# 5 Easy Differentiated Strategies: Teaching Volume to Disengaged High School Students

Have you ever looked out at a sea of glazed eyes staring back at you?đź‘€

Better yet, have you ever had those same eyes glaring at you like you had 3 heads?

Thatâ€™s what happens to me whenever I try to introduce the formula for something like the volume of a sphere. Or perhaps the volume of a cone. It’s like I suddenly started speaking a foreign language that none of my students understood. Honestly, that makes sense. It’s not like they use them every day.

Quite frankly, when it came to teaching volume equations like this, with all the variables and operations involved, it may as well have been a foreign language to my class of glaze-eyed students (or glaring eyeballs, whichever your kids are like at any given year).

Have no fear, though. Just like with any language acquisition, with the right instruction and support, your students can be successful in deciphering the language for calculating volume too.

The key to teaching volume is this: differentiated instruction.

You can – you MUST – teach in a differentiated way that meets the diverse needs of ALL your students.

It feels like rocket science some days, but I promise you itâ€™s not. Iâ€™ll walk you through how.

## Skim Through!

**Teaching Volume to High School Students: The WHY**

One thing I always brought to my studentsâ€™ attention when teaching volume was that 3D objects are everywhere. We do, after all, live in a 3-dimensional world.

I also helped them understand that we need to know how much material we require for all of these things, so we need to find the volume of literally everything. From a can of soup, to the size of our printers, all the way to the pipes that hold the Golden Gate Bridge together, 3D shapes are everywhere.

Understanding their properties helps us to create in an accurate, efficient, and creative way.

So what are some effective, differentiated strategies to help our students learn how to calculate volume?

Letâ€™s break them down!

**5 Differentiated Strategies for Teaching Volume to Diverse Learners**

### 1. **The Environment: LOTS of Visual Support through Word Walls**

Math can be tough. There are so many equations and vocabulary words that students simply will not use in casual conversation. And letâ€™s face it – only some kids will memorize all of the equations perfectly. Expecting them to is only setting them up for failure.

If adults are allowed to make use of reference books, why canâ€™t our students make use of word walls?

This colorful set is a great example of something you can use. One approach to word walls would be to literally print these pages, cut them out, and place them on the board for in-your-face visual support. While time-consuming to rotate through for every unit, our visual learners could really benefit from these.

(I got my kids to help me put them up on our walls. They were more than happy to do it – especially if it meant they got a break from solving equations!)

Another approach that your students will appreciate having is a scaled-down cheat sheet for their notes. While less time-consuming, this approach is definitely more paper consuming, if you choose to print 1 set per student. Itâ€™s up to you though. Your class, your choice!

### 2. **The Assessments and Check-Ins: Bell Ringers and Exit Tickets**

Quick and easy check-ins while teaching volume are my lifeline. I’ve taught many high school students with IEPs, as well as kids who should have been identified but werenâ€™t. In order to make sure I was differentiating my instruction to meet everyoneâ€™s needs, I used Bell Ringers and Exit Tickets all the time to assess how my students were using our volume equations. These were quick to complete and easy to assess.

My favorite kinds of Bell Ringers and Exit Tickets were ones that had just 3-5 volume check-in questions that students could complete on a day-to-day, or week to week, basis. There werenâ€™t many out there when I first needed them, so I created a lot of task cards such as these to use as check-ins all throughout my volume unit.

I go into more detail on how to use task cards as Bell Ringers and Exit Tickets in this blog here.

These Composite Volume Task Cards include a variety of levels and problems, precisely so that I could differentiate even with these quick mini-assessments. By using these task cards, my students were challenged with word problems, questions that had just enough information to solve, or even questions with more information than they needed.

See if they would be helpful to you too while teaching volume!

### 3. **The Learning Process: Social Learning Through Math Talk with Partnersâ€¦ plus Movement Breaks!**

Learning is never done in isolation. Even our introverts could use some time talking things out with their friends. Let them get into the nitty gritty of teaching volume to one another! But how do we get kids to actually talk about **calculating the volume of 3D objects**, of all things?

Letâ€™s face it – kids arenâ€™t walking around finding the volume of everyday 3D objects on the daily and making these conversations trend on socials (although can you IMAGINE if they did??).

So, I built math talk time into our routine with rich, engaging tasks.

I go into more detail about how to use math talk in math class here. Itâ€™s a great way to get students to teach and support each other in their learning before going into their much-needed independent practice.

Of course, **calculating volume** isnâ€™t exactly juicy gossip, so I created unique activities like this Volume Scavenger Hunt to keep the students much more focused and engaged than if they were to be handed a simple math worksheet.

Sometimes I would print these out and hang them up around the class too, just so the kids could get a movement break too!

By providing social learning activities like these, not only are we meeting the needs of our social learners, but weâ€™re also meeting the needs of our kinesthetic learners. Win win.

### 4. **The Practice: Fun, Self-Checking, Independent Activities**

Nothing is worse than assigning worksheet after worksheet, only to figure out too late that the kids have been using the volume equations incorrectly.

Not only does that feel like a waste of time, but it will also take a lot of time for them to unlearn what they have spent so much time practicing incorrectly.

This is where self-checking activities like these mazes will help students see whether or not theyâ€™re on the right track. Not only do they gamify the practice work (immediately more interesting!), but these independent maze activities also cut down the overwhelm by presenting questions one at a time.

Even better, these mazes are **self-checking**: when students complete a question and see their answers along the pathway, they immediately know that theyâ€™re on the right track. If they donâ€™t see their answers anywhere, itâ€™s time to check in with either their peers or their teacher and get some support.

Gamified practice work thatâ€™s self-checking, perfect for independent work or a review station before an assessment.

Speaking of reviewsâ€¦

### 5. **The Review: More Differentiated Tasks**

Yes, even review work can be differentiated while teaching volume! Students on modified IEPs, students working on achieving all of the standards, and students who need a bit more of a challenge – there are plenty of different kinds of games and activities to assign.

Lucky for you, Iâ€™ve created many differentiated volume review resources for you already: no prep, just print and go!

Hereâ€™s one that our crafty kids will love: the Volume of 3D Shapes Cube-Building craft. The artsy ones who enjoy coloring will like this Volume Color-by-Code Number activity. And then thereâ€™s our Volume Flipbook for kids who could use a handy reference booklet that makes all the different volume equations and questions easily accessible.

By having a wide variety of differentiated learning experiences on hand, you can skillfully hone in on all of your different learners, which means youâ€™ll be able to reach more of your students.

**5 Differentiated Strategies: The Roundup of Resources**

From the moment the students walk into the room to the time when they need to review for their final volume assessment, there are differentiation opportunities everywhere.

In order to support you in this important work, hereâ€™s the roundup of all the resources mentioned in this blog! Hope you find them helpful while teaching volume.

- The Environment: Word Walls
- The Assessments and Check-ins: Bell Ringer and Exit Ticket Task Cards
- The Learning Process: Scavenger Hunts for Social Learning, Math Talk, and Movement Breaks
- The Practice: Self-Checking Mazes
- The Review: More Differentiated Practice

Got an idea for a differentiated resource and want to have it custom-made? I can help with that! Send me a message at sarahvdavis88@gmail.com and Iâ€™ll be more than happy to help!

Enjoy the resources đź™‚