EL Support Lesson

Designing Situations with Area

In this lesson, your students will think about situations that require them to calculate area. Use it as a standalone lesson or as support to the What Is the Area of Your Classroom? lesson.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the What Is the Area of Your Classroom? lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the What Is the Area of Your Classroom? lesson plan.

Students will be able to calculate the area of real-life rectangles, such as the area of the classroom.


Students will be able to write story situations that relate to area using peer supports.

(4 minutes)
  • Draw a rectangle on the board and shade it in. Ask students to discuss with a partner what we need to do if we want to find out how much space the shaded area takes. Invite a few to share their conversation with the whole class.
  • Guide students to the understanding that in order to calculate the area of the rectangle, we need to multiply the length by the width.
  • Read aloud the content and language objectives for the lesson and have students restate them to a partner.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that they will review the meaning of important vocabulary terms that will help them talk about the concept of area.
  • Distribute a copy of the Glossary worksheet to each student. Display a teacher copy on the document camera.
  • Introduce each vocabulary word and invite a student to read the definition aloud. Ask another student to describe the image and how it relates to the meaning of the word.
  • Tell students to write "Related Word" in the final empty column on the right-hand side of the Glossary. Instruct them to work with a partner to add a synonym in their home language (L1) or in English (L2) for all of the vocabulary words. Students are also encouraged to draw a picture or symbol, or write an example of the word in this column. Have students paste the completed Glossary into their math journals for future reference.
  • Write the equation for area on the board (Area = Length x Width). Read aloud the following word problem: "Janelle is going to paint one wall in her bedroom. She wants to know the area of the wall to be able to buy the right amount of paint. The wall is 9 feet high and 12 feet long. What is the area of the wall?"
  • Define any unfamiliar terms in the word problem and make sure that students understand what the question is asking. Point out that it is helpful to draw a model of the rectangle and write the dimensions on the shape. Model how to do this on the document camera. Mention that even though the word problem mentions the words "high" and "long" instead of width and length, we need to understand that in this case, the height of the wall will be considered the width.
  • Show students how to multiply the dimensions using the equation to solve for the area (12 feet x 9 feet = 108 feet squared). Write the answer in a complete sentence: "The area of the wall is 108 feet squared." Shade the rectangle in and write 108 in the middle of the rectangle. Emphasize the importance of writing the answer in a complete sentence and using the correct unit (square feet, meter, yard, mile, etc.).
(10 minutes)
  • Take out a piece of chart paper and title it "Situations with Area." Distribute whiteboards and markers to each student.
  • Place students into effective partnerships if possible with a student who speaks the same home language (L1).
  • Tell them to think of situations or scenarios in which they would need to calculate the area of a rectangle. Model writing a few examples for students on the chart paper.
  • Remind them to think of smaller rectangle measurement units (centimeters, inches) and larger rectangle measurements units (feet, meters, yards, miles, kilometers). If needed, give students some context to understand the distance of each type of measurement.
  • Give students time to think of situations and write them down in bullet point format on their whiteboards. Examples include finding the area of a postcard, a room, a purse, a football field, a garden, an apple orchard, a table or sofa, a patio, etc.
  • Gather students together as a whole group and have the pairs of students share their lists of area situations. Record their contributions onto the chart paper.
  • Ask students to think of which measurement unit they would use in each situation and jot down their answers next to each suggestion. Tell students to verbally justify their reasoning and elaborate on their classmates' reasoning using the following sentence stems/frames:
    • "I know this measurement unit works because..."
    • "I agree with ____ because..."
    • "I disagree with ____ because..."
(10 minutes)
  • Inform students that they will work on co-crafting situations for specific rectangular measurements.
  • Hand out the Co-Crafting Area Situations worksheet and display a copy on the document camera.
  • Read aloud the directions and model how to do the first problem using the paragraph frame provided (e.g., "The length is 10 inches. The width is 3 inches. The area is 30 square inches. A possible story situation for it is that someone wants to know the area of an envelope."). Have students write down the answer to question one based on the modeled example.
  • Tell students to work on the problems with a partner. Students are welcome to use the chart from the brainstorming session earlier as inspiration to write their story situations.


  • Allow students to explain their math thinking in their home language before rephrasing using sentence stems/frames in English.
  • Have students work in a small, teacher-led group during group work.
  • Create and display a word/phrase bank with helpful terms from the lesson for students to refer to, with images if applicable.
  • Place students in specific partnerships based on their language needs.


  • Have students share their answers aloud without referring to the sentence stems/frames for support.
  • Allow learners to utilize glossaries and dictionaries for challenging words.
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary for the class.
(4 minutes)
  • Combine two pairs of students to form a group of four. Have them share their answers and story situations with the other pair. Tell them to correct any mistakes and work through any disagreement on the types of situations they wrote.
  • Give students these sentence frames/stems to help them discuss:
    • "I like how you ____ in your story situation."
    • "I wonder if you could add ____ to your story situation."
    • "Could you clarify the part about ____?"
  • Listen in on students' conversation to assess their mastery of the objectives.
(2 minutes)
  • Have one student from each group of four share out one of the exemplary story situations written during the group work time.
  • Remind students that there are many situations in the real world that require them to calculate the area of a rectangle and that it is important for them to know the measurement unit and method for solving for area.

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