What's the Difference? Rivers, Streams, Lakes and Ponds...

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SWBAT distinguish between rivers, streams, and wetlands.

Big Idea

The lesson uses the knowledge and concepts about Freshwater bodies of water to practice the skill of verbally comparing and contrasting ecosystems.

Setting the Stage

5 minutes

This lesson is a continuation of previous lessons that focus on water.  Earlier in the school year, a significant amount of time was spent learning about the salty oceans of the world.  Discovering the diversity of life within the oceans, both animal and plant life.  In this lesson students learn that not all water is ocean water, but freshwater.  

The freshwater habitats make up a larger biome that brings in another opportunity to investigate plant and animal diversity (LS 4-1).  While this lesson focuses mainly on the differences of the types of fresh waters, it will lead into a deeper understanding in following lessons. Understanding the diversity of the fresh water biomes will enable the students to bring in this knowledge in the next lesson: water changing the land and building dams

The term freshwater has been used many times in previous lesson, but without being completely defined. Especially, the types of freshwater that exist on the Earth.  


5 minutes

Earlier during the day during my reading block of teaching time, I read the book Come Home, River.

I frequently use mentor texts to hook my students into lessons.  Unfortunately, because schedules do not always allow for the full amount of teaching time to focus on a lesson, I find that it works well to integrate much of my other curriculum areas together.  

The book is a fantastic mentor text about a little boy and his parents who travel by boat down a river.  The author does an amazing job of weaving accurate science content about rivers and their origins into the story.  I use the book as a catalyst for my reading and many writing activities, while it also supplies my students with a bit of background knowledge and a great hook into our lesson.

I remind the students about the book and ask if they can share with me their memories of the story. The story is highly engaging with the language and the children remember much of it.  Of course, they do not remember as much of the science, but more of the story line.  



10 minutes

I show the children the three pages of pictures of different bodies of freshwater.  I explain that I am going to bring each team a set of the pictures.  (I have printed and laminated these pictures ahead of time in hopes of being able to use them for many years to come). 

I tell the children that their job is to observe the pictures and look very carefully at them and try to see if they can distinguish any similarities and differences between the bodies of freshwater (SP2). I allow them about five minutes of discussion time.  While they are discussing and observing, I am walking through the classroom and listening to their conversations. I am hoping to hear anything pertaining to the water and possibly how it moves and even some of the plants that they see surrounding the water.  

When it appears that the conversations are wrapping up, I ring my bell and ask for their listening attention.  I ask the team leaders to stand and share out with the class what their team has discussed.  

I hear many comments about characteristics of the water, but not about the difference in the standing or moving waters.  


10 minutes

I have the power point ready on my computer and bring it on the screen. I ask the children to look at the screen.  Slide one shows the title and gives the student's a clue about the learning that will be happening soon. 

I begin reading the text to the children.  Some of the words are in red and blue to stand out. I want these words to become noticed because they are important words.  I am happy that the children notice that the blue word does not have a line under it (indicating a hyperlink).  

I read the entire text through one time before allowing the children to share any stories or ask any questions.  I try to keep the time of reading within a ten minute period.  The text is packed with new vocabulary that will establish background knowledge for future units.  

After I have read the entire text to the students, I ask them to turn and share with a partner what they learned during the reading. 

I ask the children to think back to the photographs they observed before we read the text, and ask them if the felt the photographs showed the differences between the moving and standing waters? 

I explain to them that the moving waters are like the story Go Home, River.  The river is moving and going somewhere, but the pond does not go or move.  



15 minutes

I ask the children to get out their journals and open to their next white page in this section of the book.  I show them how to write a title on the top of their page and label the sides with the three different types of water that we have just read about.  

I explain that we will go back through the text and read it again. While we are reading, it will be their job to take any important and valuable notes they feel are necessary to help them remember the new information. 

I use my hand held clicker and click through each slide slowly to allow the children time to take their notes.  While they are writing, I am wandering and observing the notes the children are writing.  








10 minutes

I tell the children that again, like many of our previous lessons, we need to practice communicating like scientists and that this would be a perfect opportunity to do that.  I share with that we are going to use the same compare and contrast skills that we used in the hibernation lesson, but this time we will be doing with a partner out loud. 

I show them the last slide on the power point that was created to help them with sentence frames to have their conversation. (I also included a blackline of this same slide in the student pictures to allow for teachers to copy it they feel it is necessary to give one to the students as well). 

I remind the children what it needs to look like when they are working together and discussing the new information they have just learned. 

I allow them to practice sharing with each other for about ten minutes.  The class remains in a quiet, but busy hum.  They are excited to use this new information.