Sources of Light

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Students will be able to sort objects based on whether they produce light or do not produce light.

Big Idea

Light, as an energy source, can be confusing to students. It is something they "see" every day, but don't always realize it is an energy and that objects can produce this energy. Today, they will work to understand and explain these concepts.


2 minutes

At the end of this lesson, my goal is to have the students be able to determine the difference between light producers, and objects that do not produce light. 

The question to guide us is, "What do light sources have in common?"

Mini Lesson

5 minutes

At the beginning of the mini lesson, I ask students to fill in a KWL about light.  They are prompted to write what they think they know about light and what they would like to know, or wonder, about light. 

I give the students about 5 minutes to fill in their graphic organizer before I have them share their thinking. 

The following clip is of one of my students sharing his thinking and wondering, and the conversation that happens due to his question. 

As you watch, listen in to the other student's thoughts. I quickly understand that my lesson is shifting away from my intended objective, but that the idea of questioning and debating like scientists is naturally happening.  I have to roll with it!

Obviously, if this doesn't happen in your room, off the cuff, then continue to explore producers of light, which we did finally get to towards the end. 

Active Engagement

25 minutes

My original expectation is to have the students list their questions as a guide for the upcoming lessons and then move into sorting illustrations into categories of "Produces Light" and "Does Not Produce Light."  However, the students have a different agenda!

As the beginning student shares his question, the class begins to try to answer. In this video clip, you will hear a few of the kids, first making sense of the question, and then adding their claims with evidence. We are also working on using talking moves when responding, so they are putting that into practice as well. 

As one debate dies down, another begins. This time they all work together to explore whether light can be dangerous.  It is fascinating that they are working through if the light energy, or the heat energy, which is converted from the light, is what can be harmful.  What is even more impressive is that they are doing this scientific thinking in a respectful and curious way without my facilitating it!

As the lesson progresses, this student returns us to the original question shared, "Can light be created?" As the students discuss, I make a conscious decision to bring the conversation to a close. To do this, I suggest that we all write both wonderings down in our books and make sure to pay close attention during the unit for clues to the answers. This is what science is, the search for answers, or confirmations, to the questions we have. 

Following the great debate, I hand out a sheet with pictures of various items. The students are to work with their partners to sort these items into two categories: those that produce light, and those that do not. Aside from simply sorting, I prompt them to discuss the "why" attached to their decisions. 

As they work, I circulate the room and listen to their claims. When necessary, I ask probing and guiding questions. 

This student is confusing objects that can reflect light as being able to produce light, so we talk about it and I ask her to share at the end of class what she learned. 

Share and Closing

5 minutes

As a close today, I explained to the students that I would be coming by to look at their final work and ask an "exit ticket" question.

With this student, I was checking to make sure he understood the difference between production and reflection of light. 

When time permits, this type of closing is a great way to gather data for next steps and to hold students accountable for information shared in the day's lesson.