Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Math: A Video Library, K-4

Balloon Travel

Video Overview
Students in this lesson have already studied probability, collected data throughout their school, and graphed their results. They now use balloons, string, and straws to create questions that form the basis for this integrated mathematics-science lesson. Some of the questions that students are investigating include: What is the longest distance a balloon can travel before falling? What is the amount of air pressure a balloon needs to travel twelve feet? Before the lesson, students made hypotheses related to their questions. Each group is instructed to record the original question, the hypothesis, the materials needed, and the procedure it will use either to prove or to disprove its hypothesis. Students carry out experiments and gather data related to their questions. In collecting data, students must understand the attributes of distance, volume, capacity, and time and must be able to control certain variables. They use both nonstandard units, such as air puffs, and standard units to measure the results. To conclude the lesson, the class reconvenes to discuss the importance of measuring and recording quantitative information.

Topics for Discussion

The following areas provide a focus for discussion after you view the video. You may want to customize these areas or focus on your own discussion ideas.

Considering Student-Generated Investigations

  1. Describe the value of student-generated investigations.

  2. What does having students pose and investigate their own questions tell you about Ms. Lohse's belief regarding the mathematics curriculum and the students' learning? How does this belief affect the role of the teacher in the classroom?

  3. What questions did students investigate in the lesson?

  4. Comment on the students' engagement in the lesson. What characteristics of the lesson promoted this engagement?

  5. Identify the structure provided by Ms. Lohse in relation to how much time the students were given to figure out their methodology and to collect their data. What determines the amount of time to give students for problem solving?

  6. In the lesson, students determined how many times they could perform an action in one minute. How does this lesson contribute to their concept of time?

  7. The lesson focused on developing the concept of time as a measure of duration as opposed to learning how to read a clock. What are the pros and cons of this approach?

  8. How was estimation addressed in this lesson? How did it contribute to developing a concept of a minute?

  9. The students in the lesson used digital stopwatches. What do you think of this choice? Why?

  10. At the end of the lesson, students timed how long it would take one student to write her name ten times. How does this activity further the students' understanding of the concept of time?

Integrating Mathematics and Science

  1. What mathematical and scientific principles, concepts, and skills are part of this lesson?

  2. In this lesson, Ms. Lohse had students gather data to address their questions. How does this activity connect mathematics and science? How does mathematics, in general, support science investigations?

  3. What are Ms. Lohse's strategies for emphasizing the mathematics and for checking students' understanding of the mathematical ideas before, during, and after the investigations?

  4. Identify the difficulties students were having with the data collection. Describe the whole-group discussions regarding the kind of data to collect and the way to measure those data. What might you have done differently to address these issues?

Integrated Mathematics and Science Activities

Consider the meaning and purpose of integrating mathematics and science. Think of and list areas of mathematics that integrate well with science. Find, modify, or develop a unit of study with planned integration of mathematics and science for a particular grade level.


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