Changing Units- Shouldn’t a bigger unit create a bigger measurement?

On Friday I was helping the 1/2 teacher Mrs. K plan a task to help her students consolidate their learning with changing units while measuring with nonstandard units. They have been focusing on length measurements and have done some tasks out of Marian Small’s resources. They measured their desks with different size rods and have also used their footprints to measure different parts of the room. She felt they were really getting a firm grasp of the fact that the bigger the unit used to measure the less it takes of those units to measure the object.

We brainstormed some ideas and we decided to change the attribute that was being measured to area. It would allow us to see if they were able to transfer the learning and also give us an opportunity to collect some diagnostic evidence of their understanding of area.

The task we chose was variation of a 3 Act Task that started with “What do you notice?” and “What do you wonder?” prompts. We used Graham Fletcher’s big and little sticky note task as inspiration.

Here is pic of what the students saw when they came in from recess:

File_000 (45)

Prompt: What do you notice? What do you wonder?

The questions  they decided to explore was this: How many large sticky notes will it take to fill in the tile? How many small sticky notes will it take to fill in the tile? Which one will take the most sticky notes to fill in the tile? How do you know?

Mrs. K had the students do high/ low estimates for both sticky notes. They landed on 100 as their high estimate and 5 as their low for the smaller sticky note. For the larger sticky note the high estimate was 50 and and the low estimate was  also 5. Some just right estimates from the students:

Large Sticky Note: 20, 25, 30, 15, 18, 20

Small Sticky Note: 30, 16, 20, 15, 40, 50, 35

Notice how there were some estimates from students that were similar for both sticky notes. Keeping an eye on those students is a good way to gather formative assessment because it probably means they aren’t consolidating the learning goal of the last few lessons (the larger the unit the less it takes to measure an object).

The students then moved into partners with their own set of sticky notes and went to work solving the problem.

Here are some pics of the students working:

When they were finished their work Mrs. K had them coming up to the smartboard to write some of their findings.

File_001 (18)

There was much more discrepancy  between the numbers for the smaller sticky notes. We have a few thought on why that is.

We had these prompting questions ready for the consolidation:

  1. What did you discover? Did it take more of the larger sticky notes or more of the smaller sticky notes to cover the tile?
  2. Can someone share their results for how many it took for each type of sticky?
  3. Why does it take more of the smaller sticky notes to cover the tile?
  4. How close were you to your esitmate for each type of sticky?
  5. What attribute were you measuring today? (diagnostic) (What do they know about area?) This is for the grade 2’s but I believe its ok to extend the grade 1 students!

Here is a video that shows one of the grade 2 students sharing with me what he has learned.

I wanted to show this last video below because measurement is such great context for students to use their number sense. The boy in this video is one of the students in Mrs. K’a room who is beginning to understand multiplying and is using skip counting as a strategy. He recognized his tile as an array and skip counted by 6’s. I love this because it clearly shows even though they are doing a measurement task that we can always be noticing and naming what type of operational strategies they are applying.

 I would love to hear of any other quality tasks that are being used for this idea. Leave a comment or tweet them out!

About stamp36

Instructional Leader for Trillium Lakelands District School Board
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