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Integrating Measurement across the Curriculum

Using a Journal Article as a Professional Development Experience


Title:        Integrating Measurement across the Curriculum
Author:    Ron Preston and Tony Thompson
Journal:   Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School
Issue:      April 2004, Volume 9, Issue 8, pp. 436-441

Rationale/Suggestions for Use 

The article asserts that: measurement is difficult, has received a lack of attention, is important to an already-crowded curriculum, and can and should be taught on an ongoing basis.  Given these assertions, the article then offers examples of measurement tasks that are integrated across the curriculum.

Measurement scores, along with geometry, are consistently lower than other content areas on national and international assessments. (Thompson & Preston, 2004) Given the importance of measurement as a foundation for many real-world applications, this strand of the curriculum needs greater emphasis.


  1. Engage teachers in a discussion of the measurement strand that the authors suggest is a challenge to students.  Probe with questions:
    • What is measurement?
    • What are the difficulties associated with teaching and/or learning the measurement strand?
    • What skills and concepts related to measurement do you want your students to know?
    • What measurement experiences are important for your students?
  2. Acknowledge that measurement is difficult.  Now turn the focus—"...measurement is a necessary foundation for much of mathematics and that much of the real-world applications of mathematics are measurement-related." (Preston & Thompson, 2004, p. 437). Assign three breakout groups.  Each group will consider one of the measurements actions that we should provide for middle school students: measuring, converting, computation.
    • Brainstorm examples of each action (measure, convert, compute) throughout the middle school curriculum.
    • Briefly identify the difficulties and complexities associated with each action.
    • Have groups report out to the whole group.
    • Use the examples generated by the groups to discuss how these examples are typically taught in classrooms. Ask participants to read the paragraph on pages 438-9 about the use of worksheets and about measurement processes.

    • Ask teachers to reflect on their own practices with regard to these measurement actions and processes.   Ask, "How can measurement concepts and skills be integrated with other content strands or even other subjects?"  Give time for whole group discussion.
  1. Select one of the integrated activities identified in the article that you are familiar with and/or you wish to explore with teachers.
    • As teachers engage in the activity they should be thinking about the specific measurement action(s) or process(es) that are being addressed.
    • Debrief the activity by discussing the measurement actions or processes that were integrated in the activity.  Discuss what strands of the curriculum have been addressed.
    • Discuss some of the challenges the activity would present to students

Next Steps

  • Use Table 1 (p. 439) in the article to review the Measurement Standard.  Then ask pairs or small groups of teachers to select a task from pages 440-1 that was not done in the workshop and discuss where that task might best fit in their curriculum and what it might look like.  If appropriate, ask teachers to try the task with students before the next meeting and share information about what they learnt about student’s knowledge of measurement from the activity.
  • Have teachers read "Measurement in the Middle Grades: Insights from NAEP and TIMMS." (Thompson & Preston, 2004).  Share and discuss sample test items that can be found at:


Connections to Other NCTM Publications  

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