This post is a bit overdue but things have been happening fast around here these days.…so here it goes…This year I am teaching grade 3 for the first time. I’ve taught many grades but not grade 3. After 5 years of grade 1 it was a refreshing change.
As the year began I went through the curriculum documents and planners and had a general idea about how to deliver on the broad understandings and outcomes but of course I was left with the question about what exactly does learning look like in grade 3? I had a realisation after about a week or so that the grade 3 learners were going through the same odd, satisfying yet comfortably uncomfortable learning curve that I was. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, how hard to push them- especially in Math.
I had great support from the previous grade 3 teacher who moved to grade 4 and enormous support from our ES Principal @ who helped me and mentored me (and still continues to support me in many ways). I also have an awesome assistant teacher Ms V! However, I also reached out to my learning community. A few folks that gave me ideas, resources and inspiration include @ @ and @ to name a few. I am HUGE fan of Bruce’s blog by the way Authentic Inquiry Maths check it out. I wish Bruce could have been my teacher when I went to school.
So I wondered..how do I get the grade 3 learners to learn area and perimeter? Yes worksheets, got me plenty of those… but I needed some real life, real world authentic provocation. Well our campus recently underwent a bit of renovation in the primary section. So we started talking about that at the start of the year – actually the question one student raised was ‘Hey its not fair that the grade 4 and grade 5 classrooms are so much bigger than ours’!
That was the start of an authentic inquiry into how can we PROVE that the grade 4 classroom was actually larger. So there it began and perfect timing! We talked a lot about how we can find out and why its important. We knew that we knew the grade 4 class was bigger but we wanted to prove it with data, with evidence..well that was more challenging and authentic.
So we eventually wanted to compare the size (leading to area and perimeter) and needed to know how to find each. We did a bit of estimating and then measured accurately (there were a range of engagements lasting over about 2 weeks about measuring in standard and non standard units, imperial, metric etc- this fit with our curriculum). The students didn’t really get what a square metre was so I cut one out for them so they could visualise it. We then went into the grade 4 class and our own with this 1 sqm sheet and estimated. The we got down to measuring (after some scaffolding and practicing how and why need to understand the area and perimeter). I also blogged a bit about it here and here.
So in the end we proved it, we recorded it. Inquiry over right? Well I thought so until a few learners wanted to PROVE that the soccer field was bigger than the basketball court!
So here we go again..although this time they ditched the 1sqm paper and went right to work using the trundle wheel and in no time they recorded their findings and worked out..I mean PROVED which one was bigger in area and perimeter. We spent a lot of follow-up about why one would want to know the area and why and when we would want to know the perimeter. I was pretty stoked with this authentic inquiry that came from the students.
Just in case you were wondering… most of the worksheets were put to good use by using the backs of them to plan our next maths inquiry. 🙂