Next Generation Science Standard Connection
I connect this lesson to 1-LS1-1, because the students are going to build upon the previous knowledge of the plant parts. In this lesson the students discover the function of the plant parts by reading. In later lessons in this unit they develop a solution to a problem for humans by mimicking how plants use their external parts to help them survive.
I think it helps students learn when I break the standard down into parts, and eventually end up with a lesson that specifically allows students to develop a solution to a problem for humans that can be solved by mimicking plants external features. One huge part of mimicking external features of plants is to learn the function of the plant parts. The function of the part is going to directly relate to mimicking the part as they solve a problem. This lesson and most of my other lessons last about an hour and the number of lessons that it takes to master a standard depends on the students prior knowledge and the complexity of the standard.
This lesson begins in the lounge where I excite and engage the class. Then they explore the function of the plants parts, explain their understanding, and create a poster about a plant. Last the students present their poster showing the plants parts labeled, and describe the function of the part. I find that consistent transitions really help my students persevere through complex tasks, because they get frequent brain breaks as they move frequently.
In this section I excite the class by using technology and I project the lesson image on the board. This get them thinking about plants and what we might learn today. Then I ask them to talk to their partner by saying, "Please turn and tell your peanut butter jelly partner the parts of the plant that we learned about yesterday." Now I am assessing their prior knowledge, and building upon a previous lesson. Basically I want to connect this learning session to the previous one and build upon the knowledge they gained. In the previous lesson they labeled the roots, stem, and leaves of a plant. So, I anticipate the students will all recall this, but I also need to assess their knowledge of the function of the parts. By knowing how much they already know about the function of the parts I can determine how much extra explanations and support I am going to need to add to the lesson.
I ask, "Please turn and tell your partner what the parts actually do. What is their function?" Now, I listen to asses their knowledge. Next, I ask, "Will somebody please share their conversation?" It is always better if I can allow the students to learn from each other, plus I am encouraging scientific discourse by getting student to discuss their knowledge. If there is a child in my class that has a lot of knowledge about plant I really want to allow them to share this, since students find learning more meaningful when it comes from a peer.
Last, I share the lesson plan to allow my students to know what we are going to do and it helps put them at ease when they know my expectations. I also like to chant the lesson goal, because it helps the students remember what is important about the lesson. I ask, "Please chant the lesson goal with me: I can explain the function of the plant parts."
In this section the students learn by listening to me read a text, The Story of a Rose by Samantha Rabe, and taking notes their science journal about the function of the plant parts. First, I instruct the students to write the three names of the plant parts in their science journal, and space at least four spaces between each word. I model this on the board, so the notebooks like I want them to. This is my effort to teach my students how to organize notes.
Once I ensure that all of the students have the words in their science journal I say, "Now you are going to listen to me read and track along in your book. I want you to listen for the function of the plant parts as I read. So, when you hear me say what the plant does you need to write it in your notes."
I do pause after I read the answer, so the students can write. It is just another clue that I have read the function of the part, and I walk around to make sure each child records notes. But, if I do see a student struggling I stop and check in with them. First, I say, "Let me reread this text, and you just listen." Then I read, and when I finish I say, "So, tell me what the part does?" Usually the students can verbalize the correct answer and I write it on a sticky note or on their desk. This helps eliminate the struggle of reading and writing. All students can participate and gain the scientific knowledge.
In this section the students engage in scientific discourse as they share their notes and confirm their understanding of the plant parts. So, to begin this section I ask, "Please turn and tell your partner: partner talk the function of the roots." I listen to see if the students have the correct information, and I also walk around and check their notes to see if they all are on track. By sharing with their partner they are communicating scientific information, and if they have different information I ask them to consider adding or changing what they have.
Next, I ask the pairs to share across the table. Students retain a greater amount of information when they engage in discourse, and they develop the skill of bouncing ideas off each other. So, I say, "Please share the function of the roots with the group across the table. If you need to change or add information feel free to do so." Then I listen, but sometime I see students not sharing. So, I just walk over and begin to chat with them. I usually say, "Well, what do the roots do? How do they help the plant? Did you tell the other group that? Do you have that in your notes?" This gets the groups participating.
Last, I get the entire class to engage in a discussion to share their new knowledge. I say, "Will a volunteer please share with the class what you learned about the function of the roots?" Then I ask, "Will somebody add to that?"
Now, we do these same procedures: procedures to explain the function of the stem and leaves as well. The students share with a partner, share across the table, and share with the entire class.
In this section the students really apply their understanding by creating an illustration on a poster, and labeling the plant parts. Each plant part must also have it's function beside it in the illustration. Anytime the students get to apply their new knowledge to a creative activity it really reinforces the new information which promotes retention. Plus its just fun for the kids.
I walk around to monitor the students. As I am walking I observe, and stop to check in with students. I am looking to make sure the illustrations are accurate colors, labeled, and they have the correct function. If there are incorrect student responses on their work I redirect them to their notes, and the illustrations that are in the text.
The last part of the lesson involves an activity where the students share their illustrations with the class and explain: presentation and evaluation their work. So, about three students present their illustrations and explain the functions of the parts. The other students engage in peer evaluation.
I want to see that the students labels are correct and the illustration is the accurate color. The function must also be included on the poster. In my experience I find that many first graders tend to refer to prior knowledge instead of evidence they learned in the text. The only other expectation I have is that the students actually provide evidence based peer feedback that connects to the information they have gained in this lesson.
So, I use a spreadsheet I keep taped to my white board that I check off to see who's turn it is to present. This makes sure each child gets to practice speaking and listening, and they all work on their individual communication skills. On the spread sheet I give a check or minus for correct content, speaking loud and clear, and for giving evidenced based peer feedback.