3 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT explain what happens when light passes through water.

Big Idea

Excite the students by allowing them to create a rainbow. Then help them make connections about how light is passing through the water.

Lesson Overivew

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

In this lesson I connect to 1-PS3-4, which is about conducting investigations to determine what happens when different materials are placed in the path of a beam of light. I typically use a gradual release strategy, and we are nearing the end of the unit. So, the lessons have gone from very simple to the most complex. I have about three lessons left in this unit. Prior to this lesson we have studied placing white and colored paper, wax paper, wood, concrete, gummy worms, gummy bears, and glass in the path of a beam of light. Now, we are moving on to study how light is bent as it moves through water. The students actually created a rainbow the previous day as they were exploring in another lesson. But, today I have designed the experiment, and they are going to make predictions, illustrate their observations, draw conclusions, and evaluate their partners work.

Lesson Overview

The lesson begins in the lounge where we activate our thinking, and then we move to the desks in the center of the room in groups of four. The students actually do the experiment in the room on the floor when I dim the lights.  Last, we meet back at the lounge to close out the lesson and evaluate their work. These frequent transitions help my class persevere through lengthy lessons, because they get short brain breaks as they move.

The other way I support students is using collaborative partners I call peanut butter jelly partners. They student sit beside a heterogeneous ability partner throughout the lesson. This partner can help students read, write, or just follow directions. 



10 minutes

This section is the beginning of the lesson, and it includes just three essential parts. First, I project an image on the smart board to excite the class. Then I ask them a question to assess their prior knowledge, and last I share the plan for the lesson.

I project the image of a rainbow to get my students thinking about time they may have seen a rainbow. This is just a way to activate their prior knowledge and experiences. Maybe with some reflection the students will remember some things they know about light, and how a rainbow is created. 

Next, I say, "Turn and tell your partner how a rainbow is created." I am directly assessing my students knowledge. Then I ask, "What happens right before a rainbow is seen?" and I hope they say, "rain." I plan to teach the class how a rainbow is created, so I need to know if they already know. If somebody does know they can share, because this makes them feel special. It also makes learning more meaningful for the other students, since they like learning from their peers.

Last, I share the lesson plan with the class, because it helps them persevere through the lesson. I say, "Today we are going to do an investigation about how rainbows are created."


15 minutes

Now the students are going to fill out their science journal, illustrate and label a picture, and conduct the experiment. I give the class the question: What happens when light passes through water? They record this in their science journal. Everyone does it, so they are all help accountable. If a student is unable to write I write with a highlighter and let them trace: modifications

Then I read the class the plan from the Smart Board: model and allow the students to record the plan. This makes sure they have a recording of what we did, so they can reflect upon it in their lesson.

Many students may struggle with making a prediction, so I just say, "Tell me what you think will happen. Just make a guess based on what you know about light." 

After they make their prediction I say, "Now, you have made your prediction you can go one at a time to conduct your investigation. The materials are set up fro you. You need to make sure you look for details, because you need to create and illustration in your science journal showing what you see. Student really learn more than I plan when I give them freedom to explore like in this video: exploring."


10 minutes

Now the students collaborate and explain what they saw when they pointed the flashlight on the glass and the water passes through. This is allows student to share their knowledge, and build upon the ideas of their peers. This provide another opportunity for my students to communicate their scientific knowledge.

First, I ask, "Will you please turn and tell your partner what happened when you shined the flashlight on the glass of water. Look at your notes if you need to." Then I watch the students.

Next, I say, "Turn and tell the group opposite you what you saw. If you saw something different talk about why." Then I listen.

Last, we have a whole class discussion to share and confirm that they all saw similar things. If they did not see the same thing, then I recreate the investigation help the students. They may be doing something wrong and just need help.


15 minutes

In this section I propose the question to the class. What happens when light passes through water. It would be better if the class created this question, but they need models. I actually created this question in response to the students asking me how a rainbow is created. I hope they realize that rainbows are a result of bending light.

So, read a text to the class three times just to familiarize them with the text. I do give each child a copy and ask them to track for me . I used this website to create a text. I find it difficult to find a book that really teaches what I want to read to my class. So, I usually use Google and search for the subject, and then adjust the text to something my class can read. I shorten sentences and alter vocabulary. This makes sure my class can comprehend what they are reading and hearing.

When we finish reading I ask the question again. I say, "Go ahead and record why we see the colors when light passes through water." Then I walk around and observe my students working.


10 minutes

As the lesson comes to a close I try to assess the students knowledge by allowing them to assess each other. The students bring their journal, a glue stick, and a pencil to the lounge. Then I distribute rubrics. I say, "You have a rubric, and I want you to paste it in your science journal. Place it on the next page or close to today's work. First, you will score yourself using the four indicators. Be sure you mark a 1 or a 0 in each box under self score. When you are finished you may trade with a partner and evaluate their work. If you do not give your peer a 1, be sure to explain why to your partner. Here is an example of a finished rubric."

The rubric allows students to reflect upon their own knowledge and their own work: student work with rubric. I do find that the students are unclear at first on using this rubric, so I show them an example as well as explaining it. I find my students really need to see models. When they have to evaluate their peer's work it really challenges the students to think about whether an illustration or answer similar but different is correct. I find this to be a very  beneficial way to evaluate students. When they can evaluate their partner correctly I know they really understand the content. So, I am walking around watching students work. If I see an error, I just stop and explain my reasoning. I may reference the text or recreate the investigation.