The purpose of this lesson is to help students get deeper into the reading through reading to others and clarifying and to give them a chance to think through writing about the systems of the body.
Learning Goal: Students will be able to understand how the systems work together to get work done for the body.
Essential Question: How do you think the systems work together? Can you give an example.
Students come in the room, get ready (get their stuff), get set (get settled in their seats), and engage in writing the learning goal and answering the essential question on the board.
As the students are walking in I remind them to get ready by getting their folders and get set by setting up their work station. When the bell rings, I put three minutes on the time and say to the students, "Ok kids you should be engaged in our work now."
After I have the students share out their answers to the essential question, there is an increase of interest in learning the names of the systems. Many students answer the essential question by saying, "Well I know that one brings in food and one takes it around but I don't know which is which." This is a great time to show this video to deepen the connections students have to this vocabulary.
This is one of those strange days when my guided practice comes before my focus lesson. I'm doing this because my guided practice has the purpose of connecting to deeper concepts and my focus lesson is modeling the work we will do with collaborative partners.
One of my goals for this lesson is to move students beyond elementary thinking on the needs of life and the purpose of the systems. An example of elementary thinking goes like this.
"We need a respiratory system to breath. We need to breath to get oxygen. We need oxygen because without it we will die."
I try to challenge this thinking by saying, "Well, OK but WHY will you die? What do you need the oxygen for."
The student usually answers with "We need it to breath." Most of my students in 7th grade are used to giving quick answers but aren't used to digging deeper.
To start this process, I have students raise their hands to tell me what all life forms need. Students very quickly come up with water, food, oxygen, sun, and shelter. Then I ask them, "Why do you need shelter." Kids have some good answers to this at their finger tips. To escape predators, to be protected from weather, to have a safe place are all common answers. It is when we start to ask questions about why we need food and oxygen that things get tricky. Students can usually tell me that food gives us energy. The best students in class can tell me that we also use food to make our body. But students can never give me a reason for oxygen. I force them them to get to this point so that we can have a moment to realize that we need to investigate more.
Then I connect back to the learning about systems and show them how the respiratory system, digestive system, and circulatory system are actually all working together to bring in these nutrients and get them around the body. This ends this conversation, but I promise the students that we are going to investigate the why of all of these question more in this unit and the next. In this way, the NEEDS of life becomes a cross cutting theme that I can use to connect the learning from unit to unit.
Close reading is one of the literacy strategies I use often in my class. A great description and explanation of Close reading can be found in the Fisher and Frey book, Rigorous Reading. My general structure for this strategy is a week plan designed to let the students go deeper and deeper into a reading without much help from me. For this reason it is important to choose a text that is accessible but appropriately challenging.
This is the second day of the close reading. My goal is to model our read to others routine and have students be able to work together to clarify a piece of reading. For the focus lesson, I share the process with the students.
1. Get a partner. (My students are already grouped in heterogeneous reading partners)
2. One person reads a small section. The other person listens politely and attentively. I use this anchor chart when we read to others to encourage students to be polite, attentive listeners.
3. When the reader is finished, the listener provides clarification to the reading. He/she states what they think it was mostly about. I use this poster of the word CLARIFY with a magnifying glass to show students that clarify means to look closely and find meaning.
4. The reader agrees or disagrees.
5. Both partners write down their version of the clarification UNDER the reading section.
Once the students understand the process I ask if anyone wants to help me model this to the class. I let the student decide if they are going to model reading out loud or clarifying. Then we go through the process in front of the class. I always make sure to really emphasize the writing process of this reading because that is the part students most often "forget".
This is what the student work looks like after day 2 of the close reading.
Once students understand the process of close reading and the connection with the NEEDS of life, I release them to collaboratively read, using this strategy. I walk around during the reading time with my ROCK STAR SCIENTIST tickets and point out to students where they are successfully using the strategy.
Every once in a while I stop the whole class to point out a process that is good. As the time continues, I also stop at desks of students who are struggling or not properly using the process and prompt/cue them to change their learning behaviors.
This is our second chance at writing to think. I use the anchor chart to refresh them on the expectations and have them answer the following question.
Describe how systems work together to obtain what the body needs use an example.
I again stress with students that my main goal is for them to write continuously for three minutes. I do this because first, it pushes the student to keep thinking and second, it helps raise the students' writing fluencies.
For this day's closure I have the students discuss this question with their tables.
Let’s say part of your body was sick... like maybe you had nerve damage in your foot. How could this affect your life and your ability to survive?
I am interested in building the groups' efficacy at answering questions together and building off of each other to grow their own understanding. If there is time we might share out some answers, if there isn't I will simply preview the next day by letting the students know that tomorrow they will be doing some research into the systems.