The purpose of this lesson is to have students demonstrate understanding of their learning during the unit and to also have the chance to clean up the things I felt needed more time, and wrap up the big ideas. I never give assessments that take the whole period because we just don't have the instructional time for that. Also, best practice for assessments seems to be that students are receiving a more constant and smaller stream of feedback. Because the assessments are only 10 minutes, this opens up an important instructional day for making connections and allowing some more processing time.
Learning Goal: Show understanding of the characteristics of life by applying them to new situations.
If you were trying to prove that viruses WERE alive, what evidence would you use?
If you were trying to prove that viruses WERE NOT alive what evidence would you use?
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 timer and say to the students, "Ok kids, you should be engaged in our work now."
Flu Attack! How a Virus Invades Your Body is a great article and video I found from NPR that explains and animates the viral attack process. Some of the vocabulary and ideas about cell structure are too advanced at this point for kids to grasp, but I feel that the animations of the process overpower this consideration. To watch this, I ask students to remember what they learned about viruses yesterday. We do some random questioning to pull out some ideas and then I ask them watch for these in the video.
In this section, I "clean-up" anything I think needed to go differently. This day, I am using the Clean-up section to reinforce the information we've collected about viruses to compare it to the Characteristics of Life.
To do this review the powerpoint from yesterday and this time students relate the learning back to the characteristics of life throughout. Students are more comfortable with the content, because they are experiencing it for the second time. So now, I'm having them concentrate on making the transfer to application.
At the end of each mini-unit I take a couple minutes to wrap-up the unit and make connections, reminding students of where we are and where we are going. This is a great chance to emphasize any content that became especially important during classes. This video shows what this might sound like.
This is a written assessment. It has two questions, which allows me to differentiate for students. The first question is cognitively easier because it simply asks the students to explain WHY a fire is not alive by using the characteristics of life. Students doing only this question are still showing understanding of the characteristics and are getting some experience in justifying their ideas. The second question is more cognitively difficult because it pushes the kids to choose whether viruses are alive or not and to justify that position.
I use the following statements to determine what students should do.
1. Students with appropriate writing and cognitive skills- do both.
2. Students who struggle with writing speed but have cognitively shown understanding - #2.
3. Students who have struggled cognitively- #1.
4. Students who have struggled with writing fluency and organization choose one and use the scaffolded writing template.
For closure today, I make a transfer connection with why we studied this topic and where we are going next. Our next unit is about cells and then we are going to study the organization of cells, tissues, organs, and systems more closely. After that we are going to look at energy and how organisms get it. Later on this year we will be studying how species adapt to their environment. These concepts of the characteristics of life are going to be a thread that weave through the rest of the year.