This is the second day of a two-day lesson on fronts (first lesson here). In this lesson, they take their newfound knowledge and get some time to finish their note-taking template. Then, they jump into a lot of important Regents-based practice, which they need for many reasons. For one, fronts, air masses, and weather patterns are a favorite and popular question on the Regents exam. Secondly, some of this stuff is really complicated! There's a lot wrapped up in it, and the more exposure students get to various images, symbols, and "at bats" with the material, I feel they're better equipped to tackle similar questions on the Regents and in similar unit exams, interim assessments, and the like!
[Note: For embedded comments, checks for understanding (CFUs), and key additional information on transitions and key parts of the lesson not necessarily included in the below narrative, please go to the comments in the following document: 5.15 - Fronts (Whole Lesson w/comments). Additionally, if you would like all of the resources together in a PDF document, that can be accessed as a complete resource here: 5.15 - Fronts (Whole Lesson)[PDF]. Finally, students may need their Earth Science Reference Tables [ESRT] for parts of the lesson (a document used widely in the New York State Earth Science Regents course) as well.]
Much of this lesson is frankly just to allot time for them to do the work themselves! At the outset of class, I allot about 10-15 minutes for students to re-arrange themselves into their laboratory groups and continue their work in the Fronts section from yesterday (link to yesterday's note section is located here). Much of this is self-guided and group-based independent work - my job during this time is to ensure fidelity to the directions and voice level, and to push students for more detail, explanations, and clarity in their illustrations and note-taking (you can see a video of my students working here: Fronts - Student Groups).
The notes template itself will be an important marker, as it will be utilized for much of their practice-based work to follow in the subsequent lesson section.
The Practice section in this lesson is, like the vast majority of questions found in all of my classwork and homework, is 100% Regents-based. All of the questions come from prior Regents examinations. Likewise, as I try to generally do with all of my lessons, the questions are mostly organized to get increasingly more difficult and increase in complexity, which is why the harder questions tend to come toward the end. Also, as noted in the Lesson Introduction section, the Regents loves to ask relatively complex and intricate questions about fronts, so it's important students have some highly developed skills (and confidence) in breaking these down. Often, a lot of the weather maps they see are very "busy," so part of what they're practicing here is learning about what to focus on, and not focus on, depending on the question type. Also, this practice is great because, as mentioned above, much of this is complex and necessarily brings in a lot of prior knowledge and work habits that students need to use, so it doubles as a primitive sort of review when students tackle a lot of these questions.
In terms of student work habits, I tend to sometimes make this decision in the moment, and as a response of what I know about the students and how they're processing the material on, but I'll either ask them to work independently, in partners, or (sometimes) give them the option. Usually, before starting practice, we tend to go over some steps for self-help ("What should you do if you're stuck?"), and I might reference a previously used multiple-choice or free response strategy in order to build their skills while simultaneously learning content (as an example - one popular one we always use - "If you aren't sure what the right answer is, see if you can eliminate some wrong answer choices"). I tend to circulate for compliance and then hone in on specific students while they're doing this.
After about 10 minutes, we go over their responses. Students who finish early are encouraged to work on the exit ticket (resource below) and double-check their responses. We use a combination of strategies (active voting, cold calling, popsicle sticks, volunteers) to go over the responses, where students correct their work and ask any clarifying questions.
In the last few minutes of class, I have students complete the daily Exit Ticket. For the sake of time, I have students grade them communally, with a key emphasis on particular questions and items that hit on the key ideas of the lesson (Note: This usually manifests as students self-grading, or having students do a "trade and grade" with their table partners). After students grade their exit tickets, they usually pass them in (so that I can analyze them) and track their exit ticket scores on a unit Exit Ticket Tracker.
After students take a few seconds to track their scores, we usually wrap up in a similar way. I give students time to pack up their belongings, and I end the class at the objective, which is posted on the whiteboard, and ask students two questions:
Once I take 2-3 individual responses (sometimes I'll ask for a binary "thumbs up/thumbs down" or something similar), I have students leave once the bell rings.