I began by having students write down the focus question, "What properties of magnets can you observe?" in their science notebooks.
I told them that because I knew they had studied magnets before, I was going to give them some time to explore with magnets to review some important concepts of magnetism, and listed the following terms on the board:
I also demonstrated how to observe a magnetic field by placing a piece of paper over a magnet, and covering it with iron fillings. I let them share what they noticed with a neighbor, and then talked about how we could best record our observations in our notebook using both pictures and words.
I reviewed expectations for working in groups, then had a student come up from each table to collect a tub with several magnets of different shapes, as well as assorted paper clips and washers. I mostly let them explore on their own, but reminded them to review the ideas I posted on the board. I also kept the iron fillings circulating from table to table. Each table could have had their own shaker, I just didn't have enough trays to keep it from getting really messy.
I called the class back to the carpet, and asked them to share what they noticed, and reminded them to respond to the comments of others using "I agree...", "I disagree...", or "I want to add on to..."
I used guiding questions to make sure they shared specific information I needed to address per my state standards, including opposite poles attract, similar poles repel, and magnets are strongest at the poles. I recorded their ideas on chart paper, and then gave them a few minutes to add anything they might not have written down yet. They also had many other great questions about how magnets are made, sizes of magnets, why opposite poles attract. Many of these I had them post on the Questions for Further Observation chart.
Finally, I collected a random sample of notebooks for formative assessment.