If you've been following my thoughts lately, via Twitter (#estimation180) or this blog, I've really been investigating the relevance of estimation for some time now. However, the past few days have really had a great impact on my approach with students, leaving me even more intrigued with the relevance and application of estimation with students. Over the next few days, I plan to share a few of the interactions: here's part 1.
Today, I visited a fourth grade classroom at my school. It's a personal goal of mine this year to visit as many classrooms as possible during my prep period and learn, learn, learn from other teachers, especially elementary teachers. I love observing elementary classrooms and seeing how so many children are still excited about learning. I'm constantly looking for strategies to bring back to my own classroom that will create a sense of excitement with my middle schoolers. The fourth grade teacher and I will be working on creating and implementing 3 Act lessons this year, so I was getting acquainted with the climate of her classroom. It was destiny: the class was discussing estimation and guessing.
First off, she's a fantastic teacher. Second, she did a wonderful job comparing and contrasting what the students thought estimation and guessing meant in their own words. She created a list for each on a huge giant sheet of paper, like a giant Post-It note. She does this often and sticks them around the class for students to refer to. The fourth graders decided that guessing could be something:
- you don't know
- you think could be the answer
- 50% sure
- or anything
- you round
- you think is close to the answer and reasonable
- you look at and use clues to carefully give an answer
- I counted the cubes in the top layer and then counted the layers down and multiplied the two numbers.
- I counted the number of cubes around the cup on each layer and made a reasonable guess for the hidden cubes inside.
Part 2 will connect estimation with guessing and the space between, sometimes referred to as a guess-timation. I want to create a low-entry point that's even more inviting for students. Lastly, I want to discuss how number sense can be strengthened as we transition from guessing to estimation before the payoff.