Every child was invited to bring a “see-through” container filled with “something” for our Estimation Challenge. We all decided that this would be a “blind study” – no one would know, not even the student, the exact number of items in the container he/she brought until after the challenge when the items would be counted by the students.
Children then prepared their Estimation Challenge Station signs. Their sign needed to include the following:
- title: Estimation Challenge
- title: name of collection
- instruction words: estimate how many _____ are in the _____
- a unique message
- your name
- a boarder
It was wonderful to watch and listen to the children as they worked on their station signs. Every child was engaged and motivated as they prepared for our Estimation Challenge. Materials were chosen, collected, gathered, made, and organized for our big day.
Along with a jar of items to estimate and their station sign, each child was given a bunch of small papers for station visitors to jot down their estimation, name, and division; they also had an envelope for their papers, and a tally/observation task sheet on which they would tally the number of guests who visited their stations and made an estimation, and on which they would record any observations. They were ready to set up and ‘man’ their stations.
We invited student, teachers, and parents, kindergarten to grade 7, to test and practice making estimations. A schedule was made and posted in the staffroom so classes who wanted to participate would not all come at the same time. On the day of our big event, students set up their Estimation Challenge Stations in our classroom, the hallways, and common areas just outside our room. The students were ready to welcome their visitors and collect their data. Students, teachers, and parents arrived and our Estimation Challenge began!
We were excited to also welcome some special guests from our school district.
After the Estimation Challenge . . . lots of hands-on, minds-on number work and mathematical thinking.
Over the next few weeks, children shared and discussed their observations and worked through a number of tasks. They counted the items in their containers, counted up their tallies, sorted out their estimation papers, and analyzed all their data. It was amazing to see how many mathematical concepts came into play, concepts such as place value, repeated addition, multiplication (to name a few), were being practiced, reinforced, and learned. Children recorded all their estimations and some even found averages, and learned the differences between the mean, median, mode, and range.
At the end of our Estimation Challenge, children reflected on their experiences and shared what they had learned. In summary, they all agreed – it was a rich, meaningful, and fun learning experience for all.
When I reflect on this learning story, the first thing that comes to mind is the energy and focus children demonstrated; it was palpable. When I think about the learning that went on, I am amazed at how many intellectual, personal, and social and emotional proficiencies the students were learning and practicing – the very skills they would need in order to engage in deep, life-long learning as successful citizens in today’s society. Students were learning to communicate their ideas and thinking; they were learning to plan, to carry out, and to accomplish a goal. For some, this was not an easy task. Students had to learn to persevere and use their struggles productively if they were to succeed. And so they did!
The power of rich, hands-on learning and children working together is a magical formula that makes learning relevant and fun. Our Estimation Challenge was a big success, and, without question, the learning was far reaching. A heart-felt, BRAVO, to all my students.
A great website with all kinds of estimation problems for you and your students to check out: Estimation 180.