I call the kids one table at a time to come and sit on the floor like scientists. The lesson begins only when the students show me they are prepared to learn.
This lesson begins with creating a KWL chart about plants. I have the kids share what they Know, what they Want to know, and after the plant unit, what we have Learned. Know, Want to know, and Learned each get a column on a piece of chart paper. The Learned column can be filled out at the end of each lesson or at the end of the entire plant unit. I personally like to add to it after each lesson. Write small because this unit is packed full of learning!
To complete the first two columns I first have the kids think silently to themselves by asking, "What do you know about plants? I want you to think about everything you know about plants." I give the kids 20 seconds of silent thinking time. I then have them turn to their floor partners and share everything they know for 20 seconds each. This requires every student to participate and speak out. I pair my ELL students and my low-achievers with medium high achievers so they can hear thoughts being modeled for them. Early in the year I allow my ELL students to repeat what they've heard their floor partner say. Later in the year they are expected to formulate and communicate their own thoughts with vocabulary support from their partner.
Once the kids have shared with their floor partner, I ask each team to share one thing they talked about, but to try not to repeat what another team said. I record the information on the chart under the "Know" column as they share.
This lesson explores the needs of a seed to sprout. The kids "plant" a seed in a bag and wait for the root to sprout. Once it sprouts, we move to the planting lesson, Plant one on me!
The kids remain on the floor while I explain and demonstrate the exploration.
Supplies for each student:
paper towels, one for each student folded in quarters and extras for table clean-up
ziploc sandwich bags, one student's name in permanent marker or label on each
lima beans, one for each student
Supplies for each table:
spray bottle filled with water
thumb tacks, one for each seed bag
Once the demonstration is over, I tell the kids that I will walk them through the "planting" of their seeds. The materials are already prepared in tubs, one for each table. I have the table leaders come get the tubs for their table and go sit down. They are asked to place the tubs in the center of the table. I then call one table team at a time to go sit down with their table leader. The kids are instructed to keep their hands in their laps until the exploration begins.
Once all of the kids are seated and showing me that they are ready to listen, I walk them through the procedure, one step at a time, roaming and supporting as needed.
After all of the seeds have been "planted," I call one table up at a time and collect their seed bags. I attach them to the bulletin board with thumb tacks, ensuring the students' names are facing outward. This will enable them to see the progress of the seed as it grows.
As I hang the seed bags, the students return to the floor to sit like scientists. I read the book, How and Why Seeds Travel by Elaine Pascoe, stopping periodically for discussion:
The last point is most important because most kids at this age do not make the connection between the seed and the final product, e.g. fruit, flowers, vegetables, etc.
Attention is turned back to the KWL chart and we put our first ideas in the "learned" column. To do this, the kids are given 20 seconds to silently think about everything they have learned about seeds in this lesson and then each partner gets 20 seconds to share. I pull name sticks from a name stick can to randomly call on students to share with the whole class what they have talked about with their partner. I record their ideas in the "learned" column. When all ideas are listed, we review the KWL chart and post it in the room for use in future lessons.
To evaluate this lesson, the kids are asked to record what they did in the exploration today and write about it underneath, picture followed by text. To accomplish this, I call the table leaders up to get all the science journals for their table. They are asked to place them at each student's spot. I dismiss one team at a time to go sit at their tables and begin working.
I roam the room and ask kids questions about their experience and ask them to explain what they are writing about and what they have learned.
The students are given 10 minutes on a timer to complete the assignment. I do this to ensure they will not waste time and will get the work done. They enjoy trying to beat the clock while producing quality work.
After the 10 minute timer goes off, the kids are instructed to bring their science journals, opened to the page, back to the floor. They are to sit like scientists. The kids share their journal entries with their floor partner.
I pull 4 name sticks from the name stick can to sit in the teacher chair and share their journal entry, one at a time. We do this to serve as a closure to the lesson and allows students to experience what others have learned.
The extension to this activity is a take home reader that the students share with their families. They can cut and staple the reader in the classroom if there is time at the end of the lesson or as a transition before the next class period. The teacher can have the books prepared in advance if preferred.
This take home reader supports learning and serves as a home-school connection piece. Most students can read it themselves; those struggling with reading can have assistance at home.