Large Groups
Activities help students learn the sequence of metric prefixes and to make conversions within the metric system.
Invitation to Learn
Instructional Procedures
Additional Resources
Books
Millions to Measure, by David M. Schwartz; ISBN 0-688-12916-1
Most countries use the metric system. With the increasingly global marketplace, citizens of the United States are exposed to more usage of this system. It is important for students in the educational system to have a knowledge of the metric systemits components, organization, and common benchmarksto be able to use the system in the real world.
The metric system is based on powers of ten. This makes calculations and conversions simple. The prefixes are used across the measurement types to denote the magnitude, or power of ten of the measurement.
Prefix |
kilo | hecto | deka | UNIT | deci | centi | milli |
Unit: meter |
kilometer | hectometer | dekameter | meter | decimeter | centimeter | millimeter |
Abbreviation |
km/K | hm | dam | m | dm | cm | mm |
Meaning |
1000 m | 100 m | 10 m | 1 m | 0.1 m | 0.01 m | 0.001 m |
Power of Ten | 10^3 | 10^2 | 10^1 | 10^0 | 10^-1 | 10^-2 | 10^-3 |
Prefix |
kilo | hecto | deka | UNIT | deci | centi | milli |
Unit: meter |
kilogram | hectogram | dekagram | gram | decigram | centigram | milligram |
Abbreviation |
kg | hg | dag | g | dg | cg | mg |
Meaning |
1000 g | 100 g | 10 g | 1 g | 0.1 g | 0.01 g | 0.001 g |
Power of Ten | 10^3 | 10^2 | 10^1 | 10^0 | 10^-1 | 10^-2 | 10^-3 |
Prefix |
kilo | hecto | deka | UNIT | deci | centi | milli |
Unit: meter |
kiloliter | hectoliter | dekaliter | Liter | deciliter | centiliter | milliliter |
Abbreviation |
kL | hL | daL | L | dL | cL | mL |
Meaning |
1000 L | 100 L | 10 L | 1 L | 0.1 L | 0.01 L | 0.001 L |
Power of Ten | 10^3 | 10^2 | 10^1 | 10^0 | 10^-1 | 10^-2 | 10^-3 |
1. Develop a positive learning attitude toward mathematics.
3. Reason logically, using inductive and deductive strategies and justify conclusions.
4. Communicate mathematical ideas and arguments coherently to peers, teachers, and others using the precise language and notation of mathematics.
Invitation to Learn
There are so many things that we measure every day using the metric system. Pre-assess what your students know about this measurement system by having them brainstorm terms related to metric measurement. Have students work in cooperative groups of two to four students. Students should write each item on a separate Post-It® note. Allow three to five minutes for this activity.
Ask students to come up with a way to group or classify the items on their Post-It® notes. Sort the Post-It® notes into columns of like items and attach them to a sheet of poster paper for each group to display. Write a heading for each column created. Some possible headings students might use include length, capacity, volume, mass, weight, or temperature. Take time to have groups share their methods of classification. It is possible that there may be some items in columns that are not mathematically accurate. Be sure to clear up any misconceptions as needed. Leave the classification posters created by the groups hanging up in the room for future reference.
Instructional Procedures
(NOTE: The activities outlined in Instructional Procedures are intended to be taught sequentially. They will take several lessons/ days to complete with students.)
a. Start with the center step labeled USUALLY. Have students open the paper step and record inside that the word USUALLY stands for Unit. Record that the basic units of measurement in the metric system are meter, liter, and gram and they have a value of 1 or 10^0.
b. Have students open the step labeled drink. This step is to be labeled deci, and it has a value of 0.1 or 10^-1.
c. Have students open the step labeled chocolate. This step is to be labeled centi, and it has a value of 0.01 or 10^-2.
d. Have students open the step labeled milk. This step is to be labeled milli, and it has a value of 0.001 or 10^-3.
e. Have students open the step labeled does. This step is to be labeled deka, and it has a value of 10 or 10^1.
f. Have students open the step labeled Henry. This step is to be labeled hector, and it has a value of 100 or 10^2.
g. Have students open the step labeled King. This step is to be labeled kilo, and it has a value of 1000 or 10^3.
a. Give each player five dominoes. Place the remaining dominoes in a draw pile.
b. Player 1 places a domino on the table.
c. Player 2 puts down a domino with a metric equivalent. For example, 40 cm and 400 mm are equivalent.
d. Players continue to take turns putting down dominoes one at a time. If a player does not have a metric equivalent, that player must continue to draw from the pile until a match is possible.
e. The first player to use all of his dominoes is the winner.
Curriculum Extensions/Adaptations/ Integration
Family Connections
Research Basis
Peterson, Shelley Stagg. Teaching content with the help of writing across the curriculum. Middle School Journal, November 2007, Vol. 39, Number 2, p26-33.
This study investigated the value of discovery writing, a type of writing in which students have some control over the format, topic, purpose, and audience, to staccato writing, a type of writing with little or no control such as filling in blanks, copying notes from the board, and short answers to questions, in the content areas. The author found that student control led to greater understanding of content area concepts. Discovery writing required greater concentrated attention to sorting through and making sense of ideas on the part of the learner.
Tomlinson, Carol Ann. Differentiating instruction. Middle Ground, August 2005, Vol. 9, Number 1, p12-14.
The author gives guidelines to help teachers use differentiation. Teachers must have clear learning goals that are rich in meaning and provide various avenues and support systems to maximize the chance of each student succeeding. Through specific examples such as pre- assessment, meeting with small groups, using multiples presentation and teaching modes, creating differentiated homework, scaffolding reading, and allowing varied learning products, the author concretely helps teachers to provide for the diversity of learners in the classroom.