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Channel Talk

From: Roxanne Ditrolio (DitroliR@seekonk.k12.ma.us)
Date: Wed Apr 28 2004 - 17:38:41 EDT

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    Sorry I didn't introduce myself before. My name is Roxanne DiTrolio.
    I teach seventh grade math in Seekonk, MA. I started this course a few
    weeks ago. This is my second course in the Learning Math series.

    In conversation with a science teacher in my building, the topic of
    measurement came up. He said that many of his students are having
    difficulty with precision. They seem to be content with measurements
    that are "about right" or "close enough." When a measurement
    falls between two values, students do not extend the measurement value
    or carry out to the next place value. Instead they round to the nearest
    marked unit.

    After thinking about what he had said, I realized that many of the
    activities students work on in math require students to round when
    measuring or recording values. They are trained to shorten or simplify,
    rather than to extend.

    As a follow-up to the conversation, I asked my students to come up with
    examples related to the importance of precision in measurement. We
    talked about the Hubble telescope and the recent Mars mission. This was
    a good lead-in to a measurement activity in which students were asked to
    be as precise as possible.

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