Last week, I had an amazing opportunity to present with my Baylor professor, Dr. Sandra Cooper, at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference in San Francisco. The focus of our presentation was the three big ideas of measurement: units, partitioning, and zero point. On the heels of our presentation, today’s activity provides practice for measuring length with an emphasis on zero point. The point where a ruler originates is called the zero point. This is the place where the measurement begins. When an object is placed at the end of a ruler, finding its length is generally easy for many students. However, students often struggle to identify this point when a ruler is broken or when the object to be measured is not placed at the end of the ruler. To help students understand the concept of zero point, the activity below requires students to locate the zero point and measure the distance from the zero point to the end point for each object. To increase the rigor of this task, the zero point of each ruler is not zero. This way, students are forced to count the number of units that span the object and ignore the numbers displayed on the ruler.
This is where the big ideas of units and partitioning come in. Students must travel from the beginning of one unit to the end of the unit to count a full unit. If a full unit cannot be made, then students must attend to how the unit is partitioned and count the subdivided unit accordingly, recording the measured length with a fractional part if need be.
Specifically, this activity addresses the following Common Core State Standard for Mathematics:
3.MD.B.4- Generate measurement data by measuring lengths using rulers marked with halves and fourths of an inch. Show the data by making a line plot, where the horizontal scale is marked off in appropriate units— whole numbers, halves, or quarters.
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Sound Off! What activities do you use to reinforce linear measurement concepts?