The students have already had 2 lessons on pollution. In the first lesson they looked at photographs of pollution and tried to determine where pollution came from. In the second lesson students decided on questions to ask their parents about pollution in our community. Now they are ready to identify the problems of pollution in their own community.
This lesson will look different for each community. The questions and local environments will dictate the types of answers that students will find.
I want to keep students actively engaged in this sorting lesson so they understand and can take ownership of the problem of pollution in their own community.
I begin today by identifying the I Can statement for the students. I ask them to read it with me. It says, "I can figure out a problem."
I ask, "do you remember going home last night to ask your parents about pollution?" "Do you think that we can share our answers to see if there is a problem?" (For both questions I encourage students to answer before going on.)
"Today I want you to take out that homework and we will make a list of what our parents said about pollution in our town. Please find your homework page and be ready to share in 30 seconds." (I count to 30 to help students stay on task and be prepared for the lesson.)
In order to share our findings, I need students to stay actively engaged in this lesson. Each student has the responses to 6 questions. That can mean a lot of waiting if we do this lesson whole group. I know that some students will have trouble maintaining attention for too long, so I have decided to approach the sharing differently, to hopefully keep all students engaged.
I ask students to begin by cutting the questions apart on the lines. I say, "today we are going to start by cutting the 6 questions apart on the lines between them. Do not cut through any of your answers, but try just to cut on the lines. I will give you 5 minutes to cut the questions apart."
While they are cutting I put large papers marked 1,2,3,4,5 on the centers of their desk groups. This will help with sorting the questions.
When I see that everyone has completed the task I ring the bell for attention and then say, "Now I would like you to look at the papers numbered 1 - 5 on your tables. Would you each sort your questions onto the correct number as quickly and quietly as possible." When each table is done I pick up the piles of questions. I take pile 1 as my demonstration pile.
I say, "we will look at the first question together and then you will do the remainder of the questions in small science groups. I am going to take all the answers to number 1 and glue them to the large paper." I quickly glue the 18 responses to the large sheet. As I glue, I read the answers to the questions out loud. If 2 are the same, I try to put them next to each other. When I have them glued down I say, "Now I have all the answers to question 1 together for us to study. Would you move to your science groups and help to glue your answers on the paper. This should not take very long if you all work together to help each other out." I hand each group a set of questions to glue.Sorting Our Answers
At this point, students have been able to all be engaged in the process of sorting the data. I have kept the students actively involved by giving them a hands on task. The next step should also help them to stay engaged.
I ring the bell for attention and say, "now that you have the answers glued down, I am going to ask you to take turns reading the answers to your group. Everyone should take a turn. Read the answers out loud to the group. You will need to be good listeners for each other. As a group I want you to decide on the one most important answer to the question. Watch as I do mine with your help.
I read all of the answers out loud in different voices as I pretend to be several different people. "Hmm, let me see, does anyone see what might be most important in this answer to the question, "where do we see pollution in our community?" I take suggestions and then write: Beach and playground on the back of my paper in large letters. "It seems that most people agree that the pollution in our town is mostly on the beach or at the beach playground. Now I want you to do the same for our other questions, "What kinds of pollution are in our town? How does the pollution get into our town? How does pollution hurt our town? and Is pollution a problem in our town?"
I walk around checking to see if everyone is engaged in reading the answers and deciding on the main answer. I remind groups to make sure everyone has a turn reading an answer and helping to decide what to write as the most important answer.
When all of the groups are done I invite students to come to the rug. I take the papers to display on the easel. I invite one person from each group to come up one at a time and read us their question and the final answer.One Group's Findings
When all of the answers have been shared I say, "Do you think there is a problem with pollution in our town? Can someone tell us what this problem is now that you have heard what each group has said?"
I would guess that students will identify the pollution at the public beaches as a major issue in our town but the outcome will depend on parent responses. This outcome will be used in the next lesson to have students begin to design a way to solve the problem.
I close today's lesson by pointing to the I Can statement. I say, "thumbs up if you think you helped to identify a problem with pollution in our town.
Yes, I think you did to and next time we will try to think of some possible solutions to the problem. Does anyone have any final comments, I wonders or thoughts to share before we finish up today?"
(It is important to let students debrief before closing the lesson so that they are not left with unfinished thoughts or unanswered questions that at least have been raised and shared with others.)