Unit Conversions

Students build their competencies in measurement, relating multiplication to the conversion of measurement units and exploring strategies for solving measurement problems.

Math

Unit 7

4th Grade

Unit Summary


In this unit, students relate multiplication, particularly their understanding of “times as many” developed throughout 4th grade, to the conversion of measurement units. Students will also solve word problems involving measurement and measurement conversion.

In previous grades, students have worked with many of the metric and customary units (2.MD.1—6, 3.MD.1—2). They’ve noticed the relationship between some units to help them understand various measurement benchmarks but have not yet done any unit conversions. Not only does this unit build on measurement work from previous grades, but it also relies on myriad skills and understanding developed throughout 4th grade. As the Progressions state, “relating units within the metric system is another opportunity to think about place value” (Progressions for the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics, K-5 Geometric Measurement, p. 20). Further, “students also combine competencies from different domains as they solve measurement problems using all four arithmetic operations, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division” (Progressions for the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics, K-5 Geometric Measurement, p. 20). Lastly, as directly stated in the language of 4.MD.2, students will convert units and solve problems involving fraction and decimal numbers. Thus, while the unit focuses on supporting cluster standards, their instruction enhances much of the major work of the grade, including place value (4.NBT.A), arithmetic operations (4.NBT.B), word problems (4.OA.A), and fractions (including decimal fractions) (4.NF). 

As NCTM’s position statement on metric measurement states, “[s]tudents need to develop an understanding of metric units and their relationships, as well as fluency in applying the metric system to real-world situations. Because some non-metric units of measure are common in particular contexts, students need to develop familiarity with multiple systems of measure, including metric and customary systems and their relationships" (The Metric System, NCTM). Thus, students will explore both metric and customary systems of measurement, starting with unit conversions from larger to smaller metric units in Topic A, and then similarly with customary units in Topic B. Then, in Topic C, students deal with more complex cases of fractional and decimal unit conversions. At the end of each topic, students apply their new learning in the context of solving multi-step word problems involving unit conversions. 

The unit provides rich opportunities for students to engage with the mathematical practice standards. As the Progressions state, “relating units within the traditional system provides an opportunity to engage in mathematical practices, especially ‘look for and make use of structure’ (MP.7) and ‘look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning’ (MP.8)” (Progressions for the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics, K-5 Geometric Measurement, p. 20). Further, when students solve word problems that involve unit conversions, they "may use tape or number line diagrams for solving such problems (MP.1)" (Progressions for the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics, K-5 Geometric Measurement, p. 20).

As mentioned previously, the unit summarizes and applies much of the major work of the grade in the fresh context of measurement. But, the unit not only incorporates some important 4th grade understanding, it also prepares students for work in future grades, including the very direct link to converting from smaller units to larger ones in 5th grade (5.MD.1) and also to ratios and proportions in the middle grades (6.RP.1) as well as many other areas to come. 

Pacing: 14 instructional days (12 lessons, 1 flex day, 1 assessment day)

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Assessment


The following assessments accompany Unit 7.

Pre-Unit

Have students complete the Pre-Unit Assessment and Pre-Unit Student Self-Assessment before starting the unit. Use the Pre-Unit Assessment Analysis Guide to identify gaps in foundational understanding and map out a plan for learning acceleration throughout the unit.

Mid-Unit

Have students complete the Mid-Unit Assessment after lesson 7.

Post-Unit

Use the resources below to assess student understanding of the unit content and action plan for future units.

Expanded Assessment Package

Use student data to drive instruction with an expanded suite of assessments. Unlock Pre-Unit and Mid-Unit Assessments, and detailed Assessment Analysis Guides to help assess foundational skills, progress with unit content, and help inform your planning.

Unit Prep


Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

Before you teach this unit, unpack the standards, big ideas, and connections to prior and future content through our guided intellectual preparation process. Each Unit Launch includes a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning to ensure you're prepared to support every student.

Intellectual Prep for All Units

  • Read and annotate “Unit Summary” and “Essential Understandings” portion of the unit plan. 
  • Do all the Target Tasks and annotate them with the “Unit Summary” and “Essential Understandings” in mind. 
  • Take the Post-Unit Assessment.

Unit-Specific Intellectual Prep

  • Read the following table that includes models used in this unit.
Two-column table
Gallons Quarts
1 4
2 8
3 12

Essential Understandings

  • The relationship between the sizes of units is a multiplicative one. In other words, a kilometer is 1,000 times as long as a meter, and this relationship can be used to solve problems that require expressing a measurement in one unit in terms of another unit.
  • The metric system of measurement is related to our place value system, with each larger unit consisting of 10 of the next smallest unit. 
  • One can only add and subtract like units. This goes for measurement units just as it does with place value units, fractional units, etc. Thus, measurement conversion of one or more units is often necessary in order to add or subtract them.

