Next Generation Science Standard Connection
I connect this lesson to Science Standard K-2 ETS1-1 because the students gather information and create a solution to the problem of dogs chasing cars. I find it is very exciting and motivating to engage students in a real world problem solving situations. It also seems to really activate their higher order thinking. My students also communicate the information they learned and explain their design which connects to SP8. In doing this I expect them to present their solution and justify how it will work based on evidence from the information they learned in this lesson. Now we have included SP7 is about justifying your argument using evidence from information you gained, and SP6 is about creating a solution.
Like most of my lessons we begin in the lounge where I ty to see what my students already know about the problem and get them excited about the lesson. Then comes the explore section where the class learns about the problem, and they explain what they understand about dogs chasing cars in the explain section. Next, we design solutions and students learn about some solution that already exist. Last the class meets back in the lounge where the students present their designs and evaluate each others designs using specific evidence from our lesson.
To engage the class I tell them a story. It is real too if you were wondering. "I had a problem with my horses not going where I directed them. So, I thought if I got a herding dog it would help. So, I got a perfect little herding dog, Oink. Yes, Oink does herd my horses when they are not minding, but she also chases everything in sight. She chases birds, squirels, and every car she sees. Now I got another dog as a guard dog, and he is not as fast as Oink. But, he does whatever she does, because she is his leader. Well, one day he was trying to chase my truck, and I ran over him. This cost me a lot of money in a veterinarian bill, but he was not hurt badly. The point is that it is a problem for dogs to chase cars. I really need to know what you know about dogs chasing cars. Why do they do it? What can we do to fix the problem? Turn and tell your partner."
Now, I am assessing what they know while they talk to their peanut butter jelly partner, but I am also trying to teach the student that they can engage in meaningful conversations with their peers. If I notice a group is not participating I just walk over and ask them the question again. If they still have no response I say, "So, what do you know about dogs? Have you ever seen one?" To end the conversations I do one of my chants: fun ways to stop discussion. After they talk I model good speaking skills by sharing some of their conversations. Then I ask for a volutneer to share what they talked about.
Next, I share the plan for the lesson with my class, because it seems to make students feel more at ease with the lesson. I say, "Today we are going to learn why dogs chase cars, and then you are going to design a solution to the problem. Please chant: I can design a solution to a problem." By asking the class to chant the goal I am getting them to focus on the lesson objective in a fun way.
During this section I have the class seated in the center of the room in groups of four, and they will learn all about why dogs chase cars, and why this is a problem. I give each child a text: why dogs chase cars, and read the text three times. I have a video: complex tasks on how I scaffold my instruction for complex tasks like this.
Then I say, "Highlight any reason you found that dogs chase cars." I am hoping to hear students saying things like dogs have a natural instinct to chase things. Really first graders need monitoring with any task, so as I walk around I am looking to see who is getting the answer and who is struggling. If a student cannot highlight anything I just reread the text to them and help them find some evidence to highlight. I walk around and give them two or three minutes to work.
Once I see everyone has highlighted some information and it is correct I ask them to write this down in their science journal. Note taking is one strategy I use help my students record, and recall important information. We usually go back to the information in each lesson in the culminating activity of the unit.
Next, I read the article. Then I say, "Now, think about why this is a problem." (It can injure them or somebody in a vehicle.) I say, "Class you can write a picture or note in your science notebook to record what you think." Now, I chose to just read the text and project it on the Smart Board, because I want to expose my class to relevant imformation that includes why dogs chasing cars is a problem. The picture can have labels, a picture, or even a sentence. There are so many different levels of students in many first grade classes it is essential to allow students to do as much as they can. The task is most simple as an illustration, then it increases in complexity if they choose a label, and the most complex task is to write a sentence.
Now it is time to try to get the class to engage in some scientific discourse and share their new knowledge. It is more meaningful if they can share and inform each other than if I provide all the information, plus I can walk around and assess who was able to determine the correct information by looking at their science journal. I should see in their journal that dogs naturally want to chase things, and it can harm people or the dog.
So, I ask, "Please turn and tell your partner why dogs chase things." Then I listen to make sure they are correct, and I walk around to make sure everyone is participating. If somebody is not doing talking to their partner I ask , "So, what do you think? Why do dogs chase things?" Then I listen. If the pair still does not know I read them the text again. Then I repeat the question. Next, I ask for a volunteer to share their answer. Then I ask, "Will somebody agree or disagree with what they said? Please remember to justify your answer with evidence from the text we read." Proving their opinion by evidencing text is a very challenging task, and I often have to provide the answer as a model. With modeling and scaffolding the students eventually learn to do things on their own.
Now the students fully understand the problem and why the dogs chase, it is time for them to design their own solution to the problem. I say, "Please work with your partner to design a solution to help dogs avoid chasing vehicles. You can illustrate, label, or write it out in notes in your science journal. After about ten minutes I will show you some existing models for you to add to your design. Then you will have five minutes to add to your design and decide who will present your solution in the evaluation section. Remember you need to be able to justify why your solution will work."
Now it is time for me to back off and watch my students collaborate and create their design. If I see a pair struggling I just begin asking them questions. I say, "What do you think might keep dogs from chasing cars? Have you seen something used to keep dogs from chasing cars."
Then I share some ideas that are already in use and allow students to continue working: ways to stop dogs from chasing cars. After about four minutes I give the class a notice that they need to stop in one minute. I just say, "Okay class you have about one minute, so finish up quickly." This allows them time to finish any detail and decide which partner is speaking, but they both usually end up talking.
In the evaluation section I try to get the students to communicate the information they learned and the solution they created. In addition the students need to defend their solution during the section. The solutions must solve the problem of dogs chasing cars because the dogs might get harmed or humans can get hurt. I want the students to use evidence from the information they learned in the text. I ask several groups to present their solutions, and they explain how their solution will work. The other students engage in peer evaluation, and hopefully use evidence from the text to agree or disagree with the presenters solution. I have a chart I check off to see who's turn it is to present and their partner must stand beside them as they present. The partner can read words, redirect the student to their notes, or just provide support by standing next to their peer.
As far as my assessment goes I want to see that the students create solutions that are based on the evidence from this lesson. I also keep a spreadsheet where I give a check or minus for correct content, speaking loud and clear, and for giving evidenced based peer feedback. I find that many first graders tend to refer to prior knowledge instead of evidence they learned in the text. My other expectation is that the students actually provide evidence based peer feedback that connects to the information they have gained in this lesson.