Introducing Measurement Concepts
The resources in this professional development collection were assembled to help math specialists and teachers enhance their own understanding of measurement concepts and teaching practices via theory, research, and activities that can be adapted for classroom use. The article “Measuring Length” describes some of the conceptual pitfalls that students may encounter and is a good starting point for educators as they begin to plan their lessons. The articles from the NCTM journal Teaching Children Mathematics are excellent sources of lesson ideas appropriate for helping children develop deep conceptual understanding; two of the articles also connect measurement concepts to children’s literature, and one extends learning to include three simple fractions.
Thinking about Measurement Concepts
Students attempting to measure or make use of measurements are faced with many issues at once – recognizing the attribute, identifying the unit, deciding on the level of precision, and making mental calculations. The Annenberg videos, “What Does It Mean to Measure?” and “Measurement Fundamentals,” and the Victoria instructional guides, “Comparison of Length” and “The Idea of a Unit,” provide teachers with ideas and activities that they can use to help children clarify these concepts.
What Do Students Need?
Students need experiences that lead to an understanding of why measurement is necessary and helpful. They need to work with non-standard units and to create their own measuring instruments, and to discover for themselves the necessity of having standard units and the efficiency of having measuring instruments to count the units. The lesson plan “Lengths of Ladybugs” provides an engaging introduction to these concepts. The unit plan “Ladybug Adventures” continues the progression and includes both measurement and geometry concepts. In the unit “Magnificent Measurement,” students become involved with activities introducing length, area, volume, time, and weight, and they practice measuring using standard and nonstandard units. The resource “Fitting Shapes Together” provides early experience with angle measurement.