What is Volume? A Literacy Question…


Driving down the road yesterday, my 8yo was looking at the cover of a dvd and asked “Mom, what does ‘Volume 3’ mean?”

As usual, I asked, “What do you think Volume 3 means?”

“Well, I guess it the means the sound is set on Volume 3.”

Hmm.  We went on to discuss different meanings and determined this one was because the dvd was part of a larger set.


These past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about writing and communicating in math class.  Even with our first chat on Twitter #lit4math over Literacy Strategies to Improve Mathematical Instruction (Kenney, et al) – I was reminded there were many words students struggled with due to multiple meanings; however, this question from my 8yo really drove the point home.

Let’s see…volume – in this situation it meant part of a larger set;  my 8yo reminded me, its the level of sound we turn up or down to hear better; but in my mind all I think of is how much a container/object can hold, well, because I’m the math teacher.

This conversation reminded me of the ELL student in #lit4math who thought “whole numbers” were numbers which contained “holes” when written, for example 6, 8, 9, 10.  Since 6 had one hole, 6 would be odd; likewise, 8 has 2 holes, so it would be even.  We can learn so much about students thoughts and understanding, if we will just take the time to talk/communicate with them about their learning, misconceptions and ideas.

So, back to Volume…

Merriam-Webster :  noun

series of printed sheets bound typically in book form; series of issues of a periodical; a scroll; the amount of space occupied by a three-dimensional object as measured in cubic units; cubic capacity; a considerable quantity; degree of loudness or intensity of a sound

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin, volume roll, scroll from volvere to roll

I began my search for the history of Volume with a resource shared during our first book #lit4math chat jeff560.tripod.com/mathword… is an excellent site for learning about the origins of math words. Dave Radcliffe

By the way, he also reminded me that entomology was the study of insects, and I was likely looking for etymology (Thanks Dave!)


I found nothing on volume in a quick search of this resource, so I moved on to searching online for etymology of volume – do I settle that it has to do with the size of a book or scroll? Hmm.

Still I am not satisfied.  It looks as if providing quality literacy strategies will be an on-going event, learning with students as I go… taking time to develop understanding and address “new-to-students” meanings of words and concepts…in an effort to impact their learning.

Research shared in Marzano and Pickering’s Building Academic Vocabulary (BAV) makes a strong argument for having a systematic approach to teaching academic terms.  BAV states this is “one of the most crucial services teachers can provide, particularly for students who do not come from academically advantaged backgrounds.”

More than ever, I realize how important it is to take the time to plan and develop strategies for literacy in order to provide the highest quality and most effective learning experiences my students deserve.

I look forward to learning and sharing more as the summer progresses on this topic.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s