Monday, February 24, 2014

Lessons From Homeschooling

Like other areas of mathematics, teachers too often rely on memory to ensure students, dare I say, understand measurement concepts. We go to various lengths to find the cutest activities for students to complete and encourage them to "Remember the one time we...?"  Only unfortunately they don't remember, some yes, but we weren't aiming for just some.  The connections are not made for all. Why is that?

I have a friend who home schools her four girls.  Before you begin making your judgments about what homeschool is or is not, please hear me out.  One thing I've learned from discussing homeschooling with Dawn is, her girls have authentic experiences with math concepts on a regular basis. Her oldest daughter has a solid understanding of measurement concepts, this I know based on your demonstration of her understanding.  
The pictured tasty treat was made from scratch, by for 11 years old daughter!  From scratch meaning, she didn't drop the contents of a box into a bowl and mix.  She measured the ingredients using tools accurately.  She has adjusted the recipe for make more or less cupcakes, no seriously guys, she made 1 just one cupcake from a recipe meant to make many more.  

So what's my point?  It is the experiences with measurement that help to shape and deepen our understanding of its concepts. What does this look like in a classroom setting?

It looks like activities where students engage with the tools and connect the use of the tools to understanding the concepts. An experience measuring how tall you are compared to your friends or teacher and what you used to determine the heights are retained more than completing a worksheet on "Which item is taller" or "What tool would you use to measure..."  

An activity using student feet to help determine why we have standard units of measure and what they are will aid in students using rulers correctly more than completing pages in a textbook.

Many of these types of activities can be found within resources like Math Solutions' Investigations, Tasks, and Rubrics to Teach and Assess Math; John Van de Walle's Student Centered Mathematics or Math Solutions' Sizing Up Measurement.  If these resources are unavailable to you, take a lesson from homeschooling and create authentic everyday measurement activities to implement in the classroom. 
For more ideas, you can visit my webpage Sensible Mathematics  

No comments:

Post a Comment