Resources and Tools for Elementary Math Specialists and Teachers
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Teaching Measurement in Grades 3-5

Advancing Measurement Concepts

The resources in this professional development collection were assembled to help math specialists or math educators enhance their understanding of measurement concepts and practices via theory, research, and activities that can be adapted for classroom use. Students often have had difficulty in acquiring measuring skills and concepts. The article “Measuring Length” and the NCTM journal articles “Investigating Measurement Knowledge” and “Creating Numerical Scales for Measuring Tools” describe some of the conceptual pitfalls that students may have and suggest strategies to help overcome them.

Whether the topic is length, time, angle, area, or volume, the student attempting to measure or use measurements is faced with many issues at once – identifying or choosing the unit, deciding about precision requirements, and making mental calculations with decimals and fractions, to name a few. The Annenberg videos “What Does It Mean to Measure?” and “Measurement Fundamentals,” can help educators with ways to assess and address some of those issues.

Engaging Students with Measuring

The resource “Measuring Area 2.75” outlines a progression that enables teachers to scaffold their instruction so that students acquire a fundamental understanding of area concepts.  The video “Table for 22” shows an engaging lesson that incorporates the standards of mathematical practice as students learn to distinguish between perimeter and area measurements.  Two resources, an applet measuring volume of rectangular prisms called “Cubes” and a video “Measuring Volume by Displacement of Water,” provide ideas for teaching volume.

Providing Real-Life Experiences

The NCTM journal article “How Wedge You Teach the Unit-Angle Concept?” describes how to introduce a unit angle and develop a measuring instrument for angles.  For “real-life” experiences in applying measuring skills, the collection has activities connecting math with architecture, trip-planning, map-making and other real world investigations, including several lessons and unit plans from NCTM Illuminations.

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Created:04-09-2013 by Uncle Bob
Last Post:05-28-2013 by bethb
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Created:01-24-2013 by Uncle Bob
Last Post:04-18-2013 by Uncle Bob

Resource Title/Description

This narrative document describes the progression of Geometric Measurement across the K-5 grade band. It is informed both by research on children's cognitive development and by the logical structure of mathematics. The document discusses the most important goals for elementary geometric measurement. Among those are recognizing measurable attributes, comparing, connecting with number, estimating, and differentiating linear measurement from area and volume.
This video, the first in a series of twelve, is part of the web-based course for K-8 teachers entitled Learning Math: Measurement offered by the Annenberg Foundation. Participants explore procedures for measuring and learn about standard units in the metric and customary systems, the relationships among units, and the approximate nature of measurement. This first video covers measurable attributes, weight and surface area of irregular objects, estimation, precision and accuracy, the independence of area and perimeter, and the choice of unit.
This 26-minute video, the second in a series of twelve, is part of the web-based course for K-8 teachers entitled Learning Math: Measurement offered by the Annenberg Foundation. Participants explore procedures for measuring and learn about standard units in the metric and customary systems, the relationships among units, and the approximate nature of measurement. In this video participants examine fundamental ideas such as unit iteration, partitioning and precision, ratio, and scale. To access the video from this link click on the VoD icon that is next to the video 2 description.
These 3 activities, part of the Mathematics Developmental Continuum of the State of Victoria, Australia, are intended to introduce young learners to estimating and measuring area using formal units (square centimeters). Students also use the formula length times width to calculate rectangular areas. Supporting documents, materials, and progress indicators are included.
In this 13-minute video Teacher Suney Park's students apply their knowledge of area and perimeter of rectangles in the context of a dinner table. The resource includes a transcript of the video, extension activities, and reflection questions for teachers.
This interactive applet allows users to investigate the formula for the volume of a rectangular prism. In their exploration, students can change any one, two or even all three dimensions of the prism and analyze how the change affects the volume.
This nine minute video shows highlights of a fifth grade class measuring the volume of irregular objects. The students learn to read a graduated cylinder in milliliters before and after an object is submersed. Students make a volume estimate beforehand and are asked to explain the measuring process verbally and in writing. A teacher interview is included.
This 3-lesson unit develops students' abilities to measure and model elapsed time in various ways. Students construct clocks, time line models, and they read and interpret schedules. The lessons employ hands on activities, interactive technology, and literature to enhance understanding. Student materials, assessments and solutions are provided.
These 4 activities, part of the Mathematics Developmental Continuum of the State of Victoria, Australia, are intended to introduce learners to the problem solving skills of clarifying questions, making assumptions and choosing a solving strategy. Students are challenged to investigate problems in household math, open-ended planning projects, and Fermi questions. Supporting documents and progress indicators are included.
These 6 activities, part of the Mathematics Developmental Continuum of the State of Victoria, Australia, are intended to introduce learners to contour lines, isobars and isotherms. Learners identify and make contour lines and models using potatoes, styrofoam, and (virtually) using Google Earth and other map sources. Supporting documents, materials, and progress indicators are included.
In this 5-lesson multi-media unit, students will explore various real-world applications of different forms of measurement, including time and distance. They will make estimations and calculations. Throughout the unit, students will be using online resources to familiarize themselves with coral reefs, the nation of Belize, and to plan a pretend scuba diving trip. Activity sheets (pdf), links to online resources, assessment options and other commentary are provided.
In this 4-lesson unit, students identify, compare, and analyze attributes of two- and three-dimensional shapes, and develop geometric vocabulary. Students use basic linear measurement, understand and create scale representations, and explore perimeter and area measurement as they design their clubhouses. Activity sheets (pdf), lesson extensions and other commentary are provided.