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Connecting & Inviting: The Form of our classroom

One day when we came back from music, Ms. Alison started talking about some things shed noticed about our classroom: Ms. Alison: I noticed that the lamp is taller than the iPad. I also noticed that our upper-case letter Star Name is taller than our lower-case letter Star Name. She then unlocked our thinking with the form concept key and asked us what we noticed. Denzil: The books are bigger than the iPhone. Ms. Alison: Is that true? Everybody: Yes. Ms. Alison: How do you know? Which way bigger? Taller? Longer? Denzil: Taller. Zoe: Taller AND longer! Ms. Alison: What else do you notice about the form of the classroom? Denzil: The rocking horse is bigger than the computer. Ms. Alison: What do you mean by bigger? Denzil: Like that! [arms go out lengthwise] Ms. Alison: So then its longer. It stretches out more that way. Aziz: The fridge is bigger than the lamp. Ms. Alison: What do you mean by bigger? Aziz: Taller. Its like this big! [stretches arms out lengthwise] Ms. Alison: Oh, so its also longer? Emma: Its taller AND longer!
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Shorts Kathy cle ing Cy Author iries ur inqu o s e id gu s. xt step e n d n a


Feeling the Tension: What were confused about & want to know
Denzil: CIS [Denzils old school] is bigger than ISS because it has more oors. Ms. Alison: ISS has 3 oors. Do you know how many oors CIS has? Denzil: 100 Ms. Alison: So, is ISS taller or shorter than CIS? Denzil & Zoe: Shorter Ms. Alison: Does everyone agree? Everyone: Yes. Ms. Alison: How tall do you think ISS is? We showed each other our ideas using our words and bodies. Ms. Alison: Great ideas. How do you think we could nd out, though, exactly how tall the school is? Zoe: Maybe its as high as a rainbow. Denzil: Maybe its as high as the fridge. Daniel: Maybe its taller than the purple [face hanging in the classroom]. Aziz: Maybe its taller than the mailbox. Denzil: Maybe its taller than cookie monster. Ms. Alison: But how can we nd out? Zoe: Maybe its taller than a dragon! Denzil: Maybe its as tall as a giraffe. Emma: And that is as tall as a hippopotamus. Zoe: And its also like a dinosaur! Rawrrr!

As tall as me. (Denzil)

This tall! (Aziz)

Like a jump! (Daniel)

Like this. (Lea)

This. (Wilma)

Like this. (Emma)

This. (Axel)

This tall! (Zoe)

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Finding Out: The Big Road Block (Tension)

Ms. Alison: So, these are our theories. Our guesses using what we know right now. But how can we nd out really and exactly how tall the school is? What can we do to nd out? Aziz: Maybe its as tall as the red face. Denzil: Maybe its as tall as the screen up there pulled up. Ms. Alison: Maybe. But how can we really know? What can we do to nd out? Does anyone have any ideas about what materials we could use, what parts of our bodies, what activities we need to do? Denzil: Maybe it is as tall as the red face. Zoe: Or taller than a T-Rex! Lea: Or taller than a tree! Denzil: Maybe its as tall as you [Ms. Alison]! Everyone: Or taller!!
A teachers analysis: As I listened to the conversation, I was looking for theories, misunderstandings, key vocabulary words and concepts to emerge. I noticed that the children had a strong concept of comparison in that they were using their knowledge of how tall other things in the world are to describe the height of objects in our classroom. I also noticed that they knew the words tall and high, but often relied on a vague word like bigger to describe different dimensions. The children relied on making guesses and predictions, framed in the context of comparison, when asked about nding out the height of the school. They did not seem to be aware of, or at least making the connection to, measurement tools. They were not thinking about what action they could take to nd out, but were determined that they could already give the answer through comparison. Perhaps this indicated their lack of experience with formal measurement or lack of awareness of measurement tools, or perhaps the school was just too big an object to consider measuring. So I asked the same question about an object that was visible from top to bottom and could feasibly be measured by the children if they wished to do so:

Ms. Alison: If I wanted to nd out how tall this lamp is what could I do? Aziz & Denzil: Its this tall! [hop up and put their bodies next to it, raising hands to point to the top] Ms. Alison: So youre showing us with your bodies. Can you show us how tall the school is using your bodies? Daniel: We cant see right now because were inside the school!

