The first part of this lesson is reviewing what I have previously introduced in another lesson. It is a more difficult concept for my students and this review is to set them up early on to be focused ont he skills needed to draw conclusions.
I being by asking them to take out their white board and markers. We will be using them to draw conclusions. I then ask if any of them remember what it means to draw conclusions. I have a few that try to give me a good answer, but they are not on target. This simple question confirmed what I knew about them not quite understanding the concept. I do know from reading with them that many are good at this skill, but do not realize they are.
I go on to explain that when we draw conclusions I concentrate on my reading and use two skills at the same time. On the white board, I write the words Draw Conclusions are write 1. and 2. underneath it. Many students like to copy what I write on their own white board so I give them a little bit of time to do this.
For Number One, I explain I use the words and clues that I am reading. I read them carefully and infer, visualize, or reread if needed to understand. I also use the second thing, which I write next to the 2. I use my prior knowledge. I then ask the class to tell me what other word we use for our prior knowledge. The class loves to use the word schema so I throw it in all the time, and whenever I can.
To begin I explain that we are going to use these two steps to practice drawing conclusions. To make it more fun, we are going to use what we have been learning about ecosystems.
I ask them to recall and talk with their elbow partner about all the different aspects that make up an ecosystem. After a bit of time, I ask them to now think of all of the things that make up our Ponderosa Pine Forest around our town. This gets them thinking so I ask them to get their markers ready. I will give them a topic like mammal and they will pick one that lives in our pine forest. The rules of the activity are to not share their thoughts and we are going to see how many diverse animals we can come up with for our ecosystem.
I do this with mammals, reptiles, insects, nonliving item, and a water source. I then have them add producers both large and small. Students really love this activity and as I walk around I notice how they are really trying to expand their thoughts past the obvious.
Before we draw conclusions, I ask them to help me out by sharing their thoughts and I will choose a couple to go onto my white board. We will use the one we create as a class to draw conclusions from. I ask for some of the animals, plants, and non living things that they came up with. I only add one of each to my board. I add a mammal small and large, and continue with the list I did previously until my board is filled.
When we have successfully added all the parts to our ecosystem, I ask them to try to use the two steps for drawing conclusions. First they need to look carefully at our class ecosystem. I tell them that they will get one quiet minute to look carefully at the board. While they do so, they need to also use their schema to make connections to their prior learning.
Once I have given them time, I then lead them in a discussion on what conclusions they made. Students make observations about the food web that we created, the predators and prey that are occurring, and what might happen if one of the pieces went away. All of these points required them to draw a conclusion.