Sharing & Reflecting (with a little help from our friends)

Yesterday, I posted a planned I Notice/I Wonder activity that we adapted from an EngageNY worksheet.

Then the MathTwitterBlogoSphere got involved…




eric and max

So, as requested, here’s how the activity went with the first group of students. The goal was to illuminate any misconceptions our students had in regards to measurement and learn from our mistakes. Growth mindset, anyone?

Our students noticed…

  • There are black lines that are straight
  • There are 5 boxes
  • The brush is brown
  • The paintbrush is made out of wood or plastic
  • The paintbrush is 5 measuring long
  • There are two lines on the side of the paintbrush

Our students wondered…

  • How long is the paintbrush?
  • Why are there lines on both sides?
  • What are the squares for?
  • How big is the paintbrush?
  • What are the lines?
  • What are the boxes?
  • Why is the paintbrush not moving?

There was a lot of great thinking and discussion of what measurement was and the purpose for everything in the picture. We decided our unit of measurement was “boxes” and the paintbrush was 5 boxes long. Next, we showed them this picture (also from the EngageNY module). We asked how long the crayon was.

crayon measure

Then we showed them this clothespin and asked the same question. Was it 4 or 5 boxes long? We agreed on 4 after some initial disagreement.

clothespin measure

Then this marker presented a challenge…

marker measure

After this series of pictures we were able to answer several of their wonderings. The boxes were our unit of measurement and the lines were there to show the beginning and ending of the paintbrush. Finally, we showed them this contrasting set of pictures.


Since we began with the I Notice/I Wonder activity, students were able to analyze their own errors instead of a fictional student from the curriculum worksheet and they could also address their own misconceptions of measurement at the same time.

As teachers we can now use this formative assessment information to guide our instruction related to the rest of our measurement unit.

3 thoughts on “Sharing & Reflecting (with a little help from our friends)

    • Yes they did. Because of the juxtaposition of the two pictures for the final piece, they were primed to address their initial ideas that the paintbrush was measured correctly in the picture.


      • I thought so. We worry about those gaps straight away because we’ve had so much experience of measuring without them; I guess they needed to be reminded about measuring without gaps to be, as you say, primed to spot the difficulty. Great how you get to see where they were first of all, and they get to see the situation without you telling them!


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