So . . . we went outside!
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Becoming Scientists: The Investigation

We went outside to the playground and looked up. Ms. Alison: Do you know how tall the school is now? Everyone: No, we cant see! [the mesh covering over the sandbox was in our way] Lea: Lets go somewhere else. So we went to the other side of the school to see if we could gure it out from a different perspective. Ms. Alison: Do you know how tall the school is now? Zoe: Its like a 12 story giant! Emma: You know my brothers school [the middle school] is taller than this school. Denzil: Maybe its as tall as the tree. Emma: The school is bigger than the bus. Denzil: Maybe its as tall as Bumblebee (the Transformer). Ms. Alison: So we still want to know exactly how tall the school is. What do we need to do? Zoe: We need to climb up there! Violett: Were so tiny and the school is bigger than us. Lea: Yeah, exactly. We need to go up. So we climbed up all of the stairs to the third oor of the school and looked from another perspective: down! A view from the top: looking down
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A view from the bottom: looking up


Theories Part 2: Sketching our Ideas for Finding Out

Once wed taken two different perspectives and approaches to nding out how tall the school was it was time to brainstorm and engage with some more ideas. We grabbed our Maths journals and made sketches representing some new approaches to nding out.

We can go up in the school with a map. (Violett)

We can climb up the steps or use a ladder. (Denzil)

Climb up a dinosaur. (Aziz)

We need to go to the roof through a hole. The grass makes you jump high. (Lea)

Make a pile of tissues and climb up. (Daniel)

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Superman can y up. (Axel)

We can climb up a ladder. (Zoe)

We go up the stairs so we can see the school better. We can also go up in an elevator. (Emma)

Researching our Theories Through Experimentation . . .

Make a pile of tissues and climb up. (Daniel)



. . . Climbing up a pile of tissues

Ms. Alison: Lets go outside so we can compare how tall our pile of tissues is to the school. Daniel: Its still not enough! Maybe I can climb on all the tissues in the roll. But its still not tall! We need more!

Everyone got one tissue and we piled them on top of each other. Then we tried to step on top. Zoe: Its too low!! Daniel: We need bigger. These are very small tissues. We need lots of tissues! We need one hundred. Ten hundred! Ms. Alison: Thats a lot of tissues! I dont know if we have that many. Can we use the tissues in a different way? Zoe: We can make a ladder! So we started to build ladders. Zoe: Thats not a ladder! That is a toy ladder! You need to stick it together like this. Denzil: No I dont want to make a ladder. It will fall. It will break. Ms. Alison: So you dont think the tissues will be very useful then? Denzil: Yeah they will but you need to tape them together. Aziz: But they are still even coming apart like that!
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So we wrote a letter to Mr. Richard asking for more tissues:

But there were not enough tissues. So, we had to keep searching for ways to discover how tall the school was. We went back to our class chart which showed our original theories.

Researching our Theories Through Experimentation . . .

We can go up in the school with a map. (Violett)



. . . Going up the school with a map

Ms. Alison: Where can we get a map or how can we make a map? Lea: With paper. Zoe: Maps are old and big. We can draw. Lea: With pencils. Denzil: And markers. So we collected those materials and went to the table to get started. Some of us started drawing right away and some of us were stuck. Violett was the rst to say something: Violett: Wait, I dont know how to draw a map! Ms. Alison: Would you like to see some examples? Everyone: YES!! So Ms. Alison pulled out her map box and we explored some maps from around the world. We then combined our prior knowledge and what we saw on the world maps to create our own map to go up the school.

Our maps showing how to get up the school

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Researching our Theories Through Experimentation . . .

Ms. Alison and Mrs. Mano photocopied the maps we drew a made map books with all of our ideas for each of us. We looked at our maps and used the Think-Pair-Share thinking routine to sort through our ideas individually, in groups of two, and as a whole class.



. . . Going up the school with a map

In summary: What Our Maps Are Telling Us & What We Need To Try

Emmas map: Denzil: They look like scribble scrabble! Go around the school Ms. Alison: What do you mean? Denzil: Some of these look like scribble Lea & Axels maps: scrabble, like when you dont colour something Go up the stairs and you draw something messy. Emma: I drew dots. Zoes map: Ms. Alison: Lets turn to Emmas map in our Go to a shop to get a ladder map booklets. Tell us about your map Emma. Emma: The lines are for going to see how big the school is. If you go over here, then you go over here and then you go like this. We need to walk all around the school. Ms. Alison: Lea you also have dots on your map like Emma. Tell us about your map. Lea: This is our classroom and we to go up, down, and around. And this is the top of the school. You just go outside and up like this. Ms. Alison: How are we going up? Lea: Were going up the stairs. Ms. Alison: Thats an interesting idea because it connects to some of the other ideas we have. Lets look back at our theories. Two people said that we can go up the steps or climb the stairs. Axel explained his map too. He also showed us going up the stairs! Then Zoe explained her map: Zoe: We need to go out of the school and over to a shop and get a ladder. Ms. Alison: Thats another interesting idea which is also connected to our rst theories.

