Broken Ruler Task
The above problem is one that two of my fellow pre-service teachers and I presented to a class of grade 4 students. The goals of the lesson were to have students understand that in measurement one needs a zero point, that the starting point is flexible and another number can stand in for zero and that units can be iterated.
We had a great time with the students and were fascinated by watching the students discuss, agree and disagree, and ultimately move forward in their understanding of the above content goals.
Toward the end of the lesson, it was my turn at bat and I was working to really listen to the students’ ideas and to orient them to each other’s thinking. I also wanted to guide them toward the second and third content goals.
I was really pleased that students who didn’t understand or didn’t agree were comfortable enough to share their ideas and yet still could listen their peers’ ideas. I also enjoyed playing off the answers that I received from the students. I took time to listen to those whose understanding was still developing and then drew out explanations from students who were closer to understanding the concept goals. In the heat of the moment, you don’t always know how things will go. You hope you have the right questions and prompts ready for whatever response you get from the students. I will need to continue to develop my ability to anticipate and respond to student input, but I was pleased with how this effort went.
Here is a short transcript of that part of the lesson:
Here is the full lesson plan. (Warning – it’s really long! My part was Phase 3):