This lesson is the second lesson of the Second Grade school year. It comes right after the lesson on What is a Scientist? This lesson is tied to Washington State Science Standards.
This lesson is introduced with a fantastic book by Laurence Anholt, Leonardo and the Flying Boy. This book details a particular story in Da Vinci's life. It is a good lead in to the lesson.
I read the story through one time, without stopping. Just reading and enjoying the language. No stopping to say, "look at the illustrations," "wow! that was exciting." No comments at all.
After reading the story, I go back and point out some of the illustrations. The book cleverly uses many of the original sketches of Da Vinci in the text. I explain to the students that "Da Vinci lived over 500 years ago; but that his sketches are still in use today. In fact, his sketches and journals are priceless. Many of his sketches are even in museums all over the world." This usually brings a few gasps.
Next, I pose this question to the students. "If we are going to be great scientists this year, how should we document our work?" I ask the students to put their heads together (Kagan - Cooperative Learning strategy) in their table teams and discuss any ideas they may have to accomplish this task. After a few moments of talk time, I ring the library bell and wait for table leaders to stand up.
When the class has quieted down, which should be within a couple minutes; table leaders proceed to share out their teams ideas. Of course, there are all kinds of thoughts. I lead the class with their suggestions and come up with the idea that, "Hey!! We could create our own journals like Leonardo did!" This, in turn, brings a lot of, "Yeah!!!" and "that would be cool" answers from the students.
At this point, I like to tell them about my daughter and her own science journal from Junior High School. I share with the students how much my daughter loved her science classes and the work that she was creating. She felt great value in the documenting of that work. I explain to the students that I would ask my daughter repeatedly if I could have her journal to show my students when she was finished with it. And my daughter's response was always "no, mom I am not ready to give it up." My story continues explaining how I asked my daughter every year until her senior year of High School; and how she continues to put me off. Finally, upon her graduation she presents me with her coveted journal. This story really grips the children and gives them that "wow, this is going to be big" idea. I want to play upon that idea that if Da Vinci's journals and my daughters journal are so important, that maybe their's will be as well.
This lesson is a very simple and straight forward lesson, it is more of a background building lesson than a direct science lesson. But one I feel that is very important to establish the excitement and passion to hook the children into science.
After reading the book to the class, I ask all the students to return to their desks and face the Smart Board. My Smart Board is not only used as an interactive white board, but as a screen as well. I frequently use Power Point lessons to teach information that needs to bring in background knowledge.
I frequently teach with Power Points. I find that it is easier to embed the standards I am responsible for teaching this way. I can also very carefully and skillfully scaffold the teaching concepts that I want to teach in a lesson.
I make all my own Power Points to teach my lessons. There are many available in a various number of places on the web for teachers to obtain for teaching. However, for me, it is more powerful for my own learning, delivery of lessons and the retention of learning on the part of my students if I create the work myself. Yes, this can be very time consuming, but I find it is worth it in the end.
I also value the Power Points for my English Language Learners. When the images are displayed upon the screen, it is big and colorful. For those students who are still learning the language, this offers an extra support in a visual to connect the concepts for them. Otherwise, I am the Charlie Brown teacher who speaks, but they only hear that "wha wha wha."
I have the Leonardo Da Vinci Power Point ready to go on my laptop. After making sure all the children are watching the screen, I begin to work through each slide of the Power Point.
Each screen of the power point focuses on a different aspect of his genius. I want my students to understand that Da Vinci was a man of many talents. My hope is that they will at some point in the school year begin to see that all our learning is connected. Much as Da Vinci's talents were all interrelated and connected as well. Of course, this is a highly sophisticated concept and not one, I fully expect the students to really grasp. More so that may create background knowledge for their learning in later years.
After the Power Point has been presented to the students, I have the students put their heads together (Cooperative Learning strategy) to discuss these three questions. The questions are on the last slide of the Power Point, The questions are timed to only come in one at at time. It is important to me that the students stay focused on the questions one at a time. If I put all of them up at once, this won't happen. Using one question at at time, allows me to maintain control of the lesson.
1. Who was Leonardo Da Vinci?
2. What was he most known for?
3. Why is he important to the world of science?
"Boys and girls, it is time for us to have a little dialogue. In your table teams, I would like for you to discuss the first question you see on the board right now. Remember the way we do this. As a team, you will all contribute and offer ideas and suggestions. But it will be the table team leader who will speak for your group when I ding the library bell."
This is a really important phase of the community building in the life of the classroom. Team building teaches the children to become responsible, build trust in each other and themselves.
This stage of the lesson, takes place the day after all the other stages of the lesson. I do not do this part of the lesson on the same day. I want to know what the kids have retained from the lesson and class discussions.
After time has been taken to have review the importance of Da Vinci to the world of science, I have a Tree Map for the students to complete.
The Tree Map format is useful in classifying and ideas or concepts. In this activity, I can quickly see if the children understood the main objective of the lesson; that Da Vinci was created with in history or science.
I use the same format in the Leonardo Da Vinci Tree Map as the previous lesson's tree map. This helps the children begin to feel some confidence in their work skills. It is the second time they will have completed the tree map format.
During this time, I am walking around the classroom while the students are working within their groups and completing the task.
I collect the pages when all the students are done and check them later as a formative assessment.