2. Letting pupils plan their investigations

When exploring a topic such as measuring it is important not to rush onto new concepts but to give pupils time to consolidate their learning and practise newly learnt skills. This section provides more ways to explore their understanding and abilities to measure length in different contexts.

These activities ask pupils to make comparison between measures and think about any links. By using the same groups for a series of activities you can discover whether they see the similarity between the investigations and are able to employ the data and the strategies they used before.

Case Study 2: Organising pupils’ own investigations

Mrs Asante decided to undertake another measuring task but provide less guidance. as she wanted her class to be more independent and to use the skills they learnt from the previous task. She observed her class carefully as they planned as she was interested to know who realised they could use the previous knowledge and ways of working for the new task.

When the principal talked of moving the school gate to a place he said was nearer, to help save money on the path, Mrs Asante was not sure it was nearer and she decided this was a real problem to use with her class.

She set the problem for her class in the morning and asked them to work on it until the end of the day. They also had to do their language work but could choose in which order to work. As she only had two long tape measures she had borrowed from the education offices, it limited the number of groups that could work with these at any one time. They could use other ways to measure such as rope or string. She was pleased how well they organised themselves and as they worked she noticed who understood the problem and how to solve it. All the groups agreed that the new site for the path was much nearer. She then asked them to work out how much money would be saved from the path.

They took their investigation to the principal who was very pleased with the information.

Activity 2: Investigating height against arm-span

Begin by telling your pupils that there is another investigation for them to do in the same groups as before.

Ask them to find out if this statement is true:

“Your height is the same as the distance between your finger-tips with your arms outstretched”.

Ask them to discuss in their groups:

  • How they could check these statements?
  • What are they going to be measuring?
  • What units of measurement would you use?
  • How will they organise the work?
  • How will they record their results?

Next you ask them to do the investigation together, or at different times depending on your resources, and you go round and listen to them as they work, supporting them if they are having difficulty. Ask them to show how they worked out the answer. Display their answers.

During sharing, discuss what you have observed about how they worked as groups.

How can you help them work better in groups (see Key Resource: Using group work in your classroom [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] )?

1. Organising an investigation

3. Assessing understanding of length