This is a continuation of my last post about the unit I implemented about area for my grade ones.

Day 3 & 4
For my next activity, I used one that Marian Small suggested in her book. She suggested giving students an outline of four hexagon pattern blocks and measuring the area using each of the 6 pattern block shapes. The purpose is to give students the opportunity to make more acurate estimates based on previous measurements. For example, if it takes four hexagons to cover the area, then it would take eight trapazoids because it takes two trapazoids to make one hexagon. 
Some of my strongest students seemed to grasp this concept, but others had more difficulty visualizing how much space each shape would use and had a hard time making accurate estimates. I think I could have done a better job introducing the activity and discussing possible strategies when making estimates in order to activate their prior knowledge more effectively. I'll have to keep that in mind for next time.

We only had a single math period on this day, so we revisited the activity on the following day. A few students needed to finish, then we took up the activity as a class. I was then able to discuss strategies for making accurate predictions based on previous measurements. I was also able to revist what we had discussed with the block activity from earlier in the week when our units don't fit perfectly on the shape we are measuring. It was a great activity to show me where everyone is at with their learning for this unit, especially their ability to estimate. Since they don't have a concept about multiplication or even repeated addition (they just started learning single-digit addition earlier in the year), it was difficult for them to see that they could use the measurement from the larger blocks to make an accurate prediction about how many smaller blocks it would take. This concept could be addressed again later in grade two or three.

Day 5
After a week of learning about area, I wanted to do a more formal formative assessment when they came back on Monday. So, I asked my students to pick some objects to measure independently and try experimenting with different units. This gave me time to pull students aside to conference one-on-one with me and evaluate how they are doing. Again, I used another activity directly from Small's book. I gave them a flashcard and asked them to measure the area for me. I gave them the choice of using circular counters, square tiles, or triangle pattern blocks. I asked them to explain their choice of unit and then measure the shape. I also asked them about any leftover space or units that went past the edge of the card. For the most part, students picked the square tiles because they fit onto the card the best. A couple of students picked the circles, but quickly changed their mind when they wouldn't fit together easily. One student selected the triangles, but said that it wasn't the best choice because they didn't fill in the card very well and it took a lot to cover it. When I asked which unit he would use next time, he chose the squares because it would solve both of the problems he had with the triangles. It was a great opportunity to provide meaningful feedback to my students and get a clear picture of their learning.

The final set of lessons will appear in my next post: Finding the Area - Part 3...

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