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1st Grade Math - Developing Student Understanding of Non-Standard and Standard Measurement

Clip 7/17: Measurement Lesson Part C1


As she continues her lesson on non-standard measurement with first-grade students, Tracy Sola asks the children to measure objects in the classroom with cube trains consisting of a given number of linking cubes. Pairs worked with the same number of cubes, but with different length cube trains than other pairs.

Walking around the room and exploring, Tracy challenges them to look for objects that were a certain number of cubes long. She reminds the pairs to be clear about the number of cubes that they have and verifying that the students in each pair believes that they share the same number before they begin.

One pair asks if they can measure the globe; Tracy brings it down so that they can reach it, commenting that it will be interesting to try to measure.

She asks one student, “Why did I just say that measuring it will be interesting?” The student responds, “Because it might be too big or little, or medium. … It might have a ... it's a sphere, it doesn't have any sides to count. It's only a sphere, like a ball.”

Teacher Commentary

In this activity, I gave them the choice to measure anything that was in the room, and one of the girls asked if they could measure a globe that was sitting up on a high shelf. So, I brought it down, and another one of the girls said, “You can't measure that because it doesn't have a side.” I think what she was thinking was, it doesn't have an edge; but she didn't have the vocabulary for that. So, she was saying that ... and she used the term sphere, which was really interesting. But, because it's a sphere, it doesn't have a side, so they wondered if you could measure it.

I saw other students using their cube train to try to track it along the edge of that sphere, and really thinking what it meant to measure something that was spherical in shape.

First of all, she knew it was a sphere. She was in first grade. She knew that was called a sphere and she said, “But it doesn't have a side.” She wasn't quite sure what to do with it. When I was watching the video, and I saw them all measuring things in the room, they got to the water faucet and they measured the height of the straight part, but then they were trying to take the cube train and go around the circle part. They were doing that same approach with that cube. They were bringing those kinds of things in.

They were measuring each other's bodies. They were measuring each other's heads. They were bringing that in. Also, just to notice when they were measuring all of the things they had on the table; I'd had some food items and everyone ... they were talking about how they had all of those things at home.

There were some connections there. They were measuring everyday objects in their world. I think that was a very concrete connection for them.