Welcome back to my second post about the Math in Practice series from Heinemann. You can read my first post about this series, Math in Practice: Proficiency and Beliefs, by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post. You can also go to the website for this series and download a sample for each grade (a link is included at the bottom of this post). Fifth grade's sample just happens to be the volume module, which is exactly where I was headed in math. The fifth grade has fifteen modules in total that cover all the CCSS for mathematics. Each module includes the following:

- The content standards associated with the module, as well as the progressions for the module
- Visual representations, discussion starters, and writing prompts to get students thinking more deeply about the mathematics
- Literature connections
- Ideas for differentiation
- Center ideas for practice
- "I can" statements and more

Today I am going to dig into the math in the fifth grade volume and talk about what I really liked.

I started with the Introduction to Volume: Counting Cubes lesson (pg. 249). The students each cut a piece of centimeter grid paper into a 12 x 12 square. Then each student cut a corner of their square out, folded the paper, and taped it into a box. Some cut out a 2x2 square from each corner, others a 3x3 or 4x4. I made sure that each table had several different sizes being cut.

We used the boxes to begin our investigation into volume. Students compared their boxes and figured out how many centimeter cubes it would take to fill the bottom of the box. We talked about the area of the box and how to label the units and then we talked about the number of layers needed to fill the box, which led to the formulas of base times height (volume = b x h) and length times width times height (volume = l x w x h).

Then we started putting the various sized boxes together so that my students could begin to see the additive nature of volume. We had a lot of fun putting 2, 3, and even 4 boxes together before calculating their total volume.

The next day I used the worksheet included in the online resources and brought in a bunch of boxes.

My students measured and calculated volume over and over, giving them a lot of practice.

These were all great activities and my students really got a grasp on volume, but a few days later we were working with measurement conversions and this is where I really fell in love with this resource. I went through my files and pulled out the questions I had used previously. I thought they were great questions. I'm actually pretty good at writing math tasks. But when I opened up module 11 and found tasks that required more of my students than the ones I had previously used, I got really excited. Here's a few examples:

Mr. Short had 5 pieces of wood to create the border for his garden.

Each piece of wood was 80 centimeters long.

His garden was 5 meters long and 3.5 meters wide.

Did he have enough wood to make a border for his garden? Explain.

There was so much to this problem! My students were converting back and forth between meters and centimeters, discussing perimeter, trying to figure out how many more pieces of wood he needed to buy and how much he would have left. It was a really great problem that not only gave my students practice in converting measurements (which was my goal), but it reenforced their knowledge of perimeter, created a lot of good mathematical conversations, and had students completing a lot of different computations.

Next, I used a question that required the students to combine 3 times: 43 seconds, 2.5 minutes, and 37 seconds. I was surprised at how many students made the mistake of adding like there were 100 minutes in an hour. When they started seeing two different answers emerging, everyone went back to recalculate. Then they started talking to each other to see what they were doing differently. When someone discovered that the problem was not considering the number of seconds in a minute, we had a great discussion and students were able to correct their mistakes.

I saved my favorite problem for last. It included a list of some of the heaviest land mammals. Their weights were all given in kilograms. Students were asked to convert some weights into grams, compare some weights, and combine weights. The questions required adding, subtracting, and converting through multiplication. The questions were really great and of course, animals are always an engaging topic.

I really wish this book had been in my classroom at the beginning of the year. There's so much in it that I can't wait to use next year. My next post will be about some of the activities in grades K-4, so please come back for that. In the meantime, here are a few links that may be helpful:

My first post about this series is

Math in Practice: Proficiency and Beliefs. You can also view more information about this series at

Heinemann, where you can also download a sample for your grade level.

Happy Problem Solving!