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Background For Teachers:
Intended Learning Outcomes:
This activity is called Drops on Pennies. Hold up a penny and a cup of water. Do you think the penny can hold water like the cup? How many drops do you think it can hold? Think to yourself first and write your prediction in your journal: I think the penny will hold ____ drops of water because ________. Have a few students share their answer. Come to a class consensus. How about other coins like a dime, nickel and quarter? As a class, come to a consensus for each of the coins.
Prepare 2 class charts ahead of time; chart #1 with the data table and chart #2 with the bar graph as shown in the attached Drops on Pennies Data Chart document. Post the charts prominently in front of the classroom. RECORD THE CLASS PREDICTIONS ON CHART #1.
Tell students that they will work in groups to see if their predictions are correct. Divide the class into small groups of no more than four per group. Give each group a bag of coins, an eye dropper, and a cup of water. Each member of the group is responsible for one coin. Each member will take turns doing the following with their coin.
1) Put their coin on top of a paper towel.
2) Fill their eye dropper with water and carefully drop water on their coin.
3) Keep track of the number of drops of water the coin can hold.
4) Record the number of drops on chart #1 in the space provided for their group only.
Once the class chart #1 is filled, have them compare their prediction with the actual numbers that groups got and see if they were close. Demonstrate how to represent the information in a bar graph. Involve the class in making a bar graph with the data.
Have a class discussion. Compare the number of drops of the different coins. What do you notice? What information does our bar graph give us about the coins? Then have students come up with their own questions. For example, do all pennies hold the same amount of water? What other things besides size affect the number of drops each coin can hold? Will salt water make a difference?
In this activity you will give students the opportunity to read a graph and then transfer their knowledge to make a different kind of graph. This can be done in their journals and it is a great way to assess their knowledge of graphing different types of graphs.
Baxter, J.A., Woodward, J., & Olson, D. (2001). Writing in mathematics: An alternative form of communication for academically low-achieving students.
In this study, they analyze how one teacher used writing to support communication in a seventh-grade, low-track mathematics class. For one school year, they studied four low-achieving students in the class. Students wrote in journals on a weekly basis. Using classroom observations and interviews with the teacher, they developed profiles of the four students, capturing their participation in class discussions. The profiles highlighted an important similarity among the four students: marginal participation in both small-group and whole class discussions. However, their analysis of the studentsí journals identified multiple instances where the students were able to explain their mathematical reasoning, revealing their conceptual understanding, ability to explain, and skill at representing a problem.
Stepanek, J., Jarrett, D. (1997). Assessment strategies to inform science and mathematics instruction; itís just good teaching. (ERIC Identifier: ED415114) Retrieved November 24, 2006.
Using assessment to inform instruction is one of the most powerful tools a teacher has to improve her teaching. It is also one of the most overlooked. Teachers routinely use assessments for a variety of reasons, most often to assign grades and to report studentsí progress to their parents. However, assessmentís real power is its ability to shape and direct classroom instruction.
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