Teacher Tip: This lesson is essentially a creative writing assignment that allows students to work on their comprehension of the water cycle as well as their ability to compose a narrative. Students are reflecting on NGSS SP2 (creating a model) as they compose their writing. Depending on the writing ability of your students, this assignment will require a lot of support and time. The student notes sheet/graphic organizer is designed for students who need maximum support, but can obviously be edited to provide less or as much as needed.
To begin, I have students reflect on the water cycle phases, something they have seen in the last few lessons. At this point, they can recall the phases from memory. In their student notes sheet for 2-3 minutes, they are asked to answer the following prompt:
ENGAGE: What are the stages in the water cycle?
(Answers: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, transpiration)
After 3-4 minutes, I will ask a student or two to share their responses with the class, asking them to explain what each one means.
For more clarification, the students are now asked to explain the steps of the water cycle in detail. This will make the writing process a bit easier for students as they can easily recall this information in front of them.
They answer the following prompt in their notes sheet:
EXPLAIN: For each stage, explain what happens to the water.
Evaporation- (water is heated by the sun and changed to gas)
Condensation- (water vapor is cooled by the cooler air temperature in the sky and it changes back to a liquid to form a cloud)
Precipitation- (when the cloud is too full of rain, it will come down as precipitation)
For this section, I make sure the students recall their knowledge of the phase changes of matter. If I see they are struggling to complete a section, I will ask them "what happens to liquids when they get hotter? or what happens when a solid becomes hotter? what do the molecules do?" This tends to be enough to jog their memory.
Finally, students are asked to use the information from the ENGAGE and EXPLAIN to describe the journey of a water molecule through the water cycle. I tell the students to be creative as possible, this is the challenge for some students. It's tough for them to think outside the box. Ask them to give the droplet a name. Make it funny! What is the droplet thinking? Does he have friends? Where does he live?
By following the prompts on the notes sheet, they are able to compose a narrative:
ELABORATE: Write a narrative from the perspective of a water droplet travelling through the water cycle.
Paragraph 1- Introduce the water droplet (what’s its name? who is it? what is it doing?)
Paragraph 2- Explain evaporation (what happens to the droplet?)
I am a liquid water droplet in…
I am starting to feel warmer from the sun…
Now, I am changing to a…
Paragraph 3- Explain condensation (what happens to the droplet?)
Paragraph 4- Explain precipitation (what happens to the droplet?)
Paragraph 5- Explain transpiration (what happens to the droplet?)
Paragraph 6- Explain how the cycle starts over again with evaporation
Paragraph 7- Conclusion
When students have completed the draft on the notes sheet, I have them create a cover page which includes a diagram of the water cycle, their name and the title. I also have them rewrite only their words in a nicer format (typed is preferred).