Next Generation Science Standard Connection
In this lesson students ask questions, make observations, and define a problem in their community. This is the first lesson in the unit and it is focusing on K-2-ETS1-1. We brainstorm problems that we see in our community. First, I talk about what a problem is and I give the class some examples. Then I explain the problem that I see in our community and we are going to explore why this is a problem. Then we will learn some solutions to the problem. Later lessons allow the class to research solutions, design a solution, and compare their solutions. This is about a ten day unit.
The students work in heterogeneous ability groups of two to brainstorm problems in our community. Then they also work together to design a survey. Working together allows student to talk to their peers and bounce ideas off each other. This provides for deeper thinking and allows students to support each other through challenges in the lesson. Some challenges are reading and writing. I encourage the partners to help each other.
We also transition often, because moving around helps my students by giving them mini brain breaks. Keeping these transitions consistent helps the students know what to expect as well. These things make it easier for students to persevere through challenging lessons. We begin in the lounge for the engage section, and we move to the desks in the center of the room for the explore, explain, and elaborate section. The final section is the evaluate section and it is back in the lounge.
In this section of the lesson I engage the class by telling them a story, then I assess their prior knowledge, and finally I share the plan for this lesson. I also share the plan for the unit, so my class realizes this lesson is one small portion of a series of lessons that end in a culminating activity.
I say, "Class I want to tell you a story about how a little boy had a problem. One day I ask a student if he was going to play outside when he got home, because it was such a pretty day. He said he could not play outside, because his parents could not watch him. The only place he had to play was the road. This made me so sad, so today we are going to research solutions to my students problem. He had no where to play."
So, I say, "Turn and tell your partner what problem you have in your community." I listen to see if they come up with valid answers. Then I say, "Will somebody share their answer?" Then I ask, "Will somebody add to that?" I record their responses and this is the beginning of our list of problems they will use in the following section of the lesson. My students share their prior knowledge in this video. Then I add what they say to the board.
Last, I share the plan for the lesson. I say, "Class we are going to learn about why you need a place to play close to your homes. Then we are going to brainstorm solutions to this problem."
In this section we transition the lounge where the students are seated in groups of four. They must label their science journal, so we can reflect upon their work in a later lesson. The students work with a partner to brainstorm a list of problems in our community.
First, I say, "Today class you are going to first label your science journal with the date, topic, and record the problems we have already identified." I walk around to observe the students working. When they are all finished writing, I say. "Now class I want you to think of reasons that you need a place to play outside near your home." I walk around and observe my students working: Student Work: Problem.
Students need this think and explore time to really dig deep in developing their understanding of problems, and it allows students to create more complex answers.
Now, the students collaborate and share the problems. Last, we engage in a whole group discussion to determine what problems are the biggest.
First, the students talk across the table to get their ideas out and share their problem list. They also share their survey model. I say, "Go ahead and share your list with the group across the table." Then I listen to assess what they say.
Last, I say, "Will somebody share the problems they think are the biggest." (Children need a safe place to play outside.) I list them on the board. The class keeps adding until we have about five problems. Then I say, "What does the rest of the class think? Do you agree? Why?" If you agree we can use this raise your hand.
Now, the class has really thought about why they need a place to play close to their homes outside. We need to create another list: student work of ways to solve the problem. I ask the class to make a list of ways to solve this problem.
I say, "Write the word solution in your science journal. I have it written on the board. Then, think of some ways we could change this situation. How could we create a place where you could play outside near your home? Record your thoughts under the word solution in your science journal."
I walk around and monitor students working. I do find that I have to repeat the instructions to help the students who seem stuck. I say, "How can we fix the problem?"
As the lesson comes to a close I assess the students work, allow them to share, and allow students to evaluate their peers work.
I say, "Class we are going to now move to the lounge, and I need you to bring you science journals and a pencil." Then I work on getting the students ready to listen by allowing then to join in with me as we chant, "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor, hands in our laps talking no more." Then I add, "We are seated listening: sharing, and we are ready to give our peers feedback."
I use a spreadsheet to determine who's turn it is to share then I check off their name. Usually I only allow two or three students to share depending on time. Then I explain, "We are going to allow several students to read their top five problems and their explanation." Then I expect each child to give one peer evaluation during this portion. They must respond to one other persons work. I prompt them by saying, "Will somebody add to that? Share what you agree with or disagree with."
As I close the lesson I just state what we have done today, and we talk about the plan for the next lesson. I say, "Today we have learned about a problem, and we have brainstormed some solutions. Then next lesson is going to allow us the research solutions."