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October 2006, Volume 13, Issue 3


Fostering Communication about Measuring Area in a Transitional Language Class
Wendy Bray, Juli Dixon, Marina Martinez
A series of lessons focused on development of invented strategies for measuring areas of irregular polygons in a fourth grade transitional language class. Of focus are strategies that teachers can use to engage students with limited English proficiency (LEP) in communicating and justifying mathematical ideas.

Understanding the Development of Students' Thinking about Length
Michael Battista
Describes assessment tasks and a conceptual framework for understanding elementary students' thinking about the concept of length. Teachers will learn about student difficulties with length and how to differentiate instruction to reach these learners.

Etty Wanda and the Have a Heart Problem - Reflect and Discuss
Susan Addington
This article includes a fictional story featuring Etty Wanda, a girl who likes to point out mathematical errors, and Mrs. Grey, an evil sorceress who poses a paradoxical math problem that asks about comparing area with perimeter.

Measurement of Length: How Can We Teach It Better?
Constance Kamii
Measurement of length is taught repeatedly starting in kindergarten and continuing in grades 1, 2, and beyond. However, during the past twenty-five years, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the outcome of this instruction has been disappointing. What is so hard about measurement of length? This article explains, on the basis of research, why instruction has been ineffective and suggests a better approach to teaching. Teachers can use these practical applications for teaching measurement in the classroom.

Curriculum Focal Points for Pre-K–Grade 8 Mathematics: A Quest for Coherence

On April 24, 2006, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Board of Directors approved “Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics: A Quest for Coherence.” The Curriculum Focal Points are specifically designed to provide leadership in the discussion about important mathematical topics at the pre- K–8 level. This introduction will define, identify the need for, and place in perspective the use of the focal points.

This is about Covers It! Strategies for Finding Area
Tutita Casa, Ann Spinelli, M. Gavin
How teachers guided their students in their conceptual understanding of area as a measure of covering. Classroom teachers will learn how students derived various strategies to estimate the area of irregular shapes, they wrote about these strategies, and the teachers utilized their writing and gave feedback to help guide instruction.

Bird Station Investigation
Julie Poth
How the real-world application of measurement skills within an integrated science unit can strengthen the engagement level of students and improve their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Teachers learn how to integrate science and math in the classroom to improve students' problem solving skills.