Ikea Rulers

9 Sep

Pre-Algebra

Ikea rulersConfession: 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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