"We have looked at how water and wind can change landforms. We have also looked at how rocks can even be changed. Today you will be an engineer who has to design a system to slow the changes made by wind and water to the landform you choose. You will be the designer and then you will have a chance to defend your design in writing and with your group.
Lets look at our I Can Statement and read it together. I can design a way to slow the way wind and water change my landform and describe why it will work."
Today's lesson combines the engineering introduction that students have had with their understanding of landforms and how wind and water may change the face of the land. I will use their designs and written descriptions as one assessment of their understanding of this unit on understanding our earth. I am assessing their understanding of the NGSS standards on understanding about the earth and how it changes.
I have written the names of landforms on index cards. I make sure I have more than enough so that the last person to choose doesn't feel that he/she had no choice in the process. I move through the room and let students choose a card. The landforms include mountain, island, desert, valley, canyon, riverbank, cliff and sandy beach.
Now I say, "I want you to think a minute about your landform. Think to yourself about what it might look like. What would happen if a big wind storm or rainstorm came to your landform? Can someone tell me what they imagine might happen?" Students might describe the dirt being carried by the rain runoff, or a stream forming from the rain, or the wind taking away the dirt or sand, etc. "So if these things can happen, what might you build on your landform to stop the change? You should draw your landform as the background and then show what you have built to stop the wind and rain. Your area is too big to just build a roof over and also a roof would mean that things would no longer be outside getting sunshine to grow in good weather. You will draw a picture first and then you can draw a second diagram of your invention on the other side.
I ask for questions and check for understanding before I give students work time. During the work time I ask students questions about their inventions. I want them to think about what they are designing and how it might work. I ask about shape, function and material as these are things that the NGSS stress in engineering design.
After students have created their drawings and designs, I call them together to talk about the written portion of the lesson. I hope that the writing will help students to refine their thinking about science, and then when they later share their writings, it will also lead to their ability to engage in scientific discourse.
"Now that you have made your designs and detailed drawings, I want you to write about what you have drawn and why you think it will work. Your first sentence should tell us what you have made (give it a name). Then you will add at least 2 good sentences telling what it does. You will end with 3 final sentences about why you think you have created a good idea. I am giving you a form to use to help you remember what kinds of sentences to write. Remember to write neatly and carefully. "
I hand out the persuasive writing form and ask for questions before giving students writing time. During writing I ask students questions and check in to make sure that everyone is getting started and understands what to do. See persuasive writing.pdf and Invention Drawing.
I use the writings and drawings to assess student understanding of how they can slow the changes that come from wind and water, to assess their writing and to look at how they express scientific thinking in their writing.
"You have made some great drawings and written some very good descriptions of how your machine works. Today I would like you to work in small groups of 4. You will have a turn to show your design, read your paper and take 3 comments from friends. Each person will have 3 talking cubes. You will be able to make comments on 3 of the reader's inventions. Once a person has made 3 comments, they will need to let others share their ideas. Everyone needs to use their 3 cubes by the end of the sharing of the work. "
I am using the talking cubes to make sure that everyone engages in scientific discourse by thinking about and commenting on someone else's share. The 3 cubes also makes sure that one person does not monopolize the discussion and not let others share.
I break students into groups of 4 and give each person their 3 cubes. As the groups share, I circulate around the room to listen in to the discussions. See Sharing Inventions.
We close today by reviewing the I Can statement and students put a smiley face on their papers to note whether they feel that they were able to invent a way to slow the effects of wind and water on their landform.
I ask students for any feedback about the lesson and what they saw from their friends before I close the lesson.