Students in David Hill’s math class practiced the art of “almost,” “around,” and “close to” this week with a lesson in estimation. Estimation is an important component of mathematical reasoning and, on this day, students used rational number operations and their growing computational fluency to quickly arrive at a reasonable answer.
“Efficiency and flexibility matter,” says Dr. Hill, “but we need to aim for accuracy first.”
Having fun with the math app, Kahoot!, students assessed a variety of word problems and answer choices to determine the most logical solution within a 60 second time limit. Once the time was up, the app displayed correct and incorrect responses, allowing Dr. Hill to provide further instruction when needed. It was often an exercise in perseverance.
“The hardest part of estimation for me is thinking of the possibilities and every part of the question,” shares Chloe Krueger (7). “I feel like I get better when Dr. Hill explains how the numbers connect and I can see what I should consider for the next problem.”
When stumped by a word problem, Bryce Dilworth (7) lamented, “This is math. It’s not supposed to be mind tricks!”
As students continued to estimate area, perimeter, ratios, costs, percentage, speed and distance, by the end of class they could choose different strategies, verbalize their process and show their growing mastery of how to approximate numbers to arrive at the best answer.
“Word problems are important exercises because they require students to think in real world terms as they compute,” says Dr. Hill. “As adults, we estimate all the time: how much a tank of gas will cost, how much to tip the server at a restaurant. It’s a useful skill.”
The lesson gives students the knowledge to make sense of numbers in a broader context; bridges their introductory course units to learning about algebraic expressions, inequalities and proportions; and helps prepare them to study geometry, probability and statistics later in the year.