Thomas Edison: What Did He Teach Us?

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Students will be able to categorize information about Edison in order to construct meaning.

Big Idea

Reading informational text, making sense of it, and connecting learning gleaned from the information is heavy duty for third graders. This lesson explores a step by step strategy to combine science, reading, and writing.


5 minutes

Today, the students will be working on categorizing facts learned about Thomas Edison in yesterday's lesson.  In order to center them around their work, the question, "What do some of the highlighted phrases from our book have in common?" will be on the board.

I will ask the students to look through their highlights and make connections to share with their shoulder partners.

Mini Lesson

10 minutes

To model categorizing information and important phrases, I will ask a student to display one of their highlighted pages on the document camera.  

I then will read through all of the highlights, thinking aloud "I wonder how some of these go together? Oh!  This page shows me two of the jobs he had.  I will list those and name the category -jobs" I will write these on the board under the heading Jobs.  This is exactly like you might model a reading or writing strategy, just with science content. 

I will follow this strategy again with another page, but this time ask the students to share with their shoulder partners what they might "connect". Then we will share those out and write any other new categories on the board.


Active Engagement

20 minutes

I will ask the pairs of students to take their highlighted books back to their work stations and work together to sort the information into categories. 

This type of thinking is not only important in informational reading and writing, but also in science, as students need to practice comparing and contrasting information in order to categorize and make sense of information. This brainstorming activity is also a wonderful way to engage students in the analyzing and organizing of information that is vital to a strong written piece. 

As students work, I will circulate and ask probing questions, as well as observe teamwork skills and category types. I will specifically listen for category development that will sort personality traits, inventions, and interesting facts. 

This student worked to explain not only their categories and how they created them, but also went on to express why Thomas Edison's life helped him become the scientist he was. 

These next two videos shows one of my students working through, first, what a quote by Edison might mean and what she could learn from it. 

Next, she discusses a connection in her life to the quote by Edison. This type of thinking is so important for an 8 year old.  It justifies for them that they are scientists all of the time and are just like Thomas Edison! What an ego boost:)

Closing and Assessment

15 minutes

In our ELA unit, we are working on summarizing and writing paragraphs.  Today's science lesson lends itself perfectly for cross-curricular writing. 

Now that the students have their categories created, I will ask them to return to their desks and independently choose one of the categories. 

Next, they will use that information, and their highlighted book, to summarize some of their learning from today's work by writing a paragraph. I will remind them, without a graphic organizer, that their paragraph should include the who, what, when, where, and why.

I will then collect the journals to assess paragraph formation, sentence structure, precise science vocabulary if applicable, and main idea/detail sentences.