Claim-Evidence-Reasoning: Air Has Mass and This is How We Know!

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SWBAT use their observations from a prior lesson and from life to support the claim that air is made of matter.

Big Idea

While analyzing the outcome of each station activity, students will develop a deeper understanding of matter that can be argued using evidence.

Do Now

5 minutes

Meta-cognition encourages self-reflection and self-reflection results in deeper understanding.  As such,  I promote metacognition by asking my students to answer the following question as a Do Now:

How did acting as molecules during your performance clarify your understanding or raise more questions?

Most students stated that acting out the station activities helped them see (visualize) how molecules move, which can't be seen in stagnant drawings.  In particular, they are now somewhat more able to explain the "how" of their observation of the paper tent falling when air is blown under it.  Since the students (air molecules) moved out from underneath the paper, there was less matter (later they will learn about pressure, in which case we will refer back to this experience).  This resulted in the air above pressing on the paper, flattening it.

Using Graphic Organizers to Promote Learning

35 minutes

Students, especially 6th graders, require a significant amount of guidance when asked to provide meaningful evidence to support scientific arguments. I teach my students to use Claims-Evidence-Reasoning (C-E-R).  Please refer to my lesson Using Claim-Evidence-Reasoning to Support Student Ideas in Science for more information on C-E-R.

I explain to students that I want them to use  three pieces of evidence gathered from any of the station activities or live experiences that involve supporting the claim that air is matter.  I briefly review that evidence is data or observations, and that reasoning is when you explain how the evidence specifically supports the claim.  It helps students to tease apart their thinking by telling them that the word "because" belongs in the reasoning section.

To help students structure their thoughts, I give them this graphic organizer.

Turning Their Outlines Into Paragraph Form

15 minutes

Clear argumentation is promoted when teachers ask their students to write, because writing is thinking.  Subsequently, I ask my students to turn their C-E-R graphic organizer into a paper. Students write three paragraphs, one for each piece of evidence.   The structure of the graphic organizer is to help students provide reasoning for each piece of evidence that they cite.  In previous C-E-R responses, I noticed that students had difficulty organizing their thoughts, especially when it came to explain how one piece of evidence supports a claim when reasoning.  Therefore, I explain to students that Evidence 1 should be explained in the Reasoning 1 section of the organizer.  

You may be wondering why I don't have evidence 1 and reasoning 1 near each other in the graphic organizer.  Since this is a relatively new strategy for kids to utilize, I want them to first determine appropriate evidence to use before explaining how it supports their claim that air is matter.  My intention is for them to first look at each station activity to find evidence before completely explaining how it supports that air is matter.  Finding viable evidence is a significant challenge, so I start there and then walk them through reasoning.