As a school teacher, it’s not uncommon for students to question when they will use a specific skill in real life. Ruler skills are probably among the most useful skills that I think students will need throughout their lives. Unfortunately, it seems that ruler skills are also one of the most difficult things to get students to grasp.
Over the last few years, I have included more and more projects that require precise measurements. Still, I am seeing students struggle with measurements that are not whole or half increments. Throw in 8ths and 16ths and you get that deer-in-the-headlights look. Mention 1/4 or 3/4 and you blow their minds because those numbers don’t have an 8 or a 16 for a denominator.
This year, I am upping my ruler skills game. I made a video that shows students how to use the specific ruler that we use in our classroom. After viewing the video students have to answer questions based on our class discussion and show that they can accurately measure a variety of lines.
The catch is that students are not allowed to use a ruler in the classroom until they master the skill. So far, that appears to be a huge motivator.
In most of my middle school classes, I saw only a 30% pass rate on the first test. We then spent some time practicing and I even paired those who passed with those who struggled. About 90% of my students were able to pass the second skills test.
The remaining students are getting some one-on-one assistance and I expect 100% to pass the next test. To keep the skill relevant, I am requiring students to practice on a weekly basis.
I am hoping this focus on ruler skills really makes a difference in the future.
If you are interested in covering this concept with your students you might want to check out my video below. You can get the ruler measurements reference sheet for free in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and you can find my skills test here.