Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.
In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.
Once the students are seated on the rug I show them the book we are going to read.
“The title of today’s book is Leaves and it is written by Patricia Whitehouse.”
“Can anyone tell me information they know about leaves?”
I select students who follow the correct classroom protocol of raising their hand to respond to the request.
“Those were all great responses. I am going to go ahead and read our book to see if we can either learn any new information or support what we already know to be true.”
During reading we discuss any unknown vocabulary words. Words like; stem, stipule, petiole, vein, blade and tip. I highly encourage the students to use the correct scientific term whenever they can.
I use this informational book to engage my students’ attention and provide them with some appropriate vocabulary for the activity they are about to do.
Once the book is over I ask the students to take a seat around the edge of the rug by singing the “Edge of the Rug” song.
While the students are getting seated around the edge of the rug I open a screen on the SMARTBoard. I have already loaded a picture of a leaf onto the screen to save instructional time.
Once the students are settled I select a leaf from our bag of leaves and hold it up for the students to see.
“Who can name a part of my leaf?”
I select a student who is following the correct classroom protocol of raising their hand to respond to the question.
“Rachel is right my leaf does have a blade. Rachel can you come up to the SMARTBoard and point to the blade for me?”
When the students points to the correct part of the leaf I write the label on the SMARTBoard.
“Great work Rachel. Who can name another part of my leaf?”
I repeat this process until all of the parts have been named and labeled on the leaf.
“Today at one of your stations you will work on labeling your own leaf with the appropriate scientific names.”
“At another station you will be working on exposing your leaf’s skeleton. Does a leaf even have a skeleton? We are going to try and find out.”
“You will be given two different brushes to choose from – a toothbrush and a nail brush. You will need to place your chosen leaf on the carpet and press if flat.”
“Next you use your chosen brush to gently brush over the leaf to remove the “fleshy” colored parts of the leaf.”
“Turn your leaf over and repeat the gentle brushing procedure.”
“When you are finished with the brushing part we will place the remains of your leaf between two sheets of plastic wrap, place that between some sheets of newspaper and then we will quickly rub it with a warm iron.”
“Once you are done with the iron we will take out the end result and discuss exactly what we observe.”
“I will ask you to compare it to other things you have seen in nature.”
“Does anyone have any questions?”
Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;
“Table number one go have some leaf skeleton fun.
Table number two, you know what to do.
Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and
Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”
Allow the students 15-18 minutes to work on this activity. I remind the students to keep an eye on the visual timer so they will use their time wisely.
In this activity the students are exploring the different features that make up a leaf and compare it to other structures they have seen in nature and worked with during our science lessons.
At one of the other integrated work stations the students are working on matching the labels to the correct feature of the leaf. Some of the students will be able to match the labels to the correct feature based on their knowledge of letter sounds. Other students will need to use the reference sheet as a resource (ELA).
At another station the students select a leaf from a bag filled with a variety of leaves. The student then is given a partner and they must fill out the comparison leaf sheet together. This sheet helps the students’ use vocabulary such as; large, small, jaggered, smooth, etc, when comparing and contrasting their leaves (ELA, science).
At another station the students are using a variety of leaves to make leaf rubbings. The students are able to select leaves from a plastic tub filled with different leaves and select a fall colored crayon to rub over the leaf which they have placed under a piece of white paper. The students are asked to describe what they notice about the leaves they have selected and compare the features and edges of the leaves (art).
These activities provide the students with opportunities to explore leaves in different content areas. The activities allow students to expand their content skills while still maintaining a connection to the science lesson topic.
When all four rotations of the integrated work stations are completed I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above.
“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot. Walking feet – go.”
Once all of the students are seated on their spot I say, “Today your exit ticket is to name one structure of a leaf and state its function. Remember you need to use a complete sentence when giving me your leaf structure. For example, “One structure of a leaf is the… It helps the leaf…”
I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.
Once a student has given me their leaf part and function they are free to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student has difficulty in coming up with a leaf part and function, they can do one of two things:
I use this exit ticket process as a way for the students to explain what they observed from the lesson we just did. This quick assessment process allows me to see if the student is able to take information learned in one format and be able to transfer it to another format. If a student has difficulty with coming up with an appropriate response I need to determine if the student was not paying attention to the lesson or if they were unable to grasp the lesson content. If the student had difficulty grasping the lesson content I need to find a new way to present the information so the student is able to meet with success. This could be done through a game or using new reading material in a small group setting.
In order to assess if my students have successfully understood and retained the information presented in the lesson I evaluate each student by providing them with a task the next day for morning work. For this assessment I simply ask the students to draw their favorite type of leaf and label at least three major parts.
Once a student has completed the assignment they bring their work over to me and we discuss the leaf they have drawn and labeled. I ask the student what resources they used to label their leaf and how that particular part helps the leaf or plant. Their responses determine how in-depth our conversation will go. This conversation process assists the students’ with practicing the correct scientific vocabulary when discussing plant features and functions.