I call students to the gathering area. I tell them that today we are going to start a new unit, looking at energy, but in the form of electrical energy. I tell students that before we begin, I want to know all that they know about electricity.
I offer them three different ways to show their knowledge: The first is a KWL chart, where they can write what they know and wonder about. We will fill in the “Learned” section after we complete the unit. The second option is to answer some reflection questions to stimulate their thinking. Finally, the third option is for students to brainstorm on a blank sheet of paper. This can be done using a mind-map style or simply a list of things that students know.
Students spend some time writing their thoughts on the graphic organizer of their choosing. They need to write it on their own with no interaction with their peers. I promise students that they will be able to share their thoughts with their peers after they have had some solo thinking time.
Students take their brainstorming sheets and meet with three other students. Using a different-colored pen, students can share their ideas with each other and add information to their own sheets in order to help them remember what they know about electricity.
I call students back to the gathering area where we create a classroom K-W-L chart. On this chart I have students give me ideas and then any student that has something different can add their ideas. I always require the information to be different if a child chooses to share. This prevents repeating the same information over and over.
Students will turn in their pre-assessment and I will use it for planning the rest of my unit and deciding which topics I need to spend the most time on and which topics I can work through as a review of information.