I begin this lesson by activating students prior knowledge with a review of the lab plan each student created in the previous lesson. I ask students to read their lab's procedures to a partner and to review their method for collecting and recording data. This is a crucial step, as it reminds students of the specific activities in which they will engage during today's student work time. If students need a peer partner to help them collect and record data (i.e. they need a peer to hold a yard stick while they launch a popper), I utilize this time to pair up students with a peer with whom they can successfully work.
During the independent practice, students will conduct their investigations as detailed in their Lab Write-Up Outline. I ask students, or student pairs, to follow their procedures and to collect and record their data on the lab form. An example of students engaging in this work can be found here.
I use this time to move around the room and check in with each student or student pair. I ask guiding questions of the students to ensure that they are accurately recording their data. This activity requires a good deal of student movement and interaction with high interest materials, so classroom management can be an issue. A review of safety rules and expectations before beginning the independent practice time can be beneficial for preempting behavior issues.
Recording data and creating a mechanism for sharing data can be difficult for fourth grade students. For this reason, after students conduct their investigations, I bring the whole class together to review the expectations for the data and conclusions sections of the Lab Write-Up Outline - Poppers. I refer back to the Model Outline - Poppers created in the lessons leading up to today's work.
I create a chart with students to review effective methods for sharing data. The model lesson uses a graph to display data in a way that would allow other student scientists to understand the results of the investigation. Other effective methods for data displays are charts, photographs, scientific drawings, and models. It is key that students choose a method for displaying their data that connects with the type of data from their investigation. The data chart shows a sample of when it might be appropriate to choose each type of data display.
After the chart creation, I use a quick thumbs up / thumbs down check for understanding. When most students feel that they can select a data display type and create a product for their lab, I provide additional independent work time for students to complete this activity. The remainder of the lab (data, conclusions, and next steps sections) can also be assigned as homework.
To close this lesson, I provide students with a brief period of time in which to share the results of their investigations with a peer partner. To scaffold the pair-share process, I ask each student to share their conclusion and data chart with their peer partner. I have found that using partners of mixed ability levels during this debriefing time works extremely well as every student can feel successful sharing their completed work. If time allows, I encourage students to conduct further investigations of their new, testable questions.