Viruses, Part 2 - The Write Way to Talk About Viruses
Lesson 6 of 23
Objective: Students will be able to reflect on what they have learned about viruses and use that knowledge and vocabulary to create a Haiku about viruses.
This warm-up allows students to use information that they know and apply it to a seemingly dissimilar example. This type of activity challenges them to critically think and expand their thinking so that they can make the intended connections. Students' ability or inability to make the connection is a useful formative assessment.
Listen for correct associations based on the characteristics of viruses that were taught in Viruses, part 1. Also take this opportunity to contrast the characteristics of viruses with those of living things.
Introduce New Material
Begin by posting a set of sentence prompts as a means of review and quick assessment of students’ understanding of concepts already covered. Review the characteristics and structure of viruses. After spending about 3 minutes reviewing and coaching students to do more of the teaching in their responses than you by using inquiry-based questioning, tell students that "Today we are going to take everything that we've learned about viruses and apply it to the art of writing poetry."
Ask students if, by a show of hands who has heard of Haiku. If any hands raise, select a student to tell me one thing that they know about Haiku and use this process until several students with a raised hand has an opportunity to share. Base on their input, quickly make a formative assessment of students’ knowledge about Haiku poetry and adjust the introduction to Haiku writing based on the accuracy of the comments made by students in the group.
Briefly explain Haiku Writing. I use LCD projection so that my visual learners are able to understand my expectations of the assignment. Explain that today’s assignment involves writing a Haiku about viruses. Emphasize that Haiku typically focuses on nature and keen observations. Ask them if this sounds familiar. Listen to student responses to see if students make the connection that this sounds like what, we as scientists do, as well.
*I use the writing of poetry in this lesson so that students are able to see the creative side of science. It is important that students are able to see that science is creative because you need creativity to solve problems, which is the heart of science! I specifically use Haiku's because it is a short and simple format (5-7-5) that every learner can comprehend.
Give students a few tips for writing Haiku and provide explicit instruction about how the Haiku poem should be completed. Model how students can identify the number of syllables in a word. Share and project the rubric so that students are able to clearly understand how the grade for the assignment is derived.
After going over the rubric, model writing a Haiku poem. Instead of modeling using a pre-written poem, I ask students to give me an unrelated science topic about which to write. The point of not using a pre-written Haiku is that by creating the poem in the moment as a think-aloud activity allows students to observe how easily the poem can be crafted, which helps alleviate some of the anxiety some students might have about writing a poem. Because they see me work through the process, they are more confident of their ability to do the same.
Students are provided paper, colored pencils and markers and instructed to write a 2 stanza Haiku with an illustration. Emphasize that the art is not the focus, but the accuracy of the information presented in the Haiku format. This releases non-artistic students from the anxiety they sometimes get when asked to draw anything. But, requiring students to add an illustration or color encourages all the students to reflect on how choosing to depict their work connects to the content of the Haiku they have written.
This colorful student work displays students' understanding of the characteristics of viruses, which I can use a a summative assessment. BONUS: I now have student work products that I can display in my classroom. Yea!!
Hold an “open mic” session and students will present their haiku poems to the class. Before students share their work, establish the behavior expectations for how we will respectfully listen to others as they present:
- We listen and do not talk while peers are speaking.
- We will acknowledge and affirm the presenter’s effort by snapping our fingers after (s)he reads the poem.
- We will refrain from commenting on others’ work.
- We acknowledge that we share our work to practice our public speaking skills not to critique.
It is important to establish the behavior expectation in order to create an environment in which students feel safe sharing their work.
I think it is okay to read poems for those students who are really uncomfortable presenting in front of the group. I do this because for some 9th graders, presenting their work makes them feel very vulnerable and easily embarrassed, especially this early in the semester. As their work is read, model how to share with a group and hopefully convince reluctant presenters to keep working toward being able to do the same as the semester continues.