Students are asked to go to the meeting place rug and be ready to listen. Being "ready to listen" in my classroom means that the students are sitting on their bottom, crisscross, with their hands in their laps and bubbles in their mouth.
I ask students, "If we were to plant a pumpkin seed, what do you think would happen to it?".
I record student responses on chart paper.
I ask students to find their shoulder partner and turn to them knee to knee and talk to their partner about things that the parts of a seed might do in order to grow into a healthy plant bringing their attention back to the parts we learned about in lesson four.
Having students sit knee to knee helps them be better listeners to each other. At the beginning of the school year, we discussed what a good listener does. A good listener looks in to the eyes of the talker. Sitting knee to knee helps the students look at each other when their partner is speaking.
I ask students go back to their seats so that we can begin our investigation. I pose the question, "If I plant a pumpkin seed, what does it need to grow into a healthy, productive plant?"
Students are asked to think about their answer to that question. Then I ask that they talk to their table partner about what they think. Our table partner is the student sitting directly across from them.
At the front table, I have set up different materials that we will use to plant pumpkin seeds. The class will discuss different ways to grow a plant and how we would like to experiment. We talk about needing a control plant. This is the plant that we will use all of the ideal conditions to grow. As a group we will come up with two other experiments. This is class led so the ideas will be different every time.
Students have prior knowledge on what a plant needs to grow. The answers from nearly every student are sun, dirt and water. So, as a class we decide that in order for our control to grow in the best conditions, that it will need all three of those things.
I talk to students about how scientists changes variables when they are doing experiments. The idea is that a scientist will only change one variable at a time and record the observations or evidence. I then ask, "What is one variable we could change from the control plant to do an experiment?". This question is repeated to come up with the third experiment.
Here are the three experiments the students came up with:
1. Control Plant - this includes the ideal growing conditions that the students came up with during table partner sharing time.
2. Plant #2 - Students are going to plant a seed in the same soil and same cup as the control and place it in the sunlight. They will not give this plant water.
3. Plant #3 - Students are going to plant a seed in the same soil and same cup as the control. The will plane this plant in a dark place but water it the same as the control.
Students work in three groups, to be determined ahead of time, to plant a pumpkin seed in the various types of conditions that were chosen. Each group will be in charge of planting one seed in one condition type.
Students agree that the clear cup should be filled with soil all the way to the top.
Students decide that each group will need to plant the seed at the same depth in order to keep our experiments consistent. The students use a ruler to measure 1 inch. One student in the group will put the ruler into the soil at one inch and another student in the group will place the seed at that depth.
Students also agree that each plant that will get water needs to get the exact same amount. They have agreed that 1/2 cup of water will be used to water the plants.
Students place two plants in the sun and one in the dark bathroom.
Having students plant pumpkin seeds and watch them over the next several months is a nice way to tie up this unit. Being able to see for themselves how pumpkins grown and watch the life cycle first hand is a great learning experience.
After planting the seeds and placing the plants in their places, I ask the students to come back to their seat so that we can work in our science journals.
In our science journals, students will record their prediction on each plant that was planted. I will model this process with sentence stems that are posted in the pocket chart.
"I think that the control plant will..."
"I think that the plant with no sunlight will..."
"I think that the plant with no water will..."
Also in the pocket chart are some other words that students may or may not need in completeing their sentences.
Each student is required to have 3 sentences. One sentence for each experiment. As I model the writing on the board, the other adults in the classroom will be walking around and helping and guiding students with their writing.
Since this experiment will be over a significant length of time, we will come back to it and make observations and record those in our journals. Students will be asked to keep a picture log of what it happening to each plant as we observe them. For a picture log, students simply draw a picture of what they see. After I see that the plants are growing well or not growing at all, I will decide when to close this experiment.