For this lesson the students literally walk into the classroom and go to work. My students are used to making journal entries of one kind or another for morning work. For example on Monday the students will come in and find a sight word sentence prompt at their seat. The student will need to get out their Language Arts journal, copy the prompt and then work to complete it. A prompt may look like this, “When I go out to recess I like to…”
On Tuesday the students will come in and find a Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) problem on the board. For example, “Mrs. Clapp had for red flowers and five yellow flowers. How many flowers did she have in all?” They will need to get their math journal and work towards solving the problem using pictures, numbers and words.
Or they may walk into the classroom and they will have a directive such as the one they have today. The students are told to look at the rolling cart and see if they can read the instruction there. Once they have decoded the text and successfully figured out what is being asked of them, they will need to get their science journal and begin to discuss with their peers where and how they are going to get the information they need.
For my middle low and low reading level students I just read the morning work direction straight to them.
What students see: Morning work instructions for students.
The students get their science journals and begin to discuss with the peers how they will get the information they need. It does not take long for some of the higher performing students to go into the science bucket in book area and pull out the books they want to use for information.
Unbeknownst to the students I had stacked the science container the night before with all kinds of books on the three states of matter. I had also made sure I had multiple copies of particular books as I want to make sure students are not competing for resources which can lead to classroom behavior problems. In this way I am ensuring their success in both recalling what we read the previous day and also setting them up with prior knowledge they will need for the focus lesson being presented later on in the day.
I will sit on the rug with the students or rotate taking turns sitting at the group tables and listen in on their conversations. I will chime in with guiding questions when necessary. For example, when one student wanted to correctly label their solid, “Well if you saw the picture of the solid in the book and you told me the solid’s name starts with /b/, where could you get that word?”
“You're right. I could use the pop out words or the labels. Now I have to be careful I have the right word to label my own solid. How could I check?”
“Well done Emily, I can get my mouth ready to say the first sound and see if the sound matches the letter I see at the beginning of the word.”
“Let’s see. You drew a block; the label you found does have the letter b at the beginning of the word and we know that it makes the /b/ sound. What sound do you hear next?”
“Good, I hear a /l/ too. /B/ /l/. What do hear next?”
“Yes; I hear the /o/ sound too. Next?”
“Great work. I think you have your first word matched. There is a c next to the k and that helps give the k a strong sound like in the word “pack,” and “sock.” I think you can go ahead and write the word down to label your block.”
I allowed the students 20 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.
This activity gives the students a chance to reflect back on the lessons we have done over the past three days and then share what they have learned by recording their thoughts in their science journal. Placing the books we have read in the reading area gives the students the opportunity to use resources they know and are familiar with. Using the resources also confirms their ideas if they are uncertain about an item they wanted to draw in their science journal. When students are able to use resources to complete a task they are building a skill which will benefit them during future academic experiences.
When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”
Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.
Once the students are seated I tell them their exit slip for today to go and do their morning job is to tell me the name of a solid.
“I am going to give you twenty seconds to sit and think about the solids you researched this morning when you came into the classroom. Once you have told me the name of a solid you will be able to go ahead and do your morning job.” I look at my watch and start timing.
“Okay the twenty seconds are done. I hope you all thought really hard and came up with a good solid. I am going to use the fair sticks to help me pick the order of the students. Here we go.”
Once a student has told me his/her solid, they are able to go ahead and do his/her classroom morning job. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.
For this assignment I check the student’s journal entries, discuss with them the choices they made and where they got the information from. I put a check mark or a smiley face on their journal entry and the student then places their journal back in the correct location.
When the students are done with their journal entry and if there is time, I put out a sorting game for them to use. In this sorting game the students have to sort the various solids by what they are made from. For example, a table, chair and desk got together because they are made of wood, a nut, bolt and nail got together because they are made from steel, etc. - I downloaded the images from the SparkleBox website (Materials Sorting Cards). I mount them on cardstock and then laminate them for durability. Please note that some items will be labeled differently as this is a British site. I use these differences to broaden my students’ vocabulary experiences.
The students can use the SMARTBoard to explore the lesson I loaded up for them. The lesson is from the SMART Exchange website and is called Physical States of Matter. There is a solid sorting page, a liquid check page and the students can drag the thermometer along the bottom of the page to see water change its state of matter to match the temperature.