Introduction to Crayfish

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Students will be able to observe images of crayfish and their predators in order to brainstorm questions to investigate.

Big Idea

Questions begin with observations. In this lesson, students will actively work together, and off of each other, to prepare for our investigation phase.


5 minutes

The question students begin to answer today is "How does observing help us create questions that we can investigate?"

Mini Lesson

15 minutes

I share this PowerPoint presentation on our smartboard . It guides and stimulates the conversation around observation skills and beginning to question.  I also hand out this graphic organizerfor students to use as we work.  Engaging images,  alongside information about crayfish,  presents a real world application along with an outlet for students to build upon their own personal curiosity and observations about the science content introduced.

As I show each slide, I pause and have the students observe the photo.  I then guide them to describe what they notice in the photo.  The trick here is to prompt students to notice, not only the crayfish, but its surroundings as well.

This lesson, I think, is best shown through the work of the students.  In these very short clips, you will hear and see the deep thinking the students are practicing.  Every time one student noticed something, another child had a "wonder" due to it.  

This is the statement that started us off:

This student makes an interesting observation, and offers a theory (SP6) before stating his question based on his observation. (SP1)

Following his observation and attempt to explain, another student chimes in with a possible reason for the "big eyes" of the crayfish. (SP6)  At this point, I am not teaching the students any facts. I am simply letting them build energy around our topic and creating questions for us to explore. Notice that after the girl in the video supports her claim, another student is sparked with an entirely different question. (SP1)

Active Engagement

25 minutes

To begin the active engagement, I stop guiding students during the slides and instead have them quietly write down their observations and wonderings.  Then they share out, either to the class or at their tables. 

This student is still wondering about the eyes, and makes a different observation about the actual structure of the eye. 

This group's conversation is wonderful, as they are able to make a claim, support it with evidence, and then begin to question more about predators.  I help them to clarify their message with the precise vocabulary. 

This student brings a detail about the predators, and their environment, to the conversation. 

Another student disagrees with the detail, pointing out her reasons why.  This happens naturally with the class and I do not have to prompt them to give their reasoning.  Our communication skills are growing!

Sharing and Closing

10 minutes

To close, I just ask the students to share what they are most curious about at this point.  I also let them know that we will begin to study with our live crayfish in the next day or two.

As we are sharing, this student does what all teachers hope for…he figures it out on his own!  He may not be correct, but he is thinking like a scientist and we can work on misconceptions as we go.