The Why Behind Teaching This:
Unit 3 addressed standards related to the transfer of energy and matter between organisms in an ecosystem. The unit begins with identifying what solar energy is and what two forms of energy solar energy provides life on Earth. This is an important foundation for understanding standard 5-PS3-1: Use models to describe that energy in animals' food (used for body repair, growth, motion, and to maintain body warmth) was once energy from the sun. We build on this knowledge throughout the unit in other lessons related to photosynthesis and how animals use the energy they get from food. In this unit students will also be conducting experiments to gather evidence to support their belief that plants get the materials they need for growth from either water, air, or the soil. This is covered in standard 5-LS1-1: Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water. Students will also be creating food chains and food webs to describe the movement of matter among organisms in an ecosystem. This is covered in standard 5-LS2-1: Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
I combined these three standards all into unit 3 because teaching them together allows students to see how they are all connected. The energy that plants get from the sun is stored in their parts until animals consume them. Plants cannot absorb this energy and reproduce without other materials from the environment such as carbon dioxide from the air, and water and nutrients from the soil. The animals that consume the plants, use part of the energy for growth, reproduction, etc. but they also store some of the energy. That energy is then passed on to other animals when they are eaten by other animals. All of the energy that is available in an ecosystem can ultimately be traced back to the sun. Teaching all of these standards together, instead of in isolation of each other, makes that connection easier to see.
This specific lesson addresses all of the standards as it is assessing understanding of the concepts.
The goal of the lesson is for students to demonstrate their understanding of the content covered in unit 3.
Students will meet the goal by scoring a 70% or higher on the assessment.
Preparing for Lesson:
Review Game :
Playing a Review Game:
I do a review game at the end of each unit so that students have the opportunity to hear everything again. Some of the content was covered in the unit several weeks ago. Even though we are constantly making connections throughout the unit, not everything is covered again. Playing a review game helps refresh their memory of these concepts and prepare them to be successful on the assessment.
The game I choose to play with the class today is a game with tokens. I have the Token Game Board drawn onto large construction paper (you can do this or if you have a poster maker at your school you can use the document to create a poster). The directions for the game are included on the game board so that it can be used in small groups as well.
I provide each group with a whiteboard and marker, 10 tokens and a game piece. I use the overhead to ask each question from the Unit Unit 3 Review Questions one by one and groups discuss the answer. After coming to an agreement on the answer, they write it on their whiteboard. Any group to get it correct sends one person up to roll the dice and move their game piece. Groups get more tokens for any positive number, and lose tokens for any negative numbers. Any time a team makes it passed the START square, they get 10 extra tokens.
In the video of a group working to answer a question during the review game you can see how they are all engaged in helping to answer the questions. When it is time to come up and move the game piece, each group that got it correct sends up one person to roll the dice. You can see in the video of students playing the review game, that after they move the game piece, I hand them the tokens they earn.
Taking the Assessment
I provide each student with a copy of the Unit 3 Assessment and a test cover so others cannot see their answers. I created the assessment to cover information that was covered in class related to the standards. This assessment would not be a true measure of student success for students who did not complete some of the activities in class. For example, question number 9 asks why solar panels are black and not white. This was covered in the solar energy to thermal energy experiment lesson and then connections made while building our solar powered cars. If students did not have these experiences, they may not be able to explain this answer.
Question number 10 is an exemplary task question. These questions require students to demonstrate their knowledge on a more complex task. All students must complete the problem. Those who create an accurate food chain will get a proficient marking. Those who are able to create an accurate food web, will get an exemplary marking.
I used the Unit 3 Assessment Answer Key to grade the assessments and then completed the Data Analysis - Unit 3 Assessment, to compare strengths and weaknesses in my classes. This helps me identify areas I need to teach in a new way. I had 10 out of 18 get proficient in Class A and 8 out of 15 get proficient in Class B. Considering half of each class is ESE, that would be normal for most assessments. As you can see from the Unit 3 Assessment - Data Analysis Class A Blacked Out and the Unit 3 Assessment - Data Analysis Class B Blacked Out, the strengths for the assessment were questions 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, and 15. The weaknesses were questions 2,3, 7, 9, 10, 17, 18. For number 2, most students answered D, flower as in the picture below. I think this was chosen most often because students were thinking of reproduction instead of photosynthesis.
The majority of those that missed number 7, missed it by one part as in the picture below.
Both of these questions covered parts of a plant and their role. That tells me that during my review leading up to state testing, I will need to address some of the mistakes.
10 out of 18 students in Class A got the exemplary question correct. Out of the 10, only 3 earned exemplary for drawing an accurate food web instead of a food chain. In Class B, only 6 out of 15 students got this correct, and only 2 of the 6 earned exemplary. Common mistakes made were not drawing arrows and showing energy flowing between animals that would not get energy from that source.