If you haven't heard of Estimation 180, you need to. It's creator, Andrew Stadel (@mr_stadel) is a genius with ways, means, and methods to building students' estimation skills. CueThink has included some of Stadel's word count estimation problems within its bank. I really wanted to try the "What's the word count of the 8 mathematical practices?" problem because it looked quite challenging, but achievable, for my students.
When I pushed their thinking and asked how to solve this.....I got mixed responses indicating most really had no clue. So we started small with just the letter "M."
"How can we divide up letter "M" into a smaller parts to make a closer estimate?" Students worked with their partners to determine strategies to do so. We talked about breaking it apart into rectangles, counting one line, and then multiplying it to show an entire space (Think area of a shape). I was thinking they were on the right track...they were getting it.
So then, I showed them the Mathematical Practices problem and together we filled out the Understand phase of the problem. Having prepped and practiced with the MLK JR problem, it seemed to help the students scaffold the learning to the more difficult one for most students. We also focused on the "Estimate" area (On the bottom of the Understand Phase) and, in triads,worked to try to find a high and low estimate using his/her own strategy.
It wasn't all "Pie in the Sky" though....my more struggling students really needed an explicit strategy to help them. We walked through the estimates for high and low together.
I'd love to hear other ways teachers are building estimation skills within their problem solving practices. Feel free to share below: