This lesson is really a set of lessons combined into two days of learning. I crafted the work to be more of a workshop format rather than a lesson of delivered instruction. I want my students to begin to understand what scientists must go through when they beginning to gather their own research to learn about a subject. Science work is not always done "in the field." Sometimes a scientist must know how to gather information from other sources: the internet, other scientific work....journals, published works of other scientists, and even video clips documenting other research.
I tried to take all this into account and found ways to bring these research opportunities into play with the two days of work.
Station 1: Smart Board.....students will navigate together on the screen through a website stored in our class Moodle Site. The link connects to information about penguins that will answer questions in the student booklet.
Station 2: Readworks Passage.....student will read a grade level appropriate text passage from Readworks.org to practice their skills of note taking.
Station 3: Computer Station.....students will again open the Moodle site and open the link that takes them to an interactive map that will allow them to explore penguin populations in the Southern Hemisphere.
Station 4: Video Clip.....students will watch a video clip, listening for specific information about penguins to document in their books.
Station 5: Trade Books.....students will read a variety of trade books about penguins looking for any information about how the penguin's body has adapted to survive in the cold of the Southern Hemisphere.
As all the students return from our specialists time, they enter the classroom and quickly sit down. They are excited because I told them before leaving that I have something special planned for our science activities when they return.
While they have been busy in specialists, I have been busy getting all the materials prepared and ready.
I explain to them that we are going to work in a similar fashion to the way we worked when we had the opportunity to use the bear artifacts during the Mountain Unit. The students will work in their table teams to gather and share information. I show them the five different activities they will work their way through in two days.
After this, I pass out the booklets they will use to gather all their learning and research in. Before we can begin, I explain that we need to have an organized way to move so I direct them to the Smart Board screen. On the screen is a wheel designed to show them where they will go. I use this wheel for many different activities and so it is left blank around the outsides. This allows me to be able to write in whatever I want the children to do without recreating a new wheel each time we rotate through a learning cycle.
On day one of the rotation cycle, the students work through three stations. Fifteen minutes per station. I use the wheel to tell the children where they need to begin. The children take their booklets for documenting with them and begin at each station. I remind them again of the workshop expectations (these are simply the same expectations that I use for my reading workshop time in the morning sessions of my teaching).
As the students settle in to their new place of learning for the first fifteen minute session, I am wandering through the classroom available for any help. The workshops are designed to be pretty easy to maneuver and the children do a fantastic job of navigating their way through the technology and reading resources.
I set the learning up in this workshop rotation to offer a bit of variety. Most of my lessons are taught whole group with the students working in teams. Every now and then, it is good to give the children a different format to stretch their wings and try something different.
On Day Two of the rotation, the children know exactly where they still need to go. They already remember from the day before the stations and have been waiting anxiously until it will be their teams turn to go to the remaining stations.
I remind the students of the expectations for the workshop behavior and ask each team to look at the wheel projected on the Smart Board. I send each team one at a time to their new station and they begin working.
I watch the clock and circulate through the classroom as they are working.
Doing three rotations on the first day, allows us time to follow up and finish with a discussion after the last two rotations on the second day.
As the children clean up all the materials, and we find our way back to our seats. As the children settle in, I get their attention and ask them what their favorite station was.
Unanimously, the children loved the Smart Board. Even though there is quite a bit of reading involved in this station, they loved the fun of manipulating the board. A roaring second place was the computer station and the interactive map.
After this discussion, I ask,
Can you explain one way penguins have adapted to survive in the Antarctic?
Can you tell me about something you read or discovered about penguins?
I really want to know if the children would be able to gather enough information to explain how penguins have adapted to survive in the Antarctic.