Reflection: Developing a Conceptual Understanding Exploring the Sun - Section 3: Summarizing

 

For this lesson, the students conducted a simple investigation in which they observed what happened to an ice cube when it was placed in the sun. After the students observed what happened to the ice cube, they recorded their observations and their rationale for why they thought the ice cube melted.

This seems like a pretty basic investigation. Actually, some might think it is too basic, but I have found that it is best to assume a limited amount of knowledge. This allows students to build a conceptual understanding, having a firm understanding before more advanced concepts are introduced. This also helps English Language Learners and those with limited English exposure to build essential vocabulary that will support them through out the unit.

The need for a basic introduction was reinforced during this lesson. When we put the ice cube outside and observed that it melted, I was surprised by some of the students' rationale for why the ice cube melted. Some thought it was the warm air from the classroom that got trapped in the zipper bag. Others thought that it was the wind (it was a very breezy day) that caused the ice cube that melted. I did not correct these misconceptions, as we will be addressing them in the next lesson.

I think a common mistake made by teachers is assuming the students posses more knowledge than what they do. By beginning a unit slowly, the students are set up to be successful and as the unit progresses, the time invested at the beginning usually comes back as more advanced concepts are more quickly covered. I have enjoyed a great deal of success planning my units this way and will continue to do so in the future.

  Interesting Ideas
  Developing a Conceptual Understanding: Interesting Ideas
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Exploring the Sun

Unit 10: The Sun and Our Solar System
Lesson 1 of 9

Objective: Students will be able to describe how the sun is a source of heat by completing an exploratory investigation.

Big Idea: A melting ice cube serves as the spring board for students building understanding about properties of the sun.

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