Estimation 180

Estimation initiative:
[*UPDATE: has gone live]

Last year I willingly started adding an estimation question to my daily warm-up, inspired by Steve Leinwand, Dan Meyer, and a monthly ASB gag we did a few school years back. Everyday, I greet my students at the door and hand them a 3x5 index card for their warm-up. They get the first 2-3 minutes of class to complete the warm-up exercise and estimation question. The first question reviews the previous day's skill. As for the estimation question, last year I was putting questions that were comparable to fun facts and students had no context clues for making logical estimates. It got silly. Here are some examples:
  • How many miles is the California coastline?
  • How long does an elephant stay pregnant?
  • How many In-n-Out Burger restaurants are there?
  • How many miles from the Earth to the Sun?
  • etc.
Stepping back over the summer and really fine-tuning the goal of estimation (improving number sense), I began using estimation questions that were more relative and provided better context clues. Every chance I get, I use a picture or something inside my classroom that will allow students to make logical estimates. Here's today's (Day 10):

I've had to cover up the bottom half of the screen now because students come in and immediately want to go for the estimation question. They want to come up to the screen and do weird measurements, or ask me factual questions, and they flat out forget about the first question. I don't blame them. It's fun. Once we go over the first question (favorite yes/no), I usually have students give me estimates that are too low or too high and then we "go right at it." "Who thinks they got this?"
Once I get about 8-10 estimates, I reveal the answer and it's so cool to see how the students react. "Ohhhh, I was sooo close." Or "I was way off!" Either way, I ask the student or students who were close to explain their logic. It's fascinating how kids think.
For today's, I snapped a picture of a measuring cup full of almonds (my new favorite snack). Tomorrow, they'll estimate how many are in the jar from CostCo. Estimation should build. The whole first week we talked about height, based off my height. 
Day 1: What is Mr. Stadel's height? They don't need a picture for that.
Day 2: What is Mrs. Stadel's height? They needed a picture for that. 
Day 3: What is my son's height? Another picture.
Day 4: What's the height of a lamppost Mr. Stadel is standing near? etc.
The first four days used my height as a frame of reference. Check out Estimation 180 (Google doc will be replaced with )and you'll see what I mean. My estimation initiative is to begin documenting my 180 days of estimation, simply titled Estimation 180. Seriously, do I need one more thing on my plate right now? No. However, I do this every day and would love to share this stuff and receive feedback. Estimation is important to me. I've already seen student improvement with number sense in just 10 days of school.  
I'm starting small here, but would love to expand this idea: stay tuned. In the meantime, check out the spreadsheet catalog (tab at the top).
[UPDATE: is live. Forget the spreadsheet!]

Number sense,