Now hear this!

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SWBAT communicate information about their observations of sounds in the environment.

Big Idea

Can you hear me now? It is hard to find a truly quiet place, especially when you are surrounded by first graders! Listen in to hear what your students find on a listening walk.

Instructional Notes

Throughout this unit, I use a KLEWS chart.  This is a science-specific type of KWL chart designed with primary students in mind!  Check out this video I like to call KLEWS chart 101:

In today's lesson, I begin by displaying a KLEWS chart with the essential question, "How can we communicate with sound?"  We will be planning and conducting investigations of sound throughout the first half of this unit.  Then, we will plan and conduct investigations of light with the essential question, "How can we communicate with light?"  

Today, we focus students on the sense of hearing by taking a listening walk and recording what we hear.  Students also plan how to investigate the ear further in the subsequent lesson. 

Here's the KLEWS chart after today's lesson, and some clipart images I like to add to mine.  I have tried digital KLEWS charts as well, but the paper version is the way to go for me.  It is always up, so students can research questions and add to it any time they have a new question.  Plus, the digital versions always need such tiny writing to fit everything!  Bulletin board paper is perfect for the job.


5 minutes

First, I introduce a KLEWS chart to my students.  We have used KLEWS charts in previous science units (also available here on BetterLesson!), so my students are now familiar with them.

Friends, today we are beginning a new science unit!  The essential question we'll be investigating is, "How do we use sound to communicate?"  What does it mean to communicate?

One of my school's focuses is to break down objectives and higher level verbs in objectives.  I have students turn-and-talk to discuss what they think communicate may mean.  The turn-and-talk strategy gives students the chance to get their thoughts together and figure out of they are on the right track.  It also engages all students with the question, as even if they don't know the answer, they are listening to a peer's ideas about it.  After peer discussion, I ask students to share what they think "communicate" might mean.  I add the definition under the "K" section of the KLEWS chart-- what we "Know."

Then I say:

Which of our five senses will we use to explore sound?  Hearing, that's right!  This leads to our first focus question, "How do we hear sounds?" 

Next, I introduce a text that describes what we will be doing in today's exploration-- taking a listening walk.  In the text, the main character describes how she doesn't talk on the walk, in order to concentrate just on listening to the sounds around her.  This is an important concept for first graders, the idea of focusing on one of the senses.  One of my favorite language arts lesson when teaching about metacognition is visualizing the sounds in Cynthia Rylant's, "When the Relatives Came."  This is a great companion text during your reading block, as the illustrations are simply bursting with sounds!

Friends, listen as we read this story to see how the main character uses her sense of hearing to learn about the world!  

While reading the text, we focus on describing the setting through the sense of sound.  This aligns to Reading Literature Common Core standards RL1.3.

Exploration ~ the wave crest

20 minutes

Next today, we'll be taking a listening walk.  Before we go, I remind students of the Communication Strategies we've listed that scientists use.  We created this list during our introductory science unit, "What does a scientist do?"  The recording strategies help students meet Science and Engineering Practice #8, communicating like a scientist.  

Students glue a copy of the Communication Strategies checklist into their Science Journals.  My students each have a dedicated marbled composition notebook for Science.  We use post-it notes as flags to separate the units.

I tell students that while on the listening walk, they should record things that they hear.  I then model recording footsteps by drawing a shoe-print, writing the label "footsteps," and writing the onomatopoeia "thump, thump."  I ask, "How do the words, thump thump, help someone understand what I heard?"  I tell students that by writing the sound word, they are writing words to tell more.  Sound words help someone know exactly what you heard!

The anchor chart of Communication Strategies, along with explicit modeling, helps students learn how to effectively communicate their observations.  I find this to be a challenge with first graders, as they often rush through their work without self-reflection along the lines of, "How do good writers, especially scientists, communicate to share information?"  

There are really a few ways to do a listening walk.  You can do an indoor or outdoor walk.  You can also choose a place to sit silently and listen, either indoors or outdoors~ technically, this isn't a listening "walk" I guess!  If time allows and the weather is nice, I love to go for a walk near a playground where other classes are playing.  In this way, we have both human and natural sounds.

Here are some pictures from our indoor walk:

And here are some work samples:


5 minutes

In closing, when we return to the classroom, I ask a few friends to share interesting sounds that they heard.  I also ask if anyone heard a sound, but did not know what it was.  Then, I steer the conversation back to how we hear.  I record student responses on chart paper, to be transferred to the KLEWS chart after the lesson.   I wasn't sure exactly what children would know, or how our conversation would go, so using chart paper was better than messing up the KLEWS chart on Day 1!

Friends, what makes sound?  How do we hear sounds?

I expect the answer, "with our ears."  

Now, I want you to look closely at my ear.  What do you see?  Where does the sound go? (inside the hole) Do you know what happens then?  Let's add that question to our What We Wonder section of the KLEWS chart.  How could we find the answer to that question?  

By asking students how we can find the answer, we are moving them towards thinking like a scientist and planning investigations.  I ask, "How can we investigate our ear?"  Perhaps by reading a text about it, perhaps a video, perhaps with observations.  I will take student suggestions here and then use them to pull resources for the warm-up of the successive lesson.  In this way, students have more ownership of the curriculum.  

After students have shared their ideas of how we should investigate to answer the question, "How do we hear?," I summarize their plan.