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Modified Lesson Plan Mathematics Activity: Comparing Units of Weight

By Barbara

Teaching students with special needs the concepts of weights can be as simple as comparing units of measure for typical items in the classroom, around the house or in the community. By using two units of measurement; ounces and pounds, students can have fun making sense out of measurements.

Measuring the World Around You in Pounds and Ounces

This mathematical activity can used as a warm-up or anticipatory set or modified as a lesson during a class period. However, the teacher decides to use this lesson plan, students can have fun in learning the most basic forms of weight measurement: pounds and ounces.

Anticipatory Set: When things are measured whether in the grocery store or in the heaviness of a typical student's backpack, they can be measured in the two most basic forms of measurement: pounds or ounces. In this lesson, we will create a list of items as a class and then individually, you will put a "P" for pounds or an "O" for ounces next to each item to show how they would be measured. Remember the conversion factor for weight in ounces and pounds is the following: 16 oz. = 1 lb.

Lesson - List of Items: Put a "P" or "O" next to each item to show the reasonable method of measurement.

1. Backpack

2. Lunch items

3. Desk

4. Oranges

5. Bag of Sunflower Seeds

6. 5 Carrot Sticks

7. A Sausage, Pepperoni or Vegetarian Pizza (Medium)

8. Your animal (specify- dog, cat, horse or hamster etc.)

9. A hot air balloon

10. Students weight

11. The Empire State Building

12. A Bottle of Juice

13. A Can of Soda

14. A Jacket

15. A Pair of Shoes

Measurable Outcomes:Teachers can extend this lesson by introducing a graphing exercise and having students create an X and Y axis with Items=Pounds and Items=Ounces. Students can graph the outcome of the list to show the total number of items that are measured in pounds versus those measured in ounces. For elementary students, this lesson is a great way to introduce weight as a measurement and graphing as a visual representation of data points which would be the list of items being labeled "p or o." For secondary students, the lesson can be reconstructed to add additional measurement conversions such as "g" (grams) or "k" (kilograms).

Assessments and Reflections: Students can do a visual check to see how many items were listed correctly and calculate a percentage from that information. They can reflect on why they chose the unit of measurement and why items are measured in ounces vs. pounds. Have students probe deeper into their learning and respond to the larger question of measurement conversions by putting a guesstimate weight next to each item and doing the math conversion from ounces to pounds. Ask students why a textbook is measured in pounds vs. ounces?

By taking simple concepts and creating mini-modified lesson plans for students, teachers can build conceptual understanding that can become scaffolded and applied to an even greater learning and application in comparative units of measurement.