Reflections in Water and Air

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SWBAT explain how light is reflected in water and air.

Big Idea

Kids love to make connection to the mysteries in our world. Observing paths of light is one another way students learn about their world.

Lesson Overview

Next Generation Science Standard

Today's lesson connects to 1-PS4-3, because we place water in the path of a beam of light. In this lesson we are going to do an experiment I found on a website that leads the student to my big question: How does light travel when reflected in water? After a fun experiment the students record their question in their science journal. Then I provide the research they need to answer their question. 

Lesson Overview

In my experience I find that keeping certain things the same is really helpful to students. I try to use the same transitions and grouping in every lesson. My students seem to really persevere well through complex tasks when they get to move around frequently and they work with a heterogeneous ability group partner.


10 minutes

Now, we join in the lounge and I attempt to excite my class, assess their prior knowledge, and share the plan for the lesson. Exciting the class helps them persevere through lengthy complex lessons, and sharing the plan allows students to follow directions better. The main reason I assess the students prior knowledge is so I can allow an expert to share, and this makes students feel very special. The other reason I need to know what students already know is so I can provide more or less explanation as the lesson progresses. In addition, if they have little prior knowledge I provide much more help through out the lesson.

So, I begin by projecting the lesson image on the board, because it excites the class. Then I ask the class to turn and tell their partner what direction light reflects in water. I predict that my students have no prior knowledge, and they talk about times they have seen light in water. So, I listen and record what they know on the board, so we have documentation for me to read. After they talk I say, "Look at the things I heard you say. I recorded them on the board." I read them aloud, and then I say, "Will anyone share their conversation?" Then we listen.

Next, I share the plan, so my students know what to expect. When I share the plan they also seem to follow directions better. I say, "Today we are going to create a reflection using a mirror in water and in the air. Then we are going to record our observations. Last, we are going to create a conclusion, and explain our understanding."


30 minutes

Now, is the time when I show the students the plan for the experiment on the board. I explain the plan, project a model of the how they need to fill out their science journal, and I allow the class to explore. Then they record their observations in their science journal.

I say, "Look at the board and fill in your science journal just like the model." I read the model then say,  "You may do the experiment with your partner. After you complete the experiment you need to record your observations. You can illustrate what you see. But, be sure to label your work. I have a word wall for you if you do not know how to spell certain words. Remember the things we look for when we make observations." I point to the anchor chart and read it to the class. Then I say, "Once you finish filling out your science journal you may begin the experiment:."

I walk around monitoring students and helping them with their experiment. I hope the students see that the mirror does reflect down in the bowl. The other thing I hope they see is that the light travels in a straight line when the reflecting in mirror on paper.

After the student record their illustration showing what they saw I ask, "Will you record a conclusion? What did you discover about how water reflects light?" I do have to talk it out with some groups and you can hear our conversation here.


10 minutes

At this point the students work on their communication skills and share what happened with the group opposite the table. Then we have a whole group discussion. I am teaching students to share what they lean, and to build upon the ideas of their peers. 

I say, "Go ahead and share: share with a partnerwhat happened with the group across the table." Then I listen, and make sure everyone is participating. After about one minute of talking I say, "If you and the group opposite the table as you find something different you may redo the experiment or just talk about why you saw different things." If I see a group not participating then I stop and ask, "What did you record for your observations?" This prompt engages them in a conversation.

Then we begin a whole class discussion: whole group discussion where the students share their experience and add to what their peers share. I say, "Will a volunteer share what they saw?" Then I listen, and ask, "Will somebody add to that?" Then I listen. This is a great way to share what happened and to get students talking.


15 minutes

Now, I want to read the class a text just to clear up any confusion. I want my students to understand that light bends when it travels through water.

So, I give each child a copy of the text, and I read it to them three times. This allows each child to practice tracking, but not have to worry about decoding. My students can focus on understanding the scientific content.

Finally, I ask the students, "Do you have any questions about why the mirror reflects in the air, but bends in the water?" It is because light travels differently through water and air.


10 minutes

In this section of the lesson I try to get the students to share their knowledge gained from the explore section and evaluate their peers work. We do this in the lounge, because my students need to move around a little, and they know our lesson is almost over when they return to the lounge.

First I make sure everyone is ready to listen by using some positive behavior strategies. I say, "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor, hands in your laps, talking no more." The class chants this with me, and then I add, "Your eyes are on the speaker and you need to listen to what they are saying and think about what they say so you can give them feedback."

Now, I allow each child to trade their journal and evaluate their partner work. I say, "Put a happy face on your partners paper: student work if you think their illustration and conclusion are accurate." I also tell the whole group to remember and explain to your peer why you did not give them a happy face if there is something incorrect.