ECHO, Echo, echo

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SWBAT explain why we hear echos.

Big Idea

Explore how echos are made by engaging students in a fun investigation and experiment.

Lesson Overview

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

In this lesson we connect to 1-PS4-1, because the students experiment with how sound travels. In beginning of the unit I created a KWL chart with my class. The students decided they wanted to learn why an echo happens. So, I have designed this lesson to help my students develop a conceptual understanding of how sound travels and bounces off hard objects. I use a video exploration, text, and then the students engage in an experiment. They travel around the school testing the sounds they hear in different locations of the school. The students yell "echo"  and record what they hear. After they record their observations the students have to use the knowledge they have gained to explain why we hear an echo in the gym and the bathroom. In addition, they have to explain why we do not hear a sound in the lunchroom or our classroom.

Lesson Overview

I try to keep transitions and partners the same in all of my lessons. This helps my students know what to expect, and it allows them to persevere through complex tasks. So, we begin every lesson in the lounge where I usually excite the class. Then I ask the students to move to the desks in the center of the room for the explore, explain, and elaborate section of the lesson. Then I close the lesson back in the lounge.

The partners have assigned seats beside each other throughout the lesson. They are heterogeneous ability group partners of two. Throughout the lesson they support each other and collaborate when needed. 


10 minutes

In this section I need to excite the class, so they will persevere through the lesson. I also assess what they remember from previous lessons, and I tell them the plan for this lesson. When I know what my students remember I can offer more support or less in the lesson. Assessing students knowledge also teaches students to make connections, and develop the habit of reflecting upon prior instruction. 

To excite the class and really help everyone understand what an echo is I play this video: echo of my son creating an echo. I tell the class, "Owen loves to stand on this hill and scream toward my neighbors house, because they live in front of a hill and this creates an echo. He does have to be in this area on our property to hear the echo, because he is between two hills."

Next, I assess what my students remember from previous lessons by asking a specific question. I say, "Turn and tell your partner how sound travels. If you know how an echo is created tell your partner." I listen to see what my students know.

Last, I share the plan for the lesson by saying, "We are going to watch a video and read text. You will record data about what creates an echo. Then you will try to create an echo in different locations in our school." To help the class move to their seats I ask them to chant, "I can explain how an echo is created." This makes the students move without talking, and it focuses them on the purpose of the lesson.


15 minutes

In this section I show a video, and the students read the text. They are basically researching why we hear an echo.

The first thing we do is transition to the desks in the center of the room. Then I ask the class to label and date the page in their science journal. The students then record notes about why we hear an echo at times after watching the video. 

I begin with, "Please label your science notebook using the model as an example." Then I walk around and watch the students fill out their journal. I find providing a model helps my students, because it allows them to copy from the slide if they need to. Not everyone can write the date and label the topic independently. With a model everyone can participate.

Then I say, "We are going to watch a video and you need to try to answer the question: Why do we hear an echo?" The students then record notes about why we hear an echo at times after watching the video.



Then I read the class the text: Why We Hear an Echo and the students add more to their notes about why we hear an echo. 

Here is an example of student work.


10 minutes

In this section I try to get the students to communicate their understanding from the video and text. I want to teach my students to share their knowledge, and to build upon their peers ideas. It is a great time to allow every child to participate in speaking and listening as well. I ask the students to talk to their partner, then share across the table, and last we engage in a whole group discussion.

I begin by saying, "Turn and tell your shoulder partner what you observed. If you observed something different than your partner add to your notes, or adjust your notes. Talk about it and make sure you and your partner understand why we hear an echo." Then I listen and walk around to see what they are saying. If I hear a student unsure or a group confused I replay the video to help them review the information. Usually after looking over the information again students can verbalize their understanding. But, I may also just ask them to read their notes if I see they have correctly recorded that sound bounces off surfaces like rock walls.

Then I want to make sure each table discusses how an echo is created. So, I say, "Tell the group across the table what you observed. Again, if you have different observations you may need to add some detail to your notes, or you may want to change your notes." This teaches students to share their information, explain their understanding, and really learn from each other. If one person is wrong their peers are explaining why, and they can change their notes.

Finally, every child has explained to somebody in the class why we hear an echo. Then I ask a volunteer to share their understanding. Next, I ask, "Will somebody add to that? Did you find the same answer? Can you tell me more?" This type of repetition really reinforces the whole concept that sound bounces off solid objects, and we hear an echo as a result of sound bouncing off objects.


15 minutes

Now is the time the students need to apply their new knowledge by experimenting with sounds in different location in the school. We travel to the bathroom, gym, cafeteria, and our hall. In each location the students take turns talking yelling something and seeing if they hear and echo.

So, the students record their observations about what they hear after they say something loudly. I say, "Take your science journal with you we are going to travel around the school and take turns yelling. At each location you will yell, echo, and listen to see if you actually hear an echo. Be sure and record what you hear at each location. You will write the location, dash, and then add your observations." I anticipate the students to hear an echo in the bathroom, because the wall are concrete block, and the sound will bounce off it. They may also hear an echo in the gym, since it is empty. There are also concrete block walls there. But, they will not hear an echo in the cafeteria or the classroom, because there is too much furniture and glass to absorb the vibrations.

After the students record their observations, I ask them to think about why we hear the echo in the two locations. I say, "Why do you think we hear the echo where we did? Record this in your notes, but if you don't know just think. We will discuss it in the evaluation section."  I am hoping they determine that the sounds bounce off the hard block walls, and not off the walls in the other rooms. I have a video: analyzing data that explains how I prepare the class to work independently collecting and organizing data student work1 and student work 2.


10 minutes

During the final section of the lesson I try to do three things. I want to assess my students understanding, allow them to present: presentation their experiment, and to engage students in peer evaluation.

First, I ask the students to present what they observed in each location in the school. Then I ask them to tell us why they think they had each observation. To make sure each child gets the same number of opportunities to present I use a simple spreadsheet that has their name on the left and I just check off each child as they present. We do three presentations a day. But, sometime students are really eager to share, but it's not their turn. To foster their enthusiasm I allow the students to present during snack or recess. In the presentations I hope the students hear and echo in the gym and bathroom. Hopefully, they will determine this is because the solid walls allow the sound to bounce off them. There is also not a lot objects in these rooms that could absorb the sound. I hope they do not hear and echo in our class or the hall. Neither of the sound can travel too far in the hall, and the class has too many objects that absorb the sound. We have an entire wall that is 75% glass.

One really helpful thing I do to make sure the students can give their peers feedback is to use positive behavior support. Students are not able to give their peer feedback if they don't listen to their peers presentation. This whole process teachers the students to listen and think critically about what is begin said. To get the class to listen I say, "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor, hands in your laps, talking no more." Then I add, "We are looking at the speaker and really thinking about what they are saying. Be ready to give some peer feedback."

Finally, I use a simple spreadsheet to document my students mastery of the areas I address in the lesson. I assess their accuracy on the observations under the standard 1-PS4-1. Then I have another category for speaking and listening. I also expect each child to give somebody peer feedback. So, I have the names on the left, and the categories at the top of the sheet. Usually, I use a check or a 1 to let myself know the student mastered that area, and an X means they need to work on that area. This way I can plan lessons to specifically help my students grow in their areas of weakness.