Check out Andrew Stadel’s Estimation 180 site. It’s a gold mine for daily number sense. Plus, it’s given me an idea about how to develop math tasks. First, a snapshot of Estimation 180, followed by incorporating the art of estimation when designing a major task.
Students record their guesses on the number of almonds in a quarter cup. Before revealing the answer they argued with their tablemates why they thought their answer was the closest. It was interesting listening to the arguments. Some took a wild guess; others looked at the context clues. Before revealing the answer, we discussed the context clues as a class–the quarter cup, the size of one almond, the number of almonds we can actually count, the tile countertop, etc. I gave the kids a few minutes to revise their estimate before revealing the answer. Having the kids guess invests them in the problem. The delay of revealing the answer by having the students argue and revise forces them to reflect. It also added drama!
I love the hook and the potential for reflection so much I wove it into the Super Storm Sandy volume task. Before delving into the problem the students first guess the number of dumpsters that are needed to clear away sand from a vacation home. When the first part of the task is completed they compare their solution to their guess then describe what was learned or what was confirmed. Reflecting on their guess and comparing it to their solution helps them to become better critical thinkers and problem solvers.
Dan Meyer’s Three Act Math Tasks also use guessing to hook the students. I would love to turn the Super Storm Sandy volume task into a video format. For now I’ll settle for still photos.