Vocabulary

customary system of measurement

customary unit

metric system of measurement

metric unit

To see all the vocabulary for Unit 7, view our 4th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Materials

  • Meter stick (1 per teacher) — There are other options to use in place of this material. See Lesson 1 Anchor Task 1 Notes for more information.
  • 1-kilogram weight (1 per teacher) — There are other options to use in place of this material. See Lesson 2 Anchor Task 1 Notes for more information.
  • 1-gram weight (1 per teacher) — There are other options to use in place of this material. See Lesson 2 Anchor Task 1 Notes for more information.
  • 1-liter container (1 per teacher) — There are other options to use in place of this material. See Lesson 2 Anchor Task 2 Notes for more information.
  • 1-milliliter container (1 per teacher) — There are other options to use in place of this material. See Lesson 2 Anchor Task 2 Notes for more information.
  • Yardstick (1 per teacher) — There are other options to use in place of this material. See Lesson 5 Anchor Task 1 Notes for more information.
  • 12-inch rulers (1 per teacher) — There are other options to use in place of this material. See Lesson 5 Anchor Task 1 Notes for more information.
  • 1-pound weight (1 per teacher) — There are other options to use in place of this material. See Lesson 6 Anchor Task 1 Notes for more information.
  • 1-ounce weight (16 per teacher) — There are other options to use in place of this material. See Lesson 6 Anchor Task 1 Notes for more information.
  • Balance scale (1 per teacher) — There are other options to use in place of this material. See Lesson 6 Anchor Task 1 Notes for more information.
  • 1-gallon container (1 per teacher) — There are other options to use in place of this material. See Lesson 7 Anchor Task 1 Notes for more information.
  • 1-quart container (1 per teacher) — There are other options to use in place of this material. See Lesson 7 Anchor Task 1 Notes for more information.
  • 1-pint container (1 per teacher) — There are other options to use in place of this material. See Lesson 7 Anchor Task 1 Notes for more information.
  • 1-cup container (1 per teacher) — There are other options to use in place of this material. See Lesson 7 Anchor Task 1 Notes for more information.
  • Water (About 3 gallons per teacher) — There are other options to use in place of this material. See Lesson 7 Anchor Task 1 Notes for more information.
  • Optional: Demonstration analog clock (1 per teacher) — See Lesson 8 Anchor Task 1 Notes for more information.

Unit Practice


Word Problems and Fluency Activities

Help students strengthen their application and fluency skills with daily word problem practice and content-aligned fluency activities.

Lesson Map


Topic A: Metric Unit Conversion

Topic B: Customary Unit Conversion

Topic C: Fraction and Decimal Unit Conversions

Common Core Standards


Key

Major Cluster

Supporting Cluster

Additional Cluster

Core Standards

Measurement and Data

  • 4.MD.A.1 — Know relative sizes of measurement units within one system of units including km, m, cm; kg, g; lb, oz.; l, ml; hr, min, sec. Within a single system of measurement, express measurements in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Record measurement equivalents in a two column table. For example, know that 1 ft is 12 times as long as 1 in. Express the length of a 4 ft snake as 48 in. Generate a conversion table for feet and inches listing the number pairs (1, 12), (2, 24), (3, 36), …
  • 4.MD.A.2 — Use the four operations to solve word problems involving distances, intervals of time, liquid volumes, masses of objects, and money, including problems involving simple fractions or decimals, and problems that require expressing measurements given in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Represent measurement quantities using diagrams such as number line diagrams that feature a measurement scale.

Foundational Standards

Measurement and Data

  • 2.MD.A.1
  • 2.MD.A.2
  • 2.MD.A.3
  • 2.MD.A.4
  • 3.MD.A.1
  • 3.MD.A.2

Number and Operations in Base Ten

  • 4.NBT.A.1
  • 4.NBT.A.2
  • 4.NBT.B.5

Number and Operations—Fractions

  • 4.NF.A.1
  • 4.NF.B.4
  • 4.NF.C.6

Operations and Algebraic Thinking

  • 4.OA.A.1
  • 4.OA.A.3

Future Standards

Measurement and Data

  • 5.MD.A.1

Ratios and Proportional Relationships

  • 6.RP.A.1

Standards for Mathematical Practice

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP1 — Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP2 — Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP3 — Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP4 — Model with mathematics.

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP5 — Use appropriate tools strategically.

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP6 — Attend to precision.

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP7 — Look for and make use of structure.

  • CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP8 — Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

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Unit 6

Decimal Fractions

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Unit 8

Shapes and Angles

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