**Pre-Algebra**

**Confession:** While all this debate is brewing about Ikea changing their font, I snuck in and took a stack of their paper rulers. Actually, I was just the driver who kept the engine running while a couple of my kids who graduated last year went in to do the job. =P Hehe.

Well, this year, I finally had(have) the chance of teaching a couple of concepts I had shockingly found that many of my students did know. I had found this out in the last couple of years while teaching juniors and seniors!!

**Shocking discovery #1: **I knew for awhile now that many students did not know how to use a protractor to measure an angle, but I did NOT know how many did not know how to use a ruler! I had asked my, albeit remedial, geometry class to draw me a 4 inch line only to find that it looked a bit short. Three out of the 10-12 that showed up that day drew me a 3 inch line instead. They had started from the ‘1’ instead of from the ‘0’.

**Shocking discovery #2: **In starting to explicitly teach using rulers now, I started to see that *most *of my kids also did not understand why using centimeters was easier than using inches.

To try to teach these concepts, we went through 2 block days of coming up with our own unit of measure and then moving on to use the official foot and inch.

*So far, the best thing about this entire assignment were these Ikea rulers!! (Thanks yet again Ji!)*

Basically, before class I went through all of them and tore off a random piece of the beginning and end. When we finally got to needing a ruler, I told the class that all this poor teacher could find were these janky Ikea rulers. Once they all received theirs, I started to hear the joyous commotion begin about how they couldn’t use them- that they were “broken.” I couldn’t help but to smile. I simply told them they weren’t “broken” and to deal with it. That’s when I started hearing some great discussions in their groups.

The point in which I had to intervene was not actually in finding the fraction anymore, it was in counting. I went around the room folding a random length less than one foot and asked them to find me what fraction of a foot that was. (Another beauty about these rulers, you can fold them!!). They found me the fraction correctly, assuming they counted correctly. However! 4 out of the 5 groups counted wrong! Even in that one group that counted right, I discovered that only one in that group really understood!

As you might’ve guessed, they were counting the NUMBERS instead of the actual INCH-SPACES in between.

More results from this class to follow.

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