What We Know About Land and Water

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SWBAT describe what they know about land and water and pose questions to investigate.

Big Idea

Land and water interact in complex ways that affect life on Earth.


10 minutes

I begin the lesson by asking students to think about what they already know about land and water. Since this is a very broad and vague topic, I provide guidance by asking students to consider specific contexts including where water and land come from, how they interact, how they change over time, and how they are used. 

After providing some quiet 'think time' for students, I distribute a copy of the land and water graphic organizer to each student. I tell them that for five minutes, they will each work on their own to list what they know about land and water in the first section of the graphic organizer. I stress to the students that the goal of this activity is to help them identify what they already know about the topic we will be studying. Because of this goal, I do not require the students to record their thinking in complete sentences.

Partner Sharing

10 minutes

After each student has listed their thinking on the graphic organizer, I partner each student with a peer for the second portion of the activity. When selecting peer partners, I try to choose students with varied personal experiences and ability levels. I do this to maximize the chance that the students will have written different ideas on their graphic organizer.

For the partner portion of the lesson, students review their thinking with a peer. Each student takes turns sharing one idea that they wrote on their graphic organizer. If the partner has the same idea written on their paper, the partner will mark the idea with a star. If the partner does not have that idea written down, they add it in the second section of the graphic organizer. The partners take turns sharing ideas until they have each shared all of the ideas in the first section. This peer sharing strategy encourages active listening, paraphrasing, and productive academic discourse between students. A video of the students sharing with partners can be found here.

Whole Group Sharing

10 minutes

After each partner group has finished sharing their ideas, I bring the whole class together for a group discussion. For the group discussion, I use a sharing protocol similar to the process used by the student pairs. I ask students to volunteer to share an idea that they generated or one that was shared by their peer partner. All other students in the class will either add the idea to the third section of the graphic organizer (if the idea is not listed in one of the previous two sections) or circle the idea in one of the two completed sections (if they have already recorded this idea). A photo of a student's completed partner share paper can be found here. As students share, I record all ideas on poster paper in the front of the class. 

At the end of the lesson, I hang the posters with student-generated ideas in the classroom. The posters stay on the wall throughout the unit. As we learn, I encourage students to revise, add to, or remove the ideas on the posters based on their new learning. The posters serve as a living document which showcases the learning of the entire class.

Independent Practice

20 minutes

After the students have completed the graphic organizers, and therefore activated their prior knowledge on the topic, I ask the students to review picture cards. I use photographs of local environments where land and water interact. I ask students to identify where they see water in the environment and to create a drawing of the environment on the lab worksheetI use the students' completed worksheets as an assessment tool. A student's complete worksheet can be found here.