This lesson is the sixth in a series of inquiry lessons to establish and engage an excitement for science at the beginning of the Second Grade school year.
My hook for the lesson is a short snippet clip from the Disney movie, Finding Nemo. It is the "Fish are friends, not food" scene. I really like using this scene for this lesson, it actually sets the stage for this all year long.
"Boys and girls, I want to show you a funny little scene from a movie that I think some of you may have seen. It is called "Finding Nemo." How many of you have seen this before? Ok, good. No worries, if you have not seen the movie. You don't need to have seen it before to understand what we are going to do with this."
"Alright, here we go...." I play the movie, reminding the students that we want to remember that their manners need to be just like those in a movie theater. While the children are watching, I am quietly watching them. It is always interesting to see how they will take in the movie snippet.
When the scene is over, I turn off the video off just shortly after the character Bruce, says the phrase, "fish are friends, not food" and bring up my Power Point.
The Power Point is prepared and ready to go. The first screen shows Bruce and the title, "Tools not Toys."
"Ok, let's talk about this title. Why would you think I would want us to talk about toys and tools? Take a minute to ponder that question in your mind...."
I explain to the students, "this title is going to be a very important phrase for us this year. But we are going to change the words a bit. Let's keep going and when we are done, you will see why Bruce is going to be so important to our learning this year."
I show the students slide 2...which discusses the importance of scientists using their tools. Slide 3 and 4 suggests Table Talk and poses questions. In the "explore phase" of inquiry investigations, it is important to begin with a scientific question. At this early age, it is perfectly fine if the question is teacher created to generate and prompt the lesson.
I want the children to think about and bring in their own background knowledge to establish their ideas about tools and toys. Allowing the conversation to take place in Cooperative learning teams is safe for all students involved.
When the groups have had time to bring in their own thinking and share with each other, I ring my bell and ask for group leaders to stand and share out with the class the team discussion.
I explain to the children, that we are going to play a little game. They will need to work together in their team and sort some cards out into two groups, tools and toys.
I pass out the toys and tools sort and allow the teams to work at sorting out the pictures. I have the sort ready to go before we begin the lesson. (Ready to go means; the pictures are cut out and laminated. I want to be able to use the game for many years, if it is laminated, it will last much longer. At the end of the game are two sorting squares to allow the children to sort much more easily).
When the children have completed the sort, they will notice that there are more tools than toys. This is done purposely. I want the children to see that while they may believe that some objects in a classroom are toys, they are really tools that are created to help us learn and created to help scientists do their job.
At this point, I have not used the power point any more than just the first four slides. The rest of the Power Point will enable me to focus on the Explain portion of the lesson.
At this point in the lesson, the children have had the opportunity to explore with their own thinking and sort picture cards into two categories: tools and toys. Now, it is time to have class discussion and dialogue with their thinking.
It is important to me that my students have practice with the skill of classifying. I have not introduced the vocabulary for this yet, but will in a later lesson on process skills. Children are natural classifiers and this lesson lends itself easily to them doing this. I will be able to reference this lesson again to remind them about the practice they had with classifying when I formally teach the classification lesson at a later date.
I have the Tools not Toys Power Point up and ready.
I have very specific reasons why I use Power Points in my teaching. My school has a high number of English Language Learners. Many of the concepts we discuss in our every day world and classrooms are sometimes very foreign ideas to our ELL population. The more I visuals I can bring into my teaching while continuing to attach language to those visuals, helps my students with limited resources in understanding.
Besides adding the visuals it also, adds the benefit of offering the linear lesson on the screen for all students to see. It makes it easy to flip back and forth between screens and concepts when I need to revisit an idea.
"Ok, everyone, it is time to check our work and have some conversation about your sorting. Look up on the screen. We have a picture of one of the objects you worked with. How many of your teams put this object in the toys section?" I wait for hands to be raised. I look around the room and see that not one hand is raised. I purposely choose this object to be first, because I know that all the teams will know that this is a tool. I have a microscope sitting on my science observation table in the classroom. I am hoping the students will make the inference that since it is there, it must be a tool.
"Wow!! you all said this is a tool. Good for you. You were right. Can anyone share with the class, what they believe this tool is used for?" Many children will have ideas of what this is for. I allow them time to share out their thinking.
"Alright, let's move on to the next picture....it is a...." I continue to do this through each slide. Making sure that all teams are able to share their thinking and background knowledge. When it is appropriate, I will also share with the children what a particular tool will be used for and how we might use it during our class time during the school year.
When we have been through each slide, the last slide is Bruce. I explain to the children that their motto this year, will be about Bruce. I ask them to repeat after me...."These are tools, not toys." Similar to the way Bruce explained that "fish are friends, not food." To make this extra fun and a concept the children will internalize, we make sure we use our best Bruce voice to mimic the phrase.
The discourse within the lesson after sorting the cards was fantastic. The children were able to rationalize and bring in their own connections and prior knowledge when explaining their thinking behind the sorting.
I made sure that I explained what the obvious science tools were for the students without schema in scientific tools to help them make predictions for the lesson.
Because I want to see if all my students have truly internalized the concept of tools and not toys, I have a sorting activity for them to complete individually. It is really similar to the explore activity, however, this time; I want them to complete it alone.
I pass out the Toys not Tools evaluation and explain to the children, that I would like them to do their best to work on this individually. We talk about what the word "individually" means, to remind them that I would like them to complete the task alone.
After about ten minutes, most of the children are done and I gather all the papers. I will take them home and sort through them again myself. Looking for any child who has not understood the concept. If there are any children, who did not pick up the concept, I will use this as a formative assessment to go back and reteach the concept.