BFA Second Grade Students Explore Measurement

TARGET 1 Student-Centered Learning FWSU students will engage in personalize learning involving collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creative learning opportunities.

ACTION STEP – Highlight, create and model innovative learning opportunities that promote collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creativity for students and staff.

Step into a second grade Math Classroom and you may see students creating their own tools for measuring items. It isn’t what it seems. There is no scarcity of wooden rulers here. Students are making their own “rulers” from cardboard to better understand the concept of measurement.  

Last week, children in Katie Haddock’s classroom needed to understand that 12 inches is equal to 1 foot – and that the standard measure of 1 foot may not be the same length as their own physical foot. Students learned why inchworms are called “inchworms” (they are equal to 1 inch) and then used this as a referent to create their own “inchworm” rulers with cardboard, paper, and glue. Once created and numbered, it became clear that there were 12 equal segments in their ruler, that they were “inches” (like the inchworm), and that they created a standard measure that everyone could used and then compare.  Following a session with scissors, colored pencils, and glue, students scattered about the classroom measuring, charting, and comparing the length of objects using their inchworm rulers. The talk among students was about what made sense, which object was longer, and how to measure accurately.

It all sounds very basic, but think about how children come to know the underlying concepts that are the foundation of the tools they use. The Common Core State Standards in Mathematics require that students understand the meaning and rationale behind everyday tools, and it only makes sense. These second graders were thinking about their “work” in the process of cutting and pasting. One little boy ended up with only 11 segments of the inchworm on his ruler, and went back three times to check himself, explaining “I need 12 inches, you know.  Where did the last one go?”

Children each make meaning in their own way, but they must be engaged, thinking, and problem-solving with each other to personalize their learning.  

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