Connection to The Next Generation Science Standards
In this investigation, students begin the work that will lead them to explore the Disciplinary Core Idea of Earth's Systems: Earth Materials and Systems - that Earth's major systems are the geosphere (solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments), the hydrosphere (water and ice), the atmosphere (air), and the biosphere (living things, including humans). These systems interact in multiple ways to affect Earth's surface materials and processes. The ocean supports a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shapes landforms, and influences climate. Winds and clouds in the atmosphere interact with the atmosphere to determine patterns of weather. (5-ESS2-1); The Roles of Water in Earth's Surface Processes: Nearly all of Earth's available water is in the ocean. Most fresh water is in glaciers or underground: only a tiny fraction is in streams, lakes, wetlands, and the atmosphere. (5-ESS2-2) and the Crosscutting Concept of Systems and System Models - A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions (5-ESS2-1), and Scale, Proportion, and Quantity - Standard units are used to describe and measure physical quantities such as weight and volume (5-ESS2-2)
Please Note: The Lexile Level for Plaid Pete Is Modeling Earth's Systems - Lab Scenario Sheet Lesson 3 is 660 (5th Grade Range is 740 - 1010 - I know this one is a little bit low, but I want to make sure that everyone understands it in "kid friendly" language. We are having some issues :) ).
The Preparation Time for This Investigation is approximately 5 minutes.
One copy for each student of Plaid Pete Is Modeling Earth's Systems - Lab Scenario Sheet - Lesson 3
One copy for each student of Plaid Pete Is Modeling Earth's Systems Lab Sheet - Lesson 3
Sets of text passages for pairs of students. I used the the following text passages from Readworks.org (The passages are free, you simply need to register to access them).
Earthquakes (5th Grade Passage/Lexile Level 710)
Floods (5th Grade Passage/Lexile Level 720)
Haboob! (3rd Grade Passage/Lexile Level 770)
Fleeing Goma: Eruption in the Congo (3rd Grade Passage/Lexile Level 820)
Oh No! Volcano (5th Grade Passage/Lexile Level 870)
Spinning Thunderstorms (5th Grade Passage/Lexile Level 900)
Paradise Lost (5th Grade Passage/Lexile Level 940)
Quake In Indonesia (6th Grade Passage/Lexile Level 970)
Cracking Up! (6th Grade Passage/Lexile Level 980)
Children of the Storm (5th Grade Passage/Lexile Level 1040)
Introduce the Scenario
I tell my students that we have a new scenario today. Luckily, Plaid Pete is back at school - but he seems to be having some difficult with his peer interactions. I say, "Please don't confuse that with the topic of "Earth's sphere interactions" - because that is what we will be talking about in Science today. However - peer interactions can also affect lots of different areas of your life - as you will see. I tell my students there are 3 parts - Plaid Pete, his best buddy Seth, and a Narrator.
I pass out the Plaid Pete Is Modeling Earth's Systems - Lab Scenario Sheet - Lesson 3. Students get busy and get out their highlighters, getting ready to read the scenario "Reader's Theater" style. They love this part, and so do I. I love watching the way it engages every student - even the ones today who are just listening.
Students Read the Scenario in their Teams
I am watching out of the corner of my eye, seeing if the scenario "hits home" with a few of my students today. Even if it doesn't for the majority of my students, the idea that interactions carry over to other areas is a great way to help them make a connection to interactions in Earth's spheres.
Learning Objective & Success Criteria
Note: Consistent with the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, I am now including a language objective with each lesson. These objectives were derived from the Washington State ELP Standards Frameworks that are correlated with the CCSS and the NGSS.
I share the learning objective and success criteria:
Learning Objective: I can use a model to describe the ways that at least two of Earth's systems interact.
Language Objective: I can compose written text for a short presentation about a specific topic. [ELP.4-5.7]
Success Criteria: I can correctly complete my lab sheet, giving sufficient detail that a stranger could understand my model.
I know that this information about Earth's Spheres is completely new for my students so I want to do a quick review. I ask, "How many "spheres" make up Earth's Systems?" Before I can even call on anyone, students are raising four fingers in the air. I randomly call on students, asking them to name each of the four spheres, and their characteristics, as well as the "key word" we used to identify them yesterday (geosphere = land, atmosphere = air; hydrosphere = water; and biosphere = life).
