Next Generation Science Standards Connection
In this lesson I connect to 1-LS1-1, because the students research a solution to a problem that affects humans. This is the second of two lessons, and in the previous lesson the students actually selected a problem to research. In this lesson we are going to research solutions to the problem of their choice. The students use Safari and google to do their research. By giving students choices they are motivated, and it takes a lot of motivation to persevere through complex tasks.
Today the students research solutions, but their design must be based on mimicking how plants use their external features to survive. We have already studied plants and their parts in about three lessons, so the students have a great deal of knowledge related to how plants use their external features to survive. With all of these lessons under our belt my students are ready to design their solution, and they are going to add to their Power Point presentation presenting the problem. So, they will have two slides. The first slide present the problem and the second slide shows their solution which must mimic an external feature of an plant.
Today we are beginning the second of two lessons involving research. The previous lesson allowed the students to research problems for humans. In this lesson the students still work in groups of two to find possible solutions to the problem based on how plants use their external features to survive. The students are in groups of two as they research and explore solutions. During this exploring they are taking notes on solutions to the problem. In the explain section students share their new knowledge in a whole group discussion. In the elaborate section, the students design the second slide of their Power Point which contains all the content they found in the explore section. Finally, the students present their solution and Power Point in the evaluation section.
At this point I need to excite the class and assess their prior knowledge. To excite the class I project an image of a computer on the Smart Board, because my students love to use the computers. But, when they see all the computers set up for the lesson they become excited. It is a good idea to set up the computers before the students enter the room, because it can waste instructional time. It takes me about ten minutes to set the computers up.
Then I ask the students to talk to their partner by saying, "Tell your peanut butter jelly partner the problem you researched yesterday." I listen and hope to teach the students the habit of reflecting on previous learning daily. Then I allow a few volunteers to share, because I am allowing the students to inform each other. This is a more say, "Please tell your partner what defenses we have learned about that plants use to protect themselves." Again I allow the students to share their conversations.
Last, I share the plan for the lesson, because students need to know what we are going to do. It helps them become at ease when they know what my expectations are for the lesson. I say, "Today we are going to research a solution to the problem you researched yesterday. We are actually going to make sure the solution is based on the plant defenses (thorns, pointy leaves, resin) we have learned about in the previous lessons."
In this section I model how to do a search on the internet, and how to take notes about a possible solution. First, I project the computer screen on the Smart Board and begin to model by saying, "First click on Safari, and then type in google in the search bar. Next you need to type in solutions to your problem. My problem is horses getting out of their fence. So, I type: solutions to horses getting out of fence. Then several sites come up. I read them and decide which one to click on. Remember these solutions are giving you ideas of solutions you can design. Your solution has to mimic a plant defense. So, go ahead and get started researching." So, I now read the solutions, and make notes about the solutions. I say, "Be sure to make notes about solutions you discover in your science journal."
This is our fourth research project and it is November, so I expect that my students are going to be able to begin researching. But, I would break this down into smaller steps if I hadn't already taught them how to do research several times. I would do one step and them have them do it, and I would check to see if each group did as I told them. But, I modeled what I wanted them to do, and now I am giving the class time to explore.
I do walk around, monitor, and check in with each group to see if they need help reading the information. I can read it to them, and I ask, "So, how can you connect this to a solution that mimics a plant defense?" I also made a video to share how I often help students complete an internet search without getting frustrated.
Now, each group has learned about some solutions that fix their problem I want to engage the class in scientific discourse. By asking the students to communicate their ideas they are learning to bounce ideas off each other, and explain scientific ideas to their peers. These are huge life skills that we are beginning to develop in the primary grades.
So, I say, "Please tell the group across the table from you what some solutions are for your problem that are based on mimicking plants." I listen, but if a group is not sharing I just say, "So, what are some solutions you learned about?" Then I ask the groups the discuss the question, "How can these solutions mimic a plants external features?"
Now that we have had table table talk I ask, "Will a volunteer please share their solution and tell us how it mimics a plants external features?" Then I ask, "Will somebody add to that?"
At this point the students use their notes and create a second slide to their PowerPoint presentation: how to make a PowerPoint anchor chart from the previous lesson. The previous lesson was about a problem, and this is about the solution. So, I model how to add a slide on the Smart Board. Then the groups begin adding to their slide: student work. I walk around and help the groups.
The big things I need to help them with are making notes on the slides, changing the color and size of the font, and making sure their solution is based on mimicking plant features we have studied: thorns, pointy leaves, and resin.
The lesson is now coming to a close, and I need to assess my students' learning. Really I want to give the class an opportunity to present their solution, explain their reasoning about how the solution mimics a plant, and show their Power Point. When presenting their Power Point, students are practicing their speaking and listening skills as they present: . My students listen to their peers and then give their peers verbal feedback. Hopefully they agree or disagree with the presenter. The students also need to share evidence from what we have learned about plants' external features in class.
When it comes to assessment I use a spreadsheet. There is a column for a solution based on evidence found in their research and accurate peer evaluation. I find that students are reluctant to comment, and I simply beg. "Come on guys. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the presenter? Will their solution work, and why?"
When I am thinking about whether they really got it or not I think about whether they created a solution based on evidence we have learned about plants using their external parts. I expect each group to have two slides that they use to present their information to the class. The presentations should include the students speaking loud, and clear. They should be able to effectively communicate their knew knowledge in the form of bullets, notes, or a scanned illustration.