This week I spent some time coming up with some inquiry based /open-ended tasks for our current math unit on statistics and probability. The first project was designed to replace the formal "unit end test" we have done in previous years, and the others were created as a way to introduce students to brand new outcomes on mean, median and mode. I'm excited to see what the kids can come up with!
Today we started a new math unit on measurement, and I wanted to try something new to launch it. Before beginning, I decided to ask the kids what they already knew about measurement and what more they already wanted to know. We looked at the idea of creating mind maps (or concept maps) to lay out what we already knew, and then took off on an inquiry to find out what other areas of measurement we could find out about. The traditional stuff a lot of them already knew about included, measuring for length, width, height, perimeter, area, volume (mm, cm, m, km, mL, L etc...) Then all of a sudden I started seeing student discover words like capacity and temperature and dimensions, protractor, mass, distance, metric units and more and more.
After the concept mapping, students were asked to think of questions that they wanted answered about measurement (related to the key concept questions if possible) . We will hopefully get a chance to inquire into some of these in between meeting our curriculum goals.
Students were engaged for about 40 minutes with this activity. Most took the opportunity to show we had been learning in class : drawing and representing fractions, comparing and ordering fractions, equivalent fractions, turning fractions into percentages and decimals. Others showed their newly strategies for adding and subtracting fractions while others even showed their own abilities and strategies for multiplying and dividing fractions. The results were varied. Some were very surprising. Some students had to be encouraged to keep writing more, but ultimately, everyone did the best work they could.