Shadows

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Objective

SWBAT explain when and why shadows are created.

Big Idea

Allow students to deepen their understanding of what happens when materials are placed in the direct path of a beam of light.

Lesson Overview

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

This lesson connect to 1-PS4-3, because the students are going to plan an experiment about how they can create a shadow. Shadows are created by placing an object in a direct path of light. Then they are going to carry out their experiment to discover how shadows can be created. Prior to this lesson I have engaged the class in several lessons where they have learned that objects cannot be seen in complete darkness. We also learned that mirrors can redirect light, and now we are studying shadows. 

The students have been involved in strategic scaffolding and I have gradually released the opportunity to plan and carry out investigations. We began the year by learning from reading, because I wanted really establish my rules and procedures. Then I planned experiments and investigations, and the students followed directions. Now, we are in March and the students are planning their own experiments and investigations. I control the situation by giving the class a question, and I limit their resources. So, they design their plan using only what I have available, and I support the students by talking to them during their planning process.

Lesson Overview

Throughout the lesson I use transitions and collaborative partners to help my students persevere through such a complex lesson. Moving frequently allows students needed brain breaks. So, we begin in the lounge, and we move to the desks in the center of the room for the explore, explain, and elaborate section. I also find that students like it when I keep my transitions consistent. They seem to follow directions better when they know what they are going to do.

The other really helpful management strategy is using collaborative heterogeneous ability groups. The partners have assigned seats beside each other throughout the lesson. They can help each other any way or time they need. I find my students help each other plan and read as they support each other. Now, they did not start the year helping each other naturally. I began the year constantly saying things like, "We help each other. Help your partner read, write, or spell if they need it. Remember we are a family and we help each other."

Engage

10 minutes

Now, I begin the lesson by asking the students to come to the lounge or carpet and have a seat. Then I begin to excite the class about the lesson, because it helps them persevere through the lesson. Next, I assess their prior knowledge, because when I know what my students already know I can prepare to offer more or less support to my students. I might even find out that one student knows a great deal and I can let them share. This is a great way to make students feel special, and students enjoy learning from their peers. Finally, I tell the students the plan for the lesson, so they know what to expect. It really helps the students follow directions.

So, I project the lesson image on the smart board, and ask the student to look at the image. This does excite them. Then I assess their prior knowledge by saying, "Turn and talk to your partner about how a shadow is created." Then I listen to see what my students know.

Next, I tell the class the plan for the lesson. I say, "First we are going to plan an investigation to determine how a shadow is created. Then we are going to describe the shape of the shadow in compared to the original figure. Last, you will share your comparison."

Explore

25 minutes

As we transition to the desks in the center of the room I plan to help my students plan an investigation and assist them in carrying out their investigation.

So, I say, "Now I want you to fill out your science journal using a this model, and then plan an investigation where you discover how a shadow is created. Be sure to list the steps in your plan. Then carry out your plan. Next, I want you to write what you discover in your science journal. Be sure to use complete sentences." 

Now, I walk around and check to see that each child has filled out the science journal correctly. I also prompt students who seem to be stuck. I say, "What could you do in this room to see how a shadow is created? What do you need? Have you ever seen a shadow in out room?" Then I follow up with more questions. When the student verbalizes a plan I ask them to write it down. I say,  "Now write down your steps for your plan.  Try to use complete sentences, because it is a good habit."

After students have a plan I do have to prompt them again by saying, "Go ahead and try your plan." I do not check each plan before they try it, because it is fine if it doesn't work. They can adjust and try another plan. I find my students sometimes learn more when they don't get things perfect on their first try. Once they are finished and made a shadow I say, "Now write down what you learned. How can you create a shadow?" Here is an image: student working of a student working.

Explain

10 minutes

This is the time when I ask the students to collaborate and share their plan and experiment. So, the students first tell their partner what they did and what happened. Then they share across the table, and last we have a whole group discussion. This is a great way to teach students to build upon the ideas of their peers. 

So, I say, "Please tell your partner what you did." Then I listen and follow up with another instruction by saying, "Now, tell your partner what happened. What did you learn?" I listen to the students and monitor to see that everyone is participating. If I see a student not participating I just walk up to them and ask, "What did you do? What did you find out?" I find that sometimes first graders just need a little prompting.

Now, I want the students to talk across the table to make sure they share with the other group at their table. So, I say, "Tell the person across the table what you did and what you discovered." I listen to make sure everyone is participating.

Finally, we engage in a whole group discussion. I say, "Will a volunteer please share their plan and what they discovered?" I like to listen and then ask, "Will somebody add to that?" This encourages students to add to or build upon their peers' ideas.

Elaborate

10 minutes

At this point I want to engage the students in a deeper thinking and application type activity. So, I ask them to compare the original object to the shadow. 

I say, "Now I want you to compare the shadow to the original objects. How is the shadow similar to the object? How is it different? You can use the model on the board to help you." Keep in mind we are in March and I have already taught similarities and differences in reading. But, these are vocabulary words that may need extra explanation if I this lesson is taught earlier in the year.

I walk around and prompt the students with questions to get them working. I say, "How is the shadow the same?" I listen then say,  "Write that down." Then I wait until the student that is stuck is finished and I say, "How are they different?" I listen then say,  "Write that down?"

Then I read the class this text to help them further their understanding of how light moves through objects and how shadows are created.

Evaluate

10 minutes

The last section of the lesson is in the lounge and I try to accomplish three things. I need to assess the students learning, allow them to evaluate each other, and they need to share their comparison from the elaborate section. 

First, I implement a nice positive behavior strategy to get my students seated and listening. I say, "Criss cross apple sauce, pockets on the floor, hands in your laps, talking no more." The students chant it with me. I am basically calling out what I want my students to do instead of focusing on negative behavior. 

Once the students are ready to listen I look at my spreadsheet that I have hanging on the wall. I check off who has presented or shared their work, so every child gets the same number of opportunities to share. So, two or three students read their comparison to the class. After each child presents I ask, "Who can give them some feedback?" I expect their peers to give them feedback like, "I agree that the shadow is shorter and wider. I found the same thing in my experiment and comparison."

Last, I assess the students on the accuracy of their understanding of shadows. I give each child a sticky note and I say, "Write on your sticky notes the steps to create a shadow. Once you have your answer place your sticky note on the Tweet Board." This lesson is about showing students that placing an object in the path of light can create a shadow in a dim room.  As the students place their sticky note of the Tweet Board I comment on them. I may say, "I agree standing in front of a flashlight in a dim room can make a shadow."