Introduce the Task
I pass out a copy of Plaid Pete Is Modeling Earth's Systems Lab Sheet - Lesson 3 to each student and explain that they will be working in assigned pairs today. I have selected a series of passages from the 3rd to 6th Grade Levels and I am pairing students up today with similar abilities. I try to do this every so often so that my students who struggle don't learn to "coast" on a more capable partner. And then I tell them - "No I am not telling you who your partner is until I have given the directions so you need to pay attention!" I tell them, "Make sure your lab sheet is clear, and easy to read. It needs to pass the "stranger test" - meaning a stranger would be able to figure out the message you are trying to present. You and your partner will be giving a quick 1-2 minute presentation using the document camera."
Model an Example
I explain that as they read their assigned passages, they need to be thinking about the event they are reading about. All of their passages contain an event that affects multiple spheres. I give the example of Plaid Pete and Seth's argument - if it carries on too long, it can affect the classroom, it might be something the students take home with them (especially if they are in a bad mood!) and it can affect their relationships at home as well. I ask for other "spheres" in their life that could be affected and accept reasonable replies - clubs, teams, etc.
As they read about their event, they need to think about which of Earth's spheres the event occurs in . I give them an example of a forest fire (because that is not one of the events in the text I am giving them). I ask what sphere this event occurs in. I call on a student who correctly answers that a forest fire begins in the biosphere. I have a copy of their lab sheet and I write the word "forest fire" in the center circle. Then I ask, "What other sphere would interact, or be affected by this event in the biosphere? I ask my students to turn and talk. I call on a student who correctly responds, that it would interact with the atmosphere, because there would be smoke. I write the word "smoke" in the atmosphere. I tell my students, "I bet you all know other spheres that would interact with this event - but now I want you to work with your own event!"
I hand out the assignments and the passages and have my students get to work. As they are working, I am paying careful attention, particularly to my students who struggle. I have specifically selected these passages because they provide sufficient context clues. However, I will be on the lookout for students who need prompting to use them. With different pairs of students working on different texts, it isn't always easy to catch their errors on the spot. That's why I make it a point to scan their notebook work at the end of each day. While this notebook entry reflects that this student is understanding some of the sphere interactions that occur as a result of deforestation, I am wondering is she really understands the term "biodiversity." This is a student I need to have a quick "check-in" with tomorrow morning.
I check in with pairs as they work, ensuring that they are understanding the text and are able to identify the sphere interactions, as seen in this Video Clip with one pair of students.
When my pairs have finished constructing their models, I signal my students to listen quietly as their peers present.
I was really proud of my class - they were quite interested to learn about the different events that their classmates read about. This pair presented about deforestation I could tell that one partner understands what biodiversity means! This group presented about haboobs, or sandstorms. Once we got past the funny name - they did a great job! This group presented about tornadoes. They came up with an interesting misconception that appeared a number of time throughout the presentations - students had the idea that anything that was built on land or set on land was the geosphere. It became apparent that they didn't really understand what this sphere was comprised of.
My purpose in having students present was to expose them to some of the different types of interactions that can occur between different spheres, knowing that we will be exploring each sphere in more detail in coming lessons. This experience also gave students who were typically more quiet because of their lower reading skills the opportunity to be successful because they became "experts" at text that was at their readability level. For this reason, I purposefully didn't provide a question and answer period. I wanted those students to have their opportunity to shine - and they did!
Stretch Their Thinking
I tell my students, "Now that you understand a bit about Earth's sphere interactions, I want you to start thinking about them in terms of transfers of matter and energy. In our units on Matter, and Ecosystems, we spent considerable time talking about matter and energy transfers. What were some of the types of matter transfers that we talked about?" I have to prompt my students by specifically referencing solids, liquids, and gases. They are able to provide oxygen (transferred from plants to animals and humans), water (transferred through the hydrologic, or water cycle), and carbon (transferred through the carbon cycle - from living things, into carbon dioxide, and back to plants).
Then I ask, "What were some of the types of energy transfers we talked about?" I call on a student who responds, "Light energy." Another student responds, "Chemical energy." And yet another states, "Motion energy." I tell my students, "I want you to be thinking about this because all of these interactions between spheres are driven by energy transfers. When spheres interact - energy is being transferred!"
I pass out Post-It Notes and ask my students to begin making some predictions about what kinds of matter and energy transfers are happening when spheres interact. These are a couple of the Post-It Notes I collected: