Next Generation Science Standard Connection
This is one of the later lessons in a unit designed to help students learn to solve a problem that people want to change. So, we began by identifying a problem. I posed the situation that the students do not have a place outdoors near their homes to play. So, they decided that building a playground was a good solution. The students have researched playground equipment, surfaces, and locations. They have created a scale model of the school's playground and their ideal playground. Then they surveyed other children to see what they thought about the equipment, surface, and location of a playground. Now, they are going to use all of the knowledge they have gained to finalize their rough draft and place their final design on a poster.
The first three sections take about an hour. The engage, explore, and explain really can be one day's lesson. The students look at the comments on their pervious work and make any changes they want. Then they share their changes with their partner and their peers. The second day is when the students transfer their model from graph paper to the poster. Then they evaluate their work using a rubric.
I try to keep some things consistent like my collaborative heterogeneous ability group partners. I call them peanut butter jelly partners and the students work to help each other any way they need help. I find the collaborate mostly to determine correct spelling and share ideas. They do have assigned seats next to each other throughout the lesson.
I try to do every engage section in the lounge. So, the lessons always begin in one spot. Then we explore and explain our work in the desks which are in groups of four in the center of the room. In this lesson we move to the floor for the elaborate section. Then we close the lesson back in the lounge.
So, the lesson begins in the lounge where I activate my students knowledge and get them thinking about the playground design they have been working on. The last lesson allowed students to get feedback from other students about what kinds of equipment, surface, and location they want for the playground. So, I get them talking about what the other students wanted, and then I share the plan for the lesson.
I say, "Class yesterday we sorted the data from our surveys. I want you to tell your partner the equipment that most of the students want." (They wanted swings.)Then I listen. Next, I say, "Now tell your partner what surface most students seemed to want." ( Rubber mats.) Again I listen. Last, I say, "Finally, I want you to share the location most children want." (School) Then I state what I heard, so the students can all be aware of the data. This was just a way to get the students thinking about what we have learned in a natural way. I want the students to develop the habit of naturally reflecting upon their prior knowledge.
Finally, I share the plan for the lesson, because it helps my students meet my expectations. I say, "We are going to think about the changes you might want to make to your playground. Then you will create a poster model of your final playground design."
Now we transition to the desks in the center of the room. I remind the class that we need to reflect upon what the students wanted. They can make changes to their design now using the scale model they created in the previous lesson.
I say, "Turn in your science journal to the page that has your scale model of your playground design. You may add to your design in any way you want. Think about what student opinions you want to follow and adjust your design. They wanted swings, rubber mat flooring, and a playground at the school."
Then I walk around and point to my comments on their work. This is one way I prompt the students to space the big equipment out on the playground. I also left comments about how the height of some of their monkey bars and swings was too small. I say, "You have the swings two boxes tall. Do you want your swings two feet tall?" Then I show them how tall this is with my hand. The students then think about how tall the swings are at our school playground.
We made a scale model they can reflect upon in their science journal to determine the size of the equipment and I redirect them to that work. I have two example of student work before and after they read the comments I made.(Student Work A Before Editing, Student Work A After Editing, Student Work B Before Editing, Student Work B after Editing)
Now the class begins to collaborate and share what they decided to do their design. This is just another chance for my students to learn from each other and engage in a peer discourse. They are improving their communication skills as well as learning what the their peers decided to change or add.
First, the students talk across the table to share what they changed. I say, "Go ahead and share what you changed in your design. Also, tell your partner why you changed it." Then I listen to assess what they say (talk to your partner).
Next, I get the students to share across the table by saying, "Tell the group across the table what you changed and why." Now, the students are learning about all of the ideas that their peers decided to add to their design and why.
Last, I say, "Will somebody share what they added and tell why." Then I listen (share with the whole group). After listening I say, "Do you think these changes make the design better?"
Now, I give each child a giant poster. The students are going to create a very neat and colorful model of their playground. I post my expectations on the board. They should label the equipment, write the scale (1 inch=1 foot), and write the surface near the scale.
I say, "You are each getting a poster paper. If you need more let me know. You need to transfer your design to the large poster. You can write the title, Playground. We will use these in later lessons, and you will use this model in a presentation. You can use pencil, crayons, colored pencil, or markers. I have white out if you mess up, so raise your hand if you need help or white out."
I then walk around monitoring and observing students working. I am sure the transfer from the graph paper (student work) to the poster will not be exactly the same in proportion and location of equipment. That is okay, because they may change their mind.
As the lesson comes to a close I ask each child to trade poster and evaluate their partners poster (student working). I evaluate it as well after the students have left for the day. The feedback helps students understand what they did well, and they learn areas they can improve.
I give each child a rubric (rubric for playground poster) to use as they evaluate their partners work. The posters are numbered one to four and I use green, yellow, and blue to define the posters as well. After they finish evaluating (evaluation process) the poster the student must explain their reasoning and why they made specific selections on the rubric.