Lesson 5 of 18
Objective: SWBAT describe components of soil using text based resources.
I began by having them write the focus question, "How are different types of soil affected by erosion?" in their science notebooks. Then I asked them to tell what kinds of soil they knew. They came up with sand, compost, rocks, and dirt.
To answer the focus question, they needed to know that geologists look for four components in soil; sand, silt, clay, and humus. (Including humus is debatable, but I felt it was important to include the organic material because it connected to our previous worm studies).
I explained that for them to be able to analyze our own soil effectively, they would need to learn to describe the soil accurately. I had each student complete the chart on How do we describe soil? by working as a table to locate information in their science textbooks (Confession: I was gratified when they said "We have science books?") My 3rd graders had the information in their Harcourt Discovery books, but there are also web-based resources if you don't have access to text books, such as The Great Plant Escape: Soiled Again!
We use Check for Understanding from Reading CAFE/Daily 5 when we partner read, so I expected them to do the same here. This helps keeps them accountable.
After each member of each table had completed the chart, I gave them the Group Questions to complete as a table. The purpose of these questions was to get students to use specific vocabulary to more accurately describe the affects of precipitation on components of the soil, rather than the soil as a whole. These questions also establish connections to the real world, making what we are learning more relevant. Before I left each table, I asked them if they would take turns writing, or have just one person write, and made it very clear that everyone who wasn't writing was expected to be telling the person writing what to write because we're constantly working on improving group dynamics.
I collected a random representative sample of notebooks to assess how well students located properties of soil components. This data helped me to determine whether I needed to go over these answers together, and how much additional time I should devote to locating specific details in my reading instruction.
I used the Describing Soil Group Questions Scoring Guide to assess how well students were supporting their answers with specific evidence. As this was a group assignment, it was only used to inform my instruction on supporting claims with evidence, and not for individual student grades.