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EMT620: Teaching Primary Mathematics 2

Danielle Ridler 142977

Assessment 1

Holds the most has been created to elicit and assess Miss Ridlers year five
students conceptual understanding of capacity as the maximum amount a container can
hold.
A strong conceptual understanding of mathematics concepts allows teachers to
recognise the alternative conceptions and difficulties concepts create (Browning, Edson,
Kimani, & Aslan-Tutak, 2014). Capacity describes the maximum volume a container is
able to hold, while volume refers to the amount of space a three dimensional substance
or object occupies (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority
[ACARA], 2015). These definitions are not yet relevant to year five students, as within
the measurement strand of the Australian curriculum the terms volume and capacity
are used interchangeably until year four (ACARA, 2015).
By year five students should have a conceptual understanding of the attribute of
capacity as the amount a container is able to hold, and volume as the amount of space
an object or material takes up (ACARA, 2015). For instance, container A has a larger
capacity as it holds more then container B. Gough (2008) asserts understanding the
attribute of capacity is relevant to students everyday lives from deciding what glass to
use to have a drink to filling a ink cartilage, or bathe so it does not overflow.

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EMT620: Teaching Primary Mathematics 2


Danielle Ridler 142977

Assessment 1

A conceptual understanding of the attribute of capacity requires students to


understand standardisation and the relationship between units and unit-attributes
(Wrigley, 2011). In Australia, capacity is measured using the metric units for liquid
measurement: millilitres (ml) and litres (l), and solid measurement: cubic centimetres
(cm3) and cubic metres. This standardisation facilitates communication and allows for
formal objective measurements; I need 20mls of medicine each day opposed to
subjective, I need three spoons of medicine each day (Wrigley, 2011). As students do
not identify the relationship between cm3 and mls until year six Holds this much will
only assess students ability to measure capacity using formal liquid units ACMMG138
(ACARA, 2015).
In preparation for Holds the most the Australian Curriculum was utilised to
identify what students ought to be familiar with. Year five students should have
experience using informal direct comparisons to measure the capacities of different
containers and be familiar with language such as holds more, and holds the same
ACMMG037 (ACARA, 2015). Students should understand the importance of using
formal liquid metric units and have experience using scaled instruments to measure and
compare capacities ACMMG061;ACMMG084 (ACARA, 2015).

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EMT620: Teaching Primary Mathematics 2


Danielle Ridler 142977

Assessment 1

Prior knowledge and everyday experiences cause alternative conceptions and


difficulties which impact ones conceptual understanding of capacity (Niemi, 1996). A
conceptual understanding of the attribute of capacity requires students to understand
several key ideas: conservation, iteration, additivity and proportionality. Students
in Piagets concrete operational stage of development (7-11 years), are developing the
logical thinking ability conservation (De Lisi, 1979). Conservation allows students to
recognise and understand how containers with different physical features are able to
have similar capacities (Kefaloukos & Bobis, 2011). An inability to conserve
predominately impacts young students; however, students with minimal practical
experience comparing containers may also demonstrate this understanding (Kefaloukos
& Bobis, 2011).Holds the most will identify students with a conservation
misconception through their choice of container and justification; for instance, the
student justifies their choice of the container by stating it is the tallest. However, due to
students age it is anticipated students are more likely to experience difficulties with
reading scaled objects and understanding the relationship between mls to ls then
conservation.

