Analyzing the Designs: Pros vs Cons

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SWBAT create a list of pros and cons for their playground design and for their peers' design.

Big Idea

Allow students to evaluate solutions to determine which will best apply to the problem they identified in their community.

Lesson Overview

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

This lesson provides students an opportunity to evaluate the good and bad of each design. This is the ninth lesson in my unit on Engineering. First we identified a problem, and then we researched some solutions. After determining that we needed to create a playground the students researched playgrounds, created a scale model, and have presented their model. Now they are going to generate some ideas about what is good or bad about each design.

I decided to give the students a list of pros and cons to circle as they go around the room and evaluate several posters. First graders may not be ready to generate a lot of reasons that a design might work or might not. So, I think giving them choices they can circle is the best way to help the students analyze and evaluate different designs. I do leave space for the students to add any extra comments they want, but they do not have to add anything. The important thing is to support the students in evaluating designs, so they learn to think analytically. My students are going to need extra support, because they have never done anything like this before.

So, I have the posters on the walls. I am going to assign each child four or five poster to evaluate. I use color codes. I have a green, blue, and yellow group of posters. Each color group has 1-4 posters and they are numbered. After evaluating the posters the students are going to share their evaluations with the class.

Lesson Overview

There are two big strategies I use in every lesson I teach. I use peanut butter jelly partners and transitions. They are really helpful in my classroom management. I find that students need to be able to work with their friends, and they need to move around frequently. 

My transitions begin in the lounge or carpet area where I just begin the lesson. Then we move to the center of the room for the explore, explain, and elaborate section. The desks are in groups of four to support group work. Then we close the lesson back in the lounge.

The other strategy I use is peanut butter jelly partners or heterogeneous ability group partners. The students have assigned seats next to each other throughout the lesson. They work together to help each other read, write, or generate ideas.


10 minutes

At this point I call the class to the lounge and share the plan for the lesson. I also try to get them thinking about what we have been learning about by getting them to talk to their partner. This engages everyone and creates a natural way of reflecting upon prior learning. I am trying to develop the habit of reflecting in my students.

So, I say, "Tell your partner what we have been designing." Then I listen and hope to hear, "We have been designing a playground." Then I allow one or two groups to share" (talk to partner). So, the students are learning from each other. Its a more natural way of reminding the students what we have been learning about. Plus they enjoy hearing each other share more than me just reminding them what we have been doing.

Then I share the plan for the lesson by saying, "We are going to analyze several designs. You will list the pros (good things) and cons (bad things) about each design." Telling the students the plan helps the students follow through with my directions, and it helps them meet my expectations.

Explore and Analyze

20 minutes

Each students design is taped to the wall. The students work in groups of two to four to create list of pros and cons for each design. So, I tell the students to go stand beside a poster. Each color group has 1 posters numbered in the color section. So, each student has 4 evaluation sheets they are going to use to evaluate the four posters in the section.

I simply assign four or five students to each group. Then I say, "The rubric (Pros and Cons) has a list of pros and cons. You need to look at each poster and evaluate it. Circle the pros and cons associated with each design. If there are any I did not list, just write them in." Then I show the students how I would do this using one example, because I am sure they are not really going to understand. I must model how to evaluate the designs using the sheet.

After showing the students what I want them to do I allow them to begin. I just say, "Owen, Emma, Ava, Gwen, and Stephen go evaluate poster blue 1. At the top of each sheet write the color and number of the poster. Please also write your names." Then I send the students to the  posters with the same instructions.

Next, it is time for me to walk around (students working) and see how the students are doing. I anticipate some questions and confusion. This is new, complex, and the students may need me to help them. The idea here is to provide complex tasks with a lot of support in an environment that is risk free. 


10 minutes

At this point I call the students back to the lounge and I restate what we have done in the lesson. I say, "We have determined some pros and cons of your designs."  Then I let the students stand and share (Sharing A and Sharing B) their pros and cons.

So, I have each group of  students stand by the poster (Poster Design A) they evaluated (Evaluation A). They verbally share the pros and cons of each poster. I allow the students to decide who is going to talk or take turns talking about the pros and cons. Hopefully, each child can share their evaluation of at least one poster playground design. After the students have read their pros and cons I add my own comments and questions to extend the students' thinking.