Next Generation Science Standard Connection
I connect this lesson to 1-PS4, because students participate in an investigation that shows them how vibrating guitar strings can make different sound. In addition they see that sound can make materials vibrate. Giving students hands on activities really engages them in scientific investigation, and helps students connect with information that is very complex. Anytime I can allow my students to discover the information I want them to learn I try to provide the opportunity. In this lesson, the students actually pluck each guitar string as I hold it, and then they document how the vibrations create different sounds. So, this is very engaging and fun, since many children like music.
As the lesson begins I engage the class in the lounge, then we move to the desks where the students explore the sounds made by the different strings. Then the students record their observations in their science journal. They are going to hear a sound. Hopefully they draw a conclusion that the size of the vibrating material makes the sound different. In the elaborate section the students participate in an application activity. Last in the evaluation section of the lesson the class shares their new knowledge. These transitions help my students persevere through this lengthy and complex lesson.
Another helpful strategy I use is having students work with their collaborative partner throughout the lesson. My groups are heterogeneous ability group partners, and the students do have assigned seats by their partner. The partners help each other during the lesson, and share their understanding during partner talk time. They are also allowed to help each other at any other time in the lesson. Occasionally students lose their place reading or need help spelling, and their partner is there to help them. Using partners creates an environment in the classroom where students help each other, and I am more of a facilitator.
As the lesson begins the class is seated in the lounge and I am preparing to do three things. I want to excite the class, assess their prior knowledge, and explain my expectations for the lesson. So, I begin by saying, "Please look at the image on the Smart Board, and tell your partner what you know about the guitar." I am exciting the class by focusing them on the Smart Board, and I am assessing their knowledge as I listen to what they know about the guitar. I do write what I hear the students say on the board, so I have a documentation of their prior knowledge. When I know what the class knows I can gauge my instruction to provide more or less explanation. If I find that I have a student who knows a lot about guitars or sound I can allow them to share their knowledge. Allowing students to share what they know is powerful, because it makes them feel important. But, learning from peers is much more meaningful for other students.
So, several students share their conversation after I ask, "Will a volunteer please share what you know about guitars and sound?" Then to encourage students to build upon the ideas of their peers I say, "Can anyone add to that?" This teaches students how to communicate respectfully and to build upon the ideas of their peers.
Last, I say, "Today we are going to pluck several strings on the guitar. Then we are going to document what we see and hear."
Now, the class transitions to the desks where the are seated by their partner. The desks are in groups of four in the center of the room. I call on volunteers to come to the front of the room and pluck the guitar strings. This video explains how I gradually release hands on materials. Then the other students document what they hear and see in their science journal. Here is how I set it up: scientific investigation
I say, "Will a volunteer to come to the front of the room and pluck the top string and feel the string after you pluck it by placing your hand on the string." Then the student plucks the string, and the students watching and listening record what sound they hear. The criteria they can record is on the board (low, medium low, medium, and high). I just came up with these words to help my students classify the sounds. So, the class labels the strings 1, 2, 3, and 4. Next, I say, "Tell the class what you felt." They are going to say the string vibrates. I am trying to make the connection here that the vibration is what is creating the sound, but I don't just tell them. Different students are sharing their observations, and this is what really helps students remember the content.
Then I say, "Will a volunteer please pluck the second string, and feel it?" Then I say, "What did you feel?" After the class hears the sound they record the sound in their journal. We continue with this process until we pluck and label all the strings.
At this point the students share their observations in their science journal. First, the students share with their shoulder partner, and they can make any changes they need to do to improve their work. If they need pluck another string that it fine I allow them access to the guitar. Then, the students share across the table with the group opposite the table. This is another opportunity to compare notes, and make sure the students really find similar observations. Then, I ask for a volunteer to share what they know with the entire class.
I first say, "Share your information with your shoulder partner. If you need to come up and repluck a string go ahead. If you want to change your observations that's fine. Also, share what your peer felt." Then I add, "Will you now share your observations with the group across the table. If you have different observations discuss them. If you need my idenifying the sounds raise your hand. It is okay to have different information, but you need to explain your reasoning to the other group." I aware that the students may interpret the sound descriptions differently, and this is okay. I am really wanting the class to see that plucking the string causes a vibration, and this creates noise. Using different string to make the noise it just one way I am increasing the complexity, and repetition of the activity.
Now, I say,"Let's share with the entire class what you observed. Will a volunteer share?" Then I listen, and I add, "Will somebody add to that?"
Now, the students engage in an application activity to allow them to really dig deeper into understanding what makes the sounds. I am trying to lead the class to the conclusion that the vibration of the string makes sound. I ask the students to now make a poster about sound.
The criteria is that the poster must have a conclusion that they can draw about sound. There is one question I want the to consider: What causes the sound? On the poster they must write their conclusion: student work. I am hoping they write: vibrations cause sound.
I say, "Talk to your partner about why the sound occurs. Then you can decide upon a conclusion. Then illustrate your poster, and write your conclusion on the poster." I walk around and engage in conversation to help the students arrive that the conclusion.
Now the lesson is coming to a close and I have a few more things to do. I need to document my students learning and allow them to present their knowledge. To increase the rigor in this section I ask the students seated to give the presenters feedback. This can be agreeing or disagreeing with what was said, or it can be adding to what somebody presents. So, I let about three students read their work to the class, and I expect everyone listening to comment at least once during this section.
I have a spreadsheet I tape up on the board and check off to see who's turn it is to present. But, usually everyone wants to show off their work. I acomodate my students by allowing others to present during snack, recess, or by going to a kindergarten class to present. Knowing they are going to present their work makes students work very hard.
Now, there is another important component to this section. Using positive behavior support helps the students focus on what I want them to do instead of unwanted behavior. So, we all chant, "Criss cross apple sauce, pockets on the floor, hands in our laps talking no more." Then I add, "Be sure to look at the speaker. Think about what they are saying, and be prepared to give them some feedback."
In order to document the students work I use a spreadsheet during this time. I mark a check by the skill they master in the lesson, and I put a minus by the area where they need work. The students names are on the left, and the categories are at the top. My goal is 3/3. I put the standard, 1-PS4-1 at the top, speaking, and peer feedback. Then beside each child's name I write their score. This allows me to organize the students skill. I can then plan future lessons in small group to target the students weak area.