So Violetts idea of making a map has connected back to our other ideas of climbing up a ladder and climbing up the stairs!
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Researching our Theories Through Experimentation . . .

We can . . . use a ladder. (Denzil) Deciding between two different ladders: one is shorter, one is taller



. . . Climbing up a ladder

We can climb up a ladder. (Zoe)

Zoe: We need to go to a store to get a ladder. Ms. Alison: Where else could we get a ladder? Denzil: Maybe at home. Zoe: At the grocery store. Daniel: I know! We can make a ladder. Ms. Alison: How can we make a ladder? Lea: With cardboard. Ms. Alison: Do you think there might be a ladder somewhere in the school? Everyone: No. Denzil: I think we need a ladder that has a crank to make the ladder go higher and higher and higher and higher! We agreed to wait for a few days to see if anyone could see a ladder around the school. Nobody saw one, except for Ms. Alison. She asked Mrs. Mano if she could bring the ladder to our classroom: Daniel: Make sure its very super tall! Denzil: And it should even have a crank!
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When the ladders arrived . . .

An opportunity to practice our counting skills!

Zoe: This is not so tall, lets see. Zoe & Emma: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7! [counting the steps of the ladder] Someone else there were actually 8, so we counted all together and found that if you include the top step of the ladder there are 8 steps of the ladder. Ms. Alison: Thats a really interesting strategy to use because you just found out how many steps tall the ladder is! What strategy did they use? Denzil: Counting!
An Ah-ha! Moment Emma and Zoe used counting as a strategy to nd out how tall the ladder was. This was the rst time that something other than comparison had been used to describe height. After we pursued the ladder theory, I would return to this strategy with the children.

Researching our Theories Through



Experimentation . . . Climbing up a ladder

Daniel: This ladder is still too short though! Ms. Alison: Should we take both ladders outside to see if they will help us nd out how tall the school is? Everyone: YES!! We went outside to the parking lot and each had a chance to climb up the ladder. When each child was at the top of the ladder, Ms. Alison asked: Do you know how tall the school is now? Is this ladder helping us? Emma: This ladder is only about half [way up the school] so we need a taller ladder. Zoe: We still cant see the school up there so its not helping us. Denzil: Its very tall, but just not helping to know how tall the school is. Daniel: Its not tall enough! Axel: Its like were climbing up in the sky! So even though the ladder made us taller, it didnt tell us how tall the school is. We could see a little bit better, but still couldnt really describe how tall the school actually is in a way that everyone could understand.

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Researching our Theories Through Experimentation . . .

Climb up a dinosaur. (Aziz) Daniel: But theres no more dinosaurs. And a dinosaur is too scary. Denzil: Instead of dinosaurs Ill climb up a giant. Aziz: My dad is a giant! But when we went outside to look at the school again, Aziz decided that his dad was not giant enough to see the top of the school. Some other children thought he might not want all of us climbing on him either. We need to go to the roof through a hole. The grass makes you jump high. (Lea) Lea: Actually we need a trampoline to do that. The grass isnt jumpy.

. . . The ones that just cant be tested

Superman can y up. (Axel) Emma: We dont know him. Denzil: That would mean magic.

We kept track of our theories and whether they worked using a piece of chart paper. We crossed out that ones that we had tried and didnt help us.
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Demonstration: Some exposure to formal measurement

Free exploration of measurement tools:

Watching videos about measurement & discussing personal connections

We watched 3 videos about measurement that are stored on our Symbaloo account. We were introduced to 2 big ideas: 1. Using different tools for different types of measurement 2. Using all sorts of different objects to measure height.

Trash or Treasure?

We had time to freely explore measurement tools & demonstrate our knowledge & theories about their different purposes.

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Now equipped with new knowledge from the measurement videos, we returned to the measurement tools from our free exploration time. We used a thinking routine called Trash or Treasure to sort out which tools we thought would be useful for nding out how tall the school is from those we thought would not be useful.


