In this lesson, students are given a problem to solve that requires them to describe a pattern in the sky. I am a big believer in giving choice as a way to engage students, and so students will get to choose their topic. Once students choose a topic, they find a partner that wants to work on the same topic. Teachers may also need to keep a small group with them to produce a product together.
Then, students work together to review their Science Journals and take notes that they would like to share. In this lesson, students plan and draft the product. In the subsequent lesson, we will create and make the products.
This lesson addresses NGSS standards for space and cross-cutting concepts, including using observations to describe patterns in the natural world. It also incorporates Science Practice #8 because this project is all about communicating information students have learned, and Science Practice #6 Constructing Explanations.
Throughout this unit, I use a KLEWS anchor chart to record our new learning. This is a science-specific type of KWL chart designed with primary students in mind! Check out this video I like to call KLEWS chart 101:
Our Space KLEWS chart will be hung prominently throughout this lesson, so that students may refer to it as necessary in order to describe their pattern.
I can't believe how many patterns we've observed in the sky so far! Let's look at them together. The sun appears to rise and set; this is a pattern each day. The sun's position changes shadows from long in the morning to short in the afternoon, to long again in the evening, in a pattern. The moon changes shapes in a pattern, and it appears to rise and set in a pattern each day. The stars can be seen at night but not during the day, which is a pattern.
Next, I introduce the problem. NGSS standard ESS1-2 requires students to observe that the amount of daylight changes during different times of the year. I could simply provide a table showing them sunrise and sunset times in summer and winter, but that doesn't allow *students* to make the observations! So, we will actually have a Space Unit B lasting 3-5 days in the spring.
There is actually one other pattern that we will observe in the sky, however, we can't do it yet. We have to observe the last part in the spring, and then compare the spring data to our current winter data. I'm a bit worried that we might have a new student between then and now. If we get a new student, he or she may not have had this part of the unit. So, we need to describe the patterns we've seen so far. Then, in the spring, we'll remind our brains and teach any new friends by looking at them again!
As I share this, students nod along that they may indeed forget some of the patterns.
First, I want students to pick their topic. I don't like to tell them right away that they are working as partners, because I don't want them to pick the same topic as their best friend. I truly want them to pick a pattern that they personally would like to work on.
First, you will need to decide which pattern you would like to work on. Would you like to describe a pattern of the sun, moon, or stars? Make that choice in your brain now. Then, tiptoe to your seat and write your topic: Sun, Moon, or Stars, on a sticky note.
I point to the key words sun, moon, and stars, on the KLEWS chart as I say them, to support early-stage writers with spelling. I give students time to write their topic, and then I play a transition song.
Before playing the song, I state their task.
While I play the transition song, I'd like everyone who wrote "Moon" to come to this side of the rug. Everyone who wrote "Sun" come to this side of the rug. And everyone who wrote "Stars" come to the middle of the rug.
Then, I tell them that we will be working with partners and I assign a partner with the same topic. I may create groups of three to support selected students with social or learning needs. Teachers may also facilitate a small group of selected students. Sometimes in my class, I try to pair higher and lower ability reader or writers together to help one another complete a task. However, for this activity, it is most important to me that they are engaged with the topic. This may mean that I need to support certain partnerships during work time, so I'll keep an eye out for learning needs.
Now that students have partners, I tell them the task for today.
You and your partner will need to decide what is the most important information that you need to tell a new student about your pattern. You will use a Main Topic and Key Details organizer to help you. You should also think about what pictures or images might support your point, or match your text; they can go right on the back.
Before any writing task, I have students recall writing supports they have available.
If you need help spelling a word, where could you look?
If you forgot about a pattern, where could you look? (Science Journal or KLEWS chart)
Finally, I give them time to work together with their graphic organizer. I circulate during this time and ask students to add clarifying information, if necessary. I also support any teams that are struggling by suggesting that they refer back to their Science Journals for more information and details.
Check-in #1 First during check-in's, I ask a question to see where students are. "What pattern are you working on?" Then, I ask what they have written so far. If they have left out a key detail (in this video, the "why" of the pattern), I ask them to consider including it.
Check-in #2 First during check-in's, I ask a question to see where students are. "What pattern are you working on?" Here, the student made up a repeating pattern rather than writing about an actual pattern. The group was not working together in this case. I facilitated a conversation between the group members to help support this student. Then, I reminded them of where to find information. By reviewing the work we have already completed, students can remind themselves of the key details.
In the next clip, which I'll call Check-in #3, the pair were in need of a little guidance. I guided them to check the room resources (i.e., the KLEWS chart) to refresh their memories!
I play a transition song and bring students back to the rug. In closing, I want students to share with one another what resources they used.
As you were working with your partner, what did you do to help you find key details? What resources did you use to find key details?
This discussion helps groups that may have been struggling think of solutions. It also sets our classroom atmosphere of students solving their own problems and coming up with solutions.
During my planning time, I will go over the work students have done thus far. If I note any students who need immediate feedback or redirection, I pull them the following day during small groups to chat. If I see general trends, I will address them as a whole group at the beginning of our next science lesson.