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EMT620: Teaching Primary Mathematics 2


Danielle Ridler 142977

Assessment 1

Awareness of alternative conceptions and the difficulties students face allows


teachers to create rich assessment tasks that reveal and assess students performance of
conceptual understanding (Stephens, 2000). Students are not expected to measure
capacity with formal liquid units until year three, meaning students difficulties can
arise from a lack of experience (Van de Walle & Lovin, 2006). Students without an
understanding of iteration, the repeated use of standard units (mls or l) to fill a
container and additivity, adding the repeated use of standard units to find the capacity
of a container will experience difficulties finding and communicating the capacity of
containers using formal metric units (Van de Walle & Lovin, 2006).
Iteration and additive difficulties are linked to proportionality in which
students must recognise the relationship between the unit used to measure capacity and
the number of units required to measure capacity (Gough, 2008). For instance, a 2l
bucket will require more 300ml units to fill then using a 400ml unit would. Students
who experience difficulties with proportionality, and understanding the relationship
between units (1000mls in a l) will be identified through Holds this much by their
inability to convert ls to ml, and estimate how many times it will take to fill the bucket
using their container.
Holds the most

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EMT620: Teaching Primary Mathematics 2


Danielle Ridler 142977

Assessment 1

Students are placed in groups of four and instructed their task is to transport 2l of
water using a container of their choice in the fewest trips possible. The capacities of the
containers provided: range from 200 to 400mls, differ in physical appearance, and only
one is scaled with 10ml referents and a capacity of 300ml. There are two possible
solutions to this task, as there are two containers with a 400ml capacity. These two
containers differ in physical appearance: one is a pyramid with a narrow opening at the
top, while the other is a wide cylinder with a large opening.
Teams are given six minutes to measure out their 2L of water and decide what
container they will use for the task. During this time the teacher observes: the
conversations occurring in groups, how students are deciding what container to use and
how students are measuring their 2ls of water. Once complete students are gathered back
as a class and asked three questions outlined in figure 1, as a think, pair, share activity.
Students are asked to write down their answer and justify their thinking before
discussing it with their team. Teams briefly share with the class, then the activity begins.
Figure 1. Assessing students performance of understanding.

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EMT620: Teaching Primary Mathematics 2


Danielle Ridler 142977

Assessment 1

Holds the most requires students to use their conceptual understanding, skills
and knowledge of capacity as the maximum a container is able to hold in a practical
context (Beesey, Clarke, Clarke, Stephens, & Sullivan, 1998). Stephens (2000) asserts
practical tasks that encourage students to work cooperatively and communicate are
beneficial as students often display insights that would not be found by working
independently. This allows the teacher to identify whether students performances shows
evidence students are ready to move on to more difficult tasks or misconceptions,
knowledge and skills that require further instruction (Fry, 2014).
Students ability to measure and gain a conceptual understanding of capacity
using formal liquid measurement requires them to understand the relationship between
millilitres and litres, and their approximate size (Gough, 2008). Students difficulties are
often caused by their inability to understand what a millilitre and litre represents and
looks like. For this reason, students need explicit instruction through both practical and
pen-and-paper measurement tasks that use real world examples of capacity to
strengthen their understanding of the size of formal liquid units (Van de Walle &
Lovin, 2006). One way to achieve this is by getting students to compare and order
everyday objects such as milk cartons, cups and jugs by their capacity.
Using familiar objects allows students to create an internal referent that aids their
estimation abilities (Van de Walle & Lovin, 2006). For instance if one litre is the same as
a carton of milk, and my mums car holds 40l of petrol, then the sink must hold more
then 1l and less then 40l of water. Estimation also improves students measurement
sense, as through estimation students develop their understanding of formal liquid units
and their approximate size (Jones, Gardner, Taylor, Forrester, & Andre, 2012). For this

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EMT620: Teaching Primary Mathematics 2