Revision: Developing New Theories & Adapting Old Ones

Climbing up the steps: A Revised Theory
We can climb up the steps... (Denzil) We go up the stairs so we can see the school better. We can also go up in an elevator. (Emma) We walked up the rst set of the stairs and counted independently. When we shared our answers with our friends we realized that something was wrong: some our answers were different! So we went back down again and counted together one number for each stair. This time we all got 15! Then we walked up the next set of stairs which was smaller. Some of us started counting at 0. Some of us used the strategy counting on to keep counting up from 15 since we knew there were already that many steps. There were 5 more steps in this set of stairs, which Daniel & Denzil told us meant 20 all together! The next set of stairs had 15 more steps, which Denzil told us was 20 and 15 and Daniel told us meant 35 all together! The nal set of stairs had 5 more steps which all together was 40 steps.
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Dont forget Emma & Zoes Ah-ha! Moment! Remember when Emma and Zoe used counting as a strategy to nd out how tall the ladder was? It was now time to return to that strategy and see if we could apply it to our theory of climbing up the steps to see how tall the school is.

The school was 40 steps tall!!

Revision: Developing New Theories & Adapting Old Ones



Using the Big Ruler & Measuring Strings: A New Theory

Somebody noticed that there were so many numbers on the measuring string. More than maybe we could even count! Ms. Alison: At this end of the string it says 148. At the other end it says 1 and theres a little 0 before that. Where do you think is the best place to start counting from. Everyone: 0 and 1! So we taped the measuring strings to the wall very straight and when we nished with the rst string, we got another to keep measuring, but it was getting to tall for us. Everyone: We need the ladder again! So we got the ladder and kept taping, but soon the string got to tall for us again and we had to give up. There was no way of getting any taller.


Daniel: I think the string is too short. Denzil: We can tape or glue them all together. Daniel: But we are not very high [tall]! Ms. Alison: Well lets try it out. Lets bring the measuring strings and some tape? Do you remember how we taped our height chart to the wall? Do you think we can use the same strategy now?

Everyone: Yes. Ms. Alison: Should we also bring the big ruler? Denzil: No, its too short. Daniel: And we only have one of them. Aziz: Lets count it to see if its enough. So Aziz and Denzil read the numbers that they saw and knew on the big ruler, but they decided it was still too short. We went outside of the classroom and found a wall space to start measuring. We agreed that we would start with the rst oor of the school. Ms. Alison explained that when we measure for how tall something is (height), we need to line up our measuring tool straight and start at the very bottom of the object and go to the very top. So we lined up the measuring tape on the school wall, starting at the oor.
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Valuation: What have we learned? Whats important?

What was achieved? - A Teachers Analysis
An understanding that counting is connected to measurement Application of measurement tools & concepts in play Community involvement: many other people took an interest in our work Problem-solving & critical thinking Real-life application of math concepts & skills to answer a real question

What did we learn? - The Students Perspective

Aziz: We learned how tall the school is. Daniel: The school is 40 steps tall! Lea: We learned how to use the long things that count one by one [measuring tapes or strings]. Daniel: Nobody is as tall as the school. Violett: We learned how to climb tall, tall ladders. Denzil: We used different things to measure. We learned that we can measure all different things! Aziz: We can use anything to measure! [non-standard measurement] Denzil: We used rulers to count and measure. Daniel: Small tools for measuring are only good for small things. The students also expressed lots of action theyd like to take, including measuring more things around them like the fridge, the toilet, the computer, and more!
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Mr. Chan took this photo of us from the second oor of the school as he was walking by one day.

Was anything missed?

From our valuation discussion & other activities it seemed that children were still not reliably using specic vocabulary to describe and compare measurements. Words like big and small were being used in place of words like tall, short, and long.

Time to

go bac k to some m ore demon stration !


Back to Demonstration
Our Valuation discussion and dialogue during other measurement activities we were involved in showed that the specic vocabulary we knew to compare the height and length of objects was still developing. It was time to review these words, keeping them in the context of our measurement of the school. We went outside to the parking lot to look at the school so we could see it clearly and compare it to other things around. We focused on 3 main words: tall (or taller) short (or shorter) long (or longer)

We observed the school and the objects around it and made comparisons. We made a list to keep track of our ideas. When we came back inside we worked together as a group to review the things that were taller, shorter and longer than the school and the things that the school was taller, shorter and longer than. We each completed our own page of work with drawings representing our ideas.

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Taking Action: Applying & Extending Our Learning

Weve continued to play with measurement tools and have incorporated the concepts into our play. We are more frequently using specic measurement vocabulary to compare objects and are continuing to consolidate this knowledge.

This one is longer than this one!

This tower is shorter than me!

Measuring things around the room.

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