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Measurement and metric unit starter

Teenagers retaking GCSE Maths in Further Education colleges seem to have problems with estimating about how big things are and in estimating quantities. Adult students often think in Imperial units and are less familiar with metric.

The activities on this page cover the Metric system and other aspects of measurement early in a GCSE retake course. By spending time on this topic early on, I can referesh shape and space knowledge and vocabulary and prepare for some of the 'functional' problems that involve measurements later on.

Resources used are linked below as PDF files

The lesson is based on an idea by John G, who goes further into the proportions of the human body.

Match the object to the measurement cardsort

This the first activity, a set of 24 objects that most students will have come across with typical measurements for each object. Students work in pairs to match the object to the appropriate measurement.

I'll be checking with the pairs while they sort to see if the students can identify the right kinds of unit, and have some idea of the right size. Because the cards with objects have to be matched with the right typical measurement, students will probably realise when something has gone wrong and correct it themselves. An extension task with the cards might be to categorise the types of measurement, length, weight and capacity.

A recap on the whiteboard and a summary handout on the metric system (from a textbook or skillswise) will provide a note for the folders.

Pairs means around 12 sets have to be printed and laminated so I'll be printing these 16 up on A4 so that there are 3 laminated sheets to a set. Colour printing will be worth it for the resuse I'll get from 4 groups. If you want to use the matching task with a larger group, then A7 or A6 size cards might work better.

Images: found through Google so probably copyright, anyone with objections to the use of any image just contact me and I'll remove it from the handout.

Measurement words page

The imperial system is related to human physiology in a direct way. The definitions on this Web page help students realise something about English and may provide a link to the GCSE English syllabus, usually via the Shakespeare play. The could also be a tenuous ESOL strand here for people getting used to non-metric units.

Test an old saying handout

Students working in different pairs or possibly threes. Linen tape measures available along with 150cm long strips of (blank) till roll.

The saying does work within 20% or so: in medieval Britain, did you need more accuracy than that? Those who measured (say in centimetres) can think about rounding; is 25cm nearly a quarter of 98cm? Those who used the till rolls and folded the waist strip in half to test the neck strip: how close to half are you accepting?

A real stretch question here is: when you measure, aren't you really comparing with a standard centimetre? So if you measured a wrist and a neck from the same person, and the wrist was (say) 22cm and the neck was (say) 46cm, have you actually estimated two ratios?

There is a need to tread carefully with the waist and neck comparison, those of us with enhanced rotundity will find that the waist is a tad more than twice our neck...

Name the unit quiz

This is a final test of learning at the end of the session, and it follows the style of the GCSE Foundation paper questions closely. Unit names are written out in full.

Keith Burnett, Last update: Mon Aug 20 2012