What Does Light Move Through?

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SWBAT explain what types of materials light will travel through.

Big Idea

Allow students to plan, explore, and experiment to discover what light will travel through.

Lesson Overview

Next Generation Science Standard

This lesson is connected to 1-PS4-3, because the students discover what materials light will pass through. So, the students are posed with a question: What material will a beam of light pass through? Then, they must design a plan to carry out an investigation. I give the students materials and some ideas to help lead them to develop an investigation that will allow them to discover that a beam of light can pass through things like glass, page protectors, white paper. I hope they discover that light will not pass through black construction paper, wood, or concrete blocks. These are just a few of the materials we have available in our class to experiment with. The students are given the flashlights and laser pointers. They are also limited to the materials in the classroom. I give them a list of materials I want them to test their plan on, and they can choose four materials from the list. Then I support students in their investigation by conferring with them as they are working. Last, the class meets in the lounge and shares what they learned in the lesson.

Lesson Overview

I try to keep a few things consistent over my lessons, because I think they help students persevere through complex tasks. So, I use heterogeneous ability group partners, and transitions.

First, I will explain my transitions. We begin in the lounge where I excite the class and assess their prior knowledge. Then we move to the middle of the room for the explain, explore, and elaborate section of the lesson. Finally, we close the lesson back in the lounge where the students share their discoveries.

The other great strategy I use is heterogeneous ability group partners. I call them peanut butter jelly partners. These partners remain consistent over the entire lesson, and they can help each other at any point in the lesson. They even have assigned seats beside each other. I find the partners mostly help their peers by modeling writing and reading them information. But, they also help each other develop more complex plans and understanding of the content we are learning.


10 minutes

The lesson begins in the lounge where I try to activate my students thinking, assess their prior knowledge, and get the class excited about the lesson. So, I project the lesson image on the Smart Board to excite the class. Then I ask, "Will you please turn and tell your partner what types of materials do you think light will pass through? Do you think it can go through metal, glass, or wood?" Then I listen and record what I hear the students say, so we have documentation of the students prior knowledge. When I find out what my students know in the beginning of the lesson I can make adjustments. If somebody knows a lot about light then I can allow them to share and explain, because students find learning from their peers more meaningful than learning from me. If the students seem to have no prior knowledge I can add more explanations and pace the lesson a little slower.

Now, I need to tell the students the plan for the lesson, because it helps them persevere through the lesson. They also seem to meet my expectations better when they know what I have planned. So, I say, "Today we are going to plan an investigation to determine what materials light will pass through. Then you will carry out your plan and share what you learned in the experiment."


15 minutes

Now, we transition to the desks in the center of the room, and the students plan their experiment. To help them get started I show the students a Power Point to serve as a model to help them fill out their science journal. 

The first thing I do is project the Power Point on the Smart Board and I say, "Go ahead and fill out your science journal for today's lesson."

Next, I say, "I want you  to plan a way to investigate what materials light will pass through. In our classroom we have wood, paper, metalpage protector, plastic, and many other materials you  may choose to investigate. I just want you to select at least four materials to investigate. So, now you need to select your materials, and list the steps to your investigation under the heading plan in your science journal. Be sure to also list your materials. I created a word wall for you to reference if you need spelling help."

I walk around and observe the students working independently. I do not offer a lot of suggestions unless somebody is stuck. By waiting until the next section I am giving students the opportunity to work and then get feedback from their peers. If I see a student struggling I may try two different ways to get them talking. I ask them to share their plan, or I make statements and let them fill in the blank: talking out the plan.

At this point, it is time to allow the students to carry out their investigation, and I back off an serve as a facilitator. There is one area where the students do need guidance and I like to provide a model for the students to copy. They need a model to help them learn to organizer their data. This also helps students focus on specific data, and it helps the organize their data: student work.


10 minutes

Now, it is time for the students to collaborate and share their plans. During this time they share with a partner, another group, and we engage in a whole group discussion. It is at this point that the students must give each other feedback and help them improve their plan. The students are allowed to make changes to their plans, but they do not have to. It is a time for sharing, comparing ideas, and learning to build upon the ideas of their peers.

First I say, "Turn and tell your partner your plan to find out what materials light will pass through." Then I listen, and observe students talking. This is a nice time in the lesson, because everyone is engaged and actively participating. After they tell their plan to their partner I say, "Partners be sure to give your peer an idea to improve their plan. Make sure they also have selected four materials to investigate. Go ahead and change anything you want."

Next, it is time for the students to share their ideas across the table with the other groups. I say, "Please turn and tell the group across the table your plan." After they share I say, "Now give them some ideas that may improve their plan. How can they make it better?" Then I walk around and monitor students working and I remind the class, "Be sure and make any changes to your plan you find helpful."

Finally, we engage in a whole group discussion, so the students that want to share can tell the entire class about their plan. This is a great way to allow students to learn from their peers. I say, "Will a volunteer share their plan." We all listen, and then I ask, "Will somebody add that?" This is just a way to encourage students to build upon their peers ideas, and help them develop a deeper understanding of the plan or options for planning.


15 minutes

At this point want my students to engage in an application activity where they apply what they learned in the explore section. They know that light will move through some things, but there are more things it will move through. There are also reasons that light will move through some things and not others. So, as we read this text I allow students to highlight the things that tell them what light will move through, but they also have to find what light will not move through. Then the students record their knowledge on a t-chart.

First, I give each child a copy of the text then I read it to them twice. This eliminate the struggle of decoding for early readers. Before the third reading I say, "Go ahead and highlight the things light will move through and the things that it will not move through." Then I read and they highlight as I read. 

After the highlighting I say, "Now, you can create your t-chart and fill in each section. One side is labeled things light will move through and the other is labeled things light will not move through. Now, list the things from your text you highlighted in each section." I watch and make observations. If I see somebody struggling I will say, "So, what did you highlight."


10 minutes

The students now transition back to the lounge where about three students explain their investigation to the class.  I also expect each child to give their peers academic feedback after they hear them explain their work. Then I assess the students using exit tickets.

As the students begin to sit down we all chant, "Criss cross apple sauce, pockets on the floor, hands in our laps, talking no more." This focuses the class on what I want them to do, so I do not have to correct behavior throughout the lesson. Plus, the students have to listen if they are going to give their peers feedback. So, I add, "Our eyes are on the speaker and we are thinking about what they are saying. Be prepared to give them feedback." I hope to hear students say, "Light does not pass through black construction paper, wood, or concrete blocks. Light does pass through white paper, plastic page protectors, and glass."

Now, they students are sitting still and listening I use a spreadsheet to see who's turn it is to present. I try to allow about three students to present every day.  So, I say, "Ok, it is ____'s turn to explain your investigation. Please what you discovered." When the students finish talking I say, "Raise your hand if you want to give them some feedback. What did you agree with or disagree with? Can you add to what they said?"  Then I ask the next person to explain their investigation. Basically, I follow the same procedures for each child's presentation.

Last, I need to assess the students learning, and I am going to use exit tickets. I distribute a pencil and a sticky note to each child. Then I say, "Please write your name and three materials light will pass through on the sticky note. Then put the sticky note on the Tweet Board." As the students put their notes up observe them and make comments like, "I agree. Light does pass through glass and white paper." I use the data I collect from the exit tickets to plan small group lessons to help meet my students needs.