Research a Problem of Your Choice

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SWBAT find a problem and design a solution to the problem by mimicking how animals use their external parts to survive.

Big Idea

Excite students by letting them research and select the problem animals are causing, and help the create a solution.

Setting the Stage

Next Generation Science Standards Connection

This lesson is designed to connect to 1-LS1-1, because the students research a problem that affects humans. Giving students choices and the opportunity to research using technology is a very engaging strategy to motivate students.  The students also design a solution based on how animals use their external parts to help them survive. So, I have laid the foundation for this complex lesson by doing about ten lessons on similarities in animals' external parts, then ten more lessons on how animals use their external parts to help their offspring survive, and I also taught four lessons simply allowing students to learn about problems that animals cause humans. With all of these lessons under our belt my students are ready to research their own topic, and then they are going to actually create a Power Point presentation presenting the problem and their solution which must mimic an external feature of an animal. I just emphasize that the students are going to learn something new as they research, which directs them away from any topic or problem we have already studied.

Lesson Overview

This is the first of two lessons where the students engage in a research project and create a solution. In the first lesson, the students use Safari to research problems caused by animals. They are also encouraged to discuss any problem they want and research it. The students are in groups of two as they explore problems. During this exploring they are taking notes on why this animal is causing a problem to humans. Then they share their new knowledge, and explain it to the entire class in a whole group discussion. Next, the students design the first slide of their Power Point which contains all the content they found in the explore section. Last, the students share the problem they learned about and their slide in the evaluation section. 


10 minutes

This is the time when I want to really excite my students and engage them in learning. So, I begin with a question, "If you could learn about any animal problem what would it be? Will you please turn and tell your peanut butter jelly partner what you would learn about." This is a nice way to activate students thinking and allow students to share things they are curious about. So, I listen to see what they already know, and learn about their curiosities. This is where I really determine how much extra support my students are going to need in determining their problem to research. Then I use a fun way to stop discussion ,and try to allow students to learn from each other, so I allow anyone to share what they want to learn more about. 

Next, I share the plan for the lesson, because it really helps students understand what is going to be expected of them. "Today we are going to research a problem caused by animals, then you will create a Power Point slide to present the problem and why it is a problem." To engage the class in really remembering the lesson goal I ask them to chant, "I can research a problem caused by animals."



20 minutes

This is the section where I model doing and internet search, taking good notes, and then support my students when they practice researching. 

So, I begin with, "You are going to select a problem caused by an animal today, take notes about why the animal causes the problem, and describe the problem. So, you can use the internet to search for problems animals cause that you may want to learn about.

Now, let me show you how to do a search. Click on Safari, and then type in your search word or phrase. Last, click on links and read to learn more about problems caused by animals. I did create a word wall to help you spell. So, I am going to type in problems caused by animals, and see what comes up. Now, lets learn, and I am going to take notes to help me organize my information. I want to be able to describe the problem, and explain why the animal causes the problem."

Now, I really walk around and monitor each pair of students. My video: complex tasks may be helpful. They need support using the computer, typing, reading, and organizing their notes. My demonstration and model notes are helpful, but the students just need support: discussion as they engaging in exploring. One great thing about my school server is that it has a restriction on certain website to keep the search safe.


20 minutes

I find that students really struggle with engaging in scientific and academic discourse. So, in my attempt to model and teach students to communicate academically, I get them to explain their information they gathered in the explore section about the problem they chose, and why it is a problem. This is also a great way to get students share their new knowledge, which is a great way to allow students to learn from each other.

So, I say, "Will a volunteer please share what they learned." Then I ask, "Can anyone add to that or share what they learned?" Then I ask students, "Do you think that is a problem that affects humans? How do you know it is a problem? Have you had an experience with what they are talking about?" Then I encourage students to ask each other questions by saying, "Will you ask your peers questions that help them explain their problem? So, you might ask somebody how many people are affected by this problem. It is just an example. But, you can ask each other questions." This just encourages students to ask each other questions which engages them in deeper understanding and scientific discourse.

The next thing I do is ask the students to share the different ways they organized their notes. This is a great way to show students that there are many ways to organize information, and they need to use the way that is easiest for them. We have used a t-chart and bullets in previous lessons, but I am allowing the students to choose what works for them. I put a model on the board of how I might use bullets or a t- chart.


15 minutes

Now, the students explore Power Point and insert their new knowledge about the problem that animals cause. Once, again I model how to create a Power Point document, and how to save it on a jump drive. So, I say, "Today your are going to insert your notes into a Power Point presentation that you will use to present your problem today." I pull up Power Point, then I show them how to select a slide design. Then I show how to give the slide a title, and how to insert bullets or text.

Each pair has a computer and I walk around and help them. When their slide is finished they raise their hand, and I bring my jump drive and the pair saves their slide: student work on it.


15 minutes

In this section the students present their Power Point. The explain section was more of a whole group discussion. This section is a formal presentation with evaluation. The students present their problem and their reasoning about why the problem is occurring: presentation and evaluation. In addition to presenting the students are practicing their speaking and listening skills as they listen to their peers and then give their peers feedback: peer evaluation. The feedback is either agreeing or disagreeing with the presenter. The students also need to give their peers evidence from what we have learned about animal problems in class.

So, I also want to assess the students using a spreadsheet. There is a column for a problem based on evidence found in their research and accurate peer evaluation. I find that students are reluctant to comment, and I simply beg. "Come on guys. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the presenter? Will their solution work, and why?"

I want to see that my students have found a valid problem caused by animals, and they have evidence supporting why the animal is causing this problem. I also plan for each group to have one slide that they use to present their information to the class. The presentations should include the students speaking loud, and clear. They should be able to effectively communicate their knew knowledge.