY someone said, "We could reuse the first slipper card at the end of the measuring and keep going!" Thank goodness for teamwork! Now I'm not promising that if we did this again, all of my kids would remember to iterate their standard units, but we certainly are one step closer.

Thankfully, I was able to save this failure of a lesson and get some good from it!  8 years later it happens a lot less, but it still happens a lot.  And each class is different.  Sometimes lessons bomb one year that went perfectly the year before!  Needless to say, the kids did not finish their Royal Measurements handout, but hopefully they gained much more from the lesson than if I'd just pushed through the failures to complete a silly recording sheet!

Modify and adjust, modify and adjust, modify and adjust...

This was a new activity I tried this year.  Would I do it again? Absolutely! But I've learned that I have a lot more to learn about how to teach kids's not as cut and dry as I thought.  Luckily, I have a 3 day training at the end of the month on measurement with a leading researcher in measurement.  I will definitely be putting some more measurement activities in each of our Common Core units so that students will get more hands on practice.  We already practice non-standard measurement and ordering lengths weekly with our Math Wall, but I'm seeing that it's just not enough!

Have you ever had an ideal lesson that bombed in your room? I'd love to hear about it!!

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