Properties of Water, part 1

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Students will be able to state the properties of water and explain their importance in maintaining life processes.

Big Idea

Q-R-S-P helps promote student learning.


5 minutes

Warm-Up question: “Why is water important for life processes?”

Remind students to recall information that they learned from the water cycle lesson: Water, water, everywhere.  Allow 2-4 students to respond. 

Require students to provide rationales for their responses.  Give those who do not volunteer to answer the question an opportunity to participate by asking them to show their agreement by raising their hands.    

Make sure to call on those who are not vocal in the discussion.  It builds an expectation that all students will be asked to contribute to the discussion.   Listen to the responses and pay attention to note any misconceptions about water that arise in the responses from the class.

Introduce New Material

15 minutes

Inform students that the learning targets for this lesson are: 

  • Students can perform a close read of scientific text to gain an understanding of the properties of water. 
  • Students become owners of their instruction, using the scientific text to create a teaching outline that they can use as a reference.

Begin the lesson with an Anticipation Guide on water.  Distribute the questions.  Set the timer and give students 3 minutes to read and identify if each statement about water is either true or false.  Display the timer on an LCD projector so that students will know the time remaining for their responses.  Emphasize that, while this not a graded assignment, students should attempt to answer the questions to the best of their ability.  Explain the value that this activity provides by allowing students to activate any prior knowledge that they already have about the properties of water, while at the same time providing the teacher a better sense of the depth of understanding among the students.   Tell students that if it is identified that they already know the content, then you will move into new content or extend the learning using a higher level assignment.

Note: I save paper by creating two sets of questions on one sheet of 8 1/2 x 11" paper and cutting the single sheet into two.

At the end of the timed period, display the anticipatory guide on the LCD projector and ask a student to volunteer to read each question.  Projecting the questions helps different learners follow the activity since this allows students have hard copies at their desks, while the question is being read by a peer student from the LCD projector. 

Instruct students to respond chorally to each question, after it is read. Listen carefully for dissenting answers.  Make a note of each question that does not have all the students respond with the same, correct answer.  Increase the student engagement for a group activity like this by asking other students, “Do you agree with the overall class response?  Why or why not?” This process also helps increase student comprehension of concepts when they are required to engage in discussion and discuss their thoughts.

Explain that we will revisit the anticipation guide later in the lesson after they perform a “close read” on the properties of water.  A close read is a literacy activity where the purpose for the reading is clearly established before students are released to read a particular document.  

Guided Practice

20 minutes

Distribute textbooks to students. Note: I usually keep a class set of textbooks.  Maintaining a class set of books eliminated the age-old excuse, “I didn't bring my book to class.” 

Explain that the task involves using the textbook to create a reciprocal teaching outline.  Explain that the reciprocal teaching outline is an effective way for students to practice:

  • reading,
  • summarizing,
  • questioning, and 
  • predicting

Having selected a section from the textbook in advance, instruct students to turn to that section in the book.  Tell students that you will read the first paragraph of the section to model how to complete a reciprocal teaching outline.  Display a scanned copy of the paragraph on the LCD projector.

Read the paragraph aloud and tell students that you are going to model how to summarize what you just read.  Think aloud as you decide what key thoughts or points you will include in your summary.  Thinking aloud allows students to observe the thought process that goes into summarizing content. Use 2-3 sentences to summarize the paragraph you read.

Model how to ask questions about what you read in the paragraph.  Think aloud so that students can observe how you come up with the question from the written text.  Make sure that you point out any unknown vocabulary in the text and use context clues and your knowledge of word stems to show students ways to decipher the meaning of words they do not know.

Without reading more of the section from the textbook, model how to predict what you think you might learn after you've read the entire section.  Think aloud by asking a question like, "So based on what I just read, what is this section likely going to talk about or teach me?"

Independent Practice

20 minutes

After modeling summarizing, questioning and predicting, display the Reciprocal teaching outline instructions on the LCD projector.   Distribute hard copies of the reciprocal teaching template, paper and markers. 

Walk students through the instructions while modeling how to fold the paper like a book and label each of the parts of the outline.  If you choose, distribute copies of the outline with pre-printed labels for students to use instead of writing the labels, themselves.  This might be especially helpful with students who have difficulty following verbal directions.

Explain what information should be included in each section of the outline:

  • Title of Section: self-explanatory
  • Prediction: What do students think they might learn in this section?
  • Key Terms: Write and define the assigned terms.  Include the phonetic pronunciation of each term you use. Identify any word stems, prefixes or suffixes.
  • Teacher-like Questions: Create the assigned number of “ teacher-like” questions and answers.
  • Illustrations: Draw and label one image from the section.
  • Summary: Write a 3-5 sentence summary of the section.  Make sure that you use your own words to explain what the section taught.

Walk around to ensure that students are completing the assignment as prescribed in the instructions, beginning with writing the title of the section from the textbook. Make sure that students practice their prediction skills by first making a prediction about the assignment before beginning the research.

Listen and look for students who may be struggling as they work independently to complete the assignment.  Inform students that working independently does not mean that they cannot talk with a classmate.  It only means that the work should be completed without a great amount of assistance from the teacher or peers. It's actually better that students are talking while they work because it allows the teacher to gain a better sense of their understanding of concepts versus them working in silence.

The first student work sample included with this lesson evidences that the student is able to synthesis informational text and effectively identify and summarize the key points. The prediction is reasonable and one target and at least one of the "teacher-like" questions attempts to move into a higher depth of knowledge "why" question and response.

The second student work demonstrates that the student is able to make accurate predictions about what s(he) will learn from the reading assignment. Use student predictions to write specific review questions to help students make the connection that their expectation about what they thought they would learn from the meeting was met.

The third student work shows  "teacher-like questions" that are all written at DOK level one (recall).  


5 minutes

As a class, revisit the anticipation guide.  Instruct students to read each question again and go back and correct their responses based on the reading assignment.  Give students a few minutes to make corrections on their own before engaging the whole class in a review of the correct answers. Walk around as students make their corrections and look for students to be able to identify which questions they answered incorrectly and to correct them before the whole class review. Students should know that water is polar, that water is the universal solvent, etc...

If time permits, ask students “How did the reciprocal teaching outline help you understand the properties of water?” Listen to students' comments to see to whether or not the reciprocal teaching approach to the reading material helped them better understand the properties of water.  Ask students whether they felt there was a benefit to creating "teacher-like" questions.  Look for students to identify that this type of activity helps them to become more reflective about their learning.