Next Generation Science Standard Connection
This lesson connects to 1-PS4-1 and the students are going to engage in an experiment where they discover that sound travels through objects. In this lesson I am going to help my students plan an investigation using cans and a string. I find many first graders do not know how to plan an investigation about a scientific question. So, I try to model and help the students design an experiment that will help them develop the understanding that sound can move through objects.
First I show the class an example of how sound can travel through the wall by putting a cup on the wall and allowing each child to listen. Then the students record their observations about how sounds move through the cup on the wall. The students record their observations in their science journal. Then they are given cups, string, and scissors to design an experiment to see how sound can move through the string.
I have a few procedures that I keep consistent in almost all of my lessons. This helps my students know what to expect and it allows them to work together. First of all, I use the same transitions in every lesson. As the students move I usually ask them to chant the lesson objective. The lesson begins in the lounge or carpet area. Then we move to the desks in the center of the room for the explore, explain, and elaborate. For the last section of the lesson we meet back in the lounge.
The other big thing that helps my students work together is allowing them to work with a partner of a different ability. I call these peanut butter jelly partners. The partners have assigned seats beside each other throughout the lesson. They work together to complete all tasks and can help each other at any point in the lesson. This creates a supportive classroom environment where students of different abilities can be successful.
This is the time when I try to excite the class about learning, connect today's lesson to previous lessons, and assess my students' prior knowledge. By exciting the class I get them motivated to persevere through a complex lesson. When I connect today's learning to previous learning I am teaching students to be reflective, and hopefully they develop the habit of reflecting upon what we have learned. This teaches students to make connections and this helps students develop their understanding of new concepts. When I assess their prior knowledge I am seeing what my students know, so I can allow students who have some knowledge about the content to share what they know. This makes students feel appreciated, important, and other students find learning more meaningful when it comes from a peer.
First, I excite the class by sharing the lesson image on the board, and by displaying the cups and string on my small group table. Students notice everything, and when they come in the room they get excited by seeing the materials. They know we are going to do something fun, and the questions and excitement begins.
Once, the class is excited I ask them to turn and tell their partner what they know about sounds. While the students are talking I listen and write notes on the board about what I hear them say. I am recording their prior knowledge. I am anticipating my students say, "Sound is make by vibrations," but I don't think they understand that it can move through objects just yet. This is our first lesson on how sound moves across things.
Next, I remind the students that we have already learned a great deal about how sound is created by vibrations. But, we have not yet learned how it can move across things. So, today we are going to engage in two experiments where you explore how sound can move through things.
Finally, I make sure my students understand what I expect, so I share the plan for the lesson. This helps the students meet my expectations. I say, "Today we are going to do two experiments to learn how sound travels through things."
In this section we do two things. First we explore how sound can move through a cup on the wall one at a time. Then the students record their observations. I give the class a model to copy from on the Smart Board: science journal. I give each child a cup and have them put their head against the cup on the wall. I play music in the hall on the other side of the wall. Then the students record their observations about what they heard when they placed their head next to the cup on the wall. One way I get the class to hurry up is by asking them to line up when they are finished writing in their journal.This video: procedures shows how it works.
Once we are all out side I play the music inside and I say, "I am giving you a cup. Please place the bottom of the cup on the wall, and place your ear next to the cup. Once you have made your observations record them in your science journal." I place a sentence started on the board to help the class. I write: When I place a cup on the wall and place my ear next to it I hear_____. I am hoping they say, "The sound is louder or travels through the wall and the cup." They may also respond with, "Sound is louder when their ear is next to it on the wall." Both responses show that the students understand that sound can travel through objects.
To help the class with observations I reference this anchor chart: observation anchor chart and go over it.
At this point I focus on getting my students to talk to each other and share their observations. I want the class to learn to build upon the comments of their peers, because this can strengthen their understanding of how sound travels. After talking about their observations students seem to more clearly understand what they are observing. At first, the students talk to their shoulder partner, then they share across their table, and last we engage in a whole class discussion.
I say, "Turn and tell your shoulder partner what you observed when you placed the cup on the wall. If you forget just read your notes." Here is a video: turn and talk to shoulder partner. This helps students learn to reflect back on their observations, but they are also learning to compare observations. I often find that students change their observations or discover that what they observed really was not what they were supposed to be observing. This is fine, and this is one benefit to shoulder talk. If I observe that somebody needs to do the experiment again we just put the cups on the wall a second time. Then, I say, "So, what do you hear?" Then the confused student is able to explain their observations.
Next, I say, "Turn and tell the group across the table what you observed." You may enjoy the video: turn and talk across the table of the students. The students are checking to confirm their observations. I walk around to ensure that the groups are talking about how the hear the music on the other side of the wall. If I see a group not talking then I just stop and ask, "What did you record?"
Finally, we engage in a whole group discussion: turn and talk with entire class where volunteers share what they observed. I ask,"Will somebody share what you observed when you put the cup on the wall?" Then the class listens and I ask, "Will somebody add to that?" I am basically getting the students to build upon the ideas of their peer
In this section I help the students plan an investigation where they use two cups and a string to see how sound can travel through a string.
First I say, "Talk about how you might use these two cups to see how sound can move through a string." I listen. Then I say, "Decide upon a plan with your partner to test the movement of sound. Then you may begin to experiment and see how the sound moves. When you are finished experimenting record what you have learned about the movement of sound through a string in your science journal. You will explain your design and how sound travels through string in a presentation in about ten minutes."
As the students are working I walk around and help them generate ideas. I also write a sentence starter on the board to help the class get started writing. I say things like, "How are you doing? What is your plan?" I have a video that shares the details. I am basically making sure they have a plan, and I am checking to see if I need to help them. Here is an example of student work.
Now, the lesson is coming to a close I need to do several things. First, I need to assess my students learning. Then I need to allow them to present their design and what they found in their experiment in the elaborate section. After each group presents I expect the other students who are listening to give their peers feedback about whether they agree or disagree with their explanation or design. They can even add to what their peer presented, but they need to comment.
I begin by allowing three groups to explain the design they created with the cups and string. They also need to share what they learned about how sound travels. I use a spreadsheet that I keep taped to the board where we have presentations. This way I can keep up with who has presented, and I can make sure each child gets the same number of opportunities to practice their speaking skills in front of the class. One issue that frequently arises is that every child wants to present. So, I let anyone who wants to present do that during snack and recess.
One really important piece to making sure the students can give feedback after the students present their work is to ensure they listen. I have a nice positive behavior strategy to help my students listen, sit quietly, and evaluate their peers. We all chant, "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor, hands in our laps talking no more." Then my students listen to me say, "Your eyes are on the speaker. Listen to your peers, and be prepared to give them feedback."
The last thing I need to do is assess my students, and I use a spreadsheet. The top has the categories: sounds travels, speaking, and peer evaluation. The students names are on the left. I put a check in the box if I see the students actually master that skill, and an x in the area they need to work on. Then I plan future small group lessons to help the students develop skills.