This lesson focuses on the vocabulary for volume and writing in math. Measurement and Data is one of five domains in the math Common Core Standards. Of the five standards in Measurement and Data, four focus on volume. That's 4/5ths of 1 domain! Okay, I couldn't help myself....
I remember way back in my teaching career being told that we cannot have an intelligent conversation until we have a commonly understood vocabulary. So true! So here, I focus on specific references in the Mathematical Practices that apply to volume and the importance of mathematical vocabulary.
With MP6: Attend to precision students – students work on their mathematical communication skills by using precise and clear language in their discussions and in their own reasoning. Current research states that vocabulary should not be taught in isolation but along with the activity. I also know that my 5th graders are heading in to 6th grade where they are taught vocabulary in isolation and they need to be able to take notes. I use this vocabulary lesson to do this because I know my students are going to have multiple exposures to the words.
I loosely followed the Seven Step Vocabulary by Margarita Calderon.
I have a multiage 4th and 5th grade classroom and I regularly have them take notes to get them ready to move on to 6th grade. It is a learned skill to copy from the board and takes time. One thing I love about multiage is I know I have two years to get them ready!
I will admit copying vocabulary from the board for 9-12 year olds can get a little dry, for both you and them, if you don't add some fun into it. I break it up by telling stories that relate to the vocabulary or by making jokes.
On the image of the students notes, you will see a picture (very well drawn) of a peanut butter jar. I use this as an example of a container that has volume. I also tell a story about when I was little and gave my dogs peanut butter and how funny they looked trying to lick it off the roof of their mouth.
When most of the giggles are quiet, I say, "Everything can be measured and volume uses specific kind of measurements." I wrote measured in...on the board and hold up a small yellow base ten block - they say "cubes!" I finish with cubic units. As a class, we brainstorm different units of measure.
Students have a hard time retaining the difference between perimeter, area, and volume so I use every opportunity to compare the three. On the student notes you can see the simple definition of perimeter: outside, volume: inside - takes up space and area: measurement of a flat shape. She has also copied down the formulas of P= L + W + L + W and P = (L x 2) + (W x 2). I've introduced the second formula by telling a story about my son doing his 8th grade homework and how similar it is to what they are doing, but he is able to write the formula using multiplication - a quick way of doing repeated addition.
We then do 10 problems I put on the board. Eva chooses to copy just the problems and not draw the visuals. She is an amazing 4th grader in my multiage 4th and 5th grade classroom and has excellent handwriting and note taking skills - which is why I use her work often.
Today, I ask students to tell each other one new thing they learned. It can be vocabulary, formulas or a realization that they will be learning about volume until at least 8th grade. I hear comments, such as:
Now I understand the difference between volume and perimeter and area. Volume has depth!
Wow! I am going to have to be doing this until 8th grade. It's easy - length times width times height! And I'm thinking, just wait until you get to start transferring the formula to building with cubes or objects and using different units of measurement.
Can dogs eat peanut butter? My brother is allergic to it. Opps better make sure they answer the question!! Next student at that table to speak. Yes it is okay to give it to them but not a lot. Remember how we made the peanut butter bird feeders in class, it's okay for birds so it should be okay for dogs. Hey, I bet the pine cones we used can have the volume measured! In my head - Yes! Trust they want to learn, and can (overall) stay on task, don't interrupt until it is absolutely necessary. Give students a chance to self correct. This allows them to take charge of their learning.
Research shows that reflecting on learning increases comprehension and retention. This can be just a five minute discussion as a class, in small groups or written. Today, my class has done a lot of writing with copying the vocabulary terms and definitions so I am going to have them reflect verbally within small groups. This is the second, to last, step in closing my lesson. The last is to always give an appreciation to your group.