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I’ve always used interactive notebooks to teach math concepts like volume. Students take notes using bright colors and fun cut-and-paste inserts while I model a skill, and we create a beautiful and practical tool to use all year long.
With so many schools using one-to-one devices (or even operating virtually now), I knew it was time to transform this activity into a digital resource. So today I’m sharing my FREE Student Slides for Teaching Volume, along with some quick tips to help you feel primed and ready to use them in your classroom.
Teaching Volume Using the Slides
The most important thing to know about this resource is that it is not intended for students to complete on their own. Instead, I designed it for teachers to use to introduce and model the concept of volume, the same way you might use a paper notebook to offer hands-on practice as you are teaching volume.
1. Share the slides with students
Be sure each student has his or her own copy of the slides. (Here’s a great tutorial if you need help with the tech aspect of this!) This allows students to personalize their notes as they follow along in your lesson.
2. Use your copy to teach your regular volume lesson
Define and model volume using slides 1-2, while students take notes on their copy. You can circle, highlight, and draw on each page as necessary. Although this section is mainly teacher-led, it’s always a good idea to allow students to share input and offer ideas as you discuss each slide.
Then use the hands-on learning ideas below to develop the concept of volume further. This is the place for exploration and discovery. Ask probing questions and encourage out-of-the-box mathematical thinking as students work with the manipulatives.
When students are ready, return to the slides to take notes on slides 3-4. Here, you’ll teach the traditional volume formula and apply it to various rectangular prisms.
3. Practice, practice, and more practice!
Use your textbooks or student workbooks to pull problems for students to practice. The examples in this resource are open-ended, so they pair well with most curriculums and assessments, but students need lots of exposure to the concept of volume in order to get it to stick!
Quick Tips for Teaching Volume
Start With Hands-On Practice
Offer students an opportunity to build prisms with linking cubes or unit blocks. (I always give my class a chance to play with the manipulatives for 3 minutes before we begin to use them as tools instead of toys!) Let students build various structures and practice counting the cubes as they construct and deconstruct each shape.
Teach Volume Using Building Challenges
- How many different rectangular prisms can you build with a volume of 24?
- Can you determine the volume of your structure without counting each cube?
- Build a prism with a length of 3, width of 2, and total volume of 30.
- Create two structures with equal volume but different shapes.
Teach the Formula for Volume
Once students feel confident using the manipulatives to determine volume, transition to using the formula. I try to let my students “discover” the volume formula for themselves before I officially teach it. If they have enough hands-on practice, they should be able to do this fairly easily.
Start by reviewing the concept of area: build a rectangle and record its length and width. Then ask, “How many unit cubes did we use?” It helps to make a chart to keep track of these numbers. Next, add another layer to the rectangle, forming a prism. Students should quickly see that the area of the base layer has doubled. Continue adding layers one at a time and recalculating the volume, until students are able to “invent” a formula that works for every prism.
Interactive notebooks are a great way to scaffold learning in math. Students can refer back to their notes as often as they need. With these strategies and student slides, I hope you’ll feel more prepared than ever to teach volume!
Looking for more Digital Interactive Notebooks? I’ve created an entire year of digital math notes using colorful, interactive visuals that are aligned to hit every standard. Available for grades 2-6.