Thomas Edison: What it Takes to be a Scientist

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Students will be able to describe the traits of successful scientists.

Big Idea

Students explore and investigate naturally - as people. This literacy/science lesson is designed to help them notice the personality traits that they possess, and will need to continue to strengthen, as they become successful scientists.


5 minutes

As we continue to study the concept of light, today we will study Thomas Edison*. Our guiding question is, "What do you think it takes to be a great scientist?"

I ask the students to discuss this questions with their shoulder partners. After a minute, the pairs share out words or phrases, which I write on the board.  ach partnership needs to give a different word or phrase to describe their ideas. When we can no longer add to the list without repeating, we review the list and begin the mini lesson. 

*If you struggle to get science into your teaching, this lesson is an example of a science/literacy integration. I share more information on this in my reflection.

Mini Lesson

15 minutes

I begin the lesson by handing out a printed book from Reading A-Z  entitled Thomas Edison and a highlighter.

If you have a subscription to this site, or to Raz-Kids, you should be able to project an interactive book as well, which is what I do.  

Using this interactive book, I work with the students on several concepts, encompassing science information and informational reading skills. 

As I begin to read the interactive book, I stop after each paragraph and ask the students to help decide what words or phrases are important facts, or describe skills and personality traits that Thomas Edison possessed that may have helped him be such a successful scientist. We then highlight those phrases on the interactive book, and in their personal books. 

I then read a bit more and ask shoulder partners to discuss what should be highlighted and why. I listen to ideas and ask that the class come to consensus on what we highlight. I also have volunteers come up, like this student, and highlight while explaining their thinking. 


Active Engagement

25 minutes

Following the information gathering in the mini lesson, I ask the pairs of students to take their books back to their work stations and work together to highlight more information.

As students work, I circulate and ask probing questions, as well as observe teamwork skills and category types. I specifically listen for reasons for highlighting and refocus students that highlight everything on the page, as I know there will be a few of those! I have added a photo of one of my student's highlighting techniques and an additional student example.

This student is explaining why she chose to highlight, and then write down for her own reasons, a quote by Thomas Edison.

Closing and Assessment

15 minutes

In order to close today's lesson, I call the students back to the community area with their Edison books.  

As a group, we share highlights and create a common highlighted book on the SmartBoard, which will be used in our next day's lesson. 

This type of sharing honors each student's thinking, but also allows me to "set up" our next lesson and to make sure we have the main ideas highlighted.