Everything I’ve learned about teaching math, from college courses, professional reading, and my own experience, says that students need concrete experiences to develop conceptual understanding. I agree, and I’ve always tried to give my students hands-on instruction, but sometimes it’s hard. I know that I have a tendency to get tired and want to skip over the lessons that require a lot of manipulatives and prep work. I’ve also found that there are some standards that are very difficult to make concrete for students. This year, one of my goals was to include at least one hands-on lesson for every standard. I tried to keep all of the lessons purposeful, yet practical, to help me stay on track. I have to say that it has been so much FUN. I absolutely LOVE seeing my students excited about math! I plan to make a habit of sharing some of my hands-on ideas every Monday. I know that I didn’t get his one ready on a Monday, but I’ll do better!
Last week, I taught about liquid volume, and honestly, I dreaded teaching it. Fortunately, it ended up being a blast to teach!
I taught about displacement by having students pour 600 milliliters of water into a liter container. I had my students record the initial measurement on their recording sheet. Then, students placed an apple into the liter container and noted how the water level rose. Students recorded the new measurement on their recording sheet. Then, they subtracted the initial measurement from the new measurement to find the volume of the apple. There was one small problem with this lesson….the apple floated! My students had to use a finger to push the apple underwater, so next year we’ll use a golfball. I guess you could say that we got a brief density lesson as well, because we had a hard time finding things that would sink.
In another activity, I labeled three different containers as Container A, B, and C. Students first had to predict which container would have the greatest volume and which container would have the least volume. Then, students used the pitcher to pour water into one container at a time. After they poured water into the container, they poured the water into a 500ml beaker to find the liquid volume of the container. They had to record the volume of each container on their recording sheet. After they found the volume of each container, they had to make comparisons using greater than and less than symbols. Next year, I want to find a short and wide container that might give my students a bit of a challenge. You’ll also notice that I used food coloring for the water. I think that the colored water makes it a little easier for students to see the measurements in the beakers.
In a very similar activity, students made predictions and write the containers in order from least to greatest. Then, using the method above they found the volume of each container. Students then checked their predictions and rewrote the containers in order from least to greatest. I used solid figures that all had one open face, which helped me to squeeze in a little extra geometry!
I love the way exciting lessons get me excited about teaching! I can’t to share more of our math station fun from this week!