After participating in activities to learn about components of the metric system, students share their knowledge and understanding of metrics with others by creating a slideshow presentation. Then students take on the role of mathematicians whose task is to show the importance of the metric system to the general public and Congress. The students’ goal is to gather support for legislation to be passed that would mandate that the United States use only the metric system of measurement.
View how a variety of student-centered assessments are used in the Metric Madness Unit Plan. These assessments help students and teachers set goals; monitor student progress; provide feedback; assess thinking, processes, performances, and products; and reflect on learning throughout the learning cycle.
Introduce the Essential Question, How can math help me understand my world? Log results on chart paper and hang it on a wall for students to add to throughout the rest of the unit. Consider keeping the chart up throughout the rest of the year for students to think about and add to during all math units.
Tell students they are going to begin a unit about metrics. Poll the students to see which metric measurements are familiar to them. Ask them the Unit Questions, Why might you need to know the metric system? and What difference does it make if you use inches or centimeters?
Have students write down their answers to the questions in a journal or notebook. Tell them they will be adding to their knowledge of these as they progress throughout the unit and that they will need to refer to their answers to complete some of the upcoming activities.
Keep the following important points in mind when teaching metrics:
The following is a minimal structure for teaching metrics lessons over a 2-week period. After each activity, have students, in pairs, reflect on the three questions asked at the beginning of the unit and add to their notes:
Once you feel your students have a good handle on metrics, have them complete a multimedia slideshow presentation showing their understanding of metrics. Divide the class into groups of four, and, within each group, assign one student to different units of metric measurement, as follows:
Allow each student to use their notes to complete a presentation that includes the following:
Distribute the presentation scoring guide and review the criteria. The multimedia presentation represents what each student would complete within their topic area. When all members of the group have completed their slides, have students put the slides together to make one presentation. Students can present these to:
Review with your students their answers to the Essential Question, How can math help me understand my world? Have students add to the chart paper list that the class generated earlier.
Building an Argument
Tell students they will be taking on the role of mathematicians. Their task will be to show the importance of the metric system. They must convince the general public to vote to pass legislation that would mandate that the United States use only the metric system of measurement.
Have students research and discuss the importance of the metric system. Discuss as a group the two Unit Questions that will help students with their final product—Why might you need to know the metric system? and What difference does it make if you use inches or centimeters?
Inform students that they will create a brochure highlighting important reasons to learn metrics, which will be passed out to the general public as well as legislators. Distribute the brochure rubric and explain the following guidelines for the brochure:
After students finish their brochures, have a mock public forum to have students present their findings and brochures. Be sure that the audience uses the feedback form for each presentation.
At the end of the unit, revisit the Essential Question, How can math help me understand my world? Direct students to think about their peer’s presentations and have them add thoughts to the chart paper started at the beginning of the unit.
English Language Learner
A teacher participated in the Intel® Teach Program, which resulted in this idea for a classroom project. A team of teachers expanded the plan into the example you see here.
Grade Level: 6-8
Higher-Order Thinking Skills: Problem Solving, Persuasion
Key Learnings: Metrics, Measurement, Conversions
Time Needed: 2-4 weeks, depending on how many metric lessons must be taught in one math period per day
Background: From a teacher in Arizona, United States