I learned about Andrew Stadel’s Estimation 180 a few weeks ago. I decided this morning it was time to stop watching and time to start playing along. We’re a bit behind the rest of the estimating world, but in first period (Pre Algebra) we worked through Days 1 and 2 and in third period (Honors Algebra 1) we worked through Day 1.

It. Was. Awesome.

I won’t spend a lot of time in this post talking about Estimation 180 in general or how I used it in class today. If you already use it, you’ve probably formed your own opinion and approach by now. If you don’t use it (or have never heard of it), get yourself over there as fast as you can.

What I will say is this: My students were more engaged today, even in those ten short minutes, than they have been in quite a while.

I imagine it had something to do with the accessibility (everyone can make a guess, even if it’s horribly, horribly wrong), the anticipation (“Am I right? Am I right? Am I right?”), and the way these estimation tasks present a natural, un-intimidating opportunity for students to defend their responses by explaining their reasoning. The reasoning—to students, at least—often doesn’t appear very technical or mathematical, but it’s great exercise anyway. And it’s a healthy start to making sure this is a regular part of my students’ experience.

So where to from here? Well, for one thing I’ll continue to use Estimation 180 with these students. But beyond that, I’ll try to incorporate those three elements (accessibility, anticipation, and ready-made opportunities for answer-defending) into other tasks and courses.

I just have one question: When this year’s Pre Algebra students have me again next year in Algebra 1, will there be an Estimation 181-360?

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I’m flattered. Thanks for the kind words and more importantly, spreading the good word about good ole estimation. I agree, there really is something to be said about tasks and opportunities that are accessible to all learners. Great job putting together a logical and useful handout for your students. Wonderful job having students share their reasoning. Now, for next year. My money is on the idea that most kids will forget all the answers. However, we’ll just have to see what the future holds for Estimation 180. I plan to make some additions for next year so things continue to stay fresh. Stay tuned!