Danielle Ridler 142977

Assessment 1

reason teachers should encourage students to estimate before measuring to check the
accuracy of their answer (Van de Walle & Lovin, 2006).
Difficulties measuring capacity may result from a lack of experience with
conversion and proper instruction of how to accurately read graduated scales (Gough,
2008; Lehrer, 2003). Some students may experience difficulties converting mls and ls as
it involves multiplying and dividing by 1 000. To cater for these students, teachers
should utilise students understanding of place value and decimals, and provide tasks
that require unit conversation. Van de Walle and Lovin (2006) asserts teachers should
also provide students with opportunities to read and use a range of measuring scales so
they can develop the rules for using scales accurately. For instance ensuring the scale is
on a flat surface and looking at the level at eye level.
Building on these ideas Miss Ridler has prepared a set of learning activities that
will support students development of the relationship between mls and ls and build a
foundation for students year five focus on identifying the appropriate units to measure
capacity (ACMMG108) (ACARA, 2015).
Learning activities
1. A graduated cylinder with 5ml referents is filled to 37mls. Students write down how
many mls of water is in the cylinder, and then share their answer with the class. Students
are asked: why doesnt everyone have the same answer?. Through discussion students
identify the rules of accurately reading a graduated cylinder.
2. Students are given several containers (milk cartons, tubs and jars) and asked to put
them in order by their capacity (smallest to largest). They are asked to estimate each
containers capacity, then measure the containers and decide whether they want to keep
or change their estimation before moving to the next container.

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EMT620: Teaching Primary Mathematics 2


Danielle Ridler 142977

Assessment 1

3. Students estimate the capacity of objects using referents e.g. water bottle, fish tank,
petrol tank, and then convert formal measurements e.g. millilitres to litres. Students then
solve: Joe said to find out how many millilitres are in litres you multiply it by 1000, is he
right? Why/why not?

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EMT620: Teaching Primary Mathematics 2


Danielle Ridler 142977

Assessment 1

References
Australian Curriculum, Assessment & Reporting Authority. (2015). The Australian
Curriculum

v7.2

Mathematics.

Retrieved

From

http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/mathematics/curriculum/f-10?layout=1
Beesey, C., Clarke, B. A., Clarke, D. M., Stephens, M., & Sullivan, P. (1998). Effective
assessment for mathematics. Carlton, Victoria: Board of Studies/ Addison Wesley
Longman.
Browning, C., Edson, A., Kimani, P., & Aslan-Tutak, F. (2014). Mathematical content
knowledge for teaching elementary mathematics: A focus on geometry and
measurement. Mathematics Enthusiast, 11(2), 333-383.
De Lisi, R. (1979). The educational implications of Piaget's theory and assessment
Techniques. ERIC Publications 68, 1-40
Fry, K. (2014). Assessing inquiry learning: How much is a cubic metre?. Australian
Primary Mathematics Classroom, 19(3), 11-15.
Gough, J. (2008). Just a Cup. Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 13(2), 9-14.
Jones, M. G., Gardner, G. E., Taylor, A. R., Forrester, J. H., & Andre, T. (2012).
Students' accuracy of measurement estimation: Context, units, and logical
thinking. School Science and Mathematics, 112(3), 171-178.
Kefaloukos, M., & Bobis, J. (2011). Understanding conservation: A playful process.
Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 16(4), 19-23.
Lehrer, R. (2003). Developing understanding of measurement. In J. Kilpatrick, W.G.
Martin, & D. Schifer (Eds.), A research companion to principles and standards
for school mathematics (pp. 179-192). Reston: National Council of Teachers of
Mathematics.

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EMT620: Teaching Primary Mathematics 2


Danielle Ridler 142977

Assessment 1

Niemi, D. (1996). Assessing conceptual understanding in Mathematics: representations,


problem solutions, justifications, and explanations. The Journal of Educational
Research, 89(6), 351-363.
Stephens, M. (2000). Use of rich assessment tasks in mathematics teaching: an initiative
in Victorian schools. Catholic School Studies, 73(2), 53-57.
Van de Walle, J. A., & Lovin, L. H. (2006). Teaching student-centered mathematics,
grade K-3. Boston, Toronto: Pearson.
Wrigley, C. (2011). Metric versus imperial units of measurement: Relevance to science,
agriculture and our daily lives. Teaching Science: The Journal of the Australian
Science Teachers Association, 57(3), 51-57.

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