Math teachers are always looking for ways to incorporate more opportunities for students to think about what makes sense in math. Students are always looking for ways to have more fun in math class. Estimation station is the way for both of these things to happen! Special thanks to Mr. Andrew Stadel (@mr_stadel) and his outstanding website, Estimation180, for this inspiration!
Every Wednesday, my math students enter the classroom to see a question from Estimation180 on the screen. Typically we do 2-3 of Stadel’s estimation lessons in a day, spending about 15 minutes total. I think he has developed the site for a daily lesson, but I like to use it weekly. It works for us.
Students have a recording sheet where they keep track of their weekly Estimation Station estimates. They record the date, the name of the lesson, and their estimate. Estimating takes thinking. Many of the examples require understanding measurement, money, and angles. Take a look at Estimation180 to get an idea of the range of lessons.
The magic happens when the students defend their estimates. They share in partners or small groups and explain why they chose that estimate. Next, they share with the whole class and everyone has a chance to comment. This discussion is rich with math thinking as they question each other. I stand back and watch.
The second and possibly third estimation lesson in Stadel’s series builds on their first estimate. That first lesson often gives perspective to the problem and helps the kids to make a better estimate on the next one. Kids notice that it gets easier to estimate once they know a bit more about the event. For example, it is much easier to estimate the length of a roll of toilet paper when you know how many sheets there are on a roll. (The clever students in my class asked to use the bathroom when that lesson appeared!)
In addition to Estimation180, we estimate other things in class too. At Halloween, I bring in pumpkins that I have weighed in the grocery store. Kids estimate the weight and circumference of the pumpkins. What else could we bring in for kids to touch and estimate? Making it real is so important!
Lastly, kids figure out the difference between their estimate and the correct answer. From there they determine the percent that they missed it by. This process gives them a new understanding of percent as they realize that missing by 10 out of 100 is very different than missing by 10 out of 12. We talk about how the denominator or correct answer is important for the percent. They can even estimate the percent after they have more experience. Math thinking.
If you ask me this is a win-win. My students talk about math and gain experience with what makes sense. We weave in many learning standards as they estimate everything from the % pie that is missing to the amount of money in a jar of coins. This is engaged learning at its best!