I begin today on the rug. I ask for students to read the "I Can" statement with me. We read, "I can design a solution to a problem."
I say, "you have worked very hard in the past few days to figure out if there is a pollution problem in our town. Today we are going to be engineers as we try to design a solution to the problem. Now engineers would love to push a magic button and make all the problems go away, but they have to design a solution that they can really do. That is going to be our task today. Do you remember when I read you "Edith and Little Bear"? They had pollution in their city and what did they do? (I ask for volunteers as I hold up the book and turn the pages to help with recall of the story. They swept the sidewalk, picked up trash, recycled bottles and watched for smoke.)
"Your job today will be to work first by yourself, and then with your science partners to design a solution that we can do for our community."
I want students to begin by themselves so that each child is working on the problem. If I begin with groups there will be children who will let others do the work. If I ask each child to start with his/her own solution and then share out, I am asking each child to pose a solution to the problem.
I ask students to return to their seats, to stretch and talk along the way, and to be ready to listen in 30 seconds. I count down from 30 as they move. This allows students a chance to move and chat so that they are more ready to listen when they return to their seats.
"3,2,1.. Now I know that everyone is excited about what they might do to solve the problems of pollution in our town. Let's begin by looking quickly at the 5 answers to the questions that you gathered from your parents. (Answers here are dependent on what children found. The lesson can be adapted to the answers for each group. I am assuming trash on the beach, run off of storm drains into the ocean, and air pollution from so many cars in the summer as the issues that students have identified in the previous lessons and will write this lesson accordingly. I know that each time I use this lesson, the answers may be slightly different.)
"We found that the trash on the beach, trash on the roads, pollution from boats and trash in the woods were the biggest problems in our town.(These were the actual results gathered from our survey). (I point to the lists we made in the last lesson.) I would like you to take one of these problems and think how we, as a class might try to make the problem better. Remember that we can't push a magic button, or invent a huge machine to clean it up. We have to think of something that we can do as second graders. Can someone give me an idea they have already? (posters, pick up trash, get more trash bins for the beach areas, bumper stickers, booklets for tourist center, a video etc. may be some of the things that students suggest. I am hoping that we can move beyond just picking up trash, so I may offer other suggestions, point to other solutions in books, etc. if children are having trouble brainstorming ideas.)
I hand out paper and then circulate around to talk to students about their solutions. I encourage them to extend their thinking such as if they say get trash cans I might ask, where would we get them, how would we pay for them, or if they say make posters I might ask where would we put them so that many people can see them?
When I see that most students are done, I ring the bell for quiet and explain the next step in our problem solving activity.
"Now that everyone has an idea for how they might solve one of the problems, I am going to ask you to meet in small groups. I am going to divide you by problem so that you are sharing your idea with others who tried to solve the same pollution problem."
(I may have several groups of 3 talking about the same problem, but I keep the groups at 3 so that everyone can share his/her idea. I want to encourage students to engage in meaningful discussions about science and if the groups are too large, some children will not participate.) I give each student two cubes a green and a yellow. I tell them when they share their idea they can put a green cube in the middle. When they comment on a friend's solution they can add a yellow. The groups can attach the cubes to show that everyone has contributed at least 1 idea and 1 comment. No one should still have their cubes at the end of the share.
In order to change the focus from all about mine being best, I ask students to say something positive about someone else's idea. This forces students to listen to each other and to think about why someone else's idea is a good one.Using Talking Cubes to Comment on Each Other's Ideas
"What do we need to remember when working with a group?" (take turns, listen to everyone's ideas, don't say an idea is bad, ask questions to get more information, be respectful of others) "Ok, so when you are in your groups, remember to let everyone have a turn, hear their ideas and ask them questions if you don't understand. I want your group to come up with one best idea that they would like to bring to the whole group. You may pick one idea, or combine your ideas to come up with a new idea."
"I will give you 10 minutes to talk and to come up with your best solution and then we will share these with the large group. Are there any questions?"
Students now work in small groups listening to each other's ideas and asking each other questions. They need to be able to talk about their individual solutions and to decide which one they will share with everyone.
I invite everyone to return to the rug and to sit with their groups. I say, "I would like each group to present their solution to the problem. I will write them all down. We will then talk about which one we think we would like to do to help our community with the problem." (This provides another opportunity for students to engage in scientific discussion as they will need to defend their own idea, ask about other ideas, and then decide which one is the best solution to the problem.)
Each group shares their problem and solution and I write them on the easel. I group them by problem so if there is more than 1 solution for a problem I write them together. When all the groups have shared out I say, "We have some excellent solutions to the problems we found. Everyone has worked so hard to come up with a solution to the problem and now we have narrowed it down to 6 solutions. We are going to take a few minutes to talk about these solutions and to find the one that we think we could do to make a difference in our community. You may raise your hand to tell why you think one of the solutions in the best one for us to do, or to ask a question of another group. Would it be ok to tell why someone else's solution isn't good? (No). It would be ok to ask them to tell more about their solution so you understand it better.
I let students talk about the different solutions for about 5 minutes. I make sure that everyone has at least 1 chance to speak. I call on students who are not participating to encourage them to engage in the discussion.
"Now you have heard what people have said about these different solutions. They are all good, but we can really only do 1or 2 of them right now so I am going to ask you to close your eyes and vote for just the one you think would help to solve one of the problems we found, and would be one that we could really do. I will read each solution and you should raise your hands just once."
We decide on the one or two solutions that we will work on. A choice of one or two should remain with the individual teacher. If you have 2 doable solutions then it might be possible to divide the class into 2 working groups. If one solution is a lot to undertake, it might be better to limit the solutions to just 1.
I point to the I can statement and say, "Did you all come up with a solution to a problem in our town? You should all be very proud of the hard work you did to find the problem and come up with a solution. You are all engineers. We will have a chance to work on our solution next time.
Does anyone have anything they would like to share with us about what we did?"
Students have a chance to share final thoughts as we end today's lesson.