Next Generation Science Standard Connection
Now I have taught several lessons on seasons, this is the final lesson connecting patterns in seasons to the patterns of the earth and sun. Really, I combine 1-ESS1-1 and 1-ESS1-2 to help my students understand that spring happens because of the earth's orbit and tilt. In addition, there are patterns created in the season spring, and the amount of daylight is the same as the night. I use text for the students to read, a picture that we analyze, and I create a model in the classroom using a globe and a flashlight. By combining all of these sources my students develop the understanding that earth tilts, the sunlight is increased from winter. They also need to see that this all happens because of a reason, and the pattern repeats itself every year.
In this lesson I try to extend my students knowledge and understanding that they have gained over the past few lessons. I do feel that repetition helps build memory, and we have discussed all the seasons in every lesson, but then we scale back and really focus on one. It can be hard to determine how much is too much to try to include in a lesson, and then you have to decide what the students need to know in order to complete the lesson.
One way I help my students persevere through challenging tasks is by keeping many things consistent. We begin in the lounge or carpet, move to the center of the room at the desks, and we close back in the lounge. The students are also partnered with a student of different ability. This helps them support each other, but it also creates a learning environment where we help each other no matter who the person.
As the lesson begins I try to excite the class and assess their prior knowledge. I want to teach my students to reflect upon what we have learned in prior lessons, which is a skill I want them to develop. Students need to learn to build upon what they studied in previous lesson.
This first thing I do is project a neat image: cover of the text on the board, and this image excites my students because it is the cover of a book one of my students checked out of the library. He offered his book to help out and I was so excited I took a picture and put it on the Smart Board in this lesson. This really makes students feel special when they can contribute to the lesson.
Now, I have the class super excited I ask, "Tell your partner what you know about the patterns created by the seasons?" I did get them excited first, because sometimes students are reluctant to speak. I am expecting the class to say the days get short every winter and long every summer, because the earth orbits and tilt. But, whatever they say I listen and then allow several students to share their knowledge, because learning is more meaningful when it comes from a peer. So, they can tell each other what we have been studying.
Then I share the plan for the lesson, because first graders always want to know what to expect up front. I say, "We are going to read some text, make observations, take notes, and create an illustration showing you understand the pattern created by the earth's tilt and orbit in the springtime of every year."
At this point in the lesson I read two pages out of the book, Seasons of the Year by Margaret Hall. We then analyze the diagram, and the students record their notes in their science notebook. Now, I select only two pages that explain tilt, orbit, and amount of sunlight in the spring. If I read the entire book it might confuse my students, because there is so much information. An excerpt or just a few sentences seems to help students focus on the important questions.
As far as questions go I say, "As we read look for answers to how much daylight we get in the spring, and think about patterns. Do you see a consistent pattern in the earth's orbit, tilt, or just a pattern in the season?" Students need a prompt as they read, because they need to looking for some specific information. It makes reading more purposeful.
Then I explain the diagram. I say, "Look at how the earth is tilted and you can see this by the position of the axis. Also notice this is a orbit that happens in 365 days or one year. Look and see how the amount of daylight changes and how it is the same as the amount of night in the spring."
At this point I want to help my students communicate their new knowledge for several reasons. Talking about the patterns and the amount of sunlight helps me know if my students really understand. Another great thing about getting the students talking is that they learn to bounce ideas off each other which helps them develop more complex ideas and a deeper understanding of the information. The last big reason I like to get them talking is it helps them remember what they learned.
Now, I do this by first asking the students, "Please share with your partner the notes you recorded." I anticipate students to say, "The days get longer or are the same as the night in spring. This pattern happens every year. They may even say the leaves are green every spring." In later lessons we look at the pattern of how the sun appears to move across they sky. I am just laying the foundation for what a pattern is now. Then I listen to assess their understanding, and redirect students if there is any confusion. I may have to say, "Look at your partner's face and tell them what you recorded in your notes, or I may even have to read a students notes for them."
After the partner sharing, the students tell the group across the table what they recorded. Anytime the other group has information one student did not include they have to decide if they need to include that in their notes. I say, "So, did they have some information you need to include? If they do then just add that to your notes." I am teaching students to help each other and to learn from each other. It is December now in my class and my students naturally add to their work, help each other, and explain their reasoning. Just remember I do this everyday, and I have been doing this since August. It takes a lot of practice, repetition, and the students have to be able to read. After the across table sharing, the students are encouraged to share their notes with the class. I say, "Will a volunteer please share their notes?" We all listen, and then I ask, "Will somebody add to that?" I am encouraging scientific discourse, but also teaching students to build upon the conversation of their peers.
Now, I want to engage the class in an application activity, so they really remember and understand spring. First, I show them a model and show explicitly say, "See the earth, and the sun. This flashlight represents the sun shining on earth. See how the amount of day and night is the same. Now, I want you to illustrate this. Be sure to label the sun, earth, and color the amount of daylight yellow." You can check out my model in this video: model design.
The big things I am looking for when I walk around the room are that the students illustrate: student work the earth, sun, and show the amount of daylight in the spring. They also need to label the sun, earth, and the axis. If somebody does not have the illustration correct I just refocus them on the diagram in the explore section, and I show the model of the globe and flashlight. I really just help my students complete the tasks by prompting them with questions when I see something wrong. They know if I ask something usually they need to look at it again. But, I also praise them for their detail, handwriting, or anything else that looks interesting. There has to a be a balance of praise and criticism, because we want the students to maintain a positive attitude. If I comment on every little mistake in spelling it could be frustrating, so I usually only pick one or two things to focus on when I look at their work.
As the lesson comes to an end I allow two or three students to present their illustration and explain it to the class. By allowing the students to present they are developing their communication skills. In addition, the students listening need to be prepared to give the presenter verbal feedback. Their comments need to be them agreeing, disagreeing, or telling their peers things they might do to improve their design. Students are encouraged to keep their notes and illustration with them to reflect upon as they listen to their peers. This helps students support any comment they make with evidence from their own work.
Now I am asking a lot out of first graders, so I bring a lot of positive behavior support to this section. It really keeps my students doing what I want and allows us to focus on the information being presented. So, right before the presentation start, I remind my class what I expect behaviorally out of them. We chant, "Criss cross apple sauce, pockets on the floor, hands in our laps, talking no more." Then I add, " Your eyes are on the speaker. You are listening to what they say, and you are really evaluating if they are giving you the correct information."
When considering my assessments I focus on three things for the entire lesson. The students should have accurately answered the questions, created an accurate illustration, and they need to speak loud and clearly. In order to document this I make a rubric with the students names on the left and the columns named across the top. The goal for the students is 3/3, and I usually just put that beside their name. When I look at the goals from the lesson I plan new lessons that I can teach in small group to really help my students improve in their area of weakness.