Next Generation Science Standards Connection
We connect to 1-LS1-1 in this lesson, because the students research a solution to a problem that affects humans. The students focused on problems caused by animals because this is something we have been discussing in class. In the previous lesson the students actually selected a problem to research, and now we are going to research solutions to the problem of their choice. I am allowing the students to use the internet to do their research. By giving students choices they are motivated and it takes a lot of motivation to persevere through a less with a lot of rigor.
Now the students research solutions, but their design must be based on mimicking how animals use their external features to survive. I actually have taught about twenty different lessons relating to animals using their external features, so the students have a great deal of knowledge related to how animals use their external features to survive. With all of these lessons under our belt my students are ready to design their solution, and they are going to add to their Power Point presentation presenting the problem. So, they will have two slides. The first slide present the problem and why the animals is causing the problem. The second slide shows their solution which must mimic an external feature of an animal.
This lesson is the second of two lessons. The previous lesson allowed the students to research about problems caused by animals. In this lesson the students still work in groups of two to find possible solutions to the problem based on how animals use their external features to survive. The students are still in groups of two as they explore solutions. During this exploring they are taking notes on how to solve the problem. Then they share their new knowledge, and explain it to the entire class in a whole group discussion. Next, the students design the second slide of their Power Point which contains all the content they found in the explore section. Last, the students share the problem and their solution they learned about and their slides in the evaluation section.
In this section I need to excite the students and today I want to connect our work to what we did the previous day. So, I say, "Yesterday we researched a problem of your choice caused by animals, and today we are going to research a solution to that problem. But, your solution must be based on the ways the animals use their external parts to help them survive. Remember we have studied animals and their external features. You should have a lot of notes in your science notebook on these, but I also have them hanging in our room for you to use. Now, turn and tell your partner one way you know animals use their external features to survive." As I listen I am assessing my students knowledge, and preparing to either remind them of the big external features we have studied. After about one minute I stop their conversation and encourage students to share their conversations, because learning is more meaningful when it comes from a peer. Check out my video on fun ways to stop discussion. Then I add, "Remember the turtle shell and how it helps animals protect themselves. We also learned about how polar bears have a lot of fur to keep them warm."
Next, I share the plan for the lesson, because it helps my students relax. It also allows them to understand my expectations. To help the students remember the goal I say, "Let's chant the lesson goal: I can design a solution to a problem caused by animals."
Now, I give each pair (peanut butter jelly partner) of students a computer, and I allow them to research different ways to solve the problem they researched in the previous lesson. I allow them to decide who actually uses the mouse or touch screen. They add their notes and solution ideas to their science journal. I do remind the class that their final solution needs to mimic an external feature that enables animal survival.
So, they may want to search external features that enable survival. I do model this by doing and saying, "I am going to pull up the internet on our Smart Board, so watch me as I model what you are going to do. First, click on Safari, then type your search word or phrase in the search box. I did create a word bank to help you spell, but I am here to help you as well, just raise your hand. Then you just click on whatever link you think is interesting, read, and record your notes. These are the notes that are going to help you design your solution. I will add my notes here on the board. Now it is your turn to try, but remember I am here to help. Just raise your hand it you need help reading or working the computer."
It is now time for me to walk around, and do check-ins: scaffolding with my groups. I try to listen and intervene if I hear them off task, or going in the wrong direction. Usually I just redirect my groups, by showing them what they need to do.
Now, I try to engage the class in scientific discourse and allow the students to learn from each other. This is one of the most beneficial strategies to encourage learning, because students really appreciate learning from their peers more than learning from me.
So, I ask the groups to share their solution across the table by saying, "Please share your solution with the group that is opposite the table as you." I walk around and listen, but I anticipate some groups to just sit there and look at each other, and I will say, "So, what are you going to do to solve the problem? How does that mimic an animal external feature? Do you agree with what the group plans to do? Will that solve their problem?" Now, these are just ways to get the students to begin talking. because sometime they just need a little prompting to get started.
Then I ask for some volunteers to share their problem and solution. This is just another way to get students egaging in more scientific discourse and learn to build upon the conversations or comments of their peers. After one group shares I ask, "Will somebody agree, disagree, or add to what they said? Does the solution mimic an external feature of an animal?"
This is the time the students begin to talk to each other and they actually create their design as a solution, based on mimicking animals external features. So, I give the groups time to think and talk about their solution. The solution can be in words, or even an illustration. We can scan the illustration and add it to the Power Point if they choose to use an illustration. Then students do need to add their notes to the second slide of the Power Point.
Now I am walking around listening to see that the students are on track, and talking about designs. When I see struggling groups I say, "So, do animals have a similar problem? How do they use their body to protect themselves?" I find that asking a lot of questions usually leads my students to the conclusion I am hoping they find. Oh yes, they do learn that when I finally quit asking questions they have arrived at a correct answer, but I want to allow them the freedom to come up with solutions on their own.
At this time I bring the lesson to an end, and I assess my students' learning. I want to give the class an opportunity to present their problem, their reasoning about why the problem is occurring, and their solution. When presenting their Power Point, students are practicing their speaking and listening skills as they present: presentation and evaluation and presentation and evaluation. They listen to their peers and then give their peers feedback. 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 animals' external features in class.
To assess the students I use a spreadsheet. There is a column for a solution 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?"
When I am thinking about whether they really got it or not I think about whether they created a solution based on evidence we have learned about animals using their external parts. I expect each group to have two slides 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 in the form of bullets, notes, or a scanned illustration.