Researching Light

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SWBAT explain different ways to communicate with light.

Big Idea

Reflect upon previous lessons to helps students extend their knowledge and learn more about how humans can communicate using light.

Lesson Overview

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

This lesson is the beginning of the three lessons that are the culmination of our unit on light. In this lesson the class is going to learn how light can be used in different way to help humans communicate. Then they explain their understanding to their peers and the class. This lesson is connecting to 1-PS4-3, because the class must understand how light can pass through specific material to really understand how it can be used to communicate. They must also know that objects can only be seen when illuminated which connects to 1-PS4-2. So, today we are simply learning about ways light and sound can help humans communicate. 

Lesson Overview

Most of my lessons contain all five of the parts, engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate, of the five E Model. But, today I want to spend a lot of time really gaining knowledge that is going to help prepare the class to develop an understanding of how light and sound can help humans communicate. So, the engage, explore, and explain portion could be taught in one lesson. Then you might want to do the elaborate and evaluate on another day. Later in this series of lessons allow students to design ways of communicating. The final activity is for the students to create a device and a system of communicating using light.

We begin in the lounge or carpet area, so I excite the class. Then we move to the students desks for the explore, explain, and elaborate section. The lesson closes in the evaluate section, and we move back to the lounge. Transitions really seem to help keep my class stay on task, because they get to move around often. So, my students are basically getting frequent brain breaks as they transition.

The other thing I like to do is partner my students with a heterogeneous partner. The partners help each other read, write, and talk about their investigation. This makes sure everyone can participate, because they help each other. It also provides for a nice classroom environment. 


15 minutes

This is the time when I use some technology to excite the class, assess their prior knowledge, and then tell the class the plan for the lesson. I begin by projecting the lesson image on the Smart Board by saying, "Take a look at the image and think about how we use light to communicate." Then I just wait and let the students think about thirty seconds. 

Next, I assess their prior knowledge by saying, "What are some ways we use light to communicate? Turn and tell your partner." Then I listen and I write what I hear on the board, so I have an assessment of my classes prior knowledge. I read what I wrote, and then ask, "Will anyone add to that?" Then we all listen.

Last, I share the plan with the class. I say, "Today we are going to read about ways people use light to communicate."


20 minutes

First, I project the model on the Smart Board, so my students can fill out their science journal. We are going to spend about fifteen minutes researching using the text I wrote. I only selected three models to share in the lesson, because I didn't want to overwhelm the students. The students create a list of ways we communicate using light, and they record the list in the science journal.

Now, I begin allowing the class to do research by giving each child a the selected text and allowing them to read in groups of two. Now, I am able to back off, and they can read alone since it is April. But, I am there to read for them if needed. The biggest challenge was that in the beginning of the year many students could not read well enough to read the text. So, now most of my class is reading on a first or second grade level.  I am still there to help.

Then I say, "First, fill out your science journal." Then I read the text and observe the students working. When they are finished I say, "Read the text and list the ways we use light to communicate based on the text I have given you. Write down what you find in your science journal."

Here is an example of student work about what kinds of communication methods or materials help humans. Students are working in pairs and they do hear each other talk, so some of their sentences are very similar. I really am pushing the class here, so I support collaboration at this point. I even write some notes  the students verbalize on a white boards to help them express themselves.


10 minutes

Now, we share what the students recorded in their science journal.  Learning from peers is a great way to help students gain an understanding about how light helps humans communicate. Each group of students should gain a lot of knowledge as the groups share. Then, I ask them class to add their new knowledge about different ways to communicate with light to their notes.

I say, "Turn and tell the group opposite the table as you the different ways humans can use light to communicate." Then I listen: partner talk across the table and remind the class, "Record communication method if you don't already have it." I do add any difficult words to our word wall to help with spelling.

Last, I try to engage the class in whole group discussion to clear up any confusion they may have. I say, "Will a volunteer please share what you learned?" The I ask, "Will somebody add to that?" Then I listen: partner talk with the whole group.



10 minutes

I read a short excerpt to the class from the book "Inventions in Communication: Ideas that changed the world" by Ian Graham. I decided to read page 14 which is about talking or using light signals, and page 15 is about laser lights. So much time in the explore section I wanted to make this quick, but I think my students will find this interesting. It will also help them design their systems which we begin in the next lesson.

After I read I allow the students to add the two methods of communication they learn about in this section. This will be their fourth and fifth bullet. I hope to see the students add things like, "Light signals using mirrors help people send messages. Laser lights help phones work." I just really want them to see that patterns of flashing light can send messages.


10 minutes

Now we move back to the lounge where the students evaluate each others work using a rubric I made. I ask the students to bring a glue stick, pencil, and their science journal to the lounge. Then I pass out the rubrics and explain how to use them. Last, I allow the students to evaluate their peer's work: student work rubric

I say, "You will trade science journals with your partner. Please circle a 1 or a 0 to indicate if the student has met the criteria in the row.  The first row is checking for explanation about how airports use light. The second bullet needs to explain lighthouses. The third row should be about traffic lights. The fifth method that needs to be described is the messages using flashing light messages. The sixth row may be about laser lights in telephones. Read the explanation and see if you think they have accurately described how light helps people communicate."

Then I walk around and observe the students working. Last, I ask each child to write one way of communicating on a sticky note and place it on the Tweet Board. This is my way of assessing the entire class. As they put their sticky notes up I comment by saying, "I agree. Are you sure? Go look at your notes."

As I close the lesson I share the plan for our next lesson. I say, "Today we have learned about some communication methods using light. The next thing we need to do is research how these communication methods work. We will study their system keeping in mind you will eventually design your own."