I have the kids gather on the floor by calling each table to the floor one at a time. I remind them to sit like scientists, which they know means sitting crisscross applesauce, hands in their laps, mouths closed, brains and ears ready to learn.
Once we are all seated of floor, I ask the kids to, "think in their brain" about what we learned when we studied life cycles. We studied this unit in October, so now that it is May in my classroom, they need to think back quite a bit.
I then choose four random students to share what they remember. I choose the random students by pulling name sticks from a name stick can. The good news is that they were so engaged in the life cycle lessons, that they remember everything! The first student shares what she remembers of the oak tree life cycle, the second shares about frogs, the third shares about trees and the fourth shares about butterflies.
I record what they remember as they share. I record the information in a branch graphic organizer.
We remain seated on the floor.
I read a life cycle book to them. It's a book I read to them in October, The Caterpillar and the Polliwog.
As I read the story, I stop to reflect on the information in the text. Although this story is a fiction story, it still provides a ton of information about life cycles. The kids relate easily to the text and the story is engaging.
Also as I read, I refer to the graphic organizer was created in the first section based on the information they shared, specifically the frog and the butterfly branches.
Once I finish the story with the kids, I tell them that they are going to make 3D models of the life cycles they studied in October, which are some of the ones listed on the branch graphic organizer.
After the story:
I explain to them how each table leader is going to draw a name out of a bucket and that will tell them which model their table will be making. Each table will then be allowed to go through all of the recycled materials that I brought in for them to use in their models. They will decide as a team which materials to use.
I provide them with an example of a 3D life cycle model of an animal they did NOT study. This prevents them from copying work done by someone else.
I make sure there are multiples of all the materials so every group has the option to use every type of material. I collect the materials by sending a note home with students that lists desired items along with a blank "other" line for parents to send in anything else that they feel may be helpful for us. I also send the note out via email to the staff at my school as well as partner with the art teacher in getting additional materials.
I call one table leader up at a time. The pull a paper from the small bucket and read what life cycle they have chosen. By this time in the year, May, the kids are capable of reading the slip on their own without assistance or a picture.
Once the table leader has chosen the paper, the kids who sit at that table join the table leader at the table. They then get to tour the recycled materials pile that has been placed on the horseshoe table at the back of the room. I placed all the materials there while the kids were at lunch.
The groups discuss what the 3D model should look like. They draw a picture of it and then "apply" for materials they may need to build the model. I have them take a tour of the materials first so they can have an idea of what is available for them to work with.
Once they agree on what it should look like, they evaluate their work as a team by circling yes or no on a team/self-evaluation page. After that, they submit their plan.
Once the kids have been provided feedback on their plans through the engineering design process (see attachment), I have them them come up to the horseshoe table and collect all the materials they believe they will need to make the model they designed.
I provide feedback to each group one at a time while the rest of the groups are completing a cut and paste life cycle of the animal/plant/tree they designed their model to portray. This jogs their memories and fills in any gaps they may have remaining. They color it as well. This page serves as addition support for them during the model building.
Once they have their materials on their tables, they explore the materials they have chosen to use. They discus the best ways to utilize the materials they have chosen. If they decide they need additional materials, they do it by submitting a request to the teacher and showing where it will go in their plan.
They begin the building part of their models.
The explaining of in this lesson is done by the students.
We gather on the floor and sit like scientists. I call them to the floor the same way I did in the earlier section, one table at a time.
Once we are all seated on the floor together, I ask a random table to explain their model first. I have the table leader of the day to tell everyone which animal/plant/tree they drew to model. I then have them stand at their table by their model.
I have the rest of the class get up and follow me to "fish bowl" around the presenting table as a class. The team then explains their life cycle, their plan and the their model. This helps them practice communicating to others what they have done and why. This also prepares them for presenting to the other kindergarten classes when they come through our end-of-year science museum.
We do this for each table. I video tape and provide feedback to each team after they present.
The evaluations fit naturally into this lesson through the evaluation forms that are filled out, the conferencing and the feedback provided during the practice presentations.
The students evaluate their own work/team work using a simple self-evaluation form that uses smiley, straight and sad faces to express the level of mastery for each of the four behaviors listed. I first read the behaviors and then I read them again one at a time and give the students about a minute to choose which face they think they deserve for each behavior.
I then do a teacher evaluation and feedback, meeting with the group and providing clear and specific feedback based on the evaluation form. I fill it out based on what I observed each student doing while the team was planning and working and I was roaming. I either meet with each team during the work time if they finish early, or I find time throughout the day to meet with them.
The models will be used in the lesson, Designing and conducting a science museum.