Next Generation Science Standards Connection
In this lesson we connect to 1-LS1-1, because the students research a problem that affects humans. By giving my students choices and the opportunity to research using technology they become engaged and motivated. The students also design a solution based on how plants use their external parts to help them survive. So, I have laid the foundation for this complex lesson by doing about several lessons on the plants external parts. With these lessons under our belt my students are ready to research their own topic, and then they are going to actually create a Power Point presentation presenting the problem and their solution which must mimic an external feature of a plant. I just emphasize that the students are going to learn something new as they research, which directs them away from any topic or problem we have already studied.
Students get excited as they engage in their research project, but this is a huge activity. So, I break the lesson in to two parts. In the first lesson, the students use Safari to research problems for humans. They are also encouraged to discuss any problem they want and research it. The students are in groups of two as they explore problems. During this exploring they are taking notes on why humans have this problem. Then they share their new knowledge, and explain it to the entire class in a whole group discussion. Next, the students design the first slide of their Power Point which contains all the content they found in the explore section. Last, the students share the problem they learned about and their slide in the evaluation section.
The beginning of the lesson is where I excite the class, assess their knowledge, and explain the plan for the lesson. As I prepare the lesson I arrange the computers in the classroom at the center tables, which is already exciting. Prior to the students entering the room I set up the computers, because they are too distracted by setting up the, and it takes about ten minutes to get all the computers set up. When students see all the computers out they know they get to use them and this is extremely engaging.
Now I need to assess their prior knowledge and activate my students thinking. I say, "Tell your peanut butter jelly partner all the things you learned about how plants protect themselves." I am connecting today's lesson to previous lessons, which is something I want to students to develop as a habit. Then I say, "Now, tell your partner some problems humans have, and it can be any problem." I listen after each question. Then I allow one or two students to share their conversation. This is a nice way to encourage discourse and help students learn to communicate effectively.
Last, I share, "Today we are going to research a problem that humans have. It can be any problem. Tomorrow you are going to research a solution to the problem by mimicking an external feature of a plant." To make sure the students really understand and remember the goal I ask them to chant three times: I can research a problem for humans.
During this section I model how to use Safari to find a problem for humans, and our county has a blocker to keep the search age appropriate. I use the classroom projector to show the students how to click on Safari, and each pair has their own computer. So, I ask, "Go ahead and click on the Safari icon." Then I go check that everyone did, and if anyone needs help I just help them click on it. I just don't want anyone to get behind in the directions. Not because it upsets me, but I find many first graders are super sensitive, and getting lost in a process can frustrate them.
Now we are all in Safari, I model how to type in google in the search bar and I ask, "Will you please type in google in the search bar?" I go and check every computer and trouble shoot any issues. Then I model how to type in a search word in the google search bar. So, I type in human problems, but remind the class that the problem they choose needs to be solved using thorns, resin, or a scent. I say, "Now class you see all these links come up, and under each one it gives you a brief information piece about each link. Based on what you see you can click on the link or not. While you are clicking on different links be sure to write down in your notes what the problem is that you are going to present. Remember the problem needs to be solved using a plant defense, but today you are just researching the problem. Tomarrow you will research the solution. It may be helpful to first search problems for people solved by plants, and then narrow your search down to one problem you find interesting."
I model this process referencing my Anchor Chart. My video: technology explains this how we do a search. then I select the problem of my horses getting out of their lot. I write it in my notes, and explain why this is a problem. Modeling is huge for first graders. I say, "I want you to find a problem and write notes about why it is a problem in your science journal."
Now we share out across the table to encourage discourse. I want to engage my students in scientific discourse, because it teaches them to bounce ideas off each other. When students learn how to collaborate and communicate about science they are improving their communication skills.
So, I say, "Please tell the group across the table from you what problem you are going to try to solve, and tell them why it is a problem." I listen to see if the groups change their problem based on feedback from their peers. That way, the students are learning from each other and they learn by sharing ideas. I find that learning is the most meaningful when it comes from a peer.
Then I try to engage the entire class in a discussion about the problem. So, I ask "Please share the problem you learned about today with the entire class." Once a group share I ask, "Will somebody else share or add to share." I am essentially teaching students to piggy back off each others ideas.
Now, the students explore Power Point: using technology anchor chart and insert their new knowledge about the problem that they learned about. Once, again I model how to create a Power Point document, and how to save it on a jump drive. So, I say, "Today your are going to insert your notes into a Power Point presentation that you will use to present your problem today." I pull up Power Point, then I show them how to select a slide design. Then I show how to give the slide a title, and how to insert bullets or text.
Each pair has a computer and I walk around and help them. When their slide is finished they raise their hand, and I bring my jump drive and the pair saves their slide on it.
This is the time in the lesson when I try to assess my students knowledge, get them to work on their communication skills: presentation, and allow students to evaluate: peer evaluation their peers work. Two or three groups present the problem that they learned about and why it is a problem for humans. They determine who speaks, and usually both students end up speaking. I have a chart on the board where I check off who's turn it is to present, so everyone gets the same opportunity to share.
For the assessment portion I use a rubric which evaluate their ability to find a problem, communicate, and give their peers feedback. Not everyone gives peer feedback, and it is on a volunteer basis, but I need to know who I need to help learn to evaluate. When I know who is not evaluating I can specifically begin to encourage them to talk by saying things like, "What do you think?"
First graders need a lot of support and courage to get them to evaluate each other. First of all, it is a higher order thinking skill, and I provide support by giving them pep talks. I say, "Now we are all family, and whatever you say will be kind. Even if you disagree it is fine. Just begin trying to evaluate each other. With practice you will get better. So, begin by agreeing or disagreeing with